Date with history: The last Britons to hang

August 13, 1964: Simultaneous executions close a grim chapter

The World Today
Published 31 July 2014 Updated 4 March 2021 2 minute READ

Steve Crawshaw

London director, Human Rights Watch

Fifty years ago, on August 13, 1964, Gwynne Evans and Peter Allen were hanged. They had been convicted of the murder of John West at his home in Cumbria during a robbery four months earlier. The men were sentenced to ‘suffer death in the manner authorized by law’. Evans was hanged at 8am in Strangeways Prison, Manchester, Allen in Walton Prison, Liverpool, at the same time on the same day.

Those were the last two executions to take place on British soil. A year later, the Murder Act passed into law, suspending the death penalty for five years. In 1969, parliament reaffirmed the vote, this time permanently abolishing the death penalty for murder in England, Scotland and Wales. Abolition in Northern Ireland followed in 1973.

Capital punishment remained technically on the statute books for a range of other offences – from espionage and treason to piracy – until complete abolition in 1998.

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