Thursday, 9 May 2013

Seaman's Suicide Attempt Fails After Lover Killed

In 1885 a seaman shot his lover dead and turned the gun on himself only to survive his suicide attempt, before meeting his death via the Hangman's noose anyway.

On Thursday 3rd September 1885 George Thomas, a native of Guyana, arrived in Liverpool on the Mary L. Barel which had sailed from Bombay. After being paid his wages for the voyage he went to stay with Margaret Askin, who lived in Brassey Street, Toxteth, which was his usual custom when he was in Liverpool. Askin was described by the Liverpool Mercury as being 'of the most disreputable class.'

On 8th September another seaman named Louis Powell arrived at the house and a fight took place, in which Thomas produced a knife. The following afternoon he had an argument, fuelled by jealousy, with Margaret (known as Maggie) who had asked him for money to buy food for Powell and also pawned some of his clothes that he had left when he had last stayed there. That evening he asked her to accompany him to a pub at the corner of Harrington Street and Beaufort Street for a drink. Maggie took a female friend, Mrs Tipping, with her and in full view of other customers Thomas shot her and threatened to shoot Mrs Tipping, but instead shot himself in the ear.

The pub landlord ran out and blew a whistle to attract the attention of police and when they arrived Maggie was already dead but Thomas was sat on a stool fully conscious with blood pouring from his wound. He was taken to the Southern Hospital where he was operated upon and made a full recovery. In  a reflection of how non whites were seen then, press reports into the case constantly reported that Thomas was 'coloured', with the Leeds Times even saying he was a 'darky.'

At his trial before the Assizes, Thomas effectively made the jury's mind up for him, saying he was only sorry he had not shot Powell as well. He was sentenced to death and hanged at Kirkdale on 8th December, with his last words being 'Beware of the sins of adultery and murder. I have committed a grievous sin in the sight of God.'

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