Two masked men confronted 26-year-old James Dixon when, in response to their knock, he opened the front door at his County Wicklow home shortly after midnight on FEBRUARY 2nd, 1921. Both men held revolvers. “Hands up!” one of them ordered. Woken by their voices, James’s father, Robert Dixon, came downstairs to see what was the matter.

The men said they wanted money, and to reinforce the demand one of them fired his revolver. James made a grab for the weapon, and in the m?lée that followed he was shot in the shoulder and hip. His aunt and his sister Jennie joined in the fray, attacking the men with walking-sticks. The intruders then left, but after their departure Robert Dixon, a 56-year-old farmer and magistrate, was found to be dying from a bullet wound in his chest.

Jennie cycled off to nearby Dunlavin to fetch a doctor, and on her way she was shocked to see one of the intruders standing at the police barracks gates with a bicycle.

When officers arrived at the Dixons’ Milltown farm, they found a police lamp at the crime scene. Significantly, one was missing from the Dunlavin barracks. Constables William Mitchell and Arthur Hardie were believed to have left the barracks shortly before midnight, returning at about 1.15 a.m. Two bicycles were found to have been recently returned to the cycle shed, and when the guns of Hardie and Mitchell were examined they appeared to have been fired recently. Both men’s civilian clothes were bloodstained; Hardie’s face was scratched and bruised and Mitchell had a scratch on the top of his head.

The two suspects’ hats were also found at the farm, and they were questioned further. Shortly afterwards Hardie, 23, committed suicide by shooting himself in the chest.

Mitchell, 24, was then charged with Robert Dixon’s murder. Found guilty at his court-martial in April, he was sentenced to death, his execution following at Dublin’s Mountjoy Prison on June 7th, 1921.