Sunday, 26 May 2013

Man Kills Brother In Law After Drinking Session

In 1899 the decision by two Kirkdale family members to stay off work and spend the day drinking had fatal consequences when one killed the other after a row.

On 6th November 1899 dock labourer Thomas O'Byrne, who was 29 and lived at 1 Blackfield Street in Kirkdale, decided not to go to work and go out drinking with James Toolan, who was married to O'Byrne's sister Joanna. All three lived at the same house along Thomas and Joanna's mother Bridget.

Their drinking session began before breakfast and at 930am they went to a pub, taking Bridget with them. After returning to the house at 1130am Thomas went out to get some more liquor but when he got back he found that Bridget had gone out. This angered him and he told both Joanna and James that he would 'do for you' if anything happened to her.

As the two men argued across the table Joanna tried to intervene but before she could do so Thomas picked up a small knife that was used for cutting tobacco and plunged it into James's chest. James ran outside but collapsed in nearby Latham Street. A pub landlord called for the police but James was pronounced dead on arrival at Stanley Hospital.

At the inquest on 16th November Joanna told the coroner that both men were usually best of friends but were 'stupidly drunk.' On 1st December Thomas appeared before the Liverpool Assizes charged with murder, which he denied on the basis that he was too drunk to know what he was doing. His defence counsel argued for total acquittal so he could continue looking after his aged mother, but the jury found him guilty of manslaughter, accepting that there had been no intent to kill. He was sentenced to ten years penal servitude.



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