Date Of Execution: 10 Aug 1928
Crime Location: Lloyds Bank, Ferry Hill, Durham
Execution Place: Durham
Executioner: Thomas Pierrepoint
Norman Elliott murdered William Byland Abbey 31 during a bank robbery at the Lloyds Bank in Ferryhill on 16 February 1928 and was sentenced to death.
He hit him over the head and then stabbed him in the neck.
Just before William Abbey died he managed to throw a paper weight out through the window and when some cobblers who were outside came to his aid he said 'It was a tall man who did it.'. He died with a quarter of an hour.
A cobblers knife was found just behind him. It was of an unusual design with a black handle bearing a stamp 'Made in U.S.A., South Bridge, Mass., U.S.A.'. When police examined it they found fingerprints that they believed belonged to the murderer.
Just after 3pm a well-dressed man who was a stranger to the neighbourhood was seen to came out of the bank and walk over to a waiting motor-car at an ordinary brisk pace, get in and drive away. Soon after William Abbey threw the paperweight through the window to get help.
When the four cobblers went in they saw William Abbey staggering about behind the counter with blood streaming from his neck and soon after he collapsed and died.
The police issued a description of the man that was seen leaving the bank as:
Wanted for the murder of William Abbey, bank clerk, at 3pm at Ferryhill, a man said to be 5ft. 9ins. to 10ins., about thirty years of age wearing light brown suit with double-breasted jacket, light cap and coloured tie, black boots, clean shaven, dark coloured hair fresh complexion. Motor used was an old two-seater Rover with dickey at back. The dark coloured hood appeared to have been recently repainted a brown or chocolate colour. It had 'Rover' on the radiator and two very heavy head lamps at the front. It was last seen going in the direction of Durham.
William Abbey had lodged with a woman at Park Terrace in Ferryhill. She said that on the Monday morning before he was killed he had told her about a dream that he had had. She said that she remarked to him that she had had a dream with him in it and that he had replied that he too had had a terrible dream. She said that he said 'I dreamt that I was being murdered, and that my assailants tried to quieten me, but could not kill me. They got hold of my throat and I felt a terrible sensation of choking. They came for me two or three times, but I could not get away and could not crawl away'.
The landlady said that he attached no importance to the dreams. She said that she then asked him what he would do if someone attacked him over the counter and that he had told her that he would pick up a paper-weight and throw it through the window. She said that he then added that in his opinion no-one could get in there to attack him as there was always such a crowd about and that the crashing of glass would bring the crowd and prevent the man from getting away.
Lloyds Bank offered a £500 reward for the discovery of the murderer.
At his inquest the Coroner stated that bruises and wounds found on his body indicated that William Abbey had put up a good fight and stated that there must have been great violence used.He said that it was quite evident that in attempting to rob the bank the man had become a ferocious wild beast.
Norman Elliott was an Asylum Attendant at the Durham County Asylum in Sedgefield near Stockton-on-Tees and was later arrested on 20 February 1928 at Kelloe in Durham.
Had had married three weeks earlier.
see National Archives - HO 144/10939