Patrick Power was
a forty one year old unemployed Irish labourer convicted of the murder
of his landlady, Mrs Sarah Ann Sykes. Power, who claimed unemployment
benefit, had been lodging with the Sykes for several months.
beginning of April, he borrowed £5 from Mrs Sykes; on 11th April, Mr
Sykes informed Power that if he did not repay the loan that day, he
would be evicted.
Sykes then went off to work as usual, and later that
afternoon Power walked into Pendleton police station, Salford, and
confessed that he had killed his landlady.
Officers accompanied him back
to the house and found her body lying under a piano. She had been
attacked with a hammer and knife and had massive injuries. Power claimed
he had no idea what had happened.
At his trial before Mr Justice Finlay
on 8th May at Manchester Assizes, his defence claimed that Power's mind
was distorted by spiritulism, and they asked for a verdict of guilty but
insane. They also declared that Power was a former soldier with over
twenty years service, and although he was in debt to the Sykes, his bank
balance was in the black to the tune of some £40.
He was hanged by
William Willis on the 26th May 1925 in Manchester.
26 May 1925 – Patrick Power
Guilty but insane – that’s what his own defence
had branded Patrick Power. And to be fair nothing about this
Manchester case made sense.
Power was an Irish labourer who, out of work and on
benefits, had been taken in as lodger by Sarah Ann Sykes. Things got
nasty when he failed to pay her the fiver he owed her – so her husband
threatened him with eviction before going to work, leaving the two alone.
There must have one frenzied attack on Mrs Sykes, as there was
overwhelming evidence of stab wounds and hammer blows effecting horrific
Money for nothing
The lodger then calmly handed himself into the police
although what made him hand himself in, no-one knows because he said he
couldn’t remember a thing. Needless to say the dead body spoke volumes
and Power was taken into custody.
At his trial the defence claimed insanity, but no-one
bought it. Power was sent down for murder, and on 26 May 1925, he paid
the ultimate price for the outstanding debt. The 41-year-old was sent to
the gallows and hanged by William Willis.
And all the time, he could have easily coughed up the
fiver and still had £35 left in the bank. So why did he resort to murder?
After all, money’s no good to you dead.