British Executions

George Ball

Age: 22

Sex: male

Crime: murder

Date Of Execution: 26 Feb 1914

Crime Location: 86 Old Hall Street, Liverpool

Execution Place: Liverpool

Method: hanging

Executioner: John Ellis


George Ball murdered Christina Catherine Bradfield 40 who he battered to death at 86 Old Hall Street, Liverpool on 10 December 1913.

George Ball was employed as a packer by Christina Bradfield's brother. On 10 December 1913 he beat her about the head with a marlin spike that he used for his work and then, with the help of an accomplice, an 18 year old cart boy with the company, he trussed her up in a sack and dumped her in a nearby canal.

Christina Bradfield's brother ran a tarpaulin manufacturing business at 86 Old Hall Street in Liverpool at which both George Ball and his accomplice worked, and Christina Bradfield managed the shop for him. She was described as being strict but kind with George Ball and the other youth and as being a good business woman of unimpeachable character.

In running the shop Christina Bradfield was in the habit of collecting cash payments and taking the money home with her in a satchel after locking up the shop and taking the keys away with her.

The police report stated that there was no doubt that whilst Christina Bradfield was alone with George Ball and the other youth on the evening of 10 December 1913 that George Ball attacked her with a marlin spike, hitting her numerous times on the head with it and killing her. The report noted that it was not certain as to whether the other youth was present or took part in the murder, but that he undoubtedly assisted in the disposal of her body.

After Christina Bradfield was murdered, she was partially stripped, with her corset and some of her lower clothing removed so as to indecently expose her parts. She was then trussed up with her thighs and legs bound to her waist and neck and then put into a sack which was then weighted down with iron and tied up with rope. The canvas itself was also stitched up fairly well to make a fairly complete parcel with her feet and ankles protruding.

The sack was then put on a handcart and taken by George Ball and the other youth to the Liverpool Canal where it was thrown in.

However, just before they started out with the handcart, a shutter at the shop was blown down and smashed the hat of a passer by who spoke to both of the youths and was given 2/- in compensation by George Ball for his hat.

When Christina Bradfield failed to turn up for work the following morning, inquiries were made in which both George Ball and the other youth took part.

George Ball said that Christina Bradfield had given him the shop keys the night before saying that she had told him that she was likely to be late in the following morning.

A short while later, at about midday, a flat master found that one of the lock gates on the Liverpool Canal would not open and whilst trying to clear the obstruction with a boat-hook, he discovered Christina Bradfield's body in the sack.

Once the police examined the shop, they soon found blood-stains on the floor and determined that Christina Bradfield had been murdered there.

Later that night the police went to arrest George Ball and the other youth. However, when they went to George Ball's lodgings, they found that he had gone.

The other youth, who was arrested in bed, admitted that he had helped George Ball take a sack to the canal and dump it, but denied any knowledge of the murder. He stuck to his story through the trial, at which he was also tried for murder, and was convicted of being an accessory after the fact and sentenced to four years penal servitude.

George Ball was not found until 20 December 1913.

When he was first arrested, he denied being George Ball and said that his name was Albert King. He had been heavily disguised with an eye shade and spectacles and had shaved his eyebrows. However, once his identity was established, he admitted being in the shop at the time of the murder but said that it was committed in his presence by a stranger.

The police report stated that Christina Bradfield had had about £7 in her satchel on the night she was murdered, and stated that it was proved that from 15 to 20 December 1943, that George Ball had spent about £3-10-0 in the company of a sailor who was planning at the time to go back to Australia. It was also noted that George Ball had made plans to get a berth on the same ship.

It was also determined that George Ball had had no money before the murder and thought that if he had spent money at the same rate that he had done in the company of the sailor, then it would have accounted for about £7.

Several other points in evidence against George Ball at the trial were made:

  1. The bloodstained marlin-spike found in the shop was used especially by him in his work.
  2. On the evening of the murder, two fresh scratches were noticed on his face.
  3. His clothes, including his right cuff, were bloodstained.
  4. The flesh of Christina Bradfield's head had been pulped by innumerable blows whereas George Ball said that he only saw the man strike her three times.
  5. Christina Bradfield's watch was found in his possession when he was arrested.

In his defence, George Ball said that as he was coming down the stairs at the shop he saw a man who must have been hiding in the shop strike Christina Bradfield as she stooped down to turn the gas off at the meter, saying that he struck her once on the back of her head and twice more on her temple, with his marlin spike, which he said must have been lying handy. He went on to state that as the man did so that that he cover him with a revolver in his left hand, striking Christina Bradfield with his right hand and then turning her over.

He described the man as tall and with a dark moustache.

However, it was noted that when he was pressed on that story, he suggested that there had also been another man assisting the man with the gun and said that the man then seized the satchel with the money in it and ran off, but added that Christina Bradfield's watch fell out of the satchel as the man made off and that that was how he became possessed of it.

George Ball said that after the man left he went to Christina Bradfield and took her head in his lap, which was how he got the blood on his clothes and that when the other youth returned, 'as things would look black against them', they packed her body up and disposed of it in the canal.

George Ball went on to account for the money that he had spent by saying that he had pawned clothes for a few shillings and had received 25/- from some sailors who he had met. However, the police report stated that the sums fell far short even of the £3-10-0 that he had spent in the company of the sailor.

The police report stated that the motive for the murder was probably simple robbery and not lust, but observed that the latter might have had something to do with the treatment of Christina Bradfield's dead body. The police report noted that there were no signs of outrage or attempted outrage while she was alive, and further noted that she was virgo intacta at the time and menstruating.

After the jury returned their verdicts, George Ball being guilty of murder and his accomplice guilty of being an accessory after the fact, they recommended the other youth to mercy on the grounds of his youth and the fact that he had been acting under the influence of George Ball. However, they made no recommendation regarding George Ball and when the judge passed sentence he told him that he must be prepared to pay the penalty of his crime.

He was executed at Liverpool on 26 February 1914.

George Ball was also known as George Sumner.

The trial attracted significant interest, and demand for admission into the court was unprecedented. However, the police made arrangements for coping with the crowd and after the court was filled to a point just short of discomfort, the doors were closed, leaving several thousand disappointed people outside the building. When the case was opened, it was said that there was an audience of about 800 people besides the bench, bar and jury-box.

see Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser - Friday 27 February 1914

see National Archives - ASSI 52/213, HO 144/1304/248318

see Illustrated Police News - Thursday 05 March 1914

see Illustrated Police News - Thursday 18 December 1913