British Executions

George Newton

Age: 19

Sex: male

Crime: murder

Date Of Execution: 31 Jan 1911

Crime Location: 10 Biggerstaff Road, Stratford, London

Execution Place: Chelmsford

Method: hanging

Executioner: John Ellis


George Newton was convicted of the murder of his girlfriend Ada Roker 21 and sentenced to death.

He cur her throat at 10 Biggerstaff Road in Stratford, London on 24 December 1910.

George Newton had been employed as a valve boy at the Gas Works in Stratford and Ada Roker was a factory hand at the Candy Works.

They had kept company on and off for three years and for the last 6-months had been engaged. However, George Newton had had a jealous disposition and they had had frequent quarrels. Three weeks before the murder he hit her in the mouth with his fist and on one occasion he had threatened to use a pistol on her, although they latterly appeared to be on happy terms.

On the Friday, 23 December 1911 they were together for the whole afternoon at Ada Roker's mother's house and the following day George Newton when to her house again at about 3pm and remained with Ada Roker alone in the kitchen.

At one-point Ada Roker's sister-in-law looked in and saw Ada Roker with a red face and asked her what was wrong and said that she replied that they had only been having a game. The sister-in-law said that when she looked in again later Ada Roker said that George Newton had not let her light the gas and had said that she didn't know what the matter with him was.

Later at about 6.40pm George Newton rushed out of the house and went to his brother-in-law’s house where he was lodging and handed him a razor and told him that he had cut Ada Roker's throat. He then went and washed his hands.

The razor had belonged to his brother-in-law.

Shortly after, a policeman came and arrested George Newton. When he was arrested he said 'It was done quick and I was copped quick'.

Ada Roker was found lying on her back with a deep gash to the left side of her neck that had severed the structures to the bone. She also had five pressure marks on her face and a few small bruises but there was no sign of a struggle in the room. Her elbows were tightly fastened to her sides by a leather strap that was buckled round her body and her left hand was raised as though to protect her neck.

It was thought that George Newton had probably tied the strap around Ada Roker as though in fun and that after he had bound her he put his hand over her mouth and cut her throat. It was noted that no one in the house heard her scream.

The strap was a belt that George Newton usually wore at work.

At his trial his defence claimed insanity stating that his father's aunt had been in an asylum for 30 years and her son was an epileptic idiot. The defence also pointed out that George Newton's 13-year old sister was an idiot and had been epileptic since she was 2-years old. It was also heard that the defence also gave evidence of some strange conduct by George Newton which the police report said amounted to nil.

The medical officer reported that George Newton was perfectly sane.

The police report stated that the murder had been planned and had been carried out with great deliberation. It stated that he had taken the razor with him for the purpose of killing her and that he had secured her arms before killing her.

He was convicted of murder, but the jury recommended him to mercy on account of his age. However, the judge did not concur and stated that he didn’t feel that youths should be allowed to think that they could be sure of a reprieve in such cases.

The police report stated that George Newton was 19 which did not come within the age limit of 18 years although he had borne a good character. They said that it was one of those cases, of which they said they had too many, where a lad of weak self-control, jealous disposition and violent temper seeks a weapon and deliberately murders his sweetheart for some comparatively trivial reason or because he does not see his way to marry her. It went on to say that Ada Roker was apparently not a virgin but noted that she was not pregnant and that it perhaps could not have been because her ovaries were diseased. They added that there was no evidence that Ada Roker had had sexual relations with George Newton but stated that it would not have affected the case if she had not. They also stated that she didn't appear to have been carrying on with anyone else.

The Home Secretary did not commute his sentence and he was executed on 31 January 1911.

see National Archives - CRIM 1/118/6, HO 144/1114/202916