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100-YEARS-AGO: CLIFTON MURDERER GOES TO THE GALLOWS

History With Flynn

Murder thankfully is still a fairly rare occurrence in this country, this story from February 1920 tells of such a terrible deed and how the perpertrator paid the ultimate penalty, death by hanging.

Ida Prescott 44, was a widow with two children Irene aged 12 and William aged 10, who lived at 90 Manchester Road, Clifton.

On the evening of Monday, February 16, Irene was seen running from the house and screaming for help, her next door neighbour, Tom Haslam heard the commotion and raced out, a passing collier, Charles Penberthy also came to the assistance, armed with pokers they made their way into the house.

They were met with the sight of Ida lying on the floor in a pool of blood, her throat had been cut ear to ear.

Just then William Thomas Aldred came into the house from the back door, Haslam asked him if he had done this, to which he replied, "It was me, there is no need to get excited about it"

The police were summoned and P.C. Holden took Aldred into police custody, a search was made of the area and a blood stained cut throat razor was found on the roof of a neighbours outside toilet.

The local newspaper reported that Ida and William Aldred were, "keeping company", he was a widower who had lost a son in the war, and was employed at Bridgewater Mill, Pendlebury.

An inquest was held into her death at Clifton Parochial Offices the following day, were a large crowd, several hundred in number,mainly women had gathered in the hope of seeing Aldred and no doubt, injuring him.

He was bundled into a taxi with two constables and Inspector Holt to make sure no harm came to it as he was escorted from Clifton and Swinton to Strangeways prison.

The Coroner recorded a verdict of "Wilful Murder" on Ida and Aldred was sent for trial to the Manchester Assizes set for May 1920.

He pleaded not guilty at his trial but the jury were told that he was a jealous and possessive man, who drank a lot and often turned up at Ida's house causing trouble.

On the day of the murder Aldred missed work, and in the evening called at her house and took her son, William shopping for chips and tripe for their supper whilst he went in a nearby pub.

They both returned home and they all sat down in the kitchen to eat the meal he had bought them,things must have turned nasty for Ida told Irene to go to bed, she refused and sat in the other room.

The poor girl then heard screams and her mother staggered into the room with blood gushing from a gaping wound in her throat, this is when she ran out of the house looking for help.

Evidence was then heard that Aldred had been in the "Imbecile Ward" at Barton Hospital on Green Lane on two occasions, once in 1916 and again in 1919 for treatment to his nerves and a nervous breakdown.

The Medical Doctor at Strangeways, Dr Shannon told the court that, he had Aldred under observation at the prison and had not seen any obvious traits of insanity when he examined him.

The jury retired to consider their verdict and came back with a unanimous "Guilty"

He was asked if he had anything to say before sentence was passed upon him,

"All I can say is that I am sorry, I must have lost control of myself, that is all"

Mr Justice McCardle the placed the black cap on his head and passed the sentence of death upon him.

Aldred did appeal the sentence on the grounds of temporary insanity but this was turned down.

He was executed at Strangeways prison on Tuesday, June 22 by the public hangman, John Ellis.

It was stated that Aldred dies instantaneously and death was recorded as being due to dislocation of the neck.




Tony Flynn



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