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THE 1950s

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The case of Robert Mills is mainly concerned with events at his execution. His execution caused several questions to the Prison Commissioners regarding whether the execution had been carried out properly.

The Case Details

On 9 August 1951, Hertbert Leonard Mills (aged 19) phoned the News of the World (a UK tabloid newspaper published on Sundays). He stated that he had discovered the body of a women, adding that "It looks like a murder." The newspaper then contacted the police, and informed them of the conversation.

The police, accompanied by Mills, went to Sherwood Vale where they found the body of a Nottinghamshire housewife called Mabel Tattershaw. She had been beaten and strangled.

Mills described himself as an artist and poet. In a later interview with the News of the World newspaper, Mills said that he went to Sherwood Vale to relax. He said that when he saw the body he read a poem before deciding his next action. He told the newspaper that he wanted some payment, and then wrote his own account of the murder. This just served as his confession, and the newspaper passed the account to the police.

Mills was charged with Mabel Tattershaw's murder. He was under the illusion that he had conducted the perfect murder. Mills met Mabel Tattershaw at a local cinema and arranged to met the following day. They met at Sherwood Vale, where Mills hit her before strangling her. At his trial, forensic evidenced linked the fibres found under the dead women's fingernails with the fibres of Mills suit.

Mills was found guilty of murder and sentenced to death by hanging. Mills was executed at Lincoln Prison on 11 December 1951. At the inquest, held that afternoon, the doctor present at the execution reported that it took 20 minutes for Mills heart to stop beating. However, the post-mortem confirmed that Mills' neck had been broken and that he had not died of asphyxiation.

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