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In the summer of 1951 two little girls were strangled in Bath. Straffen, a certified mental defective, was tried at Taunton Assizes, found unfit to plead, and committed to Broadmoor Institution.
In April next year he escaped, and within a matter of hours he strangled a third little girl. For this crime he was tried at Winchester Assizes, found guilty and sentenced to death, despite his plea of insanity. On the second day the trial had to start all over again with a fresh jury owing to the indiscretion of one of the jurors.
Eventually Straffen was reprieved. The first murder by a Broadmoor escapee, and a mental defective at that, this trial is of the highest medical and legal importance and is unique in the annals of British Courts.