Date Of Execution: 15 Dec 1908
Crime Location: Stoney Stainton Road, Coventry
Execution Place: Warwick
Executioner: Henry Pierrepoint
Harry Taylor Parker murdered Thomas Tompkins 61 at a bakehouse on Stoney Stainton Road, Coventry on 26 August 1908.
He hit him with a heavy oak post with nails sticking out of the end because he had a grudge against him.
In court he said 'I went there with the intention of settling him, and if I had known he was not done for I should not have left him. I should have finished him without going away.' He also said that he should have done the other one to, reffering to the owner of the bakehouse.
Thomas Tompkins was a bakers assisistant and it was his duty to open the bakehouse each morning at 5am, to knead the dough and commence the baking. He was found at 7.30am lying on the floor of the bakehouse with serious injuries and died at 8.30am.
Six years earlier Harry Parker gone to the bakehouse and had claimed that the owner had harboured his wife and Harry Parker then assaulted him by throwing dirt at him for which he was fined. The owner had said before the murder that someone had been sleeping in the bakehouse without permission and that he had been followed. Thomas Tompkins had been working in the bakehouse for about 4 or 5 years.
Harry Parker was seen wondering around early in the morning looking melancholy by a man whose job it was to go around and wake people up for work. Harry Parker said that he got up at 5am after having slept under some trees. He said then at some stage he sat down on some bricks near the bakehouse but was told to go away by Thomas Tompkins who he hit with an old post. He said he could tell he had hurt him as he was very quiet. He said that he was in a rage because he was out of work and had gone to the bakehouse to quarrel with the man but instead he hit him. The fatel wound had been caused by a nail projecting from the wood.
The judge sid the jury had to decide whether Harry Parker had intended to kill Thomas Tompkins or cause him grevious bodily harm and pointed out the lack of motive as he described the grievence as more a fancied grievance even if there was a greivance there at all. The judge said that if Harry Parker had intended to commit murder he would have taken a weapon with him instead of picking up a rotten bit of wood at the bakehouse adding that he did not think that anyone could expect that such a blow could result in death and that if there had not been any protuding nails there would have been no major consequence. The judge also said that Harry Parker had been surprised to find out that Thomas Tompkins had died indicating again that it was not his intention to kill him and that he was not waiting at the baskehouse for Thomas Tompkins as Thomas Tompkins had arrived before Harry Parker and had dough on his hands from mixing it.
After retiring for an hour and 40 minutes the jury returned the verdict of guilty of wilful murder.
see Leamington Spa Courier - Friday 27 November 1908
see Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser - Friday 04 September 1908
see Western Times - Wednesday 25 November 1908
see Evening Telegraph - Friday 04 September 1908
see National Archives - ASSI 13/38, HO 144/894/172534