Date Of Execution: 18 Mar 1902
Crime Location: Southborough, Tonbridge
Execution Place: Maidstone
Executioner: William Billington
Harold Apted was convicted of the murder of Frances O'Rourke 7 and sentenced to death.
Frances O'Rourke had been sent on an errand to pick up a parcel by her parents at 2pm. She arrived at the shop about an hour later and collected the parcel after waiting for some time and set off to return home at 3.50pm.
Frances O'Rourke was later seen getting into a four wheel horse drawn van at 4.30pm just down from the Cross Keys Inn and was later seen by witnesses sat in it next to the driver as it went along. Then at 5.30pm the van was seen to be being driven fast from the direction of Vauxhall Pond towards Tonbridge.
When Frances O'Rourke failed to return home a search was made but she wasn't found until the next day when she was seen by a labourer as he was walking to working in Vauxhall Pond.
She was found partially clothed with her clothes piled up nearby in a field. An attempt had been made to rape her and she had been stabbed behind the ear. The knife was still caught up in her matted hair. It was a two bladed pocket knife with a yellowed handle. The wound was 1 1⁄2 inches deep.
A woman that had seen the van knew who the driver was and so the police went to see Harold Apted who lived in Tonbridge.
He denied the murder but blood was found on his shirt and jacket and his van had recently been scrubbed although not all the blood had been removed. The blood in the van was described as resembling mammalian blood which was said to be not too different from human blood.
The police also traced the knife to a man that said he had lent it to Harold Apted some time before. The knife had blood stains on it and human hair. A 12 year old boy said that he had seen Harold Apted borrow the knife and had also seen him kill rabbits with it saying that he would stab the rabbits by the side of their necks.
Harold Apted said that he had lost the knife some months before.
see Sussex Agricultural Express - Saturday 25 January 1902
see National Archives - HO 144/577/A63233