Monday, 25 February 2013

Man Hanged For Shooting Sister In Law

In 1904 William Kirwan was sentenced to death after shooting his sister in law dead as he believed she was covering up his wife's extra marital affair.

Kirwan, a butcher, lived with his wife Catherine and two children in Richmond Row, Everton (below). Catherine's sister Mary Pike lived in Great Newton Street, that runs from London Road to Brownlow Hill and it is there that the murder took place.

On 26th February 1904 Kirwan followed Catherine to her sister's house and accused her of the affair, also saying that the house in Great Newton Street was being used as a brothel. As Catherine asked Mary to confirm her whereabouts on the days Kirwan believed she had been unfaithful, he produced a revolver and fired shots at both sisters then left the house.

Neither woman had been hit by the shots and a lodger in the property managed to bolt the door and get them both to safety before shouting for a policeman. When a constable arrived Kirwan surrendered himself but as Mary came out of the house to confirm that it was him who had fired the shots, he managed to take the gun out of his pocket and shoot her in the stomach.

As the officer arrested and disarmed him, Kirwan admitted that he had intended to kill both women. Mary died a few days later and the charge of attempted murder was increased to wilful murder. He attempted to justify the shooting because of the alleged infidelity but the fact it had been witnessed by a policeman meant that there was only ever going to be one verdict - guilty.

Kirwan was hanged by James Billington on 31st May 1904 in a double execution alongside Ping Lun. Due to the notoriety of the case, Kirwan's wife and children changed their name to Kirwin, with Catherine remarrying in 1918.

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