Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Man Kills Lover After Religion Gets Between Them

In October 1900 James Bergin shot his girlfriend as she refused to continue their relationship due to their different religions.

28 year old Bergin was from Ireland and working in Liverpool as a grocer's assistant in 1898 when he began seeing local girl Margaret Morrison. They got engaged and the banns were read but Margaret then broke off the engagement under pressure from her Protestant family.

Bergin remained friendly with Margaret but in March 1900 after an argument he tried to shoot her but missed. Margaret escaped and after Bergin came to check she was ok, she managed to get the revolver from him and disposed of it in a sewer. Four months later in July Bergin went to 24 year old Margaret's house in Brasenose Road and tried to slash her with a razor blade which she wrestled from him. As he left, he told her mother that he would do 20 years for Margaret and no other man would have her.

Despite previous incidents, Margaret's parents allowed Bergin to take their daughter to the theatre on the evening of 27th October.  At about 11pm the couple were in Bank Hall Street quarelling and Bergin shot Margaret before running off. Two police officers tended to the victim, who had two gunshot wounds to the head and she was taken to the Stanley Hospital accompanied by her mother who was sent for.

The following day Bergin was arrested at his lodgings in Howe Street and initially charged with wounding, although by now Margaret was not expected to recover. She died on 29th October after suffering convulsions and Bergin was committed for trial at the next Liverpool Assizes on 4th December.

At his trial, Bergin pleaded insanity but the judge told the jury that he had told Mrs Morrison of his intentions to kill Margaret, which implied premeditation and that he was aware of the consequences of his actions. Bergin was found guilty with a recommendation for mercy, but this was not acted upon by the Home Secretary. On 27th December, exactly two months after the murder he met his fate at Walton Gaol, the first execution in Liverpool of the 20th century.

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