Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Beaten To Death At Sea

In 1868 the First Mate of a ship that arrived in Liverpool from the Caribbean sentenced to life imprisonment after his brutal treatment of one of the crew members led to his death.

On Tuesday 19th May the Lydia arrived in the town, having sailed from Yarmouth in Nova Scotia, Canada via Jamaica. Four Crew members told police that on 28th April the First Mate Ansell Larkin had intervened in an argument between two crew members. One of them, Scottish sailor Daniel McDonald was struck in the face by Larkin and the following day went missing on deck as he tried to avoid being put to work due to his injuries.

When McDonald was found hiding under a lifeboat by Larkin, he was beaten with rope and an iron belaying pin, before being kicked in the face and chest, leaving open wounds all over his body. All of this was watched and encouraged by the Captain Dennis Schofield. He was then kicked and Larkin forced him to work even though he could barely walk or open his eyes because they were so swollen, which made standing to steer the vessel impossible. McDonald spent most of the next two days in his bunk where he was unable to eat and died on Saturday 2nd May, being buried at sea.

Larkin was tried on 20th August, with crew members disputing the logbook version of events surrounding the death, stating that they had only signed it as they were scared of the consequences of no doing so. Larkin's defence, however, told the court that the witnesses could not be trusted and Larkin had a difficult job during the voyage keeping them in order. They claimed that the injuries to McDonald had actually been caused by another sailor.

In summing up, the judge Baron Kelly said that six of seventeen crew members had given plausible evidence that was consistent with each other, yet the Defence hadn't been able to call any members to contradict this, even though all of them were on or around the deck at the time. It took the jury fifteen minutes to convict Larkin of manslaughter and he was sentenced to penal servitude for life, the judge telling him 'I cannot find words to express my horror of the merciless and cruel way in which you have dealt with one of your fellow creatures.'


Friday, 26 April 2013

Man Kills Wife In Fit Of Temporary Madness

In 1865 an Everton man killed his wife in what was an apparent temporary bout of insanity.

At about 10pm on Saturday 15th July 1865 Police Inspector Bold was patrolling Prince Edwin Street when he was stopped by a woman and told that a man had stabbed his wife in Number 16 Court. When he got to the property he found that a police constable and doctor were already at the scene, with Eliza Burns was already lying dead on the floor. Her husband, 51 year old painter Harriman Burns who was originally from Workington in Cumbria, then excitedly told the Inspector that he had done it and he was placed under arrest and taken to Rose Hill Bridewell.


When the case was heard before the Liverpool Assizes the following month the couple's son 17 year old Robert Burns gave evidence. He stated that his father had been known to undergo bouts of drinking which were followed by the suffering of delirium tremens - shaking triggered by alcohol withdrawal. On the day of the killing the father and son had gone to Birkenhead Park but on returning Harriman, who hadn't drank for a week, started to talk to himself, saying there were people upstairs and he was up and down trying to find them.

After settling down by the fire Harriman jumped out of his chair without warning and attacked his wife with a knife. His son ran out of the house to get help but his mother was dead by the time a policeman and doctor arrived. Robert told the jury how his parents had enjoyed good relations, but his father was suffering and was convinced people were hiding in the house as they wanted to steal £175 worth of dock bonds that he had. On the day before the murder, Harriman had been talking to the Wellington Monument at the top of William Brown Street, claiming he could move it as he was a magician.

The family doctor confirmed that Harriman suffered from delirium tremens and that he had observed him restlessly searching through cupboards and talking to teapots whilst on visits to the house. His employer told how he had been working for him for 5 years and never been forced to take time off due to drink problems, while  colleague said he would often be silent for long periods or demand water as there was a fire when it was clear that there wasn't.

The jury took no time at all to acquit Harriman of murder on the grounds of insanity and he was ordered by Judge McAubrey to be detained at Her Majesty's Pleasure for an indefinite period. He was kept at Broadmoor where he died in 1878.

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Man Kills Sister In Law

In 1864 a Toxteth man killed his sister in law but managed to avoid the death penalty despite being found guilty of murder.



On Sunday 25th September 1864 Ellis Green, a 46 year old pavior, spent the afternoon drinking before turning on his sister in law Elizabeth Lowe, who lived with him and and his wife and children, for no apparent reason. At their Upper Harrington Street home he battered her about the head and when she fell on the floor kicked her and jumped on top of her, acts that were partly witnessed by his son Henry, who punched him to stop the attack which was so severe it attracted the attention of a neighbour who came around to see what was going on.

Elizabeth didn't die instantly, nor did she seek medical attention. It wasn't until the following Friday that a doctor was called and she was admitted to the Southern Hospital, where she died on the Saturday and  a postmortem discovered she had a fractured skull. Green absconded that day but was soon picked up in West Derby Road and taken before the magistrates court, where he claimed to have been provoked by his wife and her sister, saying that they had thrown plates and cups at him after he had said something they weren't happy with.

Green was charged with murder and when he appeared before the Assizes on 17th December, a surgeon told how Elizabeth had been struck with an iron object and also had boot marks on her chest. In summing up, the judge told the jury that Green's intoxication reduced his culpability but that had to be balanced against the fact there was no evidence of any provocation. After 45 minutes a verdict of guilty was returned and Green was sentenced to death.

Green was scheduled to be executed alongside Henry Brown on 7th January 1865, but a few days before a reprieve was granted and his sentence was commuted to penal servitude for life.




Monday, 22 April 2013

Coat Dispute Leads To Killing

In 1856 John Ferguson cut his lover's throat after a row over a missing coat, leading to him being transported for life.

23 year old Ferguson lived in Prince William Street, Toxteth, with his mother, step father and four brothers and sisters. In 1854 he entered into a relationship with Sarah Drummond, a second cousin of his mother and she moved into the property too, giving birth to a child soon afterwards.

On the afternoon of Sunday 20th January Drummond went out drinking with a previous lover, John Thomas and at some point he gave her his coat, which was then passed on to Ferguson with the intention of pawning it. At around 5am the following morning however, Ferguson denied all knowledge of the coat when asked by Drummond of its whereabouts when they came across each other in the Ruthin Castle pub, after Ferguson had gone done to the Brunswick Bridewell to see a prisoner being taken away in the van. An argument followed between the two although there was no hint then of the dreadful deed that would take place back at the house.

As they continued rowing at home, Drummond threatened to break Ferguson's skull and threw a basin at him, then they both grappled on the floor and Ferguson pulled out a knife and cut his partner's throat, although she didn't die instantly. He then tried to help her to the Southern Hospital but she collapsed and died in nearby Wolfe Street (left).  Ferguson returned home and said his goodbyes to his mother and siblings but chose not to  flee and he instead surrendered himself to one of the many police officers who had arrived on the scene. The murder weapon, a clasp knife, was found in a midden at the back of Prince William Street and crowds also gathered around Wolfe Street after the body had been taken to a mortuary.

Ferguson was taken to the Bridewell where he  had an unsuccessful suicide attempt before being brought before the police court later that morning. The Liverpool Mercury described his appearance as 'most contemptible' and that 'a thorough acquaintance with crime may be read in his countenance.' The following day an inquest was held, where his mother sobbed 'Oh my son Lord have mercy upon him.'The Mercury was scathing in its description of Ferguson's character, detailing that he 'was a constant associate of the most abandoned and disreputable characters of Liverpool.'

The inquest returned a verdict of wilful murder and Ferguson was committed for trial at the next Assizes in April, where his mother was in the horrible position of having to give evidence for the prosecution. The jury returned a verdict of manslaughter due to the provocation involved but the Judge Martin told him on sentencing that 'I should not be doing my duty if I did not sentence you to be transported for the period of your natural life.'

Friday, 19 April 2013

Toxteth Police Killer Transported

In 1844 a policeman was killed whilst on duty in Toxteth, with his killer being transported for life.


At 1am on Sunday 15th December 1844 Constable John Tegisson was returning home after his shift when he came across a man and woman arguing in Whitfield Street (now Byles Street) off Park Road. When  he told them to go inside 19 year old William Jones, a park ranger, refused and threatened to knock Tegisson down if he touched him. Tegisson called for assistance by knocking his stick on the floor and two colleagues Richard Fairclough and Thomas Price arrived on the scene.

The two other officers told Tegisson they would handle the situation and as he continued his walk home, he heard a stick knock again and returned to find both Price and Fairclough bleeding. Jones had attacked both officers with a poker but Fairclough came off far worse as Price's hat had cushioned his blow.

Fairclough was taken to a local surgeon's house by Tegisson, who then called for more assistance to apprehend Jones. As he was arrested he told the officers he would go quietly and didn't need to be poked about with sticks. At Dr Samuel Hodgson's house at 17 Park Road Fairclough was found to have had a fractured skull and suffered convulsions. He was taken to the Southern Hospital where he died on the Monday afternoon, with death being attributed to brain irritation caused by bone protruding into it. He left a pregnant wife and three children.

At the police court the following Thursday Jones's sister Mary told how he had come home in a terrible rage after drinking demanded supper before starting to smash things up in the house. She had gone into the street to call out for police as loud as she could as he hoped he could be taken to the Bridewell. Jones was remanded pending trial at the Assizes and showed a total carelessness during the proceedings, looking over to a friend and twitching his neckerchief as if to say 'this is a hanging job.'

The following April Jones was convicted of 'manslaughter of the most aggravated character' and sentenced to transportation for life.





Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Brutal Husband Saved By Wife's Drinking

In 1863 a Vauxhall woman died after enduring a four year torrent of domestic abuse from her husband James Cavanagh, but he escaped the gallows due to her death being attributed partly to alcoholism.

24 year old coal heaver Cavanagh and his wife Elizabeth married in 1859 and lived in were living in Newport Street, off Boundary Street at the time of her death on 24th September 1863. Two days earlier Cavanagh had refused to call a doctor for her as she lay in bed with a wound over her eye that was bleeding after he had beat her and kicked her with his boot. When a doctor was sent for by her mother, he treated her for inflammation of brain membranes but did not express much hope of recovery.

At the inquest the following week Elizabeth's mother told how Cavanagh had beaten Elizabeth at least twice a week and often  she had washed bloodied clothes form her. He had often waved a knife around saying he would kill them both and even pushed both Elizabeth and their baby to the floor and kicked them after he had been out drinking. The coroner's court returned a verdict of wilful murder and Cavanagh was committed for trial at the next Assizes, which took place in December.

Prior to the trial the charge was changed to manslaughter on the basis that there were doubts that Cavanagh's blows had directly caused the death, as the inflammation of the membrane was also consistent with alcoholism. Cavanagh's defence team called a friend to say that his wife had fallen over while drunk and hit her head on a fireplace but this was disproved when Elizabeth's sister testified that she had been told to say that for fear Cavanagh would beat her again.

Cavanagh was found guilty but the jury asked for leniency on account of Elizabeth's alcoholism. Despite being referred to by the judge as 'of bad character' he was sentenced to what would now seem an extremely lenient six years penal servitude, but was probably indicative of a time when Elizabeth's drinking habits led to a belief that she got what she deserved.




Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Shipwreck Victim and Brothel Owner Killer Hanged.

In 1865 shipwreck victim Henry Brown was hanged in public at Kirkdale after being convicted of murder for which the motive was never properly established.

32 year old Brown was a boatswain on the Culloden which was wrecked whilst sailing from Quebec to Liverpool in 1854. He was cast adrift in a lifeboat with three others for ten days and survived on a small number of biscuits before being picked up off the coast of Ireland.

By the 1860s Brown had married and set up home in Crump Street where he ran a brothel. He spent the evening of Saturday 3rd December 1864 drinking at Dawson's public house in Greenland Street with friend Thomas Lindon. A man called Thomas McCarthy, who had had a long standing feud with Brown for reasons that were never established, then went into the pub with his landlady and had a glass of ale with Brown, but soon afterwards the three men were arguing in Crump Street. This led to Brown striking McCarthy about the face with the butt of a pistol, while Lindon then kicked him as he was on the floor. Brown's wife then came out of their house and hit McCarthy with a bottle.
McCarthy did not admit himself to the Southern Hospital until the next day and died of brain injuries the following Wednesday. Brown and Lindon had initially been charged with assault but this was changed to murder following the death and they were tried on 17th December at the Liverpool Assizes. Witnesses told how they had seen McCarthy and Lindon fighting before Brown hit McCarthy with the pistol. In his summing up, the judge drew attention to the fact Brown had shouted to Lindon to kill McCarthy whilst he was down. Both men were found guilty and sentenced to death, although the recommendation of mercy for Lindon was upheld.

Whilst awaiting his fate in Kirkdale Gaol Brown read religious texts and continued to maintain that he had not intended to kill McCarthy.  On the day before his execution he was visited by his father and pregnant wifeand encouraged her to sell up her possessions and go to a better life in America.

Saturday 7th January, the date of the execution was a bitterly cold day and Brown refused breakfast, instead writing a final letter to his wife and unborn child. The crowd was much lower than had attended previous multiple executions there and was estimated at 10-15,000 by the Liverpool Mercury. Brown cried out 'Lord Have Mercy On My Soul' before Calcraft drew the bolt that sent him to his death.

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Seaman Hanged For Killing His Landlady

In 1863 a sailor was hanged after killing his landlady after he fell into arrears with his rent.

Mrs Rowlands, a Welsh lady kept a seaman's boarding house in Brook Street and gave lodgings to 21 year old Benjamin Thomas, who also originated from Wales, at the beginning of May.

Thomas soon fell into arrears but secured a place on a ship and got an advance note from an agent which was security for payment on his return. However after Thomas decided he did not want to take on the job she realised the note was worthless and told him that he faced imprisonment for three months.

On the 12th May, Thomas and Rowlands were talking when Thomas went into the cellar and called her after him. He then set about her with a potato masher, beating her about the head until she was dead. He then returned upstairs and set about a lady called Elizabeth Benbow with the masher, striking her six times before turning his attentions to Mrs Evans, following her outside into the court to assault her. When neighbours came out to see what was going on he calmly threw the masher away and walked off laughing, but was soon caught up and turned over to police.

At his trial before Mr Justice Blackburn the following August Thomas was described by the press as 'sullen and ferocious'. He twice had to be restrained by several police officers as he turned violent in the dock, eventually having to be handcuffed. His lawyers stated that to have committed such a grotesque act Thomas must have been mentally deranged, but this was not accepted and he was found guilty and sentenced to death.

Rowlands had committed the atrocity on the same day as Spanish sailor Jose Maria Alvarez stabbed a local man to death, less than 200 metres away in Fazakerley Street. They were hanged together in public at Kirkdale, with Thomas being described by reporters as 'irascible', having threatened to kill one of the Welsh ministers sent to offer him spiritual guidance beforehand.


Tuesday, 9 April 2013

The Baby Farmer

A former school governess left her victim at her previous lodgings in a tin box for over a year before her crime was uncovered.


The daughter of a Scottish civil engineer, Sophia Todd was educated in Brussels and became fluent in six foreign languages, including Polish and Russian. She fell on hard times however when her husband died when he was still in his 20's.

In days before abortions, there was a market for unwanted babies and Sophia turned to this practice, known as baby farming, for money. The first child she took was from a man in Whitehaven which was then abandoned in the street and taken to the Liverpool Workhouse in Brownlow Hill 


She then placed an advertisement in the Liverpool Mercury on 9th July 1875, requesting a child for a responsible married couple to bring up as their own. Shortly after, a man came to her lodgings with a baby boy who was around two months old. Sophia took the infant and was paid £10.


The next morning the baby had disappeared and when others at her lodgings in Prescot Street asked about this, she simply said that it had been taken back by the parents. Todd left the lodgings but didn't take the box with her in which the baby's remains were discovered over a year later in a badly decomposed state with the head now severed. 

Todd was finally arrested in Manchester in March 1877 and she told police the baby had died in her arms of natural causes. At her trial, the prosecution alleged that Todd had cut the baby's throat, pointing to bloodstains found on material that the body was wrapped in. The defence though argued that there was no evidence to suggest the throat had been cut and that the blood could have come from the post mortem. Crucially however, the fact that Todd had said the baby had been taken away by its parents went against her and she was found guilty and sentenced to death. This was later commuted by the Home Secretary to penal servitude for life.


Friday, 5 April 2013

The Nine Year Old Victorian Killers

One summer afternoon in 1855 there was tragedy when a seven year old boy was killed after falling out with one of his friends, leading to two nine year olds being convicted of manslaughter.

On Sunday 15th July 9 year old Alfred Fitz, 7 year old James Fleeson and 9 year old  named John Breen were playing leapfrog in the dock road area when Fitz twice hit Fleeson with a brick after he had complained about an unfair jump. After he had fallen to the floor Fitz then dragged him to the Leeds & Liverpool canal and threw him in, assisted by Breen.

Fleeson's body was found by his own father floating in Stanley Dock the following Thursday morning and after police made enquiries with other children in the vicinity, Fitz was arrested at his home in Saltney Street that evening. Whilst the police inspector made the arrest his father turned violent and threatened to stab him. Breen was traced to the workhouse in Brownlow Hill, where his mother had been trying to secure a passage back to Ireland. At the inquest a boy named James Hawkins told how the incident had occurred and said that Fleeson was alive when he was thrown into the water then sank after a minute or two. The doctor gave the cause of death as drowning and suffocation, although did mention that there had been blows beforehand.

Both boys stood trial for murder in front of Judge Baron Platt on 24th August at the South Lancashire Assizes. Although Breen hadn't hit Fleeson with a brick, his act of helping throw him into the canal whilst he was still alive led to him being charged. They were convicted of manslaughter with a recommendation for mercy. The judge sentenced them to twelve months imprisonment, telling them that he understood they had not intended to kill and he hoped after a period of instruction they would be able to get on with their lives.

Murder of a Manicurist

The first person to be hanged in Liverpool after the 2nd World War was 30 year old Thomas Hendren, who stabbed manicurist Ella Staunton.

The prelude to the murder on 20th May 1946 was witnessed by detectives, who were carrying out covert surveillance on premises in Tempest Hey which was officially a manicure salon but was suspected of being used for immoral purposes.


After looking through  a spyhole and seeing Ella offer  a drink to her customer, they saw them go into another room and heard the sounds of a struggle. However when they went to the front of the building they were unable to gain access and although Hendren came out and volunteered his I.D. card to them, there was no reason at that point to detain him.

Sensing something wasn't quite right, the officers telephoned the salon on a number of occasions but kept getting an engaged tone. They then found that the door was slightly ajar and went inside, finding the body of Ella, who lived in Ullett Road. She had been stabbed several times and also strangled with an electric flex. 

The hunt was on for Hendren, who was a ship's baker whose last known address was in Roe Street, Birkenhead. He remained on the run for three days and was arrested in a park in Salford in possession of a number of items belonging to Ella. In the car back to Liverpool he admitted robbing Ella, saying that she had plenty of business from him over the years but wouldn't give him a short term loan.

After being brought to Liverpool he was charged with murder and stood trial the following month, where his defence called for a verdict of manslaughter. He admitted the killing but stated that he was traumatised by his experiences in the war, which included having to pile up a huge number of bodies in Singapore and set fire to them. However in summing up, the judge directed that the key point for the jury to consider was whether Hendren went to the premises with intent to kill and if he knew that this was wrong.

Hendren was found guilty of murder and sentenced to death by Justice Roland Oliver. After a petition to have the sentence commuted to life imprisonment failed, he was hanged at Walton on 17th July.

Killed and Dumped in a Cellar

A ship's fireman was hanged in 1943 for killing a woman he was having a relationship with and dumping her body in a cellar.

28 year old Gwendoline Sweeney was separated from her husband and became a prostitute who plied her trade around the docks. On 17th August 1943 she spent the evening drinking with 26 year old marine fireman Thomas James and his friend George Dias.

After leaving the Bush hotel in St James Street Dias left James and Sweeney in Kitchen Street where they were seen to go into a bombed out house together. The following day James told Dias he was worried about Sweeney and they both went to Kitchen Street where her mutilated body was found. Dias told the police, who arrested James at his lodgings in Upper Warwick Street that evening.


When James was questioned by detectives he made an error that would go a long way to convicting him, telling them that if he had killed her he wouldn't have done it by strangulation. At this moment, the cause of death hadn't been disclosed. This led to him being charged with murder and after being found guilty at his trial he was sentenced to death. James, who the press referred to as 'coloured' at every opportunity, was hanged on 29th December.


Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Indian Sailor Hanged After Stabbing Friend

In 1938 an Indian sailor, was hanged after bludgeoning his friend to death in a ship that was berthed in Liverpool's docks.

30 year old Jan Mohamed and Animul Hag had been friends for a number of years but fell out during a voyage in the spring of 1938, leading to Hag attacking Mohamed with an iron bar and knocking some of his teeth out. They were separated and Mohamed, who had a previous exemplary record, was given lodgings in Great George Square whilst he awaited a transfer to another ship.

Hag was kept on board the SS Kabinga (below) at Gladstone Dock and it was here that the terrible murder happened. At 2pm on 11th April Mohamed was seen sliding down a rope and running away from the Kabinga and he was stopped by a policeman ten minutes later who noticed that he was bleeding from the mouth. Mohamed said 'Trouble in ship man hurt' and was taken back to the vessel, where the body of 20 year old Hag was found lying on the engine room steps. Mohamed told the officer he was acting in self defence and picked up the nearest weapon he could find, which was an iron file.

At his trial which began less than three weeks later at Manchester Assizes Mohamed pleaded self defence, but medical evidence showed that the blows to Hag had come from behind. This implied premeditation and that he had struck first after laying in wait. Mohamed was found guilty although there was a strong recommendation for mercy by the jury. Mohamed was unmoved as the sentence was translated into Hindustani for him and replied 'I did not intentionally kill him'.

After the execution date was set for 17th May a last minute appeal was lodged but this was unsuccessful.

Mohamed was hanged at Walton Gaol on 8th June, having spent his final days playing draughts and dominoes against the warders, games in which he was rarely beaten. A crowd of 100 were outside the prison awaiting the posting of the execution notice, including two of his countrymen. The Kabinga sank in 1943 after colliding with another vessel in fog.

Man Hanged for Killing Pregnant Wife

In 1929 John Maguire was hanged for killing his pregnant wife Ellen leading to sensational scenes outside Walton Gaol.

45 year old fish hawker John and Ellen (42) had had ten children together, whose ages ranged from 24 to just eighteen months. They lived with the youngest seven children in a tenement in Newsham Street, off Scotland Road and on 5th September John killed Ellen, who was six months pregnant, by cutting her throat and stabbing her in the back. He then calmly left the home as neighbours came round to investigate the screams, which had occurred while the youngest child was playing in the street.

Ellen was found lying in a pool of blood and rushed to hospital but she was dead on arrival and three of the couple's children were told the terrible news of what had happened when they returned home from school.

Maguire handed himself in to police that evening and made his first appearance in court the following day. He broke down, saying that he had lost his temper but that it was over in a matter of minutes and he was glad his wife hadn't suffered.

At his trial before the next Assizes the defence put forward the argument that the crime had been committed while Maguire was in a state of post epileptic automatism. However the fact that he had bought a razor and knife on the day the murder was committed suggested premeditation and a guilty verdict was returned.

After the death sentence was passed by Mr Justice Humphreys, Maguire thanked his counsel Basil Neild, saying he hoped he rose to the top of his profession. He was about to speak about other witnesses when the judge told him there was no time for speeches and insisted he be taken down.

The Home Secretary refused a request for a reprieve and the day before his execution Maguire was visited by his two oldest children. On 26th November a crowd of 250 people were at Walton Gaol and when the notice was pinned to the gates his sister Mary Hagan was heard to scream 'Oh Johnny my poor brother' and threw herself to the floor. She was helped up by four police and eventually taken away in a taxi.

The inquest heard that Thomas Pierrepoint had carried out the execution and death was instantaneous.

Monday, 1 April 2013

The Serial Seducer Killer

In 1929 American Joseph Clarke, a confidence trickster who had relationships with a string of women, was hanged after killing the mother of one of them.

Raised in Norfolk, Clarke's mother was American and he finished his education at Princeton University, studying psychology and hypnotism. He used what he learned to great effect, engaging in a series of affairs in America and then taking a ship across the Atlantic in 1928 after persuading one woman to loan him a large sum of money.

Once in England he developed relationships with a number of women, including four sisters from Birkenhead. After their mother found out what was going on, he began seeing Mary Fontaine, a nineteen year old typist from Toxteth who he met whilst sheltering from the rain under the entrance to the Rialto cinema. He charmed her so much that he was soon lodging with her and her mother Alice at their home in Northbrook Street.

Clarke convinced the the two women that he was a wireless operator on the seas when he was in fact a deckhand. This led to Alice agreeing to lend him some money to set up a wireless repair business, which he ran from the basement of her home. On the morning of 28th October 1928 though, Alice asked Clarke about money he owed and he strangled her and then tried to do the same to Mary, but she managed to escape and run into the street to raise the alarm. Police arrived and Clarke surrendered himself, making a full confession.


On 4th February 1929 Clarke appeared at Liverpool Assizes and stunned the court by pleading guilty, leading to him being sentenced to death by Justice Finlay in a hearing that lasted just four minutes. An appeal was lodged against the death sentence, his counsel saying that he had pleaded guilty to spare Mary the trauma of giving evidence. This was rejected though and Clarke was hanged on 12th March by Thomas Pierrepoint, walking firmly to the scaffold. He was just 21 years old and outside the prison gates, some unknown women were seen to be sobbing as the notice confirming the execution was posted.