The robbery was almost comic, but not its conclusion. Raiding a candleworks at Ashdown, County Dublin, on OCTOBER 19th, 1923, a gang of thieves stole £30 and several bicycles, which they used to make their getaway.

Police pursued them, cornering them at Castle Knock, and William Downes, a 25-year-old ex-soldier, was arrested in the fight that followed.

He was placed in a police car in the custody of Captain Thomas Fitzgerald, while other officers tried to round up the rest of the gang. When Fitzgerald’s attention was distracted Downes drew a pistol and shot him dead before escaping, only to be swiftly recaptured.

Sentenced to death, Downes was hanged in Dublin on November 29th, 1923, the executioner’s identity being kept secret because of the political situation.