The Man Falsely Convicted Twice for the Same Crime
Adolph Beck was a Norwegian living in England in 1895, who had the bad luck of looking exactly like a prolific jewelry thief. He found this out one day during a chance encounter with a woman who cornered Beck and accused him of stealing her jewels. When the police came by, they arrested him apparently on the evidence that he totally looked like the dude who did it, and he would spend much of his life getting repeatedly nailed for this other guy's crimes, purely because they could (almost) be twins:
Come on, Beck and the real criminal clearly tie their ties in completely different ways!
Once in court, Beck's luck went from bad to worse. Despite the man who swindled the woman sounding less and less like Beck, the jury decided nonetheless that he was not only guilty, but that he'd been seducing ladies and relieving them of their jewelry multiple times since 1877, under the woefully unimaginative fake name "John Smith." For that guy's crimes, Beck was thrown in the slammer for five freaking years.
A 19th century British slammer, no less.
Beck finally caught a break when it was found that "John Smith" was circumcised, while Beck was not. While we don't want to imagine how he proved this in a court of law, he was nevertheless off the hook. At least until three years later, when another woman accused him of theft, and he was again arrested and charged with another string of jewelry robberies -- "Smith" was still out there doing crime, still looked just like Beck, and the court system hadn't learned a goddamned thing from the previous incident. Beck was found guilty again and served another five years or so in the big house.
Lisa F. Young/Photos.com
"Mmm-hmm. Mistaken identity. Miscarriage of justice. Right. Can we wrap this up?"