A man who killed his wife and son after a row was spared the death penalty after the intervention of the Home Secretary.
After getting wed in 1950 William Beard and his wife Gabriella lived at his mother's address in Haliburton Street, off Park Road where the Tesco store is now. Although Gabriella gave birth to a son the following year the marriage was not a happy one and there were frequent quarrels, leading to the 25 year old going to stay with her parents on Wednesday 20th October 1954.
She slept there just the one night and returned to her 31 year old husband the next evening, going to bed at about 10pm. The following morning, William went into his older brother Arthur's bedroom telling him to go and find a policeman. When a constable arrived, there was a note attached to William's door saying 'Do not enter, send for police.' Inside, William was lying on the bed in his pyjamas bleeding from his wrists but still alive.
It was thought that Paul was asleep in his cot but it was then discovered he was dead. Under the wash basin was an eiderdown and the officer found that it was covering Gabriella's body. Both had been dead for several hours, with William saying he had strangled his wife and poisoned his son. William was taken to Sefton General Hospital where he was given 22 stitches in his wrists and on being told he was suspected to have caused the deaths replied 'Yes that's right.'
On 6th December William was in the dock at Manchester Assizes for just two minutes, pleading guilty to the murder of Paul. On being asked by Justice Gorman if he realised the enormity of this plea he replied that he did and was sentenced to death. The charge in relation to Gabriella was left on file.
William was due to be hanged at Strangeways on 29th December but just two days before Christmas the Home Secretary granted a reprieve, instead ordering him to be detained at Broadmoor.