John Dickman

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John Alexander Dickman (17 May 1864 – 10 August 1910) was an Englishman hanged for murder.

He was convicted of the murder of John Nisbet, which took place on a train travelling between Newcastle-on-Tyne and Alnmouth, on 18 March 1910. Nisbet had been carrying a bag containing the wages for a colliery. His body was discovered in a train compartment; he had died of gunshot wounds and his bag had been stolen.

On 6 July Dickman was convicted of the murder of Nisbet, and he was hanged in Newcastle Prison on 10 August, the last man to be hanged in a Newcastle jail.[1]

There was some doubt over the conviction, as it appeared to some people to rest on inconclusive identification evidence. There was a campaign for him to be reprieved, with leaflets distributed in stations. The writer C H Norman was among those who were convinced of John Dickman's innocence. It has also been claimed that Dickman's defence lawyer was incompetent.

The case is not widely remembered today. However it did figure in the 1976 BBC television series Second Verdict, and a 2008 television programme Nightwatch. The latter programme suggested that two witnesses who said they saw Dickman and Nisbet entering the same compartment may even have been the real killers. Two episodes of the radio show "The Black Museum" hosted by Orson Welles were based on Dickman's case. One, "The Tan Shoes" featured Sir John Gielgud and Sir Ralph Richardson.

However it has been suggested that Dickman was also guilty of two previous murders, of Caroline Mary Luard at Ightham, Kent in 1908 and Hermann Cohen in Sunderland in 1909.


  1. ^ Marshall, Ray (7 March 2013). "Was last hanged man really a murderer?". North East Chronicle. Retrieved 19 February 2017. 

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