1507: Paolo da Novi, Doge of the people 1391: Amerigot Marcel, cast down

1958: Peter Manuel, the Beast of Birkenshaw

July 11th, 2019 Headsman

Serial killer Peter Manuel hanged at Glasgow on this date in 1958.

U.S.-born to Scottish parents, “the Beast of Birkenshaw” was convicted of seven murders around Lanarkshire between 1956 and 1958 but suspected of more than twice that many.

He had previous convictions for sexual violence and rape was a factor in some murders, such as 17-year-old Anne Kneilands in 1956 (for which he was never convicted due to insufficient evidence) and 17-year-old Isabelle Cooke in 1957 (whose body he located for police with the chilling words, “I’m standing on her now”). Others were more cold and almost gratuitous, like Peter and Doris Smart and their ten-year-old son Michael whom he all shot dead on New Year’s Day 1958, after which he simply relaxed in their Uddingston house for a week and took care of the cat.

Manuel defended himself at trial, with the usual results; however, latter-day investigations have argued that police in building this extremely high-profile case buried evidence of Manuels’ severe mental illness that might have saved him from the gallows.

“I am now more convinced than ever that the authorities played down Manuel’s psychopathic personality in the days ahead of his execution, because they had come to the conclusion that he should not receive a reprieve,” Aberdeen University legal scholar Richard Goldberg told the BBC in 2009. (The BBC broadcast, which no longer appears to be available online, aired Manuel’s voice for the first time.)

Manuel was the third-last person hanged in Scotland; only Anthony Miller in 1960 and Henry John Burnett in 1963 succeeded him before the UK’s death penalty abolition.

On this day..

Entry Filed under: 20th Century,Capital Punishment,Common Criminals,Crime,Death Penalty,Execution,Hanged,Murder,Rape,Scotland,Serial Killers

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One thought on “1958: Peter Manuel, the Beast of Birkenshaw”

  1. Fiz says:

    Psycopathy has never mattered before in a death penalty case. Manuel slaughtered many people and like a mad dog he was put down. I cannot imagine the terror of the Watt women or the Smart family or those poor young women.

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