William Jones, a 33-year-old unemployed labourer, was obsessed with the idea that his wife was having an affair. In his rage he would beat her and scream abuse at the kids.

In fact his wife Susannah, who was extremely good-looking, was loyal to her husband. She kept the house and her four children spotlessly clean, but was so poor that she had to beg for pennies outside local collieries just to feed the family.

Jones, on the other hand, was frequently raving drunk. A neighbour recalled that on Saturday night, MAY 21st, 1910, the mother and one of the little girls were both crying while Jones was berating his wife for not earning enough money that day. She also heard him yell, “If you don’t get these children stripped and put into bed, there’s going to be a funeral here.”

Next morning another neighbour, Ralph Hutchinson, heard moaning noises coming from the back yard of the Jones cottage in Ailesbury Street, Millfield, Sunderland. Investigating, he found William Jones lying injured on the ground and bleeding profusely.

Jones beckoned Mr. Hutchinson to go into the cottage. What he saw was to haunt him for the rest of his life.

Susannah Jones lay on the bed, her head smashed in and covered with blood. Alongside her was her baby daughter and in another bed nearby were her two other girls and her son, all dead with their throats cut. Scrawled across the wall in pencil were the words: “Revenge is sweet.”

Jones admitted the killings, and his own botched attempt at suicide. He pleaded guilty to the five murder charges at Durham Assizes on June 25th, when a doctor called by the defence said that homicidal mania could be brought on by the desperation of poverty and starvation.

Jones was found guilty but insane and ordered to be detained during the King’s pleasure.