Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Dental Extraction Gone Wrong

When a seaman died after fighting with a fellow crew member, no charges were brought about when it was found the death was a result instead of a failed dental procedure. 

On 17th November 1906 the Balasore of Eyre, Evans & Co arrived in Liverpool from San Francisco. One of the shipmates, a 23 year old Barbadian named Samuel Archer, was taken to hospital feeling ill and died later that day. 

Enquiries established that during the voyage Archer had been in a fight with Italian Luigi Cocini and received a broken arm as well as broken teeth. Towards the end of he voyage, Archer had asked a fellow crew member to extract some teeth, which went badly and resulted in a broken jaw.

A postmortem revealed that Archer died from shock as a result of the broken jaw, and not in relation to injuries sustained in the fight which had occurred on 24th October. As a result of this, an inquest returned a verdict of accidental death and Cocini was discharged.

Saturday, 24 March 2018

Mother Guilty of Tuberculosis Death

When a woman died in 1937 after suffering from tuberculosis for two years there was no initial cause for suspicion, but events took a macabre twist and her mother was found guilty of manslaughter.

liverpool murdersOn 22nd October that year Florence Smith, who had been suffering from the disease for two years, died at her home in Suffolk Street, off Duke Street in the city centre. She was buried four days later in Allerton cemetery but when her mother Esther Davies failed to return the keys to her flat, the owners made a horrific discovery whilst clearing it out.

In the corner of a room was a pram containing the mummified body of a baby, which was estimate to have been dead for nine months. A post mortem was carried out by Dr Lynch from the University of Liverpool, who was unable to determine whether or not the child had been born dead or alive.

Esther was traced to her home in Elmham Crescent, Fazakerley and initially remanded in custody charged with Endeavouring to Conceal The Birth of a Child. 49 year old Esther was in a distressed state when she appeared at the magistrates court and was allowed to remain seated.

Due to the concerns raised by neighbours about Florence's condition in the days leading to her death the Coroner ordered the exhumation of her body. Tests showed that the body was thin and wasted, with the cause of death being pthisis of the left lung. However, the fact Esther had not sought medical assistance prior to death meant that prosecutors charged her with manslaughter, saying that death had been accelerated by her criminal neglect.

Esther was back before magistrates on 6th December and was committed for trial at the assizes but allowed bail. This was opposed by the prosecution, who said she should remain in custody for her own safety. As she was freed from the dock she stated 'I am not guilty of both charges'.

Suffolk Street in 2017
On 8th April 1938 the jury at St George's Hall heard that post mortem results showed no evidence of Florence having eaten for several days before her death. A neighbour also testified that when Esther realised her daughter was dying, she found a terrible state of affairs, with the bedsheets being saturated in blood and her hands riddled with maggots.

The defence said that Florence had refused to go to hospital and wouldn't eat any food. To them it was not a case of wilful neglect, rather Esther simply misunderstanding how serious the situation was. However she was found guilty and sentencing adjourned to the Manchester assizes so probation reports could be prepared.




Tuesday, 20 February 2018

New Mother's Violent Death in Bootle

A Bootle man who killed his lodger who had recently given birth was jailed for twenty one months. 

On 16th September 1887 Mary McDonald gave birth to a baby at 9 Molyneux Street, a small street that ran off Derby Road next to Millers Bridge. She and her husband John lodged at the house with Daniel Madge, a twenty eight year old labourer and his wife. 

The following night Madge disturbed Mary with his singing, leading to John telling him to leave them alone as she was in a weak condition. He did so for an hour but then had an argument with his own wife before going back into their room and challenging John to a fight. Before John could even take up the offer, he had been beaten about the head with a bowl by Madge. 

When Mary placed her hand on Madge to calm him down, he pulled her out of the bed and then threw her out the door into the street. She lay there for several hours due to her husband being unconscious inside the house.

When Mary found by a neighbour she was taken to the Bootle Borough Hospital where she died six days later of peutonitis brought on by violence and exposure. Madge had already been charged and remanded in custody for cutting and wounding John and now faced an indictment of manslaughter.

When Madge appeared before Mr Justice Day on 11th November his defence counsel argued that the peutonitis had been brought on by Mary having insufficient clothing to cover her following her confinement. This argument was rejected and Madge was found guilty of manslaughter then jailed for twenty one months. 


Saturday, 13 January 2018

Wavertree Lake Tragedy

A woman who drowned her baby boy in Wavertree Lake was found not guilty due to her mental instability.

At around 2am on Sunday 21st July 1912 Police Constable George Smith was passing Wavertree Lake (now a park) when he heard groaning. He waded into the lake and the water was up to his shoulders by the time he saw the outstretched arm of a lady who was clearly struggling.  He managed to swim with her to a shallower part of the lake and another constable helped him pull her ashore.

The lady was insensible but when she regained consciousness was wailing 'Oh my baby'. PC Smith then went back into the lake with grappling irons and half an hour later located the body of a baby boy.  Enquiries established that the woman was Charlotte Heather, who lived with her husband, an electrician, in Cronton Road.

On 1st August the inquest took place. Charlotte's district nurse Elsie Williams said that she was often strange and bewildered in her manner and would worry about money. Such was Charlotte's mental state that Elsie would often sleep overnight at the property and once she had woken up in a trembling fit, saying both her and the baby had fever.

At the direction of the coroner a verdict of wilful murder against Charlotte was returned. They asked if a rider could be added that she was temporarily insane, but the coroner stated it was not their duty to determine the mental state of the prisoner. He did assure them that full consideration would be given to this at the assizes and then commended PC Smith for his prompt actions on rescuing Charlotte and recovering the baby's body.

On 1st November Charlotte appeared at the Liverpool assizes. She told the jury that she had been in bed and heard a voice calling her to see her sister. She can remember sitting by the side of the lake but nothing after that. The jury returned a verdict of not guilty and she was immediately discharged from the dock. She returned to her husband and four years later the couple had another child, a baby girl called Bronwen.


Thursday, 21 December 2017

Landlord's Narrow Escape

When a man died after an altercation with his landlord in 1892, an inquest determined he had died from natural causes. This led to the coroner telling the man detained in connection with the death that he had a narrow escape.

On Friday 5th February that year John Dalzell had tea at his lodgings in Fairy Street (off Netherfield Road North in Everton) then went out drinking. On his return his brother James made a joke that he didn't like, leading to the two fighting. John was getting the upper hand and their landlord John Glendenning intervened on James' side, leading to his wife Ann going out to find a policeman. The officer she found however said he could not intervene as the fight was taking place inside a house.

When Ann returned she saw John Dalzell lying on the kitchen floor and found that James and her husband had gone to bed. When she went back into the kitchen she realised that John was dead and went back out to find the policeman, who called in a doctor to confirm that life was extinct.

John Glendenning was taken into custody and at the inquest the following Monday evidence was heard from Ann and Dr Parry, who had carried out the postmortem. He confirmed that the only injury on the body was a black eye but that the stomach was distended from too much food and there was a problem with a heart valve. This led to a verdict being returned that excitement and drink had accelerated death and Glendenning was discharged. Before leaving however he was censured by the coroner, who said that he had had a very narrow escape.

Friday, 15 December 2017

14 Year Old Killed by Bottle

A fourteen year old boy was killed in 1885 by a flying bottle that had been targeted at somebody else.

Hopwood Street in 1930 (www.liverpoolpicturebook.com)
On 11th September 1885 Francis Beagan, a fourteen year old who lived with his widowed mother in Cockspur Street, was walking down Hopwood Street in Vauxhall. A woman ran passed him being chased by a man, who threw a bottle which missed her and hit Francis on the head.  

Francis was taken to the Stanley Hospital where he died three days later. The man concerned was 33 year old labourer Thomas Cavanagh, who was initially charged with wounding but had this changed to manslaughter. At the Liverpool assizes on 20th November he was found guilty and sentenced to six months imprisonment. 

A Man of Disgusting Habits

A man who battered his wife to death in Everton in 1889 was jailed for ten years, the judge telling him he was of 'disgusting habits'.


Robsart Street (www.liverpoolpicturebook.com)
On the evening of Sunday 30th June John Hannay and his wife Martha indulged in some heavy drinking a their Robsart Street home. They then went out but Martha refused to return home when John demanded they did, leading to him kicking her about the head and body when she did make it back there. Even when she escaped and made it to bed, he dragged her out of it and repeated the onslaught.

Martha lingered on until the following Friday when she died. John, a 23 year old dock labourer, was charged with murder and stood trial before Mr Justice Stephen on 9th August. His defence was that he was so drunk he did not know what he was doing, and that they had generally been on good terms. It was also suggested that Martha had been fighting with somebody else earlier in the day and may have got her injuries that way.

John was found guilty of murder and told by the judge that he had 'disgusting habits' before being sentenced to ten years imprisonment.