Sat 3 February – Public Mock Trial of William Bury, last man hanged in Dundee

On Saturday 3rd February, Humanities staff member, Eddie Small will provide the commentary for a re-examination of the medical evidence which led to the execution of William Bury, the last man hanged in Dundee 129 years ago, at a public mock trial next month, organised by the University of Dundee.

Bury was found guilty of the murder of his wife Ellen, and hanged on April 24, 1889. In his initial confession he made a claim to be Jack the Ripper.

His conviction rested largely on medical evidence which drew some uncertainty from the jury at the time. Now students from the Mooting Societies at the Universities of Dundee and Aberdeen will take part in a re-consideration of the information that was available at the time and will present evidence by today’s forensic science standards.

The mock trial will be overseen by The Hon Lord Matthews, a Judge of Scotland’s Supreme Courts. The prosecution case will be led by the Dundee University Mooting Society, who will be mentored by Alex Prentice QC and Dr Stuart Hamilton will be called as their expert witness. Defence of William Bury will be led by Aberdeen University’s Mooting Society, who will be mentored by Dorothy Bain QC and they will call Professor Richard Shepherd as their forensic witness.

The jury who will decide on the verdict will be drawn from the local public, with an appeal for 15 people to take part.

The event will be held in Dundee Sheriff Court on Saturday February 3 and is being staged as part of the celebrations to mark the 130th anniversary of the establishment of the Cox Chair of Anatomy at the University of Dundee.

Unfortunately, due to limited space there is no access for the public to the court on the day. The event is being filmed for a planned documentary by HistoryHit TV – Dan Snow’s new online History Channel, and there will be social media updates throughout the day, with a verdict expected by 5pm on February 3.