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Hubert Ernest DALTON





Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Robbery
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: October 3, 1924
Date of arrest: Next day
Date of birth: 1885
Victim profile: Francis Ward, 68 (workmate)
Method of murder: Hitting with a hammer
Location: Yorkshire, England, United Kingdom
Status: Executed by hanging in Hull on June 10, 1925

A railway platelayer of Ingelby Greenhow, Yorkshire, convicted of the murder of a workmate, sixty eight year old Francis Ward. The pair were long time friends and usually spent Friday evenings drinking and playing dominoes in their local pub.

On Friday evening, 3rd October, 1924, Ward failed to appear at the pub. The next morning, Dalton's mother-in-law found Ward's body close to Dalton's house. He had horrific throat wounds and had been robbed of his watch and money.

During routine questioning, the police called at thirty nine year old Dalton's house but he was not home. A search of the outhouse unearthed Ward's purse and other items taken from the body.

The police started searching for Dalton and they later saw him staggering towards them from the nearby railway line. He had a self inflicted throat wound which he claimed he had administered when they had arrived at his house just before fleeing.

He was tried before Mr Justice McCardie at York Assizes in the spring of 1925 and pleaded insanity. The trial ended when the jury announced that they had failed to reach a verdict.

It was reconvened for the next Assizes at Leeds in May before the same Judge. As before, the defence was insanity. The prosecution claimed the motive was robbery, and evidence was shown that death was caused by blows from a hammer which had been found nearby.

It was also alleged that Dalton had returned to the body in the early hours, and by candle light had cut Ward's throat to be sure he was dead. The jury needed just five minutes to find him guilty and he was sentenced to death.

An appeal failed and he was hanged by Thomas Pierrepoint and Robert Baxter in Hull on the 10th June 1925.



Ingleby Greenhow rocked by gruesome murder

Then in 1924 - The late afternoon autumn sunshine cast a golden glow on the hills above the sleepy village of Ingleby Greenhow. It was Friday tea time and the two railway men packed away their tools and made their way homeward down the steep Ingleby Incline rail track.

Sixty eight year old Frank Ward had worked as a bank man on the same stretch of this Rosedale line for 40 years and and lived at the foot of the incline in Bank Foot Cottage. He was looking forward to starting a well earned holiday the following day.

His colleague and friend Hubert Dalton, known to his friends as “Jerry” was platelayer on the same line. He lived not far from Ward at Poultry House Crossing.

At the bottom of the incline the men were met by their boss Edward Carpenter, who gave out their weekly pay packets. Ward opened his and checked the contents -two pounds nine shillings and sixpence. He placed the money in a small purse which he secured in his back pocket.

He was a neat, meticulous and thrifty man, who worried about the safety of his savings, and with good cause. Earlier that year his cottage had been broken into and some of his money had been stolen. He had a distrust of banks, and since the break-in, when ever he left the house, he would always take his savings with him.

In contrast Dalton (36) was a bit of a spend thrift and occasionally Ward had lent his friend cash to see him through to the end of the week and a grateful Dalton always managed to pay him back.

At the gate of his well kept cottage Ward bid his friend good night and was greeted at the door by his daughter and housekeeper, Violet.

After tea, Ward changed out of his working clothes and set out along the lonely path for Ingleby Greenhow three miles away. In one hand he had a lantern, and in the other, in keeping with his desire to keep an eye on his money, he carried a canvas bag containing his life savings of about one hundred pounds.

His intention was to pay his debts to the village tradesmen with whom he dealt, and later to call in at The Dudley Arms for a well deserved pint of beer.

In his absence, Violet began preparing for their holiday to Whitby the following day. At eleven thirty she went outside to see if she could see the light of her father’s lantern coming up the rough track from the Ingelby/Battersby road. But she was rewarded only with the black onrushing loneliness of the night. Returning to the warmth of the cottage, she suddenly experienced an unexplained shiver of foreboding.

By mid-night, and with still no sign of him, Violet’s apprehension became acute. It was so unlike her father to deviate from his normal Friday evening routine. By two o’clock she was almost out of her mind with worry, and in desperation went outside again and called his name. All night she kept her vigil until finally with the dawn breaking, she ran to the nearby cottage of Edward Carpenter. Bleary eyed he came to the door in response to her frantic knocking, and after hearing her story, agreed to call the police. whose search of the area revealed the gruesome sight of Frank Ward’s body lying near a haystack in a pool of blood. His skull had been crushed and his throat cut and his pockets were turned out and his money and two watches were missing.

PC Falgate, stationed at Battersby would later describe how he also saw Hubert Dalton in the same field staggering towards the railway embankment where he collapsed. The constable picked him up and discovered his clothes soaked in blood from an apparent cut to the throat. Later Inspector Prest from Thornaby would say how a razor and a linen collar was found in a pool of blood near the corner of the adjoining field.

Dr Robert Murray from Great Ayton was called to attend to Dalton. He sewed up the wound and transferred him to North Ormesby hospital.

The landlord of the Dudley Arms confirmed that Dalton had been in the pub the previous evening playing dominoes, and had appeared a little agitated when some of the locals had remarked on the absence of Frank Ward. Meanwhile the police were conducting an intensive search of Dalton’s cottage and in one of the outbuildings discovered a black leather purse containing eleven pounds ten shillings and a railway ticket made out to Frank Ward - his holiday ticket to Whitby. A sack was also discovered at the far end of the field which contained a blood stained hammer.

On December 31 Dalton was charged with murdering his friend Frank Ward and the committal proceedings were held in Stokesley Town Hall where an incongruous note was struck by the fact that that the room was gaily decorated in preparation for a ball.

The evidence was heard by Major R.B. Turton and Mr Henry Kitching and the case for the prosecution was opened by Mr G.R. Paling. Dalton who was not represented in court, followed the proceedings in an impassioned manner. Giving evidence Dr Murray said he had examined the victim and found he had received seven wounds to the head, and one of these had penetrated his skull causing a haemorrhage to the brain. He agreed these could have been inflicted by a hammer. The throat wound had been done with a sharp instrument and in his opinion had been inflicted some hours after Ward had died. When asked by the clerk - Mr Lowther Carrick if he had anything to say, the prisoner in a husky voice replied “I want a solicitor”.

Dalton was remanded to York Assizes where the jury were unable to agree on whether he was insane or not and the charge was remitted to the Yorkshire Assizes at Leeds before Mr Justice McCardie and a jury where Dalton pleaded not guilty.

Mr G.L.L.. Mortimer, KC for the prosecution claimed that Dalton had set out to kill and rob Ward, and later, troubled by the fact that he might not have completed his gruesome task, returned to the body and cut the throat. Later to give the impression that he too had been a victim, he had subjected himself to a self inflicted wound.

In the witness box, Dalton, looking pale and drawn, told the court that on the night in question he had seen ward approaching his house, but at the time remembered nothing more about it. When he got up the following morning he had a headache and when he saw Ward’s body by the haystack he recollected that he had been “chucking a hammer about” and that he had dragged the body there.

In answer to the prosecuting counsel, Dalton claimed that he did not know that Ward carried his money about with him. He admitted he he saw the body near the stack, but he did not remember when he took the money from his pockets. Mr R.F. Burnand for the defence told the jury that Dalton had suffered an epileptic attack at the time which had temporarily rendered him insane. This defence cut no ice with the jury who took just five minutes to return a verdict of guilty. Mr Justice McCardie told Dalton that the jury had found him so on the clearest of evidence.

The court usher placed the black cap on the judge’s head, and Dalton listened impassively as he heard the the dreaded words -that he was to be taken to a place where he would hang by the neck until dead. There was no appeal and his execution took place three weeks later.



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