The Hammersmith ghost started haunting Black Lion Lane and St Paul's Churchyard in 1804. One night an excise officer, Francis Smith, filled his blunderbuss with shot, and himself with ale before killing an unfortunate white-clothed bricklayer, Thomas Millwood, whom he had mistaken for the ghost. It was at the Black Lion that the body was taken and an inquest held later.
The logic of shooting a ghost escapes us but drunks do silly things.
From Wikipedia we can add: Smith was tried for murder and convicted. Initially sentenced to hanging, this was commuted to a year's hard labour. The publicity prompted John Graham, an elderly shoemaker, to own up to being the real ghost (if you see what we mean). His apprentice had been frightening the Graham children with ghost stories so Graham decided to punish him by creating this ghostly apparition, by use of a sheet. Seems odd that the elderly Graham could have children young enough to be frightened with ghost stories. Perhaps they were his grandchildren.
The use of a mistaken belief in one's defence was debated repeatedly and was not finally settled until 1983. Lord Chief Justice Lane: "In a case of self-defence, where self-defence or the prevention of crime is concerned, if the jury came to the conclusion that the defendant believed, or may have believed, that he was being attacked or that a crime was being committed, and that force was necessary to protect himself or to prevent the crime, then the prosecution have not proved their case. If however the defendant's alleged belief was mistaken and if the mistake was an unreasonable one, that may be a peaceful reason for coming to the conclusion that the belief was not honestly held and should be rejected. Even if the jury come to the conclusion that the mistake was an unreasonable one, if the defendant may genuinely have been labouring under it, he is entitled to rely upon it."
Each time we read that we're left thinking that we need to read it again.