A man who has two girlfriends at the same time usually has a lot of trouble. When Harold Courtney, a 23-year-old lorry driver, discovered this, the result was fatal to him.

Courtney’s troubles started when a group of schoolchildren stumbled across the body of 22-year-old Minnie Reid, a domestic, half hidden in bushes near the village of Derryane. Police then decided to interview Courtney, who everyone said was her boyfriend.

It soon emerged that he was engaged to another girl. Convinced that he killed Minnie to get her out of the way, police arrested him for murder.

At the Ulster Winter Assizes at Downpatrick in 1932, the Ulster Attorney-General put the prosecution’s case succinctly when he suggested that the motive for the murder was that Minnie Reid was about to become a mother.

He told the jury: “We know that during the time Courtney was keeping company with Minnie Reid he became engaged to a girl in Dunmurry. When you find that the man responsible for Minnie’s condition is about to marry into a decent family, then the birth of her child becomes highly inconvenient to him.

“There were three ways for him to get rid of Minnie Reid – money, marriage, or murder.”

The prosecution contended that at 8 p.m. on July 27th, 1933, Courtney hired a car in Dungannon, went to Portadown, drove Minnie to the place where she was murdered, and arrived back at Dungannon at 10.15 p.m.

The jury agreed, adding a strong recommendation for mercy to their guilty verdict. But sentencing Courtney, the Lord Chief Justice told him: “I will pass on the jury’s view, but I should tell you that I profoundly disagree with them. You betrayed this girl, and then butchered her and her unborn child.”

Courtney was sentenced
to death and hanged on APRIL 7th, 1933.