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Charles Benjamin Backhouse

Kill Total: 1 Kill place: London
Kill date:  10th July 1900 Victim(s): PC. John Kew
Date of Birth: unknown Marital Status: Single






Charles Benjamin Backhouse and his younger brother, Frederick, both miners, lived at 75, Piccadilly, Swinton, near Rotherham. It was an address well known to the police, especially the local constable, John William Kew, a member of the West Riding Force.

The Backhouse family had a reputation for violence. On 5th July 1900, a summons had been served on Frederick for an assault on his brother's wife. That summons had been served by constable John Kew and was due to be answered on 9th July.


Two days before, on 7th July, the brothers vanished from Piccadilly and so, on the 9th, Frederick did not bother to turn up for court and, as a result, had been fined forty shillings in his absence, or sentenced to serve one months imprisonment.

All this seemed to have little effect on the Backhouse brothers though. Just five days after the summons had been served, Charles bought a revolver and nine cartridges and the two brothers were seen using the weapon to threaten various people in the town. Naturally this matter was reported to the police and it was P.C. Kew who went along to investigate, later that same day.

As Kew arrived at the house at Piccadilly, the brothers were just leaving. The officer stopped them and said that he was entitled to search them. He then put his hands out, as if to begin that search.

Immediately Charles Backhouse took a step backwards, drew the gun and shot Kew in the stomach. Even though he was badly wounded, Kew managed to grab Charles and pulled his hands, one of which still held the gun, behind his back. At this point, Frederick ran forward, seized the gun from his brother and shouting; "Here's another for you." fired again at Kew, hitting him in the right hip.



As the brothers ran off, Kew fell to the ground and was then helped to his own house which was close by, where he managed to say who had shot him. He died the following day, the post mortem showing that the wound inflicted by Charles had been the fatal shot. When they were arrested, Frederick admitted that they had shot Kew, claiming that they were drunk at the time.

At the trial, the jury sought to return a verdict of guilty of murder in the case of Charles, and guilty of aiding and abetting in the commission of the offence, in the case of Frederick. The judge explained that this amounted to a verdict of guilty of murder for both brothers, to which the foreman of the jury then said that they wished to recommend Frederick to mercy on account of him being just nineteen years of age. Both men were then sentenced to death.

On 14th August 1900, two days before he was due to die, Frederick Backhouse was reprieved, being sentenced instead to life imprisonment.

There was no such mercy for his brother who was hanged alongside Thomas Mellor, the first double hanging of the new century, and the first executions outside London, they were hanged at Leeds on 16th August 1900.