Twenty-one-year-old Alec Wilkinson had a mother-in-law problem. Clara Farrell was a foul-mouthed, hard-bitten ex-prostitute who considered him a weed, questioned him obscenely about his sexual performance, and was determined to wreck his marriage from the moment he set up home with her daughter at Wombwell, near Barnsley.
Mrs. Farrell was also domineering, and within months she persuaded her weak-willed daughter to leave Wilkinson and return to her. Wilkinson repeatedly asked his wife to come back to him, but all his approaches were blocked by her mother.
Worried on hearing his wife had left her job, on the night of APRIL 30th, 1955, he went to his mother-in-laws home and asked to see his bride.
Get out! Youre not going to see her! Mrs. Farrell told him.
Why has she left the shirt factory? Wilkinson demanded. How will she live if shes given up her work?
She can go hawking her duck! his mother-in-law told him. Get out!
I saw red, Wilkinson told the police when he gave himself up. He had beaten and stabbed his mother-in-law to death, also cutting her throat. His wife was out, and she had come home to find him setting fire to the house.
I got hold of her and banged her head on the floor, he told detectives. Then somebody came to the door and I ran away.
At his trial for Clara Farrells murder the defence vainly sought a verdict of guilty but insane. Two psychiatrists testified that at the time of the crime Wilkinson was capable of knowing right from wrong.
And the judge, Lord Goddard, told the jury: Because a man goes berserk, allows his hatred, his rage to get the better of him, that is no test of insanity.
Otherwise every man who commits murder would be able to say, I should not have committed this murder, except that I went blind with fury.
Convicted and sentenced to death, Alec Wilkinson duly died on the gallows at Leedss Armley Prison.