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Friday
May122006

Hang about

10.gifHere's a News Story...I mean Noose Story from the BBC -

"An English farmer who builds gallows and has sold them to African countries with poor human rights records has been condemned by Amnesty International.
David Lucas, of Mildenhall, Suffolk, said he has been selling execution equipment to countries including Zimbabwe for about 10 years.

Amnesty said the export of gallows, which will be made illegal by an EC regulation in July, was "appalling".

But Mr Lucas said the trade was not sick and "business is business".

He added some people deserved the death penalty.

The execution equipment he says he sells ranges from single gallows, at about £12,000 each, to "Multi-hanging Execution Systems" mounted on lorry trailers, costing about £100,000."

Bloody hell! What are these gallows made of, you gotta wonder - old English oak and gold-plated hardware perhaps? How could a single gallows cost that much?

"Amnesty International UK director Kate Allen said: "It's appalling that a British man is apparently attempting to sell gallows to President Mugabe's government [in Zimbabwe].

"There have been gaping loopholes in the regulations concerning execution equipment for years and it makes a mockery of the UK's efforts to oppose the death penalty around the world if right under its nose a British company is sending hanging equipment abroad."

"Gaping loopholes" - ha ha! Sorry. I've been trying to avoid hanging around puns like that but the whole subject lends itself to it, don't you think? Or is it all in the execution?

"An Amnesty International spokesman said the new European Commission Trade Regulation, which comes into force on 31 July 2006, will make it unlawful to export gallows.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Trade and Industry said the government was pleased the export of gallows was being made unlawful."

Have a look at this "gallows-maker to the gentry" here - BBC News

I wonder if this chap will pick up any British Export Awards before his business takes the drop?

Seems the Poms have long been at the cutting edge of execution hardware. Did you think the French invented the guillotine during their Revolution in the late 18th Century? Wrong. The English had been topping people with the celebrated Halifax Gibbet since the 13th century and maybe even further back to the time of the 1066 Norman Conquest. There again...maybe the Frogs brought the concept with them.

Here's an 18th century description of the Halifax Gibbet by Daniel Defoe of Robinson Crusoe fame. Incidentally, the original full title was "The Life and Strange Surprising Adventures of Robinson Crusoe of York, Mariner: who lived Eight and Twenty Years, all alone in an uninhabited Island on the coast of America, near the Mouth of the Great River of Oroonoque; Having been cast on Shore by Shipwreck, wherein all the Men perished but himself. With An Account how he was at last as strangely deliver'd by Pirates. Written by Himself." -

"The execution was performed by means of an engine called a gibbet, which was raised upon a platform four feet high and thirteen feet square, faced on every side with stone, and ascended by a flight of steps. In the middle of this platform were placed two upright pieces of timber, fifteen feet high, joined at the top by a transverse beam. Within these was a square block of wood four and a half feet long, which moved up and down by means of grooves made for that purpose; and to the lower part of this sliding block was fastened a sharp iron axe of the weight of seven pounds twelve ounces.

The axe thus fixed was drawn up to the top of the grooves by a cord and pulley. At the end of the cord was a pin, which, being fixed to the block, kept it suspended till the moment of execution, when the culprit, having placed his head on the block, the pin was withdrawn, the axe fell suddenly and violently on the criminal's neck, and his head was instantly severed from his body.' Defoe continued that the force was 'so strong, the head of the axe being loaded with a weight of lead to make it fall heavy, and the execution so secure, that it takes away all possibility of its failing to cut off the head".

Photograph of the contraption and a heads up (sorry...couldn't resist) - Halifax Gibbet

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