Thursday, 19 May 2011

Drink Fuelled Attack on Wife

On 2nd September 1911 labourer Joseph Fletcher battered his wife to death leading him to the gallows.

41 year old Joseph, a dock labourer, lived at 17 Bostock Street in Everton with his 38 year old wife Caroline and seven children, whose ages range from one to seventeen.

On Saturday 2nd September 1911 Joseph came home from work and had lunch of cheese and beer with Caroline, before going out to the pub where he stayed for several hours. At around 10.30pm he finally returned home after his eldest daughter had been sent out to find him, but after arguing with Caroline he decided to go back out again.

Due to Joseph's drunken state Caroline bolted the door behind him but after he kicked at it she relented and allowed him back in. He then flew into a rage and attacked Caroline, before battering her with a chair until she was dead. He then went out and fetched a policeman, saying that she had fallen down the stairs. It was quite apparent however that the injuries were not consistent with a fall and Catherine and her fifteen year old brother told the policeman what had really happened, and that their father had regularly beaten their mother before.

Joseph stood trial before Justice Avory at the Liverpool Assizes on 7th November, his children giving evidence against him. His defence was that he was drunk, but the prosecution used the fact that he had told the police Caroline had fallen down the stairs as proof that he was aware that his actions had been wrong. He was sentenced to death and after an appeal failed, an unsuccessful suicide attempt was made while he was in the condemned cell. He was hanged at Walton Gaol on 15th December.

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