The Murder of Alice Beetham
The word resounded in the courtroom.
In the silence that followed Mr Justice Bicknell donned the black cap. The chaplain took a step nearer to the accused, Arthur Birkett.
Bicknell spoke those dreadful words:
". . . that you be taken to a place of execution, that you be there hanged by the neck until you are dead, and that your body be buried within the precincts of the prison in which you have been confined before your execution. And may the Lord have mercy on your soul."
"Amen," said the chaplain.
The prisoner was taken to the cell. He had to be carried.
What dreadful tangle of emotions could have led to this? How could a relationship between a young couple, Alice Beetham and Arthur Birkett, one like thousands of others at the time and countless thousands since then, have ended with one dying on the weft room floor with her throat cut, and the other at the end of a rope at Strangeways?
All that can be gleaned from the newspaper reports is that Alice wanted the relationship to end, so Arthur nipped out of work during the breakfast break, bought a razor, came back and did his best to cut her head off with it.
Is that all there was to it? Or was it a case of omnipresent evil seizing an opportunity, seizing a weakness in Birkett's mind, just as furiously driven machinery will snatch at carelessly tied hair, or a loose garment?
"There's only one girl for me..."
"You look crammed... what's to do?"
"She died almost instantly"
Birkett found guilty of murder
Souvenir napkins were sold
Account of the Murder by relation of Alice Beetham: Louise McGarry