Tuesday, 17 May 2011

The Riddle of the Hanging Boy

A schoolboy made a grim discovery one night when he found his friend hanging in his house after it had earlier been burgled.

On 2nd February 1946 Ernest Johnson left his house in Anfield to visit Charles Greeney at 62 Edge Lane. When he arrived the house was lit up and the front door wide open. Ernest went straight inside and found 11 year old Charles hanging from a clothes rack.

Ernest ran to a local hotel where Mr and Mrs Greeney were enjoying a night out to inform them of his grotesque find. Police were called and as a number of possessions were taken, they concluded that Charles had been hung by the robbers.

Four men later stood trial for murder but the Prosecution was unable to prove their guilt beyond reasonable doubt, partly because there had been no sign of a struggle, although there was evidence to say that Charlse had received a blow to the head. The Defence, led by Rose Heilbron, also pointed to the fact that Charles had been reading a scouts book about knots that very night and as such his death could have been the result of an experiment that went horribly wrong. 

As a result a verdict of Not Guilty was returned, although all the men were sentenced to terms of between three and four years imprisonment for burglary.


  1. This crime has appeared in magazine articles by www.truecrimelibrary.com. My comment: To believe that an 11-year-old boy would hang himself,albeit by possible accident, on the same night his home was burgled is too ridiculous for explanation. His body showed that he received a hard punch to the side of his head. This is a classic knockout boxers punch. He didn't do that to himself! Charles Greeney was murdered by the burglars. What happened at the trial is; it was the jury from HELL. "Stupid" is the greatest sin of all and that jury were stupid beyond belief.

    1. I also read about the case in the same magazine as you and I totally agree with every point, in particular with regard to the point "jury were stupid beyond belief".

    2. I must have read this somewhere else as it didn't sound to me that the burglars where guilty. It sounded as though the boy had been balancing on a chair arm to get something from a very high shelf. He slipped and his head was caught in the loop of the rope that was used to lower the wooden clothes rack.
      From what I read , the burglars saw him from the doorway and didn't realise there was anything wrong. In fact they wondered if he was deaf as he hadn't heard them come in. When they later heard about the child, they went to the police themselves and told them what they had done and seen.