Sunday, 18 November 2018

The Poisoning Landlord

A Liverpool born man who let greed get the better of him was hanged after he was found guilty of poisoning his tenant.  

Frederick Henry Seddon was born in Liverpool in 1872 and baptised at St Peters Church in Church Street. At the age of 21 he married his wife Margaret at St George's Church in Everton. They would have five children together. 

Seddon was an insurance agent and he was known to be energetic, respectable and charitable. During the Boer War he organised concerts at the Picton Lecture Hall in William Brown Street, with proceeds going to widows of servicemen.  At this time he was living at 88 Belmont Road, Anfield.

At the beginning of the 20th Century Seddon secured a position as superintendent with the Liverpool & Manchester was promoted to superintendent in his firm and moved to Buckinghamshire, where he began speculating in property. He bought a fourteen bedroom house in Tollington Park, North London in 1909 and the following year let the first floor to a wealthy spinster named Eliza Barrow. She moved in with Ernest Grant, the eight year old son of a friend who had died and who she was now the guardian of.

Eliza had substantial savings and annuities. However she agreed to allow Seddon to take a controlling interest in return for an annual sum and living rent free for life. 

88 Belmont Road
On 14th September 1911 Eliza Barrow died having suffered excruciating stomach pains. Just a month earlier, she and Ernest, along with Seddon's family, had holidayed together in Southend. Seddon then arranged for her to be buried in a communal plot instead of her family vault in Islington. 

When Frank Vonderahe, a cousin of Eliza's went to take over estate, he was informed by Seddon that there was nothing left after the funeral expenses and paying for Ernest's upkeep. Frank went to the police with his suspicions, leading to Eliza's body being exhumed on 15th November. A postmortem took place and two grains of arsenic were found in the stomach, leading to the arrest of Seddon and his wife. 

The trial took place at the Old Bailey, where it was proved Seddon's fifteen year old daughter Maggie had bought flypaper from a chemist. Against the advice of his counsel, Seddon conducted his own defence, suggesting that Eliza could have drank water that the flypapers had been getting soaked in. 

Seddon was found guilty and sentenced to death, but his wife Margaret was acquitted. He was hanged at Pentonville on 18th April 1912. Margaret returned to Liverpool, marrying American James Cameron just seven months later. She took the emigrated to America with him and the five children.

Friday, 9 November 2018

Killed Over a Cigarette

A man in a hostel was killed after he had denied a cigarette to another resident. 
At around 3am on Saturday 28th September 1957 Joseph Flynn, a frail 78 year old, was asleep in his dormitory bed at the Westminster House hostel in Kirkdale. This was a local authority run home situated in the former Kirkdale Industrial School building. He was woken by Patrick Hyland, who slept in the next bed, rummaging through his belongings. 
When Flynn remonstrated with 66 year old Hyland, he was met with a series of blows about the head. Hyland then went to the hostel office and said that a man was injured in the dormitory. Staff then  found Flynn to be conscious and even though he had blood coming from his nostrils, he refused medical attention.

Six hours later Flynn's condition was found to have deteriorated and he died at 930am. Detectives from Westminster Road police station attended and told Hyland that he would be detained on suspicion of causing the death. He responded that he had slapped Flynn, but only after being called a B*STARD.

A postmortem found that Flynn had a broken jaw and had died of cerebral haemorrhage due to multiple blows causing bruising to the brain. On being told of the postmortem results that evening. Hyland replied 'It was just a bout of fisticuffs'. After being charged with manslaughter, Hyland was remanded in custody at the Magistrates Court on the Monday morning. 

On 11th February 1958 Flynn admitted manslaughter, saying that he had been drinking ale, stout and surgical spirit and was looking for a cigarette. His defense counsel said 'If ever the expression demon drink had a meaning it was this case. For the rest of his life he will carry the burden of having killed a fellow creature for the price of a cigarette'. Hyland, described by the Liverpool Echo as a chronic drunkard, was jailed for fifteen months. 

Tuesday, 6 November 2018

Murder at the Blind Home

A partially sighted man in his seventies who killed a fellow resident of the care home where he resided was detained at Her Majesty's pleasure. 

Balliol Road in 1970s ( 1pm on 1st December 1951 police were called to Connolly House in Balliol Road, a Bootle Corporation's home for the blind. On arrival they found 46 year old Margaret Hughes lying on a landing with a throat wound. She as taken to hospital but was dead on arrival.

Later that afternoon detectives took Frederick Wilson, a 76 year old partially sighted resident of the home, into custody.  Wilson admitted cutting Margaret's throat with a razor but when examined by Dr Brisley at Walton gaol, was found to be suffering from a progressive disease of the mind. At the Liverpool assizes on 14th February 1952, the judge accepted that he was unfit to plead and detained him at Her Majesty's pleasure. 

Connolly house later became a home for elder persons and was demolished in 2010 to make way for an extension to Hugh Baird College.

Monday, 5 November 2018

Uncle Strangles Baby Nephew

A man who killed his baby nephew because he was 'squawking' was declared unfit to plead when he appeared at court charged with the murder. 

At 920am on 6th November 1951 George Thomas McCready, a 35 year old seaman, walked into Rice Lane police station and said to the desk sergeant 'I have just strangled my nephew.' McCready was kept in custody while Superintendent Balmer of the murder squad went to his home at 30 Burleigh Road South, Everton. After seeing the body of 19 month old Thomas Boston, who was the son of McCready's sister, Balmer returned to Rice Lane and formally charged him with murder.

McCready was taken straight to Dale Street to appear before the Stipendiary Magistrate Arthur McFarland. Prosecutor Mr J. R. Bishop said that on being charged, McCready had replied 'I took the baby into the front bedroom and strangled him because he was squawking.' McCready remained silent throughout the hearing, during which he was granted legal aid and remanded.

The following February McCready appeared before Mr Justice Streatfield at the Liverpool Assizes. Evidence was heard from Dr Brisley, Chief Medical Officer of Walton Gaol, that he suffered epileptic insanity and suffered a number of fits while one remand. The judge accepted that McCready was unfit to plead and detained him at His Majesty's pleasure. 

Wednesday, 31 October 2018

Manslaughter by Furious Driving

A carter who didn't stop when he ran over a child was found guilty of manslaughter and jailed.

At 430pm on Friday 19th December 1845, eleven year old Mary Bruce was crossing from St James Church to Great George Street when she was knocked down by a cart being driven by Charles Murphy. She was crushed by the wheels passing over her body and died an hour later.

At the inquest several witnesses said that Murphy was driving at a rapid rate and at first didn't stop. A verdict of manslaughter was returned and he was committed to the assizes for trial.

The following April, 21 year old Murphy was found guilty. After hearing that he had been to jail five five times, including for furious driving, he was sentenced to nine months imprisonment. 

Sunday, 28 October 2018

Tragedy of a Devoted Couple

When an elderly couple in Edge Hill fell upon hard times the husband believed there was no other way out other than for them to die together. 

In the early hours of 28th December 1933 police were called to 17 Royston Street in Edge Hill by the Annie Morris, sister of Jane Davies. On arrival officers were met by Jane's 63 year old husband, dairyman Joseph Davies who said to them "Go upstairs, I have done the missus in. See, I have done myself in too." On entering a bedroom they found his wife Jane with a very serious throat wound. There was no sign of any struggle and both Jane and Joseph were rushed to the Royal Infirmary.

Joseph received six stitches and within two days was declared fit to be put before magistrates, charged with attempted murder. On being told this by the detective sergeant, he replied "Something came over me"' At his first court appearance, Joseph stood silent in the dock as he was remanded for a week. He was described in the Liverpool Echo as tall and grey haired.

Jane had nine stitches and her wounds were not thought to be life threatening, but she died two weeks later on 14th January 1934 at Sefton General Hospital. This led to Joseph being charged with murder and on 25th January he appeared before the police court, where prosecutor Mr J. R. Bishop described he and Jane as 'a devoted couple who had fallen on hard times'. The court also heard how Jane was suffering from ill health and required hospital treatment.

A deposition taken from Jane was read out. which stated that in addition to her health concerns they had business worries and had remained awake until 5am on the night in question. Joseph then got up with the intention of doing away with himself, then returned with a razor and after seeing her husband lean over the bed she felt a sharp pain then recalled no more. Medical evidence was then heard that a postmortem revealed the cause of death to be pneumonia and heart disease. Doctors from the Royal Infirmary stated that Jane was expected to recover  in full at the time of her transfer, but it was then heard that at Sefton she had refused food.

Annie Morris told the court that she visited her sister daily, and that she had stayed overnight on 27th December. She added that Jane had been suffering from a pain in her side for two years and that this had now been discovered to be a tumour that needed surgery in the New Year. The couple were extremely worried about this and the potential impact on their business. 

After hearing all the evidence the magistrate said that the prima facie case for murder had not been made out, then committed Joseph for trial on the lesser charge of attempted murder, as well as attempted suicide. On 28th February Joseph pleased guilty to both charges and was sentenced to three days imprisonment, leading to his immediate release. He had wept throughout the proceedings, in which his defence barrister saying he had 'come to the conclusion there was nothing else to do but leave this life together.'

Eggs Dispute Ends in Death

A dispute between seamen over eggs ended with one of them dying on their ship's arrival in Liverpool and his attacker being convicted of manslaughter.

On 1st January 1867 the Caboceer docked at Aveiro in Portugal and in the afternoon the crew members were given leave to go ashore by the captain. That evening, back on the vessel, a dispute arose over ownership of a quantity of eggs that had brought aboard. This ended with 36 year old first mate Evan Matthias pulling the hair of able seaman Miles Dempsey, with so much force that his head bled. He then dragged Dempsey onto the deck and knelt on his chest with great force and hit him with a belaying pin.

Ten days later, twenty year old Dempsey complained of pains in his chest and was unable to resume his duties. He remained bedbound until the vessel arrived at Liverpool's King's Dock on 23rd February. He was taken to the workhouse hospital while Matthias was arrested and charged with assault. On the 28th Dempsey died, leading to Matthias being committed for a manslaughter trial at the assizes.

At the trial on 29th March evidence was heard that Matthias claimed all of the eggs were his, while other crew members had said they were to be shared out equally. It was also heard that Dempsey had a cold when he joined the Caboceer and this worsened when he spent a night on deck in the rain. The workhouse doctor said that he had dropsy and exhaustion, with a postmortem revealing chronic disease in the heart. In his opinion, death was accelerated by excitement occasioned by the assault. 

After the jury returned a verdict of guilty, sentence was deferred until the following day. Mr Justice Mellor told Matthias that taking all factors into consideration, Dempsey would probably not have died if he was in good health. However, he added that the jury had come to the right conclusion in points of law and that violence on ships was too common. He then imposed a sentence of five months imprisonment with hard labour.