British Executions

Hugh McLaren

Age: 29

Sex: male

Crime: murder

Date Of Execution: 14 Aug 1913

Crime Location: Quayside, Roath Basin, Cardiff

Execution Place: Cardiff

Method: hanging

Executioner: John Ellis


Hugh McLaren was convicted of the murder of Julian Biros 32 and sentenced to death.

He stabbed him to death at Quayside, Roath Basin in Cardiff on 23 March 1913.

Hugh McLaren was a fireman, but for some time had been working as a casual dock labourer at Cardiff doing odd jobs and sleeping out at the Fuel Works.

Julian Biros was a Spaniard or a 'Dago' who had been sleeping at the Fuel Works for some years and was casually employed at the docks.

On the morning of Sunday 23 March 1913 Julian Biros and two other men went to the Dock Basin to see a ship come in and they were met there by Hugh McLaren.

Hugh McLaren then said, 'This is Easter Sunday, boys, let's have some tea', and then produced a packet of tea. However, Julian Biros said, 'That is my tea', and made a grab for it. However, Hugh McLaren said, 'It's not your tea'. Julian Biros then said, 'It is my tea', and Hugh McLaren said, 'It's not your bloody tea' and caught Julian Biros by the throat with his left hand and stabbed him in the heart with a shoemaker's knife, splitting one of his ribs.

Hugh McLaren then walked off, wiping the blood off the knife.

Julian Biros attempted to run after Hugh McLaren but fell. He then got up and tried to go on, whereupon Hugh McLaren picked up a stone and threw it at him and then made off.

Julian Biros was taken to hospital on an ambulance, but he died there whilst trying to make his deposition.

Hugh McLaren was arrested later that day and when he was charged, he said, 'I've got nothing to say'. He then said, 'I could kill a dozen Dagos like that. They could not touch me for it. My father was executioner of them in America'.

Hugh McLaren later said, 'It wasn't the knife that done him in. It was the chloroform them blokes gave him down there. He walked there by himself'.

During their investigation, the police spoke to another docker, who was described as being apparently of the same class, who said that the night before the murder Hugh McLaren had asked him if he knew 'that Dago', and had then said, 'I shall cut him from lug to lug'. The docker noted that Hugh McLaren had been sober when he had said that.

Hugh McLaren was convicted of murder and sentenced to death with no recommendation to mercy.

The police report noted that Hugh McLaren had a bad record, and had two convictions for wounding, one in 1902 and the other in 1906, and one for robbery with violence in 1904.

The police noted that if Hugh McLaren had been of better character there might have been a question of whether there was sufficient premeditation to warrant the extreme penalty noting that similar cases of 'a word and a blow', would often result in a verdict of manslaughter. However, the police report noted that Hugh McLaren was a violent ruffian and that the evidence of the other docker pointed to a degree of malice on the part of Hugh McLaren.

see National Archives - ASSI 72/39/2, HO 144/1281/240849