Found murdered at his premises on MAY 19th, 1906, a Lancashire shopkeeper named Fell had been killed by blows delivered with a spanner. Months passed and it seemed that the case would remain unsolved, until a woman came forward with information.

She said that Patrick Callaghan, a 38-year-old labourer with whom she was living at the time of the murder, had come home in bloodstained clothes, telling her that he and an accomplice named Thomas Beardwood had killed the shopkeeper.

The two men were arrested and tried together for murder. Callaghan was convicted and sentenced to death, but the jury were unable to agree about Beardwood, who was tried a second time and acquitted despite strong new evidence against him. It was widely believed that he was the worse of the two and the crime’s instigator.

In his summing-up at the pair’s trial the judge had noted that the woman who testified against them had a bad reputation and in Callaghan’s case was possibly motivated by jealousy. So it came as no surprise when Callaghan was reprieved and his sentence was commuted to life imprisonment.