Steve Wade and Harry Kirk executed 38-year-old
miner William Smedley at Armley Gaol on 14th August 1947. On 22nd July
at Leeds Assizes Smedley had been found guilty of the murder of 27-year-old
prostitute Edith Simmonite.
Edith's strangled body had been
found by eleven-year-old Peter Johnson on a bomb-site in the Bridge
Street area of Sheffield on 8th March. Edith had lived in a women's
hostel on West Bar Green for the previous six or seven years and was
well-known in the public houses in the area where she plied her trade.
Six weeks later the police seemed
no nearer catching the killer when Smedley walked into Doncaster
police station claiming to know the identity of the killer. It was, he
said, a former resident of the hostel in which Smedley lived. Smedley
went on to tell detectives that the man had subsequently moved to Rhyl.
Smedley and a detective went to Rhyl to try and trace the supposed
murderer but while they were there Smedley confessed that he had
killed Edith. They had known each other for some months. On the night
of the murder they had been out drinking together and Edith had been
taunting him that she had given him a venereal disease.
At his trial he claimed that he no
intention of hurting the girl and tried to get a verdict of
manslaughter, but the jury found otherwise and returned a verdict of
Murder in the Snow 1947. William Smedley
On 8th March amongst the bomb damaged buildings in
a derelict out building in Spring Street an eleven year old Peter
Johnson came across a womans body. The lad was the son of licencee of
the Stag Inn on Wilson Street.
The woman was a 27 year old local prostitute called
Edith Simmonite who lived at the womens hostel on West Bar Green.
Landlord of the hostel Charles Fisher told police she had gone out
Friday night and he had not seen her since.
One man who was seen in Ediths company on the night
was William Smedley. Later that evening Smedley sent a telegram to his
sister Doris Butler in Doncaster "Come Saturday morning. Urgent.
Brother in terrible trouble."
The whole story was printed in THe Sheffield
Telegraph March 10th,12th June 11th July 22nd 1947. And the Sheffield
Star March 10th, 13th,24th. May 14th, 22nd, 30th. June 10th July 23rd.
August 14th 1947.
William Smedley was the last man to be executed for
a Sheffield murder
27-year-old prostitute Edith Simmonite