Death Sentence and the King

A couple of evenings ago I watched an episode of Railway Murders, it's the only episode I've seen and that was only because on the blurb for the programme it mentioned a Guardsman and Ash Vale station, which many will know because of it's proximity to Aldershot.
In the end, the blurb was misleading, the killer was no longer a Guardsman at the time. He stabbed to death the railway booking clerk and stole the contents of the safe. He was sentenced to death and executed.
However what made it interesting was that J J Alton had previously been sentenced to death by court martial in Germany for an unrelated killing.
One death sentence is usually enough for most criminals, you don't get many repeat offenders.

The programme made the point, the in the case of a serviceman sentenced to death in peacetime, the Finding and Sentence must be confirmed by the King in this case, the King didn't confirm it.
It sound a bit iffy to me, firstly, because in no other post-war death sentence by court martial reports has mentioned the involvement of the the Sovereign in confirming or rejecting. Normally the Secretary of State for War had the final call.
Secondly if the King had to make a judgement, it would I imagine, put him in a difficult position with the public.
I've a feeling that the King had simply exercised the Royal Prerogative and issued a pardon 'on the advice of his minister'
The newspapers were quite clear though, about the King refusing to confirm finding and sentence.

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Link to Second Murder
 
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Hmm.

It seems that the pardon by the King for his first murder may have been granted on a technicality.

There's mention elsewhere that, because his mother had not been informed that he was on trial for a capital offence, the conviction was unsound. This would also explain why the end result was a simple discharge from the Army and no other sanction.
 

Bubbles_Barker

LE
Book Reviewer
Looks like he got away with murder (the first time at least).
 
There is an element of Grantham to the story of Alcott.

There is a reasonable article on his two murders here: John James Alcott | Murderpedia, the encyclopedia of murderers

The German murder seems to have been more complex than the newspapers alluded to. There was also a Czech bloke involved and between them they appear to have battered the German to death with a fire extinguisher and an empty whisky bottle. I imagine the former weapon did the damage.

I wonder if "other elements" might have arisen in the case of the German murder. Something along the lines of the "Portsmouth Defence" combined with "well he was a kraut".

Nevertheless, Alcott does seem to have been a bit of a a nutter. Sadly for him not enough of a nutter to convince the court.
 
Given that the Bundesrepublic was only a few months away and the agreements already drawn up, it's unlikely that the court martial sentence would have been carried out. That of course would not explain why the finding was dismissed but I expect there were a number or factors which all fell into place causing Alcott to go free without, it seems, even being convicted of being AWOL.
Small comfort for both the victims' families, especially for the young wife and daughter of the railway clerk who had the extra burden of knowing that had he been executed or imprisoned the first time around, their husband/father would not have been murdered.
 
combined with "well he was a kraut".
Possibly, but in those days, the army was quite strict on the punishments given out for the killing of foreign nationals. In the period 1950-54 in the Canal Zone, at least five death sentences were given out by courts martial for the killing of Eqyptian civilians. Three were carried out, two were commuted to prison terms
 
Possibly, but in those days, the army was quite strict on the punishments given out for the killing of foreign nationals. In the period 1950-54 in the Canal Zone, at least five death sentences were given out by courts martial for the killing of Eqyptian civilians. Three were carried out, two were commuted to prison terms

An old chap of my acquaintance did his national service in Egypt. He recounted a story where two of his co-conscriptees committed an armed robbery in which an Egyptian civilian was killed. Both perpetrators were court-martialled, transported back to England and dangled from a rope.
 
Given that the Bundesrepublic was only a few months away and the agreements already drawn up, it's unlikely that the court martial sentence would have been carried out. That of course would not explain why the finding was dismissed but I expect there were a number or factors which all fell into place causing Alcott to go free without, it seems, even being convicted of being AWOL.
The Grundgesetz - Basic Law - came into force in late May 1949. The death penalty in was abolished as a sanction of West German jurisprudence.
However, until Visiting Forces acts came into play, executions in Germany under the auspices of the occupying powers (Courts Martial and Military tribunals) continued. The Brits were still topping people at Hameln until December 1949, and the Americans carried on into the early 50s at Bruchsal and Landsberg.
 
An old chap of my acquaintance did his national service in Egypt. He recounted a story where two of his co-conscriptees committed an armed robbery in which an Egyptian civilian was killed. Both perpetrators were court-martialled, transported back to England and dangled from a rope.
If you are thinking of the case of Gunners John Golby and Robert Smith and Driver Edward Hensman in 1950, they were executed in Egypt. Albert Pierrepoint travelled to do the honours in a locomotive shed at Fanara (using the inspection pits as part of the gallows constructed by the RE.
 
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