Anonymous asked in Education & ReferenceTrivia · 1 decade ago

Why the death penalty was abolished in Britain (REAL STORY)?

Many years ago, before Britain abolished the death penalty, there was a very famous case, involving the murder of a policeman by two teenagers. The policeman had cornered the two teenagers, but one of them had a gun, and was pointing it at the policeman. The cop was trying to talk the teenager (tense, frightened) into giving him the gun. The other teenager (also tense, frightened) shouted "LET HIM HAVE IT!". The boy shot and killed the policeman. He was convicted of murder and hanged. But to this day the question is unanswered. Did the second boy mean "shoot the cop" or "give him the gun"?

This is one of the main reasons why Britain abolished the death penalty.

4 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    The death penalty for murder was abolished nearly 40 years ago by the Murder (Abolition of Death Penalty) Act 1965, and replaced with a mandatory life sentence. The passing of the Act followed a great deal of debate both inside and outside Parliament over the death penalty.

    The death penalty was retained for the capital offences of treason and piracy with violence, however it was abolished in 1998 under the Crime and Disorder Act.

    In 1999 the home secretary signed the sixth protocol of the European Convention of Human Rights which formally abolished the death penalty in the UK and ensured it could not be brought back.

    The abolition of capital punishment was a major priority of the incoming Labour government of Harold Wilson in 1964 and its first Home Secretary, Sir Frank Soskice. On the 28th of October 1965, a Private Member's Bill to suspend the death penalty, sponsored by the left wing MP, Mr. Sydney Silverman, received Royal Assent. It was supported by the government and the Home Secretary. Thus on the 9th of November 1965, the Murder (Abolition of Death Penalty) Act suspended the death penalty for murder in the United Kingdom for a period of 5 years.

    The last executions were two carried out simultaneously at 8.00 a.m. on the 13th of August 1964 in Walton and Strangeways prisons (in Liverpool and Manchester) when Peter Anthony Allen and Gwynne Owen Evans (real name John Robson Walby) were hanged for the murder of John West, a laundry man, in the course of robbing him. The last death sentence was passed, over a year later, on the 1st of November 1965, upon David Stephen Chapman, for a murder committed during the course of a robbery. He was automatically reprieved, as were the other 16 men sentenced in late 1964 and in 1965.

    On the 16th of December 1969, the House of Commons reaffirmed its decision that capital punishment for murder should be permanently abolished. On a free vote, the House voted by 343 to 185, a majority of 158, that the Murder (Abolition of Death Penalty) Act 1965, should not expire. Thus, the death penalty for murder was formally abolished.

    The death penalty remained theoretically available in Northern Ireland until the passing of the Northern Ireland (Emergency Powers) Act 1973. Nobody was executed there after 1961, however.

    Capital punishment has now been totally abolished for all civil crimes, having remained on the statute book for high treason and piracy. (There had been no executions for either of these crimes since 1946, when two men were hanged for treason.)

    In October 1998, the government introduced an amendment to the Human Rights Bill that abolished the death penalty as a possible punishment for military offences under the Armed Forces Acts. There were 5 military wartime capital offences: serious misconduct in action, communicating with the enemy, aiding the enemy or furnishing supplies, obstructing operations or giving false air signals, mutiny to incitement to mutiny or failure to suppress a mutiny. The last execution under military law was in 1942.

    On the 10th of December 1999, International Human Rights Day, the government ratified Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights thus totally abolishing capital punishment in Britain.

    The case you refer to is the one of In January 1953, 19 year old Derek Bentley went to the gallows in London's Wandsworth prison having been convicted of the murder of a policeman the previous year. The conviction may have been technically correct but it was seen as totally unjust by most people that a person should be hanged for a crime that even the police at the scene said he neither did nor could have committed as he was effectively under arrest at the time. The lad who fired the fatal shot, Christopher Craig, was under 18 at the time and therefore could not be hanged and actually served just 10 years in prison. This execution did more than any other to sway public opinion against capital punishment, one can only wonder what possessed the Home Secretary to take such a palpably stupid and unjust decision. One is left wondering if certain Home Office officials had a hidden agenda to end capital punishment and advised the Home Secretary to take this incredible decision knowing the likely outcome but also knowing that they would remain shielded from the consequences behind the Official Secrets Act.

  • ?
    Lv 5
    1 decade ago

    Never heard of the case but given the situation (tense/frightened) that the second boy was in, I would say he shouted to have the gun given to the policeman.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    I think he meant 'give him the gun,' but i have never heard of this case before. Try researching it on wikipedia, it is a source of much knowlage.

  • 1 decade ago

    becoz we joined the eu, which is agaisnt the death penalty, and any eu law takes place over ANY UK law

Still have questions? Get your answers by asking now.