Here's a true story which occurred in Victorian England. It's similar to the tale of that Utah cat - except that the man involved ended up being not quite so lucky...
Street killer who was hanged twice
Apr 11 2008 (external - login to view) by Ben Rossington (external - login to view), Liverpool Echo
FEW people are unlucky enough to see the hangman’s noose - fewer still see it twice.
But former boxer James O’Connor was one of the unluckiest.
What started out as an evening of Monday music would end in the 29-year-old facing the gallows.
On August 11, 1873, O’Connor, a well-known fighter on the local circuit, left the old Cambridge Music Hall in Mill Street.
He was one of a large group spilling out on the streets at the end of the performance.
But among the crowds, a beautiful woman struck O’Connor as he left.
A young woman named Mary Fortune was the object of his affection and he pursued her through the crowd until they were alone in the Toxteth street.
O’Connor took hold of the young lady’s hand and asked if she would accompany him to a local watering hole for a drink and a chat.
But when Miss Fortune spurned his advances, the boxer’s anger rose. His mood changed and he snapped, accusing the woman of stealing money from him.
He struck out, sending her spinning to the floor and was about to continue his assault when two passers-by intervened.
One, James Gaffney, ran across the road to confront him, but he was floored by a blow to the body.
But it was no punch from the boxer. Mr Gaffney had been sent to the pavement by the unseen blade in O’Connor’s hand.
O’Connor turned on the man’s friend, a man by the name of Mr Metcalf, and stabbed him as well.
Mr Gaffney was fatally injured in the attack.
Both Mr Metcalf and Miss Fortune gave accounts to the police and it was not long before justice caught up with O’Connor.
Before Judge Brett at the Assizes at St George’s Hall, O’Connor was found guilty of murder and attempted murder. As he was sentenced to hang, he showed no emotion.
When he was led to the Kirkdale gallows, his face broke into a smile, and as the rope was lowered around his neck, he seemed content to accept his destiny.
But then fate took a nasty turn.
As the trapdoor opened beneath him, the rope snapped from around O’Connor’s neck. Being blinded by the white hood over his head, he thought for a moment he had died.
And it was only when the priest, Father Bronte, and a local reporter jumped into the pit that the terrible reality sunk in.
With the hood removed and tears in his eyes, O’Connor looked up to the skies. “You’ll let me go now, won’t you?”, he asked to no-one in particular.
Those who stood around, unaware of what was going on inside the pit, could only hear the condemned man hysterically bawling before he broke down sobbing.
The law was specific: “. . . to be hanged by the neck until you are dead” and O’Connor would have to face the noose for a second time.
When calm was restored some minutes later, O’Connor was so resigned to his plight he adjusted the noose himself and pulled the white cap over his own face.
But his second hanging was just as traumatic.
As his body fell through the trapdoor, the rope held. But it was too long.
He swung for a full eight minutes before he died.
The double blunder was of such magnitude that the hangman, an experienced man by the name of Calcraft, never set foot in Kirkdale prison again.
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