Alfred Moore would have had his life saved had his hanging been scheduled just two hours later on February 6, 1952 - the same day King George VI's death was announced - as old tradition dictated that any execution coinciding with the death of a monarch was automatically cancelled.
The 36-year-old poultry farmer from Huddersfield had been convicted of shooting and killing two police officers in the small hours of Sunday, July 1951.
Ten plain-clothed officers had surrounded father-of-three Moore's smallholding at Whinney Close Farm in Kirkheaton on a stakeout that night – ordered under the belief that he was responsible for several burglaries in the area and would be caught returning from one that very evening.
But the operation ended tragically when several gunshots shattered the still night air at around 2am. Detective Constable Alexander Fraser died instantly, while his colleague - Constable Arthur Jagger - died hours later in hospital after picking Moore out of an identity parade from his deathbed.
Moore was later tried and convicted on the identity parade evidence, but this is now regarded as insufficient to secure a prosecution, let alone a guilty verdict. He was hanged on February 6, two hours before the announcement of King George's death would have changed his sentence to one of life imprisonment.
Now a retired detective from the same West Yorkshire town is funnelling his time into ensuring justice for Moore's surviving family who were "destroyed" by his execution.
Steve Lawson, who worked in Huddersfield CID in the 1960s and 70s, submitted evidence casting doubt on Moore's conviction to the Criminal Case Review Commission (CCRC) in 2009 which was rejected, but has since submitted another following new medical evidence showing Constable Jagger could not have recognised his killer when he pointed at Moore.
A medical report carried out the University of Leeds shows the effects of anaesthetics in Constable Jagger's body from an operation he underwent to treat his injuries - combined with the morphine he was on and impact of haemorrhagic shock - would have likely led to confusion, delirium and an inability to correctly remember and recognise faces.
Mr Lawson has also employed volunteers to re-enact the movements of police officers on the night their colleagues were shot, with the timings showing inconsistencies with the evidence given in Moore's trial.
“We want the conviction overturned because it’s wrong," Mr Lawson said.
Along with Moore's daughters and other surviving family, Mr Lawson has sought the help of Glyn Maddox QC, who has past experience presiding over cases of miscarried justice, to get the CCRC to send the case back to the Court of Appeal so that Moore's name may now be cleared.
"It's a compelling case and it's one which the CCRC shouldn't hesitate to send to the Court of Appeal," Mr Maddox said.
"But over the last 20 years, the Court of Appeal has basically discouraged the CCRC from sending them old cases. It's the politics of our criminal justice system rather than the law. But this is someone whose life was ended, whose family was destroyed.
"So now, 70 years later, justice should be served and Alfred's name and his surviving family's reputations cleared."
A spokesman for the CCRC said that the case remained under review after being submitted last summer, and that they could not provide further comment on an ongoing case.
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