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Introduction

The case of Lieutenant Holt is unusual due to the fact that he was invalided out of the British Army after World War One, and was later sentenced to death for murder.

The Case Details

Lieutenant Frederick Rothwell Holt served with the 4th Loyal North Lancashire Regiment during World War One. While serving in France, he was invalided out of the army with shell-shock and was suffering from depression.

He returned to Lancashire together with an inherited annual income of 500, settling down with Kitty Breaks, who was six years younger than Holt and separated from her husband. During November 1919, Breaks insured her life for 5,000 and made a will naming Holt as her beneficiary.

On 24 December 1919, Kitty Breaks shot body was found near Blackpool. Footprints were found in the sand near her body, and these were later confirmed to match Holt's boots. The additional evidence of Holt's ex-service revolver and one blood-stained glove were also found buried near by.

During Holt's trial for the murder of Kitty Breaks, he seemed to not be aware of what was happening in the court. He also claimed that the police had tried to kill him using mad dogs, germ-carrying flies and gas.

His defending barrister, Sir Edward Marshall Hall, claimed that Holt had gallantly served his country in the First World War and been injured. As a consequence of his injuries and being invalided from the army, Holt became insane. Marshall Hall stated that Holt was insane and did not realise or understand the consequences of his alleged actions.

The prosecution claimed that Holt had been living beyond his means, and that he murdered Breaks to claim on the insurance policy.

Holt was found guilty and sentenced to death by hanging. On 13 April 1920, Holt was hanged at Manchester's Strangeways Prison.

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