Annie Gillon and her brother James seemed an odd pair. In May 1927 Annie, 28, became a housemaid at Plummers Plain House, near Horsham, Sussex, and a couple of months later James, 30, joined the staff as an under-gardener. Although both were hard-working, their colleagues found them unsociable, noting that even when they spoke to each other it was in hushed voices.

A 15-year-old gardening boy told the head gardener William Matthews that he had seen them kissing, and each evening Annie went to her brother’s cottage in the grounds to prepare his meal, seldom returning to her room until much later.

By mid-September, however, Annie began to become more sociable. She got on particularly well with George Mercer, the butler-chauffeur, and she was delighted when he invited her to join him and the cook on a drive to Brighton.

But her pleasure wasn’t shared by her brother, who told her not to go. When she went nevertheless his anger was obvious, and on the party’s return he told Annie that because of her selfishness he hadn’t eaten all day. When he asked her to cook him a late meal she refused and flounced off to her room.

At 8 a.m. the next day Matthews was working in the kitchen garden when he heard screams and ran to the house to investigate. Entering the servants’ hall, he saw Annie slumped in a chair with a gaping wound in her throat. Her brother stood nearby, holding a razor and with blood dripping from his wrists. He too had a throat wound, and he collapsed moments later.

A doctor arrived to find that Annie had also been stabbed with such force that the knife had snapped, leaving the blade embedded in her back. He told Annie she was near death and must make a statement for the police which he, Matthews and the cook would witness.

Her statement read: “I Annie Gillon, believing that I am about to die, state my brother James Gillon asked me to get his breakfast. I said I would not and he came for me and kicked me and stabbed me and cut me with a razor.”

Police then arrived and Annie and her brother were taken to hospital. James Gillon’s injuries were not life-threatening, and he was arrested and charged with attempted murder and suicide.

When she died on OCTOBER 28th her brother was charged with murder. After he was convicted and sentenced to death at Lewes Assizes, it emerged that in 1921 he had been jailed for having unlawful sexual intercourse with his sister. A child had been born as a result of the incestuous relationship, which had resumed after Gillon’s release from prison.

The defence claim that he was insane was rejected at his appeal hearing, the judges ruling that incest was not evidence of insanity, and he was hanged on January 31st, 1928.