Last Man Hanging | Belfast and Beyond | 8 Sep 2008 | Amnesty International UK

Last Man Hanging

On telly tonight in Northern Ireland: Last Man Hanging (BBC 1 NI) 9pm

I mentioned this case in a blog about the death penalty last November and here is the chance to review it on the small screen.

From the BBC's blurb: "In 1961 Newry man Robert McGladdery was convicted and executed for the brutal murder of local girl Pearl Gamble. His trial caused a media storm and proved a landmark in the debate on capital punishment in the United Kingdom.

Now for the first time, using never-before-seen police evidence and private court papers, BBC Northern Ireland tells the story.

McGladdery’s case was the OJ Simpson trial of its day. Early on the morning of January 29 1961, a girl’s personal items were found strewn around a country crossroads, close to her home. One hundred policemen scoured the area. After 12 hours they made a grim discovery: the body of Pearl Gamble and within days Robert McGladdery was arrested.   

His trial caused a level of controversy rarely seen in Northern Ireland at the time. After the conviction there was a prolonged “will he, won’t he hang?” debate as many, previous convicted murderers had been granted appeals. 

The programme divulges details of the psychological assessments carried out on McGladdery to decide whether or not he should hang.    

No appeal was granted and finally, just days before Christmas 1961, he was hanged in Crumlin Road gaol. The gallows have never been used since.

Producer Stephen Douds said: “The debate on capital punishment is still an incredibly current one. Almost every week claims and counter claims are made about the value of re-introducing the death penalty to Northern Ireland." "

You can take action to abolish the death penalty here.

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