British Executions

Frederick Gill

Age: 26

Sex: male

Crime: murder

Date Of Execution: 4 Feb 1931

Crime Location: 150 Station Buildings, Keighley

Execution Place: Leeds

Method: hanging

Executioner: Thomas Pierrepoint


Frederick Gill murdered Oliver Preston at Oliver Preston's office in Station Buildings, Keighley on 25 July 1930.

Frederick Gill was convicted on mainly circumstantial evidence. Oliver Preston had been beaten to death in his office and a man had seen Frederick Gill leaving the office shortly beforehand and blood was also found on his clothes as well as the fact that he had suddenly started to spend a lot of money when only days before he was in debt.

Frederick Gill was also in long term debt with Oliver Preston and was in serious arrears. As well as owing Oliver Preston £3-12s he was in arrears on his rent and his girlfriend was demanding  aholiday from him. On top of that Oliver Preston had had his solicitor send him a letter demandingthe  £3-12s.

Frederick Gill was a driver and earned 27s-6d each week and could not afford the repayments. He worked at Prince Smith's, Burlington Shed, Keighley. He would start at 8am and finish at 5.30pm.

On 25 July Frederick Gill got home about 6.15pm at 1 Providence Place, Keighley where he lived with his brother and grandmother although they were all tennents. He was wearing his work clothes which the police later took. He had a wash, had some tea and then went out at about 6.30pm or later. When he returned about 12.30am he gave his grandmother £5 for the rent arrears and £1 for his wages. The money was all in £1 notes. The rent was 9/7 a week. Frederick Gill would give his grandmother his wages, including his unemployment benefit. His wages were 27/6 each week and she would give him 6/- each week. She took the money and paid the landlady who altered the rent book and also put the grandmother on the rent book.

At 6.40pm on 25 July Frederick Gill called at his girlfriends and at about 7.15pm they went out together. They visited a number of shops including Smart's, Boot's, Carter's, The Coopand they went to the market. Frederick Gill brought something in each of these places. They then went to Barwick & Haggas's the jewellers. On the way home they stopped at Wilmot joy's the barbers at about 8.15pm but it was too full. They then went to the railways station and booked tickets for Whitehaven which he paid for at the time. On the way back they met his girlfriends sister and her friend and they paid Frederick Gill for tickets to Whitehaven giving him a £1 note each and getting a shiling change in return and when the girlfriend got home she also paid for her ticket giving Frederick Gill a £1 note and getting a shilling change.

They got home about 8.30pm and undid their parcels and had some supper. at about 9.20pm they went out to the fair ground at Stockbridge where they stayed until 10.30pm and got home about 11pm. Frederick Gill stayed with his girlfriend until about five and twenty minutes to one.

The next day they al went to Whitehaven on the train. There were about seven of them in total in the party. They stayed at Scilly Bank, Whitehaven with relations of the girlfriends. When they were there Frederick Gill gave his girlfriend £3 which he said would do for the Sutton Holidays. whislt on holiday in Whitehaven Frederick Gill brought his girlfriend a raincoat and also an attache case. He also gave her a notecase with treasury notes in it but she didnt count them.

Previously on 24 July Oliver Preston had gone to the Yorkshire Penny Bank Limited at their Keighly branch and had cashed a cheque for £80 which he took in one pound treasury notes.

A hairdresser who used the front and back rooms at 150 Station Buildings sublet the backroom to Oliver Preston for his business and he would tend to go there on Wednesdays, thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays about 1am and would stay about 15 minutes and would call again in the afternoon around 2am and often stay for the whole afternoon. The hairdresser had a key for his office which she used when she wanted to put money in the meter. On 26 July she arrived about 8.30am and at around 9.10am she went into Oliver Preston's room to put a coin in the meter and saw him lying on the couch with blood on him. She put a penny in the meter and then caused the police to be sent for. When the police arrived they found Oliver Preston was still alive although he was unconscious. He had been beaten about the head and his left arm and leg were paralysed. He died at 1.45am on 28 July 1929. At the scene of the crime police also found some brown paper with blood on it.

Earlier at work Frederick Gill was seen by a work colleague wrapping something up in a brown paper parcel and then leaving the premises about 5.20pm on 25 July 1930. He was seen in the scrap area where the scrap metal bars were kept. The colleague said that he thought it was about 12-16 inches long. He called out to Frederick Gill but he ignored him and left.

On 28 July 1930 the police went to Scilly Bank, Whitehaven around 9pm where they took Frederick Gill to the police station for questinoing. Frederick Gill said that after work he had gone to see Oliver Preston and then went home for his tea and later to see his girlfriend. When questioned he said that he had asked for a £1-2 loan but added that he had £17 saved up since last feast and and when asked how much money he had on him at the time he showed them his wallet which contained about £6 in £1 notes and £1 in silver. He said that his girl knew he had £17 many weeks ago and that he was going to spend it at the feast.

The police then said that they were going to take him to Keighly and Frederick Gill said 'It is ridiculous'. The poice then searched him and found a hankerchief with 10 £1 treasury notes rolled up inside it. They were marked 43. He said his girl had saved those for him and given them too him that morning. They also found 14/9 and a half in cash. They also took his watch which he said he had brought on Friday at Barwick & Haggas for 14/- saying that he had had his eye on it for some time.

They got back to Keighly at about 5.45amand at 6am they charged him with murder.

Frederick Gill denied the murder, but the found blood on his clothes and boots along with his new found wealth was enough to convince the jury and he was convicted of murder and sentenced to death.

see Western Gazette - Friday 19 December 1930

see National Archives - ASSI 45/90/8