British Executions

Francisco Carlos Godhino

Age: 40

Sex: male

Crime: murder

Date Of Execution: 17 Oct 1911

Crime Location: Cabin 114-115, SS China, High Seas

Execution Place: Pentonville

Method: hanging

Executioner: John Ellis


Francisco Carlos Godhino was convicted of the murder of Alice Emily Brewster 53 and sentenced to death.

He killed her on board the P&O liner SS China, at sea between Colombo and Aden on 11 June 1911.

Francisco Godhino was Goanese and had been employed by the P&O company and was a bathing attendant on the SS China.

Alice Brewster was the First Saloon Stewardess on the same ship. She was described as a woman who did her work well and who was strict with others. She shared a cabin with another woman and it was Francisco Godhino's duty to call them in the morning and attend to the cabin.

It was heard that Alice Brewster often had to find fault with Francisco Godhino which he had resented, and Alice Brewster had threatened to report him for insolence.

They had words on 1 June 1911 and Alice Brewster's cabin mate heard Francisco Godhino call Alice Brewster 'A bloody cow'. The cabin mate also said that on 6 June 1911 she thought that she heard Alice Brewster slap Francisco Godhino and saw her give him a push.

Then on 8 June 1911 a menu card with a scurrilous message written on it about Alice Brewster was found nailed up in her cabin. Francisco Godhino denied writing the message and when taxed said that he was unable to write.

However, later on the evening of 10 June 1911, Alice Brewster told Francisco Godhino that he looked tired and gave him 6d to get a drink.

The night of 10 June 1911, whilst the ship was between Colombo and Aden, it was very hot. Alice Brewster's cabin mate said that she saw Alice Brewster in their cabin at about 3am standing by her bed. The cabin mate said that Alice Brewster then went off to sleep in an empty cabin, 114-115.

Later that morning, 11 June 1911, Francisco Godhino came by the cabin and asked the cabin mate where Alice Brewster was. The cabin mate said that she later went passed cabin 114-115 on her way to her bath and saw that the door was ajar, and the hook and the curtain were pulled across. She said that she merely noticed some bedding on the floor and thought that Alice Brewster had already got up and gone off to her bath. The cabin mate said that on her way to her bath she passed Francisco Godhino and told him that Alice Brewster was not in her cabin.

While the cabin mate was in her bath Francisco Godhino knocked and told her that Alice Brewster was in cabin 114-115 and that 'something had happened'.

The cabin mate said that she then ran to cabin 114-115 and found the door and curtain exactly as she had seen them when she had looked in a few minutes before. It was noted that if Francisco Godhino had made the discovery after the cabin mate had looked in that he would have had to have then re-hooked the door on coming out, leaving Alice Brewster on the floor with the port open and a high sea running.

The cabin mate said that she found Alice Brewster's body on the floor of the cabin covered by the bedding from one of the bunks, 114. Her head had been battered in with a blunt instrument and she had marks of nail scratches on her throat. She also had two wounds on the fingers of her left hand.

There was blood spattered at the head of the other bunk, 115, and the bedding of which was soaked with blood.

It was also noted that the port-hole was open although the sea was rough and was washing in.

It was heard that Francisco Godhino was told to go in and shut the port but he had said that he was afraid. He then said that he had mislaid his port-key and had to go and borrow one. A port key was afterwards found in the water on the floor in the cabin which was stated to weigh over 21bs and to have been sufficiently heavy to have caused the wounds on Alice Brewster's head.

It was noted that Francisco Godhino did not enter the cabin and did not appear to get wet, but nevertheless he had said that he had changed his trousers at about 7.30am as they were wet. When his trousers were later examined they were found to be covered with small spattered bloodstains and appeared to have been washed.

A watchman stated that during the night, shortly after 3am, Francisco Godhino was seen getting water at a locker a long way from where he slept, even though there was a water locker close by. It was also said that to have returned to his sleeping quarters, he would have had to have passed cabin 114-115. The watchman said that he fixed the time as shortly after 3am when he had made an entry in his occurrence book when he visited a passenger in his cabin. However, Francisco Godhino said that he had gone for the water at about 11.30pm and said that he then went back to his quarters and didn't leave them until 5am.

Alice Brewster's body was found at about 5.45am and it was thought that her death may have occurred from half an hour to three hours before that time.

It was noted that a nightdress that Alice Brewster had been wearing when her cabin mate had seen her in her own cabin earlier on at 3am, was missing. The rack above the head of bunk 115 was also covered with blood and brains and it was thought that Francisco Godhino had stripped her of her nightdress and perhaps got her body up in an attempt to put it out through the port hole.

The police report stated that it was impossible to say when she had died, but that it was thought that Francisco Godhino might have killed her at about 3am and then returned later and opened the port hole in order to push her out. It was noted that the port hole did not seem to have been opened for long before Alice Brewster's body was found as there was not much water in the cabin.

The police report also stated that the evidence against Francisco Godhino was slight enough but that it was clinched by his own statement to a detective outside a Police Court when he said, 'If I say it my faults will they pardon me? Is King George here? If I say it my faults and ask pardon will he relieve me? It his Coronation 10 days ago so perhaps he relieve me, or if he no pardon me will they put me in gaol or hang me up? It both out faults, we were fighting'.

The police report stated that the words, 'It both out faults, we were fighting' were only consistent with guilt and were conclusive.

Francisco Godhino was convicted of murder and sentence to death with no recommendation to mercy and his appeal was dismissed. He had made his appeal on the grounds that he had made his confession in the hope of obtaining a pardon.

He was executed on 17 October 1911.

see National Archives - HO 144/1163/213653, CRIM 1/124/1

see Histomar - for picture of vessel which is actually SS Egypt but the exact type as SS China