Top criminal barristers Jeremy Dein QC and Sasha Wass QC look at their oldest case yet – the murder of a military veteran by his estranged wife, nearly 200 years ago.
Leicestershire, 1825. On the evening of 25 April, ex-soldier James Read was reported missing by his wife Hannah. A manhunt, spearheaded by James Read’s brother Thomas, found James’ lifeless body in the Old Union Canal.
As Hannah Read was the last person to see James alive she became the prime suspect in connection with his death. She was arrested, and despite protesting her innocence was charged with murder.
The case against Hannah Read was a controversial one due to a lack of eyewitnesses and minimal concrete evidence. However, on 3 August 1825, after a trial that lasted just one day, Hannah Read was found guilty and sentenced to death.
Now, nearly 200 years after her execution, Michael Packwood, a relative of Hannah Read, is determined to find justice for her. He’s been researching her case for over a decade and has serious questions about the safety of her conviction. Along with his son Mike, Michael is determined to give Hannah a voice, and has enlisted the barristers to help prove that her conviction was a miscarriage of justice.
Jeremy and Sasha will meet the challenges posed by a case that dates back nearly two centuries, by examining the pathological evidence, the psychology of the couple’s turbulent relationship, and the legal history of the era. Will Hannah Read’s conviction prove to be unsafe?
Murder, Mystery and My Family – Thursday at 10.00am on BBC One.