The Fowler brothers -
Here is a photo of the Fowler brothers.
Wilfred and Lawrence Fowler stayed at the crime scene, sitting on the steps of a nearby chip shop until the police arrived. Lawrence Fowler admitted to hitting Plommer on the head, which he later denied. Police were able to interview a number of witnesses who had seen the attack. Samuel Garvin escaped on a tram, travelled a short distance and then got off and assaulted a man, in the hope of creating an alibi. The rest of the gang, comprising eleven men, were soon rounded up and taken to West Bar police station. The knife or bayonet used in the murder was never found.
men involved came to trial at
Lawrence and Wilfred, being convicted of murder, were sentenced to hang. Other gang members, George Willis and Amos Stewart got 10 years each in prison and Stanley Harker got seven years, all for manslaughter. Two other gang members, Frederick Goddard and Samuel Garvin, were acquitted of the murder but Garvin got 20 months for the separate assault.
appealed their conviction and this was heard on the 18th of April 1926 in the
Court of Criminal Appeal in
On the 3rd of September 1925, Thomas Pierrepoint, assisted by Robert Wilson and Henry Pollard, carried out a double hanging at Armley prison. On the following day a further single execution. The first two to die were 25 year old Alfred David Bostock who had killed his mistress, Elizabeth Sherratt and Wilfred Fowler. Lawrence Fowler was to die on the same gallows the following day, hanged by Thomas Pierrepoint, this time assisted by Lionel Mann.
brothers were of similar size and build, Wilfred was 5’ 6” tall and weighed 133
It is unclear why Bostock was hanged alongside William Fowler and not alone. One surmises that the prison authorities thought there would be trouble between the Fowler brothers so had decided to hang them separately. A brief summary of his case follows:
Bostock and Elizabeth Sherratt both worked for the Parkgate Ironworks in
On the 1st
of May 1925, four days after the Plommer murder, the Chief Constable of
Sheffield, Colonel John Hall-Dalwood, formed the Special Duty Squad, later
known as the “Flying Squad”. This comprised four of his toughest officers. It was
led by Sgt. Robinson who had served in the Coldstream Guards, with P.C. Walter
Loxley who was a 6ft 2in, 19 stone 8lb constable who had served in Royal
Garrison Artillery, in
course Captain Percy Sillitoe, who had served in the South African police, took
over a Chief Constable. Sillitoe became
famous as the “Gang breaker” and went on to tackle
In his autobiography “Cloak Without a Dagger” Sir Percy Sillitoe commented on the gangs as follows: “There is only one way to deal with the gangster mentality. You must show that you are not afraid. If you stand up to them and they realise you mean business they will knuckle under. The element of beast in man whether it comes from an unhappy and impoverished background, or from his own undisciplined lustful appetites, will respond exactly as a wild beast of the jungle responds – to nothing but greater force and greater firmness of purpose.”