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Investigating 19th century crime

Remembering the Manchester Martyrs

Remembering the Manchester Martyrs

150 years ago today, William Allen, Michael Larkin and Michael O’Brien were hanged in Manchester – they had been convicted of the murder of Sergeant Charles Brett on 18 September 1867. This sensational and highly emotive case of the Manchester Martyrs cast a long shadow on the city, and had a drastic impact on the outcome of another young police officer’s murder almost a decade later.

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Victorian CSI: ‘Dead Bodies’

Victorian CSI: ‘Dead Bodies’

Throughout the 19th century, crime scene investigation was rather haphazard. When a suspicious death was discovered, the local police were usually called to the scene, followed by a doctor. Potential evidence would be removed from the scene, and kept at home, until the items were later produced in court, sometimes cleaned but, more often than not, still covered in blood.

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The Battle of the Detectives

The Battle of the Detectives

When a brutal murder took place in Manchester in 1889, two detectives went head-to-head to track down the culprit. Renowned sleuth, Detective Chief Inspector Jerome Caminada, of the Manchester City police, and Superintendent James Bent, of the Lancashire Constabulary. Both used their superior powers of deduction to solve this case, but only one man would catch the killer.

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Celebrating with the Queen of Crime

Celebrating with the Queen of Crime

Last Friday, it was Agatha Christie’s birthday and naturally I celebrated the birth of one of my favourite crime writers at her home. (In fact, I was on my way to the Police History Society annual conference, which was nearby). Greenway, near Torquay, is a beautiful house set in a stunning landscape and it’s easy to see why Agatha loved it so much.

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Capturing the Image of a Killer

Capturing the Image of a Killer

In the recently-released film, The Limehouse Golem, one of the flashback scenes depicts a murder victim with her eyes removed (nice, I know). This rather gruesome crime is linked to the Victorian fascination with ‘optography’ – the imprinting of the final image seen before death on a person’s retina. If the individual had been murdered, then photographing their eyes might capture the image of their killer.

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