Wednesday, 13 February 2019

Canada Dock Tragedy

A man who went to the aid of a crew member on board a ship berthed in Canada Dock died from stab wounds, leading to the assailant being convicted of manslaughter. 

At about 10pm on 6th November 1906 Wallace Tate, from Loxdale Street in Dingle, went to see off a relative on board the steamer Manchester City. The Manchester Line vessel was due to sail at 2am for Buenos Aries. Whilst there he witnessed an altercation between able seaman John Wells and the boatswain, after Wells had refused orders to go on deck.  

When Wells assaulted another crew member called Driscoll that had stood up for the boatswain, Tate went to break things up. There was a brief struggle and Wells ran off throwing a knife away as he did so. Driscoll had a stab wound in the hand but Tate appeared unhurt and went to sit on a bunk. However a few minutes later he doubled up and fell unconscious on the floor. He was rushed to Stanley Hospital where it was confirmed he had died from a severed artery near a wound on the groin.

Twenty nine year old Wells, who lived in Greenside off Brunswick Road, was arrested on the quayside and appeared before the Police Court the following morning. He said he could recall nothing of the incident, having been drunk. He was then committed to the assizes charged with wilful murder.

Wells appeared before Justice Sutton on 3rd December, where the prosecuting counsel pursued the capital charge on the basis Wells was not acting in self defence. However due to his having been drinking, there being no previous animosity with Tate and the very short premeditation period, he was found guilty only of the lesser charge of manslaughter. Wells was then sentenced to five years penal servitude. 

Thursday, 24 January 2019

Christmas Eve Tragedy in Rainhill

When a man died from injuries sustained on Christmas Eve, the alleged killer was acquitted as it couldn't be proved he had struck a fatal blow.

On Christmas Eve 1915 Henry Wharton, a 45 year old railway signalman, attended to his duties as secretary of the club at the Black Horse Hotel in Rainhill. When his duties had been completed he enjoyed a few drinks before calling to see a friend. 

Shortly after midnight Henry was found lying unconscious in a path off Parkers Row. He was removed by a police constable to his home in Railway Cottages, Stoney Lane, Rainhill.  After police made enquiries 24 year old Thomas Foster, of Houghton Street in Prescot, was arrested and charged with inflicting grievous bodily harm and allowed bail which was set at £100.

On 29th December Henry died,  having never regained consciousness.  The following day Foster was back before the courts, where Superintendent Garvey from the police successfully applied for a remand. 

Foster appeared at Liverpool Magistrates Court on 28th January 1916. His counsel Lindon Riley was rebuked by the judge for referring to his being a territorial, a foreman in a munitions factory and having a brother being the army The judge also criticised Foster for placing his overcoat over the dock rail to ensure a khaki armlet was visible to the jury. 

Evidence in the case was conflicting. It was agreed that Henry had a fracture to the back of his skull, but only one witness could say that they had seen Foster strike him. Foster said that Henry had come uninvited to his friends house and continued to fall down drunk, which is what happened as he tried to take him home. 

After a short deliberation, a verdict of not guilty was returned and Foster was discharged. 

Tuesday, 22 January 2019

Murder and Suicide in Berwick Street

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When a Kensington man was struggling due to being out of work, he shot his wife dead and turned the gun on himself. 

On the evening of 16th August 1900 Hugh Murphy, a 24 year old shipwright, shot dead his wife and then turned the gun on himself at their home in Berwick Street. The two bodies were found a few hours later by Hugh's aunt, who lived in nearby Every Street. A policeman was summoned and the bodies were taken to Princes Dock mortuary. 

At the inquest Hugh's widowed mother Ann told the Coroner that the couple lived with her. She described how they had a habit of getting worse for drinking and quarrelling, but that generally they were happy together. However she also said that in the preceding days Hugh had told her he was tired of life, due to criticism from Florence because he had been out of work for two months. 

In summing up the Coroner told his jury that this had been a terrible occurrence and that Hugh had evidently been suffering from mental depression. A verdict was returned that Hugh had murdered his wife then committed suicide whilst in a temporary insane condition. 

Tuesday, 1 January 2019

Manslaughter Woman's 33 Previous Convictions

A woman who was convicted of manslaughter after a drunken row led to a stabbing had already been before the courts 33 times. 

On 2nd July 1921 Mary Ann Peden, aged 52, got into an argument with Jane Henshaw at her home in Boreland Street, Bootle. Mary accused Jane of telling others that her daughter was not good enough for Jane's son. Jane told Mary to shut up, then picked up a kitchen knife and lashed out at her, causing cuts above the eye. Mary managed to seize the knife from Jane and then stabbed her in the neck, narrowly missing the jugular vein. 

Twelve days later 42 year old Jane died of bronchial pneumonia which was related to the wound. Mary was charged with manslaughter and appeared at the assizes on 9th November. Her solicitor said that she was acting in self defence and this was a case of excusable homicide, but this was rejected and the jury found her guilty.

After hearing that Mary had 33 previous convictions, mainly for drunkenness, the judge sentenced he to twelve months imprisonment with hard labour. 

Monday, 24 December 2018

Amputee Charged with Manslaughter

In 1934 the driver of a motorcycle combination who had his leg amputated after a crash which killed his cousin was charged with manslaughter. 

At 1030pm on 20th August that year Edward Fielding was driving the combination along Higher Road with his cousin Joseph riding pillion. Two passengers were in the sidecar. A head on collision occurred with a motor car near to the railway bridge. An ambulance was also sent for and all occupants of the combination were taken to Whiston Hospital. The driver and passenger of the motor vehicle were not injured.

At 2am Joseph succumbed to his injuries. Edward had his leg amputated, one sidecar passenger had a broken collar bone and the other suffered shock.

Edward remained in hospital for over a month and after being charged with manslaughter, appeared in court at Widnes on 14th November. The prosecutor said it was an unfortunate case, but one which the police had a duty to proceed with. Edward was described as driving recklessly on the wrong side of the road and there was no provision for more than one passenger in the sidecar. A witness who had seen the combination on Halebank Road told the court that all the occupants were shouting and singing. 

The manslaughter charge was dismissed but Edward, a carter who lived in Claribel Street, Toxteth, was found guilty of dangerous driving. He was fined £5 and banned from driving for five years. 

Sunday, 23 December 2018

Kensington Son Insane

A man who gassed his mother to death but failed with his own suicide attempt was found guilty of murder but insane.  

Royal Infirmary ( 23rd April 1959 neighbours of 73 year old widow Rosina Moore became concerned for her welfare due to the curtains of her home in Gaerwen Street remaining closed as midday approached. Gaerwen Street was situated off Farnworth Street, on the site of what is now Butler Crescent. 

After knocking at the door of her  and receiving no answer the window cleaner gained entry through an upstairs window, where he found Rosina dead in bed. 

Downstairs, Rosina's 35 year old son Stanley was unconscious on the kitchen floor, near to a cooker which had the gas pipes turned on. He was taken to the Royal Infirmary where he was treated for coal gas inhalation, remaining there for six days. 

On being discharged Stanley was arrested and charged with his mother's murder. He told detectives from Prescot Street CID who interview him "I was just browned off with having no work".

Stanley appeared at Liverpool Crown Court on 18th June. The prosecutor read out a letter addressed to the Coroner that Stanley admitted to having written. It said he was taking this course of action as he had fallen foul of an international political organisation of world power that controlled the British police and he could not fight alone any longer. With respect to his mother, he added that she would be better off dead as there would be nobody to care for her.

Medical officers from Rainhill Hospital and Walton Gaol both said that Stanley was suffering from insane illusions and unable to make a rational judgement. Without leaving their box, the jury returned a verdict of guilty but insane and Stanley was detained at Her Majesty's pleasure. 

Body in a Coal Bunker

The killer of a woman whose body was found in a coal bunker was sentenced to life imprisonment after the jury refused to accept he acted in self defence.

At lunchtime on Tuesday 21st April 1959 Irene Samuels, concerned for the welfare of her friend June Moorcroft, returned to her home at 12 Princes Avenue where she had a basement flat. There, she found the battered body of  20 year old June in a coal bunker to the rear of the property. The body of June, who lived at 17 Jermyn Street but regularly stayed with Irene, was badly bruised and there were also stab wounds.

CID officers from Essex Street and Lark Lane police stations were summonsed and attention immediately focused on Edward Butts who had cohabited with Irene until two months previously.  Enquiries soon established that he had taken some blood stained clothing to a dry cleaners in Birkenhead. Butts' orginally from Guyana, was arrested at 4.15pm when he returned to  63a Garmoyle Road in Wavertree where he occasionally lodged.  

June was originally from Cambridge and had separated from her husband Ivan a few months previously.  He was finally contacted at 1130pm in Peterborough, where he worked as a booking agent for a circus, and travelled through the night to get to Liverpool where he attended the police headquarters to arrange formal identification of the body.

After being charged with murder at 550am on 22nd April, Butts appeared at the magistrates' court in Dale Street where he was remanded in custody. The prosecutor Mr F. V. Renshaw told the court that Irene had become concerned after noticing blood stained bedding in a laundry basket and that the key to the coal bunker was missing. Initially she believed June could be responsible for the bedding, but she decided to return home after speaking to a neighbour who told her Butts was seen leaving her flat the previous evening with a heavy holdall.

The trial took place at St George's Hall and began on 20th June, lasting for three days. The jury heard how Butts had blood belonging to June's blood type on his trousers that he put in the dry cleaners. The trousers also contained June's hair.  Butts claimed that he had gone to Birkenhead on the Tuesday morning to visit his brother and sister in law, but neither backed up his alibi. A surgeon also described how he had a facial injury which could have been caused by somebody fighting off an attack. 

In his defence, Butts claimed that June had come at him with a knife after he called her a prostitute, and she had been accidentally stabbed as he fought her off, having initially beaten her back with an iron tube.  However this version of events, as well as an offer of pleading guilty to manslaughter, was rejected. After being found guilty of murder,  Butts was sentenced to life imprisonment.