British Executions

Eric Lange

Age: 30

Sex: male

Crime: murder

Date Of Execution: 21 Dec 1904

Crime Location: Bridgend Hotel, Pentre, Ystrad, Rhondda

Execution Place: Cardiff

Method: hanging

Executioner: William Billington

Source: http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk

Eric Lange was convicted of the murder of John Emlyn Jones 37 and sentenced to death.

He battered and stabbed to death at the Bridgend Hotel, Pentre, Ystrad, Rhondda on 11 September 1904.

John Jones was the landlord of the Bridgend Hotel in Pentre. Eric Lange had broken into his house early on the Sunday morning to burgle it but was interrupted by John Jones and stabbed him.

Eric Lange was a Norwegian sailor.

A policeman received instructions to go to Rhondda Road at 4.30am on the morning of 11 September 1904. He was in plain clothes and saw and saw Eric Lange walking along the Taff Vale Railway line at about 5.30am coming from the direction of Pentre. He said that he hid himself by a signal box and waited for Eric Lange to approach and when he did he stopped him.

The policeman said that he noticed that Eric Lange had blood on his right cheek and that his nose was scratched. He also noticed that Eric Lange's trousers were broken at the knee and that blood was coming through them and that he had no boots or cap on.

The policeman said that he asked Eric Lange where he had come from and Eric Lange told him Pentre. The policeman then asked him what time he had started out and Pentre said 'About three hours'. The policeman then asked him where his boots were and Eric Lange told him that he had left them behind. The policeman then asked him where his cap was and Eric Lange said 'I lost it by falling'.

The policeman then told Eric Lange that he was a policeman and that he would have to go to the police station with him at which point Eric Lange put his hands under his coat behind as though to take something out and so the policeman struck him with his staff and Eric Lange dropped both his arms and said 'Let me go quick or I shall lose my boat, I am going out today, I will pay any fine now'.

Another policeman then arrived and they took Eric Lange to Pontypridd Police Station. When they searched him they found a knife behind his back held there by a cord that was twisted twice round his waist. He also had a clasp knife in his pocket. He also had 13 shillings in money, a watch and chain, boxes of matches, a watch key and two pocket handkerchiefs. When the handkerchiefs were examined they were found to have blood on them. He also had several patches of blood on the back of his coat and a patch of blood on the back of his head. He also had two wounds on his knee.

He was then charged with the murder of John Jones.

John Jones's wife said that she went to bed at about 11.45pm leaving John Jones downstairs with the hotel staff. She said that her baby was already in bed. Their bedroom was the first room on the right at the top of the stairs and the window overlooked the yard. she said that John Jones came to bed later at about 2am.

She said that the gas was alight in the room and was an incandescent burner and that the light enabled her to see everything in the room clearly. She said that there was also a nightlight on the dressing table that was also burning, the dressing table being opposite the window near the foot of the bed.

She said that the bedroom door was not locked and that it was not their custom to lock it.

She said that at about 3.30am a slight noise woke her and as she opened her eyes and looked towards the foot of the bed she saw a face looking at her through the brass frame. She said that the man was in a crouching position and that the foot rail was fairly open and she had a clear view. she said that he was wearing a cap.

John Jones's wife said she then jumped up off the pillow and called to her husband 'John, John'. She said that as she called to her husband the man sprang towards her with an instrument wrapped up in brown paper and struck her on the side of the head near the temple causing a wound that bled freely and then aimed at her again hitting her on her elbow causing a slight wound.

She said then that John Jones woke up and jumped out of bed and that the man then went round the bottom of the bed and they met and started struggling. She said that she saw the man striking her husband continually with the instrument. She said that John Jones was trying to defend himself but that the man was the stronger of the two and had got John Jones down, half leaning over the bed. John Jones's wife said that the baby was still in the bed and she was leaning over it as the man was near.

John Jones's wife then said that she was screaming and the man got round by the door and she tried to pull him off of her husband who was then being pinned close to the wall by the man who was trying to choke him. John Jones's wife said that she managed to pull the man by his arm and open the door and they struggled onto the landing. She said that she had hold of the man and her husband was holding the banister. she said that she then let go of the man so she could open the attic door and called for the cellar man. she said she then heard a thud on the stairs and called to the cellar man 'Come down quick there is someone here murdering us'.

John Jones's wife said that she thought the thud was someone falling down the stairs but when she went back to her husband she found that the man had gone. The cellar man then came downstairs with a revolver in his hand.

She then helped John Jones back into the bedroom and a doctor and the police were called.

John Jones died shortly after.

John Jones's wife said that the cap that was left behind was not theirs and also that a pair of boots that had been left behind were not their either.

Eric Lange was arrested shortly after walking along a railway line. He was covered in blood and had no boots or cap.

He was convicted of the murder of John Jones and sentenced to death. Before his execution he wrote a letter to John Jones's wife which read:

I hope you will not be angry that I have written to you this letter, but I should not pass away before I have tried to beg your forgiveness that I have took the life of J. Emlyn Jones. God can only forgive me, but that I have robbed you and your child of husband and father, you and your child can forgive me. Therefore, I ask and beg, try and forgive me the great wrong I have done you and your small child. When he grows up tell him the man who robbed him of his father was deeply sorry for it, and would gladly suffer over and over again if he could bring back his poor father's life, and let him, too, try to forgive me, and not curse me, as I have well deserved. I don't begrudge to pay the penalty for my crime'.

see National Archives - ASSI 72/30/8

see East & South Devon Advertiser. - Saturday 17 December 1904