Parish constable Walter Ford had little doubt that William Jacobs, his neighbour in Lower Street, Edgefield, was mad. The constable knew that Jacobs had been sent home from work a few days ago on account of his “strange behaviour.” It appeared that Jacobs, a 39-year-old single man, had been shouting at the top of his voice at the building site where he was employed.

So when the constable stepped out into his garden in the blackness of Saturday night, JUNE 30th, 1907, to get some coals, he wasn’t all that surprised when his weird neighbour appeared at the back door and began trying to convert him to God.

When Jacobs began shouting the officer tried talking in a reasoning sort of way. But the unruly neighbour suddenly leapt at him, striking out with a knife. The constable fell to the ground bleeding profusely.

Other neighbours, hearing the uproar, rushed to help, and Jacobs fled. But Constable Ford was already beyond all aid. The neighbour’s knife had pierced his heart and he died within hours.

When officers were sent to search Jacobs’ house, they were in for another surprise. For lying on the floor was the madman’s father, his head split open by a meat cleaver.

Next morning Jacobs was arrested. As he was put in a cart to be taken to nearby Holt for interrogation, he was laughing heartily and throwing his cap in the air.

The judge at Norwich Assizes, where he stood trial for the double-murder, had no doubt of his condition and, dispensing with the trial, ordered that the prisoner should be detained in Broadmoor.