The Man They Couldn't Hang

An extraordinary scene was witnessed on Monday within the walls of the Devon county prison at Exeter.

John Lee was to have been hanged for the murder of Miss Keyse, at Babbacombe, but the executioner and the wardens found it impossible to work the apparatus of death.

Lee was placed upon the drop three times, but it refused to act; and the sheriff postponed the carrying out of the capital sentence until he had communicated with the Home Secretary by whom Lee has since been respited, and his sentence commuted to one of penal servitude for life.

Source: Skegness Herald 27th February 1885

The Babbacombe Murder

Letter from Lee

John Lee, whom it will be remembered Berry, the executioner, was unable to hang at Exeter in February last for the murder of Miss Keyse, at Babbacombe, Devon, and whose sentence was commuted to penal servitude for life, is now a convict at her Majesty’s prison, Wormwood Scrubs.

Last week the convict’s parents received a letter from him, in which he maintained his innocence:


Source: Skegness Herald 9th October 1885


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