British Executions

Walter Smith

Age: 32

Sex: male

Crime: murder

Date Of Execution: 27 Mar 1894

Crime Location:

Execution Place: Nottingham

Method: hanging

Executioner: unknown


Walter Smith murdered Catherine Mary Cross 25 who he shot to death at Abbots Factory, Forest Street, Hyson Green on 2 December 1893. She died on the 6 December.

Catherine Cross was a nurse in Liverpool and had been to Nottingham to see her mother arriving on 25 November. On 28 November she went to see some friends and met the mother of Walter Smith who invited her to her place for tea and whilst there she met Walter Smith for the first time by chance.

Walter Smith had met Catherine Cross who already had boyfriend who she was planning to marry a while before she was murdered. The boyfriend was planning to also come down from Liverpool on 2 December at stay at her mothers too. She had agreed to meet him on the 2 December at the railway station at 12.30pm. Walter Smith brought a revolver a few days before the murder on 30 December for 30s from Jacksons. He had no experience with guns before that.

At some stage he arranged to meet with Mary Cross on 2 December at his factory to show her a Chenille machine for lace making that he was building and had patented. It was susggested that she had agreed to look in at the machine because it was on her route to the station where she was to meet her boyfriend at 12.30pm. When they got there around 11.20am he locked the door behind them. They were in there for over an hour when 3 shots were fired at 2-4 second intervals and Catherine Cross burst out through a door at 12.50pm wounded and went down some steep steps to be aided by a man in a local cottage, with her clothes all torn up. She died 4 days later.

Walter Smith said nothing when first arrested but later stated that the gun had gone off by accident and he didnt know that it was loaded. However, the prosecution said that he had brought it a day or so earlier and had loaded it himself the night before and said it was very unlikely that he didnt know it was loaded. The court also heard that the gun had a 6lb trigger and had 2 firing mechanisms, the first that required cocking between shots and the second that allowed for rapid firing. The prosecution said that the shots were fired using the independent action that required cocking between shots. The court also heard that each shot was fired at 2-4 second intervals suggesting that Catherine Cross was shot in the face in the room in the factory leaving blood on the walls and that as she fled out the room and reached the top of the staircase she was shot at again, a shot which missed and hit a wall and that Walter Smith then advanced to the top of the stairs and fired a third time as she was going down the stairs, a shot that missed and landed in woodwork at the bottom of the stairs. Catherine Cross then smashed open a locked door and fled outside. The shot had hit her in the chin and ricocheted into her gullet and shattered against her spine. She had also put her hand in front of her face to defend herself and the bullet had grazed her hand tearing the glove and leaving an injury.

The prosecution said that if it was an accident then why was Walter Smith not the first out of the main door seeking help and why were 3 shots fired? And why did it take him so long to say for the first time that it was an accident? And why when she left were her clothes all torn up across the hip when they were in perfect condition when she left that morning on her way to meet her boyfriend. And when she left the building and ran down the stairs where was he? Why wasnt he running down with her trying to help her. the prosecution asked why

Before she died she told police that she thought the first shot was an accident but that the second two were deliberate.

Walter Smith was convicted of murder and sentenced to death.

see Nottingham Evening Post - Monday 05 March 1894

see True Crime Library

See Foul Deeds and Suspicious Deaths In Nottingham