British Military & Criminal History
1900 to 1999.
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This case, ending with the execution of Francis Forsyth and Norman Harris, is often used by the anti-capital punishment lobby to illustrate that capital punishment does not serve as a deterrent. Victor Terry, a friend of Forsyth, heard about his friend's execution on his car radio, while he was driving to commit his own murder. He was eventually hanged on the same gallows as Forsyth.
The Forsyth-Harris Case
Alan Jee, a young engineer, was walking home after seeing his girlfriend whom he had recently become engaged to. He walked through a lonely alley, and immediately attacked by four local youths: Francis 'Flossie' Forsyth (age 18), Norman Harris (age 23), Chrisopher Darby (age 23) and Terrance Lutt (age 17). Lutt struck the first blow, causing Alan Jee to fall to the ground shouting "What do you want me for?". Lutt, Darby and Harris held him down while Forsyth kicked him repeatedly. While Forsyth continued to kick Jee, Harris when through the young man's pockets looking for money. Alan Jee never regained consciousness and died two days later in hospital.
Harris boasted about the attack, and word eventually made its way to the police, of Harris's remarks. All four youths were quickly arrested and interviewed. All four denied being near the alley on the day of the attack, but Forsyth's shoes still had stains from Alan Jee's blood. Forsyth also remarked that he had just kicked Jee to shut him up.
All four youths were charged with the capital murder of Alan Jee; murder in the course or furtherance of theft. They were all tried together at the Old Bailey in London during September 1960. Forsyth and Harris were both found guilty and sentenced to death by hanging. Darby was found guilty of non-capital murder and sentenced to Life Imprisonment. Lutt was found guilty of capital murder, but due to being under 18 years old, he was sentenced to Detained during Her Majesty's Pleasure.
Francis Forsyth was hanged at Wandsworth Prison on 10 November 1960. On the day of his execution, a national newspaper reported a story that Forsyth slept badly and repeatedly cried out that he did not want to die.
At the same time, Norman Harris was hanged at Pentonville Prison.
The Terry Case
Victor Terry, aged 20, was a friend of Forsyth's and heard about his friend's execution on his car radio. One hour later, on 10 November 1960, he had shot dead a Security Guard at a bank in Worthing. At the subsequent trial, Terry claimed that he was possessed by the spirit of the American gangster 'Legs' Diamond. He was found guilty of capital murder (murder by firearms or explosions) and was sentenced to death by hanging.
On 26 May 1961, he was hanged on the same gallows as Forsyth at Wandworth Prison.