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Corbitt knew his hangman even before he committed the crime. At the time of the murder, he was a frequent customer in Pierrepoint’s pub "Help The Poor Struggler" (on Manchester Road, in the Hollinwood area of Oldham), sang with him round the piano and called him "Tosh" while Pierrepoint called him "Tish" (Tish and Tosh were, at that time, common nicknames used between people who were passing acquaintances but who did not know each other's names). Corbitt knew about the official sideline of his publican. At the time of the murder, Corbitt was separated from his wife and his 11-year-old son, and had a mistress, Eliza Woods. In a fit of jealousy, he throttled her in a hotel room in Ashton-under-Lyne, Lancashire.
In his memoirs ("Executioner: Pierrepoint"), Pierrepoint wrote about his feelings when returning to the pub after Corbitt’s execution: "I thought if any man had a deterrent to murder poised before him, it was this troubadour whom I called Tish. He was not only aware of the rope, he had the man who handled it beside him singing a duet. The deterrent did not work."
Pierrepoint goes on to relate Corbitt's final moments:
At twenty seconds to nine the next morning I went into the death cell. He seemed under a great strain, but I did not see stark fear in his eyes, only a more childlike worry. He was anxious to be remembered, and to be accepted.
Hallo, Tosh, he said, not very confidently. Hallo Tish, I said. How are you? I was not effusive, just gave the casual warmth of my nightly greeting from behind the bar.
Pierrepoint goes on to describe how Corbitt smiled and relaxed after this greeting. After strapping Corbitt's arms, Pierrepoint says "Come on Tish, old chap", at which Corbitt goes to the gallows "...lightly...I would say that he ran."