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Joseph William NOBLE





Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Robbery
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: November 1907
Date of birth: 1859
Victim profile: John Patterson (watchman)
Method of murder: Shooting
Location: Gateshead, Tyne and Wear, England, United Kingdom
Status: Executed by hanging in Durham on March 24, 1908

Murder in Store

In November of 1907 the country was shocked by a brutal killing in a Co-op store at Windy Nook in Gateshead. It was a cautionary tale of what can happen when respectable citizens take the law into their own hands.

Goods had been going missing from the store with no signs of forced entry. Members of the local Co-op committee feared it was an inside job and didn't want to involve the police because it would bring scandal on the good name of the North Eastern Co-operative Society.

So one dark night, three committee members and a young Co-op apprentice lay in wait for the thief. They tackled him and there was a violent struggle. Suddenly the man pulled out a gun and shot one man, John Patterson, through the head. The victim died several hours later. Christopher Carr was wounded in the hip which left him permanently disabled.

The intruder ran off, bravely pursued by one Mrs Ather, who lived above the stores and was married to one of the committee men. Clad only in a nightdress and brandishing an axe, she gave chase but the killer made off.

Police enquiries soon led them to Joseph William Noble, a local colliery blacksmith. They found large amounts of Co-op goods in his stores, plus tools of his trade which could also be used for housebreaking.

ut there was one problem - the committee members all knew Joe Noble and they all swore the man in the shop had been a stranger. But when Noble's trial went ahead, the weight of circumstantial evidence persuaded them that Noble must have been the man after all. The blacksmith went to the gallows on March 24th 1908, protesting his innocence to the end. His last words to the executioner were: "Don't hurt my neck".



Joseph William Noble was a Gateshead blacksmith, employed by the LNER Railway convicted of the murder of John Patterson who was shot dead at a Co-o store at Windy Nook.

To combat increasing burglaries at the store that autumn, the owner posted a number of watchmen. All was quiet until one night at the beginning of November 1907, when two watchmen saw an intruder enter through a back door.

He was immediately set upon by one of the watchmen called Ather. The other guard, John Patterson, was fearful that his colleague was handing out a beating too brutal and told him to calm down.

Both men then took hold of the intruder but he managed to pull a gun from his pocket and fired point blank at Patterson who fell dead. The intruder continued firing while watchman Ather secured all the exits, but the man managed to escape through a window and vanish into the night.

He was arrested soon after and identified as Joe Noble, a local railway blacksmith who also made and repaired handguns. Noble protested his innocence but was found in possession of some items stolen from the store.

Noble was tried before Mr Justice Chanell at Durham Assizes, and when asked if he had anything to say before sentence of death was passed he remarked: 'You may break my neck, but you won't break my heart!'

Henry and Thomas Pierrepoint carried out the  execution on the 24th March 1908 in Durham. Noble was forty eight at the time of his death.



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