OLIVER Butler was the last man to be hanged at Oxford Prison. But was he guilty of murder?

Rose Meadows, 21, was found strangled in a field near her home at Horley, near Banbury, in 1952.

Butler, her 23-year-old lover, was arrested, convicted at Staffordshire Assizes and sent to the gallows.

But many people disagreed with the verdict and were upset by the execution.

The couple worked at the Northern Aluminium factory in Banbury.

Butler, unhappily married, moved into Rose’s home and they soon fell madly in love.

That afternoon, they had been out walking. Rose told him that one day he would go back to his wife and she would meet another man.

Butler put his hands round her throat, allegedly to frighten her and persuade her to stay with him.

With Rose dead, he ran from the scene and told a railway signalman he had killed a girl.

In court, Butler claimed her death was an accident and that he had confessed to police when he was still overwhelmed with grief.

The prosecution case rested heavily on Butler’s statement to police.

Summing up, Mr Justice Hallett told the jury: “It may well be that you think that this is as plain a case as you are ever likely to find of intentional murder and intentional confession.”

The jury found Butler guilty, but made a plea for mercy. His appeal was rejected and three days before the execution, the Home Secretary, Sir David Maxwell Fyfe, announced that he found no grounds to recommend the Queen to commute the sentence. A petition for a reprieve had been organised by Tommy Haskins, secretary of the Banbury branch of the National Union of General and Municipal Workers, of which both Butler and Miss Meadows were members.

A crowd of 50, mainly housewives and children, gathered outside the gates of Oxford Prison, in New Road, Tuesday, August 12, the day of the execution. A note was attached to the prison gate announcing that Butler had been hanged.

Dr P M Smyth told the inquest, held at the prison two hours later, that the execution had been “very skillfully” carried out and death had been instantaneous.