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Crime mining

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Data-mining the archives of London's oldest criminal court has uncovered an unguessed-at story of violence – and history will never be the same again

Fire up the time machine, pop it in reverse and rewind 213 years. Mary Hall is standing in the dock at the Old Bailey, London's oldest court, as a string of witnesses give evidence against her. A few days before, Hall had picked up a labourer named John Martin stumbling home from the pub. "She asked me what I would give her for a bed that night," Martin told the court. "I agreed to give her two shillings."

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