Police had been called to the Muswell Lodge home of 79-year-old widower Henry Smith on the Friday 14th February 1896 by his gardener, Charles Webber. When he had arrived for work he had found the body of his employer, still in his night-shirt, lying on the kitchen floor. It was quite obvious that the old man had been beaten to death. His arms had been tied to his sides with strips of a tablecloth and he had been gagged. Next to the body, one either side, were two penknives and nearby was found a small toy lantern. Mr Smith had had a fear of burglars and he had the gardener set up alarms and mantraps in the garden of the large, decaying mansion, but these had not been set off. The sitting-room and scullery windows showed marks of being tampered with before the killers had gained entry by way of the kitchen window. The noise had obviously disturbed Mr Smith who had been bludgeoned when he came to investigate. The safe in his bedroom had been opened and rifled.
Investigations revealed that two men had been seen hanging around the Muswell Lodge area two days prior to the murder. Descriptions of these men fitted Milsom and Fowler and, when it was discovered that both men had vanished from their usual haunts, warrants for their arrest were obtained. Albert Milsom was a 33-year-old petty criminal. His partner, 31-year-old Henry Fowler, was a huge, vicious brute of a man who was on parole. They were both labourers by trade and lived in the King’s Cross district of London. When the families of the men were questioned Milsom’s brother-in-law, 15-year-old Henry Miller, identified the toy lantern as belonging to him.
A postmark on a letter led to them being arrested in Monmouth Street, Bath, on Sunday 12th April but not
before Fowler put up fierce resistance and had to be subdued with the butt of a police revolver. The pair had spent their time on the run with a travelling show. They both admitted involvement in the robbery but both accused the other of committing the murder.
At their trial which opened at the Old Bailey on 19th May the evidence was overwhelming and the jury had no problem finding them both guilty. They were sentenced to death. On 9th June they were hanged by James Billington along with a third man named Warbrick, at Newgate Prison. It was the last triple execution at this prison and the prison was demolished in 1902 with the gallows being removed to Pentonville.
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