Mary Ann Britland (née Hague, born 1847 – 9 August 1886) was an English serial killer. She was the first woman to be executed by hanging at Strangeways Prison in Manchester by James Berry.
Mary Ann was born in 1847 in Bolton, Lancashire, the second eldest daughter of Joseph and Hannah (née Lees) Hague. She married Thomas Britland at St Michael's Church, Ashton-under-Lyne in 1866. They lived in a rented house at 133 Turner Lane, Ashton-under-Lyne with their two daughters Elizabeth Hannah and Susannah. Britland held two jobs; she was a factory worker by day and barmaid by night.
In February 1886, Britland went to a nearby chemist's and, claiming to have had some mice infest her home, bought some packets of "Harrison's Vermin Killer". As this contained both strychnine and arsenic, she was required to sign the poison register.
Britland's first victim was her eldest daughter, 19-year-old Elizabeth Hannah, in March 1886. Elizabeth's death was attributed to natural causes by the doctor who was called to attend the teenager. Mary Ann Britland then claimed £10 on Elizabeth's life insurance policy. Her next victim was her husband, Thomas, aged 44. His death on 3 May was diagnosed as epilepsy, and once again Mary Ann claimed on the insurance.
Mary Ann had been having an affair with her neighbour, Thomas Dixon, and after her own husband's death was invited to stay at the Dixons' house just across the street at number 128 by Thomas's 29-year-old wife, Mary. On 14 May, Mary Dixon was to become Britland's third and final victim.
The three deaths, all with their near identical and somewhat unusual symptoms, raised suspicion; Mary Ann Britland was finally interviewed by the police in connection with Mary Dixon's death and her body was examined by a pathologist. It was found to contain a lethal quantity of the two poisons and Britland was immediately arrested along with Thomas Dixon. She confessed to Ashton Police that she had wanted to marry Dixon and that she had first poisoned her daughter, Elizabeth, because she believed that she suspected her intentions. She then killed her husband, and finally Mary Dixon.
Britland was charged with the murder of the three victims, but Thomas Dixon was found to have played no part in the murder of his wife. Britland came to trial on 22 July 1886, before Mr. Justice Cave at Manchester Assizes. Since there was an absence of motive, in her defence she argued that the small sum of money from the insurance payouts were in no way compensation for the loss of her husband and daughter. According to an eyewitness at the trial:
The case lasted two days...The evidence was overwhelming. The three deceased persons had been poisoned by strychnine. Mrs. Britland had purchased 'mouse powder' in sufficient quantities to kill them all, and there was no evidence of any mice on whom it could have been legitimately used. The case of the poisoning of Mrs. Dixon was the one actually tried, but the deaths of the others were proved to show 'system' and rebut the defence of accident. Even if there had not been sufficient evidence to secure a conviction, Mrs. Britland had many indiscreet conversations about 'mouse powder' and poisoning, and had been anxious to discover whether such poisoning could be traced after death...
It took the jury some time to convict her, although eventually they found her guilty. After she was sentenced, she declared to the court: "I am quite innocent, I am not guilty at all."
On the morning of 9 August 1886, Britland was in a state of collapse and had to be heavily assisted to the gallows by two female wardens who held her on the trapdoors while James Berry prepared her for execution. Two male wardens then took the place of the female wardens. On signal from the executioner they quickly stepped back, the trap door released and Britland dropped.
She was the first woman to be executed at Strangeways Prison in Manchester.
— Source: Wikipedia
Trevor Joseph Hardy (11 June 1945 – 25 September 2012), also known as the Beast of Manchester, was a convicted English serial killer who murdered three teenage girls in the Manchester area between December 1974 and March 1976. In 1977, he was found guilty on three charges of murder and was sentenced to life imprisonment, remaining in prison until his death 35 years later.
Lesley Janet Stewart, 15, was stabbed to death on New Year's Eve 1974 and buried in a shallow grave in Newton Heath, North Manchester. Wanda Skala, 17, was murdered on 19 July 1975 on Lightbowne Road, Moston while walking home from the hotel where she worked as a barmaid. She had been hit over the head with a brick, robbed and sexually assaulted. Her body was found partially buried on a building site. In March 1976 after walking home from a staff party, Sharon Mosoph was stabbed and strangled with a pair of tights prior to being dumped in the Rochdale Canal at Failsworth. The bodies of Skala and Mosoph were found stripped and mutilated.
At the height of the hunt for the serial killer, 23,000 people were stopped and searched.
Although Hardy was arrested for Skala's murder after bragging about it to his younger brother, he was freed on the basis of an alibi he had arranged with his partner, Sheilagh Farrow, and because he had filed his teeth with a contraband file delivered by his partner so they would not match the bite marks found on her body. He would go on to kill Mosoph six months after being freed.
Hardy was arrested for the murders of Skala and Mosoph in August 1976. He confessed to the murders and to that of Stewart, who until then had been a missing person. Prior to Stewart's murder, Hardy had been released on parole for battering a man with a pickaxe. He reportedly mistook Stewart for a schoolgirl with whom he was infatuated. Hardy removed Stewart's ring and gave it to another girl as a "love token". Hardy had also kept Skala's blood-stained clothes and her handbag as "grisly trophies". The investigation revealed that Hardy killed Mosoph after she witnessed him attempting to burgle a shopping centre at night.
At his trial, Hardy sacked his Queen's Counsel and attempted to confess to manslaughter; however, the plea was rejected and he was found guilty of murder. On 2 May 1978, at the Manchester Crown Court, Hardy was sentenced to three life sentences for the murders with a minimum of 30 years.
Hardy served his sentence more than 30 years after his arrest at Wakefield Prison in West Yorkshire, where he was reported to have a "good work record".
He maintained his innocence and reportedly sent a letter to Mosoph's relatives blaming his parents. On 23 February 2008, The Times revealed that Hardy was one of up to 50 British prisoners currently in prison who had been issued with a whole life tariff and were unlikely to ever be released. The whole life tariff was reaffirmed in June 2008 by the High Court.
Manchester locals had long suspected Hardy in the 1971 murder of 17-year-old Dorothy Leyden, and in 2004 family members requested that the Greater Manchester Police re-examine old evidence. Detectives reviewing the cold case believe forensic evidence exonerates Hardy in the murder of Leyden, as DNA samples examined more than 30 years after the crime were found not to match Hardy.
Hardy collapsed in his cell at Wakefield Prison on 23 September 2012 after suffering a heart attack. He died in the hospital two days later, aged 67. He had spent 35 years in prison and was one of the longest-serving prisoners in England and Wales
— Source: Wikipedia