British Executions

Dennis John Whitty

Age: 22

Sex: male

Crime: murder

Date Of Execution: 17 Dec 1963

Crime Location: Nanjarrow Farm

Execution Place: Winchester

Method: hanging

Executioner: Robert Leslie Stewart


Dennis John Whitty and Russel Pascoe murdered William Garfield Rowe on 14th August 1963.

The pair were living in a caravan with a number of other people and had heard of the rumours that Garfield had a fortune hidden in his tumble down farm, Nanjarrow Farm.

On the night of 14 August they rode off to Nanjarrow Farm on a motorbike and arriving about 11pm where they beat Garfield to death in an attempt to get him to tell them where his fortune was. He died and they got away with a total of £4 even though the police later found at least £3000 hidden about the building.

The pair were later caught and in interview blamed each other for the violence. They were hung on 17 December 1963.

William Garfield Rowe had deserted during World War I and had been hidden by his parents on their farm at Porthleven, Cornwall, for over thirty years. After his father had died his mother and brother moved to another farm at Constantine. They had taken William along, hidden on a cart. After an amnesty for deserters had been declared Rowe was able to come out of hiding and resume a normal life. His emergence came as something of shock to the locals who believed he had died in the trenches. Rowe’s battered and slashed body was discovered in the farmhouse on 15th August 1963. Robbery was the obvious motive as the house had been ransacked, though whoever had committed the murder had missed £3,000 hidden around the farmhouse and various other amounts secreted around the farm buildings. Police roadblocks were set up. The following day Russell Pascoe, a 23-year-old labourer, was stopped while riding his motorcycle and questioned. He told the officer that he had been in Truro, staying in a caravan with a friend, 22-year-old Dennis Whitty, and three girls. The girls, when questioned later, told police that the two men had left the caravan on the evening of the killing to “do a job.” They had armed themselves with an iron bar, a starting pistol and a knife. When interviewed Pascoe confessed, telling officers that he had only hit Rowe with the iron bar. It was, according to him, Whitty who had killed the old man, stabbing him in the neck. Whitty’s version of events was that Pascoe “made me stick him.” Their haul amounted to £4. Their trial opened at Bodmin Assizes on 19th October 1963. Whitty’s defence was that he had only acted out of fear of Pascoe. A guilty verdict was duly returned against both men. They went to the gallows on 17th December 1963. Whitty was hanged at Winchester Prison and Pascoe at Bristol.

see National Archives - ASSI 26/297