Date: 26 Jan 1919
John Bianchi was shot in the stomach as he walked through Walkergate in Newcastle with his cousin.
He had been escorting his cousin from her father's house to a fever hospital at walker Gate, Newcastle at about 9.45pm, where she was employed as a laundry-maid when a shot was fired from behind a hedge at him. After the man ran out of the bushes and hit the cousin on her face with the butt-end of the revolver and then made off towards some fields. The cousin's hat had served as protection and she had only received a cut wound. It was also said that the cousin had pretended to be dead until the murderer ran off.
After the murderer ran off, John Bianchi's cousin went over to him, but said that he could only groan and so she ran off screaming, looking for help. When she got home she ran in an said, 'Oh uncle, John’s been shot'.
The incident took place on a road known locally as 'Lovers Lane' between Bigges Main near Walker and Walker Gate.
John Bianchi was taken to the Newcastle Infirmary where he died on 27 January 1919.
Police later found a Webley & Scott revolver near the scene and determined that it had been taken illegally from one of His Majesty's ships in a North-East Coast port. Along with it the police found several packages of cartridges and a magazine to fit the revolver as well as about seven feet of clothes-line with a bowline knot at one end. The revolver was stamped 'Webley and Scott, Limited, Pistol, self-loading, 455, Mark I.N., 1917'. The cartridges found also bore a Government stamp.
The cousin that John Bianchi had been walking with said that the man that had attacked them was about 26 years old, about 5ft. 8in. tall, had broad shoulders and was dressed in a dark overcoat with a cap.
It was thought that the man might have been a jealous ex-boyfriend or a religious maniac who had decided to clear Lover's Lane of courting couples.
When the police looked into the cousin's previous lovers, they found that she had had one in Hartlepool and another in Wallsend, but determined that the one from Hartlepool had been at home with his family on the night and that the one from Wallsend had been in Germany with the Army.
She was 26 years old and from Blackpool and had been in Newcastle for two months. She was engaged and her fiancee had been serving abroad at the time in the Army.
She had lived in Thornton-le-Flyde and during the weekends she used to visit her aunt and uncle, John Bianchi's parents, after which she would return to the hospital generally accompanied by John Bianchi.
A £50 reward was offered for the discovery and conviction of the murderer.
John Bianchi had been an apprentice driller at the Hawthorn Leslie yard and had lived in Chapel Row in Bigges Maine with his parents and five brothers.
see Dundee Courier - Tuesday 18 February 1919
see Dundee Evening Telegraph - Tuesday 28 January 1919
see Cambridge Daily News - Wednesday 29 January 1919
see Lancashire Evening Post - Tuesday 28 January 1919
see Chronicle Live