Hi Very interesting Liverpool case:first double execution at Walton...
Acknowledgement to" Newspaper Archives" & "Capital punishment UK" for this Article.
An extraordinary case opened at Liverpool's St George's Hall on the 12th of May 1903. It was the trial of 3 men for mutiny and murder on the high seas. The defendants were Gustav Rau, Otto Monson (both German) and Willem Schmidt (Dutch) who were accused of killing Alexander Shaw, the captain of the ship Veronica and 6 members of his crew. The murders were alleged to have taken place aboard the Veronica in December 1902 at sea off South America. They were only tried on the charge of murdering the captain, the other charges being held in reserve if they were acquitted of this one.
The killings came to light when 5 men (Rau, Monson, Schmidt, Henry Flohr and Moses Thomas were picked up by a British freighter, the SS Brunswick, off the coast of Brazil.) They told their rescuers an incredible story. The Veronica had started its voyage to Montevideo with a crew of 12 men, of whom two had died in accidents at sea. They then had a fire on board and had abandoned ship, in one of the two life boats, losing contact with the remaining members of the crew in the second boat. One of the 5 rescued men, Moses Thomas, seemed afraid of the others and asked to be kept separate from them. It was also noticed that Gustav Rau had some of the captain's clothing which seemed odd to the Brunswick's captain. The Brunswick made its way home to England arriving at Liverpool in January 1903. Moses Thomas told its captain that the missing crew of the Veronica had really been murdered by the other 4 survivors, although they vehemently denied this, and stuck to the story of the fire accusing Thomas of inciting the mutiny and killing the rest of the crew. The captain of the Brunswick was deeply suspicious and handed all 5 over to the police when he docked in Liverpool. Henry Flohr decided to change his story and support Thomas' version of events. It seemed that the first mate, Alexander Macleod, was the first to be murdered by Schmidt and Rau who had quarrelled with him over his authoritarian management style. Macleod was battered to death and thrown overboard. Once they had murdered Macleod, they were then at serious risk, so it was decided to kill any other member of the crew who would not join them. Thus, 4 other men were battered and thrown into the sea while Captain Shaw and another man were shot prior to being thrown overboard. A final man jumped over the side and was shot at in the water.
The trial was to last 3 days before Mr. Justice Lawrence and on the 14th of May, all 3 defendants were found guilty and were sentenced to hang. Otto Monsson was reprieved following the jury's recommendation to mercy and because of his age. Rau and Schmidt were taken back to Walton to await their fate. Just 3 weeks later, at 8.00 a.m. on the morning of Tuesday, the 2nd of June 1903, they were brought together for the final time, side by side, on the gallows and hanged by William Billington assisted by John Billington. This was the first double execution at Walton.