Thursday, 16 May 2013

Triple Child Murder In Wavertree

In 1890 three young children were killed by their mother who had fallen ill after failing to settle in Liverpool.

In 1889 customs officer Charles Charlton was relocated to Liverpool from Southsea, taking up residence at 16 Garmoyle Road with his wife Leah and three children Bob (4) Dorothy (2) and new baby Barbara. Leah though failed to settle in the area and made few friends, becoming convinced that everybody was out to get her and she would often tell her husband as he left for work that she may be dead when he returned.

Only one side of Garmoyle Road was built then and when some bricks were placed opposite the Charlton home in readiness for more development and she told her husband that they were meant to kill her. No amount of persuasion could convince her otherwise and when the body of a local boy was found in a nearby claypit on the morning of Thursday 8th May, it triggered the catastrophic tragedy that left three young children dead.

Leah was certain that whoever had caused the death of the young boy would be coming for her family next and after putting her children to bed that night she cut their throats with a razor as they slept. When her husband returned home at 7.30pm she answered the door holding the razor, then calmly slashed herself across the throat. Charles sought assistance from a neighbour who managed to summon a policeman, who found the bodies of the older two children in their beds. When asked why she had killed two of her children, Leah wrote on a piece of paper that the mob were out to get them and that there was a third child. The body of 10 month old Barbara was then found in her cot.

After spending a night in the Royal Southern Hospital, Leah was taken to the Toxteth Workhouse Hospital the following day, where she was not expected to survive. Intrigued crowds gathered outside the house, where the bodies of the three children remained until the inquest on the Saturday, which was held at the nearby Bourne Arms hotel. A verdict of wilful murder was returned and they were buried in the same grave in Toxteth Park cemetery two days later at an internment attended by just Mr Charlton, his brother and a handful of police officers.

On 4th August 1890 Leah was tried at the Liverpool Assizes before Justice Vaughan Williams. Charles Charlton was in court to hear his wife described by the prosecution as a 'kind, affectionate and attentive mother' whose move away from her family and friends had led to her being in 'an unsatisfactory condition of health.' Doctors from Toxteth Workhouse, Walton Gaol and Rainhill Asylum all said she was suffering from melancholia, hallucinations and delusions. It took the jury no time at all to find Leah guilty but not responsible for her actions. She was then detained at Her Majesty's Pleasure.

No comments:

Post a Comment