Friday, 8 March 2013

Imprisoned In Attic And Beaten To Death

In 1894 John Walber was kept chained up in his home for four months before being beaten to death by his wife who suspected him of infidelity.

50 year old John and his wife Margaret, 53, lived at 6 Gildart Street, off London Road, along with Margaret's son John Murray and a number of lodgers. They had married in 1888 but it was not a happy one, with both of them addicted to drink. John was a French polisher while Margaret ran a small grocery store at the address.

In 1893 Anne Connolly, who had been in a relationship with John in the 1870s moved into a house in nearby Oakes Street and renewed her acquaintance with John again, although he maintained it was purely on a friendship basis. One afternoon that summer John told Margaret that he was going out for a drink and after she had followed him to Connolly's house, she burst the door down and punched him several times.

When John returned home later that evening there were further arguments before he collapsed drunk. When he awoke, he found that he was stripped and chained to the wall of his attic, the door of which had been padlocked. Margaret had managed to get him up there with the help of her son.

For four months John was kept in the attic, his non appearance being explained away to lodgers by the fact that he was sick and in need of a long rest. However on 16th November a great disturbance was heard from the attic and Margaret told other residents that he son John had beaten her husband to death and fled the property. When the police arrived, they found what the Liverpool Mercury described as a gruesome sight. John had been beaten with the chain and also with a porcelain chamber pot, which was now smashed and the walls were covered in blood.

Margaret was taken in for questioning and after the police found inconsistencies in her story and bloodstains in her clothing, she made a statement to the effect that she had hit him with a chain after seeing he had managed to get some trousers on and was looking to leave the property. Her son was traced to Dublin and was brought back to Liverpool for questioning, where he told police that his mother had given him two gold sovereigns and sent him away after he had come across Margaret standing next to John's dead body.

Margaret was charged and stood trial at Liverpool Assizes on 14th March 1894. It did not take the jury long to reach a verdict of guilty and Margaret was sentenced to death by Justice Day. After being given consolation by Father Wade, she was hanged at Walton on 2nd April by James Billington. The press reported that after initially acting with a resigned acceptance, she broke down crying when the pinionning started.


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