Top criminal barristers Sasha Wass QC and Jeremy Dein QC revisit their investigation into an infamous case of a housewife accused of murdering her young husband. She became the last woman to be publicly hanged in Dorset, and her story inspired a classic novel. \n\nDorset, 1856. In the early hours of 6 July, Martha Brown, a resident of Birdsmoorgate in rural Dorset, called on her neighbour begging for help. She said her husband John had been attacked by his horse and was lying in a critical condition in their home.\n\nWhen Martha returned with assistance, John was found dead, having succumbed to multiple head wounds. After a hasty investigation, Martha was charged and convicted with the murder of her husband. Martha Brown continued to maintain her innocence, but on 9 August 1856, she was executed at Dorchester Prison.\n\nMartha's story famously inspired Thomas Hardy’s novel Tess of the D'Urbervilles. 160 years on, sisters Fran and Irene, relatives of Martha Brown, were keen to separate fact from fiction, so they called upon the help of Jeremy and Sasha, who took another look at the hasty investigation and the pathological evidence. They also undertook a psychological evaluation of Martha and John’s relationship, to try to establish whether Martha Brown was wrongly convicted.\n\nNow, a year on from that initial investigation, the barristers catch up once again with Fran and Irene, who remain unwilling to accept their ancestor's conviction. Can a new document uncovered by a historian shed further light on the case, and can local support for Martha help bring about a proper burial for her?
Source: BBC 1