Fifty years on from the two simultaneous last executions in Britain, this powerful and moving documentary looks at the crimes and stories of those put to death by the state in Britain – the men, the women, the teenagers, the innocent and the guilty – and hears from the relatives who survived them, and from those who were there to witness the final days of capital punishment.
Fifty years ago, in the summer of 1964, the last two men to be hanged in Britain were executed, simultaneously, in Liverpool and Manchester.
In 1950 Timothy Evans of Notting Hill, London was executed for the murder of his wife and baby daughter. For his sister Maureen Westlake, for whom the pain of injustice has barely diminished over the years, describes the tragedy of her brother an innocent man going to the gallows.
In 1953, 19-year old Derek Bentley was hanged for the murder of a policeman even though he did not fire the fatal shot and had a mental age of 11. It was claimed he uttered the infamous words ‘Let him have it’ to incite his partner in crime Christopher Crag to shoot. His niece Maria Bentley describes the family’s remarkable fight for over fifty years to prove his innocence.
Ruth Ellis would become the last and youngest female to be hanged. This 28 year-old woman was executed in 1955 for the shooting of her lover David Blakely. After 14 minutes of deliberation the jury condemned her to death in spite of huge outcry, protests and petitions. Her niece Marlene Harrington relates the memories of her family about what happened.
Former prison officer George Donaldson relates his experiences in the last hanging in Britain in August 1964; and In Belfast Liam Holden the last man to be sentenced to death in 1973 returns to the condemned cell where he spent six weeks awaiting execution.
Executed tells the stories behind the men and women executed in living memory in the UK. We will hear about their crimes, their trials, their executions and the legacy left by their stories. Together these stories provide a vivid insight into the executions carried out in living memory in the UK. Stories that would shock the nation and bring about the end of capital punishment.
Executed airs on ITV at 9pm on Tuesday 12th August, 2014.