The first person to be hanged in Liverpool after the 2nd World War was 30 year old Thomas Hendren, who stabbed manicurist Ella Staunton.
The prelude to the murder on 20th May 1946 was witnessed by detectives, who were carrying out covert surveillance on premises in Tempest Hey which was officially a manicure salon but was suspected of being used for immoral purposes.
After looking through a spyhole and seeing Ella offer a drink to her customer, they saw them go into another room and heard the sounds of a struggle. However when they went to the front of the building they were unable to gain access and although Hendren came out and volunteered his I.D. card to them, there was no reason at that point to detain him.
Sensing something wasn't quite right, the officers telephoned the salon on a number of occasions but kept getting an engaged tone. They then found that the door was slightly ajar and went inside, finding the body of Ella, who lived in Ullett Road. She had been stabbed several times and also strangled with an electric flex.
The hunt was on for Hendren, who was a ship's baker whose last known address was in Roe Street, Birkenhead. He remained on the run for three days and was arrested in a park in Salford in possession of a number of items belonging to Ella. In the car back to Liverpool he admitted robbing Ella, saying that she had plenty of business from him over the years but wouldn't give him a short term loan.
After being brought to Liverpool he was charged with murder and stood trial the following month, where his defence called for a verdict of manslaughter. He admitted the killing but stated that he was traumatised by his experiences in the war, which included having to pile up a huge number of bodies in Singapore and set fire to them. However in summing up, the judge directed that the key point for the jury to consider was whether Hendren went to the premises with intent to kill and if he knew that this was wrong.
Hendren was found guilty of murder and sentenced to death by Justice Roland Oliver. After a petition to have the sentence commuted to life imprisonment failed, he was hanged at Walton on 17th July.