Monday, 25 November 2013

Toxteth Mother Kills Her Baby

A tragedy occurred in the Granby area of Toxteth in 1891 when a mother killed her 5 month baby during a temporary bout of insanity.

On the afternoon of Wednesday 4th February Sergeant Calten was on duty in Kingsley Road when he was approached by a screaming woman named Catherine Groarke. She had blood covered hands and told him she had killed her baby because the devil had taken it.

After taking Catherine into Kingsley Road police station he went to her home address of 67 Cairns Street where he made the gruesome discovery of 5 month old Ada Groarke lying dead in a bathtub. Her throat had been cut severing the windpipe and a bloodstained carving knife was on the floor. Two other children, aged 5 and 18 months were in the house and they were left in the care of a constable while a doctor was sent for to certify death.

Sergeant Calten formally charged Catherine with murder and she responded by saying that her children wouldn't stop crying and she had intended to then take her own life by drinking a solution of water and lit matches. At 9pm Catherine's husband Thomas, a draper in Bon Marche, returned home to the tragic scene.

Catherine appeared before Mr Justice Day at the next Liverpool Assizes on Friday 13th March. She wept bitterly throughout the proceedings, during which Dr Wigglesworth from the Rainhill asylum told how there had been a history of insanity in her family and that she had always treated her children kindly. He concluded that she was 'undoubtedly insane' at the time of the killing and did not know that what she was doing was wrong.

After the jury returned a verdict of 'guilty but not responsible' Justice Day detained Catherine at Her Majesty's Pleasure.

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