Kerin Freeman ... writer

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LET HIM HANG

A young English labourer left Liverpool looking for a better life in Australia. He met and married a young woman not long after he arrived but the relationship was doomed from the start. He decided life would be better on the other side of the ditch, so he boarded a ship and sailed for New Zealand.

Arriving in 1953, he found lodgings in a boarding house in Auckland and work in the city. He also found the love of his life – the eighteen year old daughter of the woman who ran the house where he lived. They became lovers and soon talked of marriage but he neglected to tell her, in case she left him, that he was already married and trying to get a divorce. His girlfriend became suspicious of his actions and eventually she and her mother cornered him about his reticence.

After learning he was unavailable, his girlfriend left him and began seeing other men. But he was determined to win her back, though she wasn’t averse to him buying her clothes and meals. One day he hit on a plan that would make her see he was worthy, only it went horribly wrong – a terrible accident. And for that, he paid with his life.

The government had the chance to sentence him to manslaughter, but instead they gave him the death sentence. The conservative National government felt that the ultimate punishment would send a powerful message to those indulging in such hedonistic lifestyles. They were determined to get political mileage out of it. He was murdered because it was politically advantageous in the wake of the morals (Mazengarb) report and community anxiety over juvenile delinquency of the 50s.

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