|Mr. Baron Martin
|Mr Aspinall Q.C
2nd January 1863, on the outskirts of Haigh, near Wigan, pit fireman, 55-year-old, father of 12, James Barton started his night shift at the Bawk House coal pit. He was carrying his prized silver pocket watch with him as always. He was seen at 8pm that evening, but by 3am he had vanished. Workers arriving the following morning wondered why James wasn’t there, and a search for him began.
James Barton's charred remains were found, but there was no sign of his favourite and prized pocket watch.
It became clear that he had been brutally assaulted with a crowbar in the workers’ cabin and then moved and incinerated in one of the mine’s furnaces, blood was found on the edge of the furnace, and bone fragments were found.
A huge reward of £200, was offered for information about the crime.
The family of 30-year-old Thomas Grime handed in James Barton’s pocket watch to police. When questioned by police, Grime admitted being present when the murder was committed, but he accused others of carrying out the assault.
1865, Grime was being held at Dartmoor prison when he confessed to the crime, but also implicating others in the murder. He accused men called Thompson and Walton.
April 1866, Grime, Walton and Thompson were brought before Wigan magistrates. The court ruled that there was not enough evidence to send Thompson for trial, and he was therefore acquitted.
August 1866, at the Northern Circuit, at Liverpool Assizes. During the trial the judge ruled that there was insufficient evidence against Walton, and he was acquitted.
Without even retiring to consider a verdict, the jury found Grime guilty. He was sentenced to death. The judge told him, "as satisfactory as if I had myself seen you commit the act".
Saturday 1st September 1866, outside Liverpool’s Kirkdale jail, Thomas Grime was hanged , by executioner William Calcraft, in front of a crowd of 50,000, some having walked all the way from Wigan.
Grime was buried within the grounds of the prison.