British Executions

Frank Steele

Age: 31

Sex: male

Crime: murder

Date Of Execution: 11 Aug 1915

Crime Location: 31 Nelson Street, Gateshead

Execution Place: Durham

Method: hanging

Executioner: John Ellis


Frank Steele was convicted of the murder of his girlfriend Nana Barrett 21 and sentenced to death.

He cut her throat at 31 Nelson Street, Gateshead on 16 May 1915.

Frank Steele had up until recently been employed as a craneman at Armstrongs Elswick but was dismissed for losing time through drinking at weekends.

He had previously married a prostitute in 1913, but she was later found dead on the morning of 6 June 1914 with a noose of tape round her neck and the other end attached to the bed post.

In February 1915 Frank Steele went to live at 31 Nelson Street in Gateshead with Nana Barrett, who was also a prostitute.

Nana Barrett had a child by another man and about three weeks before the murder she had written to the man and asked him to come and see her whilst Frank Steele was on night shift. However, the letter was undelivered, and Frank Steele got hold of it and became angry. He showed the letter to neighbours.

Frank Steele was seen to leave his house on Sunday 16 May 1915 at about 12.30pm, at which time he was sober, followed by Nana Barrett. They were seen to return a while later at about 2.30pm and were seen by a woman who saw them pass her window who said that 'he had a drop of drink in him then'.

It seemed that Frank Steele soon after cut Nana Barrett's throat at their house as by 4.40pm Frank Steele met a former workmate to whom he said, 'I have done Nana in'. He was said to have been very drunk by that time.

Frank Steele went off and on 17 May 1915 he visited his mother and then visited her again the following day, 18 May when he told her what he had done. When he did so his mother sent for the police and after an enquiry Frank Steele was arrested.

When he was arrested, he said, 'I don't care. I cut her throat with that razor on Sunday afternoon, she came in drunk, I done it. I then cut my own and also cut my arm. I went to bed in the house and slept all night, went to Sunderland and Shields and knocked about the country since. I intended to finish myself tonight'.

Nana Barrett was found on 18 May 1915 lying dead on her bed dressed only in her nightdress and stockings and it was noted that she had been dead for some time. Her jugular vein had been cut and a blood-stained razor was found in the flue.

At his trial his defence put forward a defence of drunkenness but there was no evidence that Frank Steele had been more than slightly drunk when he was seen shortly before the murder was thought to have been committed and he was convicted with no recommendation to mercy.

He was executed at Durham on 11 August 1915.

see National Archives - HO 144/1427/287904