Charles William Lambert, 57, was the skipper of the barge Speranza, which on NOVEMBER 28th, 1931, was anchored off north Woolwich.

Two days later William Harold Goddard, the Speranza’s 25-year-old mate, walked into the police station in his home-town of Ipswich, Suffolk, and said he had accidentally killed Lambert on board the barge.

The skipper had made an offensive reference to his fiancée, Goddard said, so he had punched him, knocking him down. Lambert had then attacked him with a hammer, which he wrested from him, hitting him with it several times and knocking him down into the hold.

Goddard said he then went ashore, and on returning found that Lambert was dead. Asked about a rope found round the skipper’s neck, he said he had tried to pull the body up on deck to throw it overboard, but it was too heavy.

Lambert had no money on him when he was found, and his watch and chain were missing. The police learned that Goddard had pawned them, and he was charged with the skipper’s murder.

At his trial the Old Bailey jury did not accept his story. They also rejected the defence plea that the charge should be reduced to manslaughter on the ground of provocation, and on January 20th Goddard was convicted and sentenced to death.

A month later, on February 23rd, 1932, the sentence was carried out by hangmen Robert Baxter and Thomas Phillips.