British Executions

William Henry Kennedy

Age: 36

Sex: male

Crime: murder

Date Of Execution: 31 May 1928

Crime Location: Stapleford Abbots, Romford

Execution Place: Wandsworth

Method: hanging

Executioner: Thomas Pierrepoint


William Henry Kennedy and Frederick Guy Browne were convicted of the murder of William George Gutteridge and sentenced to death.

William George Gutteridge was found shot dead at Stapleford Abbots, Romford. He was a police constable.

His body was found in a zig -zag trail of blood and nearby two bullets were picked up.

When he was found he was still holding his pencil in his hand and his pocket-book was lying near his helmet. There was no indication of any mark in the notebook.

William Gutteridge was found by a van driver who then went to call the police at Ongar. However, the telephonist would not put him through unless he put fivepence in the phone. Then a sub-postmaster who was there tried to get through and there was some quibbling and eventually the van driver said that he would pay the fivepence.

A telephonist at the exchange said that he received a call from Loughton on 27 September 1927 for the Ongar Police which was said to be urgent. He said that he twice consulted his supervisor and said that after the second occasion he had asked the caller for fivepence and said that there was no reply.

The acting-supervisor said that he had refused the call because of lack of information. However, the Superintendent of Traffic in the London Telephone Service said that the call should unquestionably have been put through.

A doctor who examined the body of William Gutteridge said that death was due to haemorrhage and laceration of the brain. He had seen the body at about 9am on the morning of 27 September 1927 and said that it had been dead for about five hours.

The police later said that they had traced a Morris-Cowley motor car that had been stolen around 2.30am on 27 September 1927 from Billericay. They said that as a result of numerous inquiries they had determined that the motor car had passed over a route about fifteen miles across country to Stapleford Abbots and the scene of the crime. It was then traced via another route through Abridge towards London where it was found. The police said that after careful measurements they had determined that some person or persons responsible for the theft of the car had Ongar and Romford road where they had stopped and murdered William Gutteridge.

They said that William Gutteridge was probably in the act of obtaining particulars from the person or persons when he was shot and that he had then staggered backwards, zig-zagging, to where he fell onto a bank which he then slid down.

The crime remained unsolved for several months until February 1928 when William Kennedy and Frederick Browne were arrested for the theft of a car in Tooting. They were then connected to the murder of William Gutteridge and charged with his murder and convicted.

see Aberdeen Press and Journal - Saturday 26 November 1927

see Hull Daily Mail - Friday 25 November 1927

see Aberdeen Press and Journal - Saturday 26 November 1927

see Essex Newsman - Saturday 11 February 1928

see Gloucester Citizen - Monday 23 April 1928

see National Archives - MEPO 3/1631