Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Wife Killed For Not Making Supper

A 17 year old who stabbed one of his neighbours in a fight after he was thrown out of a pub near Wapping Dock was found guilty of manslaughter and sent to gaol for ten years.

On Saturday 13th November 1880 William Spears went on a drinking spree with his friend James Humphreys, ending up at Hammond & Mills public house on the corner of Hurst and Grayson Street, opposite Wapping Dock. At about 645pm Humphreys tried to order two pints of ale but was told by the barman that they had had enough. 

When the two males refused to leave two police officers were sent for to remove them and Stephen Burns, who was stood at the bar and had once lived in the same court as Spears, asked them not to be rough with him as Humphreys was far worse. Within minutes though the youths had entered the pub via another door and were again refused service, this time being forcibly ejected by James Patterson, a drinking companion of Burns.

Burns then joined the three males on the street and an argument broke out, leading to blows being exchanged. Spears then took a knife out of his pocket and stabbed Burns in the chest and ran off, while his victim crossed the road to the dock gate, where a policeman helped him into a cart to be taken to the Royal Southern Hospital. Humphreys was arrested at the scene for being drunk and riotous, while Burns died just ten minutes after arrival at the hospital.

Burns had been able to give all details to the officer of the man who stabbed him and Spears was soon arrested at his court dwelling in Grayson Street. He was in bed when the police arrived but he didn't deny what had happened, saying that he was drunk and did not know what had made him do it. The following Thursday Spears was committed for trial at the Assizes, with Patterson being severely rebuked by the Stipendiary Magistrate during the hearing. He said he was struggling to remember what had happened because he had been to a two night wake for Burns, with Mr Raffles responding that the Roman Catholic clergy condemned such practices.

Spears was tried on 8th February 1881 at the Liverpool Assizes. Patterson described how he had ejected Spears and Humphreys from the pub and a fight broke out, but the key witness was customs officer Arthur Hope, who had been by the dock gates. He told the court that Burns had punched and head butted Spears before the knife was taken out. This led to the judge directing to the jury that they could not possibly return a guilty verdict on the murder charge. However they did find Spears guilty of manslaughter and he was sentenced to 10 years penal servitude.





Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Lake District Romance Ends in Grandmother's Death

In 1963 a couple who met whilst on holiday in the Lake District got romantically involved, but it ended tragically when the man's grandmother was strangled to death by the woman.

18 year old Christina Penrose met a 19 year old Liverpool male called David on a hiking holiday in July of that year and began a relationship, which was continued after Christina left Nottingham to move to Liverpool. Even though David's father sent Christina back to Nottingham and paid her train fare, she returned and the couple stayed with relatives wherever they could. Eventually Christina was able to lodge with David's 82 year old grandmother Alice Swain at 55 Peter Road in Walton, while David returned to his parents home in Maghull.

On 13th October neighbours were concerned for Mrs Swain's safety as she hadn't been seen for three days. After getting no reply David and his father broke into the property, where they found Christina unconscious with her head in the gas oven, which was switched on. His father, a doctor who had a practice in Norris Green, rendered first aid and they then searched the rest of the house, finding Alice's body huddled in the living room. Police were called and found letters that appeared to have been written by Christina, one of which said 'I have killed Nan.' A pathologist estimated that Alice had been dead for 24-48 hours and a post mortem revealed she had been strangled.

Christina was taken to Walton hospital and remained there for a week. She was arrested on discharge and charged with murder, appearing at the Magistrates Court on 21st October. Her solicitor Harry Livermore told the court that he had found it impossible to communicate with Christina and she didn't seem to understand the situation she was in. He went on to say he hoped she would be given very careful treatment at Strangeways Gaol in Manchester, to where she was remanded.

On 28th January 1964 Christina appeared at Liverpool Crown Court where the prosecution accepted her plea of guilty to manslaughter on he grounds of diminished responsibility. She was defended by leading QC Rose Heilbron, who called Dr Calder, the senior medical officer at Strangeways to explain that she had schizophrenia and now suffered memory loss as a result of the carbon monoxide poisoning. Mr Justice Stevenson then ordered her to be detained at Broadmoor under the Mental Health Act.

Sunday, 28 December 2014

The Random Killing of Lesley Hobbs

In 1962 a 12 year old girl was stabbed to death in Childwall in a random and motiveless killing, leading to a 15 year old boy being detained for life.

On Sunday 9th September 1962 Lesley Hobbs was left at home at 191 Childwall Valley Road looking after her three younger siblings whilst her parents went out. When they returned at 11.30pm they found Lesley's blood stained and battered body in the lounge, but upstairs the three younger children were asleep and had not been disturbed.

Door to door enquiries by police soon identified three possible suspects, one of whom was described in the following day's Liverpool Echo as 'youngish, tall, well built with fair hair wearing a dark tunic type jacket and tight fitting jeans'. This male had been seen crossing Childwall Valley Road by the nearby high school for girls an hour before the gruesome find.

Within 24 hours of the killing there were 500 detectives on the case, many of which had been drafted in from Bootle, Wallasey and other neighbouring forces. They were assisted by 30 dogs who roamed the railway embankment searching for the murder weapon.

Enquiries eventually led to the arrest of a 15 year old office clerk called Peter Rix, who lived in Craighurst Road. He was the son of a merchant seaman and had splashes of blood on his coat. He claimed that he had dreamt about killing a girl and enjoyed it, leading to him carrying out a random attack as 'girls got on his nerves.' After knocking at the property, he stabbed Lesley twice and then set about her with a poker then tied her hands behind her back. Rumours persisted in the area that Rix, a former pupil of the Holt School (now Childwall College) and Lesley may have been seeing one another, but they were never substantiated.

Craighurst Road in 2016
Rix was charged in December and his trial took place in February 1964. The Guardian reported that with his father away at sea for long periods his mother was unable to control his behaviour. Described by professionals as being unpopular at school and 'lacking in feeling for others, in shame and remorse' no motive was established for the crime. With a psychopathic disorder being diagnosed, he was found guilty of manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility and sentenced to be detained for life.

Friday, 17 October 2014

Killed by Bailiffs

In 1852 a man who jeered four bailiffs was killed by them, but they were given lenient sentences considering the brutality of the attack.

On the afternoon of 1st January that year four County Court bailiffs named Tomas Gallagher, Patrick Cummins, Michael McKew and James Langan, all aged between 20 and 24, seized some goods from a house in Dryden Street. As they were travelling down Great Homer Street in a cart the horse started going slowly and they used the whip without mercy.

Many passers by jeered the men, saying they should be whipped themselves. One of those was James Hincks, who worked collecting faeces from local cesspools. Whilst pushing his barrow he joined in the cries of 'shame', but his was one dissenting voice too many. After some words were exchanged the four men jumped from the cart and set upon Hincks, who was first beaten to the ground by McKew with a scoop used for picking up the excrement. 

Gallagher  followed up the beating by thrusting a screwdriver into Hincks's side, causing his bowels to protrude from the wound, while Mangan and Cummins hit him with forks. When crowds gathered around, Gallagher swung at them with a chisel and he also tried to fend of an attending police officer with it. All four men were taken to the Bridewell and appeared at the police court the following day charged with assault, where they were remanded for seven days, Gallagher claiming that Hincks's friend had struck them with scoops first.  

On 7th January Hincks died of gangrene caused by inflammation of the wound. The four men were then charged with manslaughter and found guilty at the South Lancashire Assizes on 26th March. Gallagher was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment, McKew 15 months, Cummins 12 months and Mangan 6 months

Monday, 13 October 2014

Man Walks Free After Killing Wife's Lover

The differing standards of the time were demonstrated in 1857 when a man who stabbed his wife's lover to death with a pair of scissors walked free from the dock after receiving a token sentence from the judge.

Bostock St www.liverpoolpicturebook.com
James Davies, a tailor, lived in Bostock Street with his wife and the couple would occasionally give lodgings to seafarer Robert Renses, a widower who had been married to Davies's sister. However, he soon suspected that Renses and his wife were having an affair and this was admitted by the adulterous couple on the afternoon of 25th May.

At about 7pm that evening Davies went into a pub whilst quite intoxicated and told a man in there that if he returned home he would show him some fun. The man, a baker called Robert Hodgson who knew Davies by sight agreed and when they got to the house, Mrs Davies was in the parlour and was immediately struck by her husband, who then went upstairs looking for Renses.

Rather than find Renses hiding under the bed where he expected, Davies instead found him apparently sleeping in his children's bedroom. He then took a pair of scissors out of his pocket and stabbed Renses several times before threatening the same to Hodgson, who tried to intervene. Davies then fled and Hodgson sent for a doctor.

Renses died almost instantly and Dr Horrocks who examined the body concluded that he had engaged in sexual activity with a female shortly beforehand. Davies was apprehended by a policeman on Scotland Road and was taken to the Bridewell, his request to stop for some beer on the way being refused. The following day at the inquest the Coroner ordered the two children to be taken into care as they should not remain with a woman of 'such abandoned character.'

Davies was charged with murder and appeared at the South Lancashire Assizes on 14th August. That he had killed Renses was not in doubt, the only question was whether he was guilty of murder or manslaughter. In summing up Mr Baron Watson said that if a man found out about an act of adultery then he could only be guilty of manslaughter and even then of the lowest decree.

Given Davies was believed to have found them in bed that afternoon, the jury took no time at all to return a verdict of manslaughter. As Davies's defence counsel Mr Aspinall began to address the judge in mitigation, Baron Watson interrupted him and said 'You dont suppose I'm going to punish him for this Mr Aspinall.' He then passed a sentence of four days imprisonment, meaning Davies could be released immediately as that was the length of time since the Assizes had started.

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Tenant Kills Landlord

A landlord who wanted his tenant to leave was killed after being hit with a plank of wood, leading to the tenant closely avoiding the death penalty.


In 1857 dock labour John Kilduff lived in a court at New Bird Street, letting out the lower floor of the house to 30 year old Patrick Kilroy and his wife. For reasons that never became apparent, Kilduff gave Kilroy a week's notice to quit on 2nd April.

Two days after receiving the notice, a Saturday, Kilroy and his wife began moving their furniture out of the property, but Kilduff refused to refund any rent in respect of them leaving earlier than required. Mrs Kilroy felt that they should stop moving out, but her husband wanted to continue and after an argument occurred between them, he threw a mattress out of the window.

Kilroy went away saying there would be blood later that night and on his return to the court at 11pm, he stood outside shouting at Kilduff to come outside and fight him. Kilduff's wife Winifred went down and locked the door, and managed to shout for help and a policeman arrived to take Kilroy away.

Once he had calmed down Kilroy was let go and went back to the court and hid in the darkness, observing Kilduff open the door to look around shortly afterwards. Kilroy then pounced and struck Kilduff over the head with a five feet piece of timber. He then went to strike again but Kilduff managed to fend it off with a hatchet and got inside, where he collapsed. He was taken to the Southern Hospital where he died the following Wednesday, 8th April. Doctors concluded that it was a direct result of the blow to the head that had fractured his skull.

Kilroy was charged with murder and appeared before Mr Baron Watson at the South Lancashire Assizes on 14th August. His defence counsel asked for understanding from the jury, saying there had been provocation in that Kilduff had a hatchet. A verdict of manslaughter was returned but the judge was in no mood for leniency, telling Kilroy that he should be thankful the jury had taken a favourable view of the case. He then sentenced him to fifteen years penal servitude.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Lodger Hanged for Shooting Landlady

An argument over whether or not to go to a party in 1921 led to a woman being shot dead by her lodger who was hanged for then killing.

43 year old widow Olive Jackson cohabited with customs officer Richard Duff in Newby Street, Walton. A 43 year old ship's steward named Thomas Wilson lodged with the couple when he was on shore leave and the three adults regularly went out together.Wilson appeared to have some affection for Olive, as at Christmas 1920 he was angry when he saw her kissing another man under the mistletoe.

On the evening of 9th April 1921 Wilson went out with Olive, but near to midnight they got into an argument over whether or not to continue to a sing-song at another address. Wilson objected to one of the male guests, who he didn't believe was fit company for Olive. He eventually agreed to go, only to take out a revolver and shoot Olive dead. Neighbours rushed to the scene and found her body riddled with five bullets.

Wilson had already made his escape and stayed at a guest house near Lime Street station, giving his name as Smith. The following morning he was spotted by detectives trying to buy a ticket to London at the booking office and surrendered when Constable Hanlon pointed a gun at him as he put his hands towards his own hip pocket.

When Wilson was taken into custody he was searched and a revolver and ammunition recovered. He admitted carrying out the shooting, but insisted he did not intend to kill Olive.

On 12th April the inquest took place and on seeing Wilson in the dock Richard Duff shouted 'YOU MURDERER' before collapsing. He managed to recover and give evidence, then tried to get at Wilson, leading to several court officials intervening to restrain him. Five police officers were required to carry him out of court, where he was in a state of collapse and had to be given medical attention.

After the coroner's jury returned a verdict of wilful murder Wilson was committed to trial at the Manchester Assizes, where he was found guilty on 2nd May and sentenced to death. As he left the dock Wilson made a sign of the Cross and he was hanged at Strangeways on 24th May.

Friday, 3 October 2014

Army Deserter Kills Brother

A soldier who had overstayed his leave killed his brother after being reported by him to the Military Police, leading to him being convicted of manslaughter.

30 year old James O'Neill was a Private with the Royal Welsh Fusiliers and stationed in Seaforth Barracks at the start of 1917, although he had seen action in France where he was wounded the year before. On being given some leave he went to stay with his married sister and their brother William in Epworth Street off Islington.

On the afternoon of 9th February all three siblings went drinking in a nearby pub and then returned to the house in Epworth Street, where they had more drink and a sing-song. The joviality soon turned sour though and the brothers began to argue, with William saying he could never forgive James for the occasion he got battered by him on the Dock Road. This had been after James took offence to some remarks William had made about his wife, who was now living with another man much to James's distress.

The two brothers started to fight but the sister intervened and William was ordered out of the house. He then went down to Lime Street station and told two military policemen that he would take them to a deserter. On arrival back at the house their sister said 'God forgive you' to William and insisted James was no deserter as he had just overstayed his leave a few days. It was later admitted though that he had told his family he had no intention of going back.


James made no resistance and was allowed to change and have a cup of tea by the military police, but as he was led out he put his hand in his pocket and drew out a razor, quickly slashing it across the throat of his brother, who died instantly. He then calmly handed the razor over to the police and said 'I am well satisfied now'. When he was arrested and searched, a diary was found in James's pocket in which he had wrote that he would do wrong if his wife continued to openly live with another man.

After being charged with murder James was tried on 18th April before Mr Justice Bailhache. James's defence was that he had not been of sound mind since his wife's infidelity and he had been provoked by his brother. However doctors told that although he had been very down in prison, he new the difference between right and wrong.

When the judge summed up, he drew attention to the random nature of the blow that was struck, which could easily have connected with the chin or nose and not caused death. Consequently, the jury found James guilty of manslaughter without leaving the witness box and he was sentenced to seven years penal servitude.



Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Court Order Can't Save Wife and Two Children

There was a triple domestic tragedy in 1919 when a man killed his wife and their two children before unsuccessfully trying to commit suicide himself, leading to his arrest and execution.

Early that year Russian Jew David Caplan and his wife Freda, who was originally from Liverpool, came to the city from Leeds and took a job as a tailor's cutter. Freda opened a haberdashery shop in West Derby Road, and the couple lived there with their two sons, four year old Harry and seven year old Maurice.

Relations soon deteriorated between the man and wife, with David being fined for throwing boiling water at her on one occasion. With the help of her sister Minnie, Freda obtained a Separation Order but it didn't require David to leave until 20th October.

On the morning of 14th October 1919 Freda's brother Myer Waterman noticed that the shop wasn't open and went around the back, climbing over the yard wall. On looking through the kitchen window he saw 42 year old David on the sofa, unable to speak and bleeding heavily from the throat.

The police were called and after forcing entry they went upstairs and found both children dead while Freda was unconscious but still alive. All three had severe head injuries and seemed to have been battered with an iron which was covered in blood. A neighbour came forward to say she had heard screams around 6am but was so used to hearing the couple arguing that she didn't give it any extra thought.

The two adults were taken to hospital where David was operated upon but Freda was beyond recovery and died the following morning. David was soon well enough to be committed to the Manchester Assizes for trial and on 2nd December his plea of insanity was rejected by doctors who examined him, leaving the jury with no option but to return a guilty verdict.

An appeal against the death sentence, based on the fact David'd mother had been in an asylum in Russia, failed and he was hanged at Strangeways Gaol on 6th January 1920.


Monday, 29 September 2014

Widow Killed by Jealous Brother-in-Law

A man whose brother was killed in action during World War 1 was hanged after he murdered his sister-in-law when she spurned his advances.

The war had not been a happy one for Mary Ellen Rooney, who lost two husbands as a result of the fighting.The second was killed in action in France in July 1918 and after this happened she went to live with her mother in Elm Grove, off Smithdown Lane.

Her second husbands older brother William Rooney, a 51 year old labourer, lived opposite with his mother. Mary used to do house work for William's mother but became afraid of going there due to the unwelcome advances and when she refused to go to the picture house with him, William threatened to kill her and knife.

When Mary's uncle confronted William about the threat, he said it was his younger brother who acted like this and she must have been confused due to her grief. Mary went away for a week or two but on return was visited by a soldier on leave, to whose presence William objected and he challenged him to a fight in the street.

On the afternoon of 2nd November, Mary agreed to go for a drink with William and they appeared on friendly terms. However that evening when Mary went into a shop in Paddington to buy some eggs. William followed her in and grabbed her shoulder, then stabbed her in the neck twice before some passers by managed to overpower him. A doctor driving past saw Mary bleeding and gave assistance, but there was little he could do as the jugular vein had been cut. She was rushed to hospital but died as doctors prepared to operate.

William gave no resistance and admitted what he had done when a policeman arrived at the scene. The inquest was held on 5th November, with William's mother giving evidence that his father was currently in the Rainhill asylum and two of his sisters and a brother had also had a history of mental illness.

A memorial service was held for Mary at St Stephen's Church in Grove Street and William was committed for trial at the Manchester Assizes that took place three weeks later. During the intervening period, an armistice was signed but there would be no reprieve for William  the defence being unable to show that William was not in control of his actions. He was found guilty and sentenced to death, showing no emotion as the verdict and sentence were read out. On 17th December, William went to the gallows at Strangeways gaol.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

The Woolton Tragedy

In what was known as the Woolton Tragedy, an off duty World War 1 soldier strangled his wife and then committed suicide in Bristol.

In May 1917 Ernest Napier, a 27 year old soldier with the Royal Garrison Artillery, returned to Liverpool on home leave for a week. He stayed with his wife Miriam and three young children in her parents home at 1 Derby Terrace, Huyton. Things appeared fine between them, but on Thursday 10th May the couple went out for a walk and neither were seen alive again.

On the following morning,  Miriam's body was found by a ploughman at Holt Lane (then classed as Gateacre, part of Woolton, but now Netherley). A handkerchief was stuffed into her mouth and string tied tightly around her neck and when her body was removed to Princes Park mortuary it was found that there had been no signs of a struggle with her clothing and hair in perfect position.

A search was immediately launched for Ernest, who was due to arrive back at his barracks in southern England by 10am the next day. Initially the police feared that something awful may have happened to him but on the Saturday afternoon news came through that his body had been found in a public toilets in Bristol. In his pockets were letters addressed to Miriam and her father threatening suicide.

An inquest into Ernest's death returned a verdict of 'suicide by unsound mind', it being suggested that he may have suspected his wife of having an affair. Miriam's funeral was held on 24th May at Huyton Church with an internment in the cemetery.


Monday, 8 September 2014

Seafarer Kills Mother

A Vauxhall man who returned from Australia to kill his mother in 1916 managed to avoid the gallows when a jury decided he did it during a bout of temporary insanity.

56 year old Mary Mackin lived in a cellar Menai Street, situated where Barmouth Way is now. Her son Patrick spent a lot of time away at sea but sent money home regularly and there was no indication that there were any problems between them.

In 1910 Patrick emigrated to Australia but returned at the end of 1915, moving back in with his mother and taking up causal labour as a ship's fireman. The work wasn't regular and Patrick soon turned to drink along with his mother.

On the fateful night of 29th July 1916 Mary drank with Mrs Murphy, who lived in another part of the property, before returning to her cellar. She was then hit by Patrick and when Mary shouted for help from Mrs Murphy, Patrick told her to mind her own business when she told him to stop. However things did quieten down and Mrs Murphy returned to her part of the house.

At around 1130pm, Mary was found on the steps of the house by Mrs Hollingwood, who lived nearby. She was bleeding from the throat and a police sergeant soon arrived after seeing the commotion. He was greeted by Patrick who handed a razor over and said 'I am the man that did it you know where I live.' As he was being taken to the Bridewell Patrick said 'If my mother dies I will die with her.'

Mary was taken to the Northern Hospital where she soon died and Patrick was charged with murder. He was committed for trial at the Assizes on 2nd November, where several neighbours spoke of him having a loving relationship with his mother. Mrs Murphy said he always handed over half his pay and that she thought he was 'not altogether there.' Others said that Patrick was often seen talking to himself, had once ripped up a ten shilling note and thrown it into the gutter, and invited people to pubs for drinks only to walk away when they got there.

Doctors were in disagreement as to Patrick's state of mind. One said he was sane, but another believed he was temporarily insane at the time. The doubts over Patrick's sanity meant it was impossible for him to be convicted of murder and sentenced to death. He was instead found guilty of manslaughter and sentenced to fifteen years penal servitude.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Child Killer Drowns Himself

There was a double tragedy in 1901 when a man killed his landlord's daughter before drowning himself in a dock, with no motive for his crime ever being established.

6 year old Eveline Christopherson lived with her parents at 36 Parr Street and for some extra income they took in a lodger, labourer John Bennett who was originally from Hull. On Tuesday 15th January Mrs Christopherson had to go out for shopping and left Eveline in the house with Bennett, but when she returned both were missing and the child's room was in a disorderly state.

After nobody in the neighbourhood could shed any light on the situation Eveline was reported as missing to the police and shortly before midnight her body was found in an ashpit behind the house. Her throat had been cut and she appeared to have been strangled, a cloth having been tied tightly around her neck. Eveline's brother had  been in the street and seen Bennett run off at about ten past six, having just carried a bundle into the yard which he saw through the keyhole when he knocked on the door.

Police soon circulated Bennett's description and all train stations were watched. Although all the evidence pointed to Bennett as the killer, there was still no known motive as he has shown no untoward tendencies towards his hosts, although he had been morose on many occasions.

On Monday 21st January Eveline was buried at Anfield Cemetery, with a large crowd lining the route as her coffin was taken there from Parr Street. On the same day, a spiritualist contacted the police to say that Bennett was hiding in a brick shelter on the banks of the Leeds and Liverpool canal near Preston. Enquiries with the North Lancashire Constabulary confirmed that they knew the shelter in question and it could be somewhere were a fugitive would hide out. However a search of the premises and area found no trace of him.

The whereabouts of Bennett were finally solved on 23rd January, when a body was found on the sill of Salisbury Dock. It matched Bennett's description and was identified by a police constable who once worked with him on a railway, as well as Mrs Christopherson. Bennett's father, an iron moulder, also travelled from Hull.

Inquests were held three days later into the deaths of both Eveline and Bennett, who had been heard to say he would murder someone and swing for it if he couldn't find work. After hearing of Eveline's injuries and the fact that Bennett's trouser pockets had been filled with stones, the jury returned a verdict of wilful murder by Bennett on Eveline, and suicide for him.

Monday, 18 August 2014

Pub Singer Killed

A man who enjoyed a sing song in a Scotland Road pub with friends ended up dead when a fight broke out after another customer objected to the noise. 

Scotland Road in 1908 (www.liverpoolpicturebook.com)On the afternoon of Saturday 13th March 1886 Patrick Heston, a 23 year old labourer went to watch a foot race in Walton with four friends. They then headed back towards Liverpool, stopping off for some beer in in Walton Lane and then Korn's public house at 203 Scotland Road.

Whilst drinking in the parlour they started to sing and did so for about twenty minutes. When a 40 year old named Thomas Doulan arrived, he told Heston at the end of a song that he couldn't sing any more and to sit down. Although Heston did so, his friend Patrick Rogan acted angrily and Doulan then took out a knife and said he could settle him, before waving it about indiscriminately.

Heston dived between the two men and gasped 'I am stabbed in the heart' before falling down. The pub landlord John Shied managed to get Doulan in a headlock, but he was still able to wave the knife about and slash two other men. Heston was carried into the snug but he died before an ambulance arrived from the Northern Hospital.

Justice Grantham
When police arrived Doulan was given into their custody, but he claimed that Rogan had struck him first and he had also been hit by another of Heston's friends. A post mortem revealed that the knife had penetrated into Heston's left breast and another artery had been severed on his leg. Doulan was charged with murder and first appeared at the police court on 16th March. It was clear from his appearance that there had been a severe scuffle, as his face was covered in scratches and his lip was cut.

Doulan appeared at the assizes before Mr Justice Grantham on 25th May. Evidence was presented to suggest that he had been placed under a great deal of provocation and he hadn't deliberately plunged the knife into Heston, rather waved a knife about at random. After being found guilty of manslaughter he was sentenced to just six months imprisonment.




Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Jury's Extraordinary Leniency to Mother

Only a sympathetic jury led to a Victorian domestic servant avoiding the death penalty for killing a newborn baby as on sentencing the judge made it quite clear what he thought of the case and her involvement in it.

On 1st December 1885 the body of a baby boy was found in the cellar of Mr Murphy's emigrant lodging house in St Paul's Square. It had been covered in coal and boxes as if to create a makeshift tomb and was wrapped in clothing that was identified as belonging to Murphy's 23 year old domestic servant Kate McDonnell.

The body had a scarf tied tightly around its neck and a medical examination ascertained that the baby had been born alive and been breathing after the umbilical cord was cut. The cause of death appeared to be strangulation as the tongue was hanging out and when Mr Murphy told police he had challenged McDonnell over a suspected pregancy in September, she was arrested and charged with murder.

She stood trial on 17th February 1886 before the notorious Justice Day, her defence being that she knew nothing about the child being born or how her clothes came to be wrapped around it. Mr Murphy repeated his suspicions about McDonnell having been pregnant but admitted under cross examination that she was hard working, honest and he had total confidence in her.

Two doctors gave evidence and stated that the baby had lived for 24 hours before dying of of strangulation and that the knot had been tied very tight. The evidence was overwhelming that the baby had been born alive and deliberately killed, so it was up to then jury to determine if McDonnell had given birth to a baby had killed it, or she had been set up by somebody else. Unbelievably after two hours deliberation the jury decided that she was not guilty of murder, but instead found her guilty of concealment of birth. This was despite no suggestion being put forward by the defence that McDonnell could have given birth only for somebody else to kill the baby.

Justice Day minced no words in his sentencing. The man notorious for showing no mercy told McDonnell that this was one of the worst cases of infanticide he had ever dealt with and that 'Nobody could doubt that you either murdered the child or were party to its murder.' He then imposed the maximum sentence that the law allowed form concealment of birth, which was two years imprisonment with hard labour.

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Brazilian Jailed For Life For Stabbing

An argument between some sailors over a servant girl led to a fight in which one was killed with a knife and the another jailed for life for manslaughter.

On the evening of 17th March 1861 a Brazilian seaman named Joachim Francisco went to Florentine's boarding house in Carpenters' Row to visit some friends. In the kitchen, he tried to get a kiss off the servant Mary McNulty, only for another man to tell him he had no business doing that, which Joachim took exception to.

Joachim challenged the other man, named Francisco, to a fight and followed him out of the door. Francisco stood outside waiting, only for Joachim to walk up to him and stab him in the neck, without any other words or blows exchanged. Joachim then ran down towards the docks but Francisco didn't go down immediately even though blood was coming from his neck.

When Francisco collapsed he was taken to hospital by a policeman but found to be dead on arrival. A bread knife was then found between his legs. Joachim returned to his lodgings in Frederick Street around 9pm, by which time news of he stabbing had spread to his landlady Mrs Joseph. A servant Mrs Crue called for a policeman and the sailor was arrested following a scuffle. His room was then searched and a blood stained shirt recovered, as well as a razor blade which had been discarded into the fire.

At Joachim's trial two other sailors and Mary McNulty testified to having seen the stabbing taken place, saying that it had come without provocation although Francisco readily agreed to the fight. McNulty also told the court that the although she didn't see Francisco pick up the breadknife, it had been on the kitchen table during the quarrel. A chemical analyst confirmed that blood was found in the razor blade.

Joachim's defence counsel argued that many of the words between Francisco and Joachim had been in Spanish and McNulty couldnt possibly have known what was said. He also argued that Joachim had a sheath knife on him, which would have been a far more appropriate murder weapon and that if he knew Francisco had the breadknife, it was natural to get a pre-emptive strike in first.

In summing up, the judge said that even if two people had a prearranged fight, if one died then it was murder. However, if the fight was a sudden impulse one, then it was manslaughter unless one party had a hugely unfair advantage in terms of weapons. The jury deliberated for half an hour and returned a manslaughter verdict, given that Francisco had a carving knife on his person. Justice Hill though felt the killing was a most aggravated one and sentenced Joachim to transportation for life.




Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Man Kills Daughter With Poker

Shortly before the outbreak of the First World War a 7 year old girl was killed when she was struck by a poker that was thrown by her father in a row over a pawned vest.

The tragedy occurred in Ernest Street, Toxteth (now no longer there, but off Miles Street to the south east of the Tesco Extra) on the evening of Saturday 25th July 1914. William Archibald Kay, a dock labourer who was a father of eight, returned home and handed his wages to his wife, telling her to get his vest back from the pawn shop.

When Kay's wife asked if the vest could wait for another week he became annoyed and an argument broke out, concluding with him ordering her to 'get out'. When she told him to 'guide his temper' he replied 'I'll guide you' and pushed her into the lobby, then threw a poker after her. The poker missed his wife but struck 7 year old Mary Jane on the head.

Mrs Kay was so shocked at what happened that she fainted in the street, and Kay immediately picked the girl up in his arms and shouted for passers by to call a doctor. When Dr Chavasse arrived, Mary Jane was dead and a devastated Kay surrendered himself to the police, telling him that he had done it to 'my little favourite.' A post mortem revealed that death was caused by haemorrhage caused by the blow.

On 28th July the inquest took place. Mary Jane's brother Robert told the Coroner that the family lived comfortably and although his father was addicted to drink at times and could be quarrelsome, he had never hit his wife. Mary Jane was his favourite child and had been in hospital a few weeks earlier with an infection, but made a full recovery. Kay was still wearing his dock labourers uniform and sat dejected throughout the proceedings, sobbing when his affection for Mary Jane was mentioned. The jury returned a verdict of wilful murder and Kay was committed for trial at the Liverpool Assizes.

When the Assizes opened on 27th October, Mr Justice Darling indicated that he did not believe this case amounted to murder and Kay was allowed to plead guilty to manslaughter. The following day, Kay received a sentence of just six months imprisonment in light of his previous good character. 


Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Pub Fight Leads to Life Imprisonment

A 24 year old man who was involved in a large scale brawl at a pub and refused to heed his father's advice to go him ended up being sent to jail for life after being convicted of stabbing a bystander to death.

Shortly before midnight on Saturday 26th January 1861 there was a row in Mellor and Llewellyn Spirit Vaults at the corner of Dale Street and Johnson Street. A customer named Patrick Hefferan, who had been there for about two hours with his brother and friends, refused to make way for Thomas Donegan who was entering via the Dale Street doors. After a short scuffle involving a number of customers Donegan was removed into the street by the barman James Barlow, but he returned and struck another man down before leaving again.

Police arrived and told all customers, numbering no more than twenty in total, to leave. One of those was James Cassidy, who stopped and leaned against a wall in Johnson Street, a decision that was to prove fateful for him. Donegan said to Cassidy 'Are you one of them?' and without giving him a chance to answer punched him on the cheek despite his own father's pleas for him to stay away. Cassidy, who hadn't even been in the part of the pub where the row took place fell almost instantly.

Police who were at the scene weren't alarmed at first, as they assumed Cassidy had been drinking and fallen easily after the punch. What they didn't realise though was that Donegan, who had quickly run off, had a knife within his clenched fist and when Cassidy was seen to be bleeding heavily a doctor was called. He was taken to the North Dispensary in a cab  but it was too late and he was dead on arrival, the jugular vein having been severed.

Donegan remained at large for a week, eventually being found in Cornwall Street in Everton hiding under a bed. Unbeknown to him, his uncle was battling serious injuries after being accidentally slashed by Donegan during the fracas in the vaults. When he arrived at the Bridewell, warders made him ham, bread and coffee but he had no appetite and instead asked for spiritual help.

On 1st April Donegan appeared before Mr Justice Hill at the Liverpool Assizes, where witnesses testified to having seen him strike Cassidy. Donegan's father was placed in the awful position of being called to the witness box but the prosecution didn't ask him any questions and he instead just had to confirm to the defence that after the stabbing, he didn't see him again until he has been arrested.

Mr Littler, the defence counsel, told the jury that Donegan had had no previous ill feeling towards Cassidy and he was wound up due to the earlier altercation. Given this lack of premeditation, he argued that a manslaughter verdict was most appropriate. When Justice Hill summed up, he left Donegan's fate very much in the balance. He stated that if he had struck the deceased with a weapon without provocation then it was murder, but if it had been in the heat of the moment, having been involved in a quarrel if could be reduced to manslaughter. A big problem here was that despite the earlier fracas, Cassidy was clearly not part of he group that had been fighting in the spirit vaults.

The jury returned a verdict of 'manslaughter of a very aggravated character'. In sentencing, Justice Hill said that a murder verdict would have been reasonable and that Cassidy had been a 'peaceable man, who gave no offence'. Telling Donegan that he was sentencing him to something as 'near as capital punishment could be' and from a duty he could not shrink, Justice Hill imposed a sentence of penal servitude for life.




Monday, 21 July 2014

High Seas Killer Swims For It

A seaman who killed his officer tried to swim his way to freedom but was captured and brought to Liverpool to face trial, where he was shown some leniency by the judge.

43 year old William Brown joined the Regina as a boatswain in the autumn of 1867 for a voyage to Sierra Leone. It was there on 4th January that Joseph Dunlop, an Antwerpian who had adopted a British surname, joined the vessel as an able seaman.

The Regina with its nine man crew set sail from the Sherbo River on 7th February and the sailing was without incident until the early morning of 3rd March when Brown, Dunlop and a Dane named Nordholm were together on deck. Dunlop was refusing to carry out Brown's instruction to pump the ship, instead challenging him to a fight, leading to the Captain going on deck to calm both men down.

As Dunlop was heading to his bunk, Brown got hold of an iron bar and struck him five times with it in full view of Chief Officer John Thomas. Half an hour later, Dunlop was found dead by Thomas in the forecastle and an examination of the body revealed a gash above the eye and fractures to the skull. He was buried at sea and Brown was then locked in a cabin, but not put in irons.

When the vessel came within 10 miles of the North Wales coast, Brown made a dash for it by making a rope out of his bed linen and clambering out of his window and down the side of the ship. The man at the wheel saw this and raised the alarm, leading to a boat being launched and Brown being captured as he made his desperate bid for freedom.

On 17th April 1868 the Regina arrived in Liverpool, where Brown was taken into custody by the river police. Violently shaking, he asked if transportation was still ongoing and said that he did it in self defence but was sure to be hanged or transported. He appeared before Mr Raffles the stipendiary magistrate and was committed for trial at the Summer Assizes.

At this trial, Brown claimed self defence although the only provocation was that Dunlop had refused to carry out a duty. In summing up though Baron Kelly directed the jury to find him guilty of manslaughter and due to Brown's previous good character, he received a fairly lenient term of twelve years penal servitude.

Sectarian Slur Was No Defence

A man who stabbed another to death in Bevington Hill was convicted of manslaughter and jailed for life after the jury refused to accept his plea that the killing took place in self defence after he was called a 'Papist'.

On 8th May 1868 some workers from the Allinsons Brewery in Gildart Street went for a drink after work in a pub in Bevington Hill. When one of them, Richard Cropper, left on his own at about 930pm he encountered 26 year old butcher Edward Bailey outside, who said to him 'You're the one who has come to kill the Papists.'

When Bailey responded that he didn't want to kill anyone, especially a Papist as he was one himself, Cropper reacted angrily and challenged him to a fight. As the men squared up to each other, Cropper's colleague Arthur Brock came out of he pub and persuaded him to walk away and go home. As Cropper headed home, Brock and Bailey got into an argument, leading to the latter taking a knife out of a sheath that was around his waist and plunging it into Brock's chest.

Brock staggered off and collapsed after about 100 yards. By the time a doctor arrived, he was dead, the knife having gone between two ribs and protruded four inches into his body. Police soon found Bailey at his home in as court off nearby Ennerdale Street and he was taken into custody. A post mortem found that Brock had died from an internal haemorrhage caused as a result of a puncture to the heart.
Bailey was charged with murder and stood trial before Baron Kelly on 20th August. Witnesses said they had seen both Cropper and Brock act aggressively and Bailey's employers testified to his good character. But his claim that he had been rounded on by three men calling him a Papist and that he acted in self defence was not accepted. Due to the element of provocation however, he was found guilty of manslaughter rather than murder.

The judge showed no leniency in passing sentence, saying it was a most aggravated form of manslaughter. As he was sentenced to penal servitude for life, Bailey's wife let out several shrieks and had to be removed from the courtroom.

Monday, 14 July 2014

Thrown From a Cart

A foreign sailor who was a passenger in a cart was killed after a teenager tampered with the bolts leading to him being thrown to his death.

On Friday 10th February 1826 Christian Andersen, a Norwegian seaman aboard the Sylph, drank in beerhouses around the Baltic Triangle before getting into a cart in Kitchen Street. It was owned by Mr Pye, who was a miller in Wavertree and objected to Andersen's intoxicated state. A row ensued but eventually Mr Pye agreed to take Andersen there and no further.

Whilst the pair were arguing, an 18 year old named Ralph Clarke unfastened the bolts that connected the cart to the shafts that were around the horse's body. Several people saw this and alerted Mr Pye, who refastened the bolts. However Clarke immediately removed the bolts again, just as Mr Pye was driving his horses on. This time there was no time for him to be made aware and as the horses moved off, the cart tilted and Andersen was thrown out of it, landing head first onto some stones.

Andersen was taken  to the South Dispensary in an insensible state, where he was found to have a fracture to his skull. He never regained consciousness and died later that evening. Clarke had been taken into custody at the scene and on the Monday an inquest jury found him guilty of manslaughter. He was committed to Lancaster Assizes for trial, where he was sentenced to two years imprisonment with hard labour.

Friday, 11 July 2014

Killer Walks Free as Judgement Respited

A man Kirkdale man who killed another man after he made offensive remarks about the woman he was with walked free from court after the judge was satisfied he had not intended to cause any serious harm to his victim.

On the evening of 2nd August 1825 Mathias Kelly was walking next to a field near Kirkdale Gaol with a lady called Mary Calton. A man called John Warn, who neither of them knew, shouted something insulting to the couple and threw a brick at his elbow. Kelly responded by throwing the brick back and then struck Warn when he feared having the brick thrown back at him. This didn't deter Warn, who threw the brick at Kelly's head and cutting it. Kelly then punched Warn in the face and he fell backwards onto the ground.

A friend of Warn's called the Watch and Kelly quickly left the scene with Colton, not realising the extent of Warn's injuries. Kelly arrived at his mothers house in Sir Thomas Street at 11pm and had the wound dressed by his mother's servant Mary Allen. At around the same time Warn was arriving at the Infirmary suffering from bleeding to a three inch wound to the head. He was examined by a surgeon and died a few days later, never having regained consciousness. An officer of the Watch who had stopped Kelly when he saw him bleeding recalled this and had the foresight to take further details, then managed to take him into custody.

Kelly was tried at Lancaster at the end of that month. Witnesses testified that the place where the altercation took place contained lots of loose rubble, and doctors who examined Warn felt the injury from which he died was a result of being cut as he fell down, not the actual blow. With others testifying to Kelly's good character, the jury concluded that Kelly was guilty of manslaughter and that he had been provoked in the first instance. Jusice Bayley then respited sentence, effectively letting Kelly go free in the knowledge he would be re-sentenced should he get into any further trouble.



Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Gaol Killer Transported

A prisoner who stabbed another to death whilst in Kirkdale Gaol was extremely fortunate to evade a murder conviction and was instead transported for life after being found guilty of manslaughter.

George Metham, who had already returned to England after being transported for seven years, was coming to the end of a custodial sentence at Kirkdale in May 1825. He was transferred to another part of the prison where inmates could mix more freely, but taking advantage of these privileges led to the killing that would see him take to the seas again.

Metham took a sum of money with him when he moved and managed to add to this by successful gambling. However a group of prisoners led by William Hudson decided to rob Metham of this money, but their plan was communicated to him by another inmate. Methan sent word back that he had a knife and would use it if attacked.

On the evening of 16th May Metham finished in the workshop at about 8pm and was taken to the day-room by a turnkey. Metham had the knife on him at that point as he had been using it to cut bread, and he quickly hid it in his clothing without shutting it. On entering the room where the other prisoners were he stood with his back to the wall, ready to fight off any attack if it came.

For several minutes some other prisoners, who were unaware that Metham had been tipped off, tried to entice him away from the wall but he stayed where he was. Eventually Hudson went up and grabbed Metham by the collar, then tried to bundle him to the ground. Metham responded by drawing the knife and stabbing his attacker in the belly.

Lancaster CastleHudson died two days after the incident and Metham was charged with murder and appeared before Justice Bayley at Lancaster Assizes on Saturday 20th August. That he had stabbed Hudson to death was not denied, it was just a case of determining whether or not it was self defence. A prisoners gave evidence stating that Hudson had planned to rob Metham, while another old how there had been no previous ill feeling between the two, with Metham having twice given Hudson tobacco in the preceding days.

The only evidence in respect of any intention to cause harm came from Metham himself, whose testimony did not do him many favours. In admitting that he had the knife in anticipation of the attack, the judge suggested that this could be tantamount to premeditated murder given the robbery should not have caused any physical harm and the idea of a prisoner having money in gaol was absurd. However, it was also pointed out that Metham admitted to having used the knife to cut bread just beforehand and may not have had time to close it before hiding it from the turnkey. Another factor in Metham's favour was that he only had the knife as a precaution and did nothing to provoke any attack.

After deliberating for an hour the jury returned a verdict of guilty of manslaughter, the foreman saying they believed it was of the most aggravated character. The judge wasted no time on a prisoner who had already been transported once, telling him that this time it would be for life. On 1st August 1826, Metham arrived at Van Dieman's Land (now Tasmania) aboard the Woodman, on which he sailed with 149 other convicts.



Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Pawn Tickets Catch Murderer

A man who committed murdered a relative of his wife's employer during a burglary in 1832 was caught when police found evidence he had pawned the stolen items.

20 year old plasterer John Thomas was originally from Oswestry in Shropshire and in December 1831 arrived in Everton to be with his new wife Elizabeth, who was a servant to Mr and Mrs Okell. They lived in Breck Road, which was then Breck Lane and part of Everton which was a village in its own right and not part of Liverpool. They ran a spirit vaults in Liverpool at Seddon Street, still in existence near the junction of Duke and Paradise Streets.

On the afternoon of Monday 9th January 1832 Elizabeth and Sarah Okell were in an upstairs room together when Sarah opened a drawer containing some silver plated cutlery. The following morning Sarah went to the spirit vaults, leaving her 25 year old niece Ellen Bancroft in the house. The property had some damp and Elizabeth had suggested that her husband may be able to fix the patches, but when he did go around on the premise of looking at them the next afternoon he had other ideas. Taking a poker that was next to the fire he hit Ellen over the head then forced open the draws and stole some of the sliver.

Thomas had waited until his wife had left the house before committing the act. When it happened she was at the spirit vaults with Sarah, having taken some caps there which she had been asked to make. At around 8pm Thomas went there to collect his wife, whispering something that Sarah was unable to hear. A couple of hours later Sarah returned to Everton, where she saw Ellen being removed to the Infirmary in a car. She had been found around 7pm by Sarah's nephew Samuel, who had climbed in through a kitchen window and found her sat in a chair covered with blood, while a bloodied poker was lying on the floor by her side. Ellen was conscious but confused and a doctor who attended dressed the wound before arranging for her to be taken to the Infirmary.

When Sarah went upstairs, she found that the dressing table draw had been smashed open and the cutlery was missing. Four spoons had already been pawed by then, having been taken by a man matching Thomas's description to Mr Little's pawnbrokers in Liverpool. On the Thursday evening police went to Mr & Mrs Thomas's lodgings, taking both into custody in relation to the assault and burglary. A search of the room found some damning evidence was found by way of a chisel which was the same size as what had been used to force open the draws, as well as pawn tickets for items of a similar nature to what had been stolen. 19 shillings was also found in Elizabeth's purse, the items having been pawned for 20 shillings.

Ellen lingered on in the Infirmary until the evening of 15th January, when she slipped away. She had been conscious the previous day though when Thomas was taken by police to see her and she identified him as the man who had come to the house to check the damp and then assaulted her. The inquest began the following day and lasted for three days, which included a visit to the Infirmary by the Coroner's jury to view the body. After a verdict of wilful murder against Thomas was returned he was committed to the Lancaster Assizes for trial but Elizabeth was discharged, having apparently been no more than an unwitting accessory to the crime. Ellen was buried in her home town of Weaverham, near Northwich, a week to the day after she was attacked.

At his trial on Friday 9th March there were plenty of witnesses who gave damning testimony against Thomas. In addition to the police evidence, a local resident said she had seen Thomas pacing back and forth along Breck Lane at about 4pm on the day of the burglary, while a joiner working at a nearby property positively identified him as having left the Okell's house, as did a stonemason who saw him running. The pawnbroker's assistant identified Thomas as having pawned the spoons, while Mrs Okell confirmed that they were the ones that had been taken. Dr Horton, surgeon at the Infirmary stated that Ellen's death was as a direct result of the wound.

After the prosecution closed their case, there was little defence Thomas could offer and in summing up, the judge said that if the jury were satisfied Thomas had entered the house and struck the fatal blow there was only one verdict they could return. It took just a few minutes for the foreman to announce a verdict of guilty. Thomas showed little emotion as the judge donned the black cap and sentenced him to death, telling him to spend the few moments left in this life to seeking mercy and forgiveness.

Thomas's execution took place just three days after the verdict, on the morning of Monday 12th March in front of a crowd of 3,000. On reaching the scaffold he shook hands with fellow convict William Heaton, who had been sentenced to death after murdering a man in Burtonwood. Both men were hanged simultaneously at 8.15pm, the Lancashire Advertiser  reporting that Thomas struggled a little. After being cut down, Thomas's body was sent to Liverpool where it was to be used by surgeons for dissection.



Saturday, 28 June 2014

Six Weeks For A Life

In 1832 a man who killed another in a fight was sentenced to just weeks imprisonment while a robber was sentenced to death.

On 13th February that year John Jones and John Goodwin, both aged in their early twenties, were drinking in Wards public house in Hood Street, now part of Queen Square bus station. Both men were known as second rate fist fighters and began arguing, leading to them both agreeing to fight outside.

The two men fought for fifty minutes, with Goodwin eventually falling lifeless to the floor. He was taken to hospital where he lingered for two days before passing away. Jones was taken into custody and was committed for trial at Lancaster Castle.

On 11th March Jones was found guilty of 'killing and slaying' but was sentenced to just six weeks imprisonment with hard labour. At the same court sessions Thomas Singleton, a man who robbed Earl of Sefton of £10 at West Derby, was sentenced to death.

Monday, 23 June 2014

Policeman Killed on Election Day

The local elections of 1853 saw a  tragic incident in which a policeman was stabbed to death when he intervened in a row between a canvasser and a man in a pub.

On the 1st November of that year an election took place in Vauxhall ward and candidate Jonathan Evans arranged to meet a voter at Shaw's public house in Scotland Road. While he was waiting 19 year old Thomas Copeland, who was a well known neighbourhood ruffian, came in and demanded Evans buy him beer.

After Evans refused Copeland threatened him with violence and some of his associates, on hearing the commotion, began to gather around the pub entrance. Evans got away and headed for Marybone, where he found a policeman that returned to the pub to deal with the small crowd who had gathered. On being told to disperse they did, with the exception of Copeland who told Evans he was going to break his skull and also threatened the landlady, refusing to leave until he was given 4 pints of ale.

When more officers arrived Evans punched one of them on the head and then fled towards Cavendish Street, where he lodged in a court. Two constables and an inspector went inside and arrested Copeland,but as he was being led away he managed to stab one of them, Richard Sunderland, in the thigh. With blood streaming out of the wound, Sunderland said 'The Lord Receive My Soul' before collapsing. He was carried to the dispensary in Rose Hill but was dead within ten minutes, the femoral artery having been severed.

With Copeland under arrest, officers returned into his lodgings and found his sister casually washing a knife. His landlady said that after he had entered the property with the officers in pursuit, he had picked up a knife from the table and put it in his pocket.

At the inquest the following day, it was revealed that Sunderland left a wife and two young children. It was also stated by Superintendent Ryde that associates of Copeland had already been threatening witnesses to the crime. Copeland's sister's claim that she was washing a different knife to the murder weapon was immediately seized upon by the Coroner, who said he preferred disputes to be settled by a stand up fight rather than butchering by a knife.

After a verdict of wilful murder was returned, Copeland was committed for trial at the Lancashire Winter Assizes, where he appeared before Judge Baron Alderson on 8th December. Witnesses told how Copeland had ran into the court shouting he'd rip the officers and also that he had been seen to throw the knife over his shoulder shortly before Sunderland fell down. Among them was 8 year old Mary York, who saw Copeland take the knife from the table and also inflict the fatal thrust, which was three inches deep.

There was little point in Copeland trying to say he hadn't carried out the stabbing, so it was a case of going for damage limitation. It was pointed out that the police had no right to enter the property without a warrant for the type of offence committed, and also that there was no premeditation as he grabbed the knife in the heat of the moment. After an hour and a half's deliberation, the jury returned a verdict of manslaughter.

Baron Alderson told Copeland he was fortunate that the jury had found him guilty of the lesser offence, but that it was still one of great aggravation. He had already served three months in gaol for stabbing his brother but this time there was to be no leniency, as Alderson sentenced him to be 'transported beyond the seas for the term of his natural life.' There were some cries of support which were quickly quashed and Copeland then had to wait sixteen months for his voyage. After eight months on the Adelaide, he finally landed at Western Australia on 16th December 1855.

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Spaniard Transported For Stabbing

A Spanish sailor narrowly avoided a murder conviction after stabbing a man to death and only an act of mercy by the judge saw him avoid a full life term of transportation.

At around midnight on 22nd October 1853 John Crimp and Richard Crispin, two sailors attached to the Camlor ship that was berthed in Canning Dock, were walking down an alley off Whitechapel. They encountered American Thomas Williams and Spaniard Immanuel Monterro, and words were exchanged that Williams objected to. He then kicked Crispin in the belly and when Crispin punched him back Monterro ran at both with a knife, stabbing them in the groin.

Williams and Monterro both ran off and a police officer who heard the commotion attended to find Crispin and Crimp bleeding heavily. Both were taken to the Northern Hospital where Crispin died within ten minutes of arrival and Crimp remained in a critical condition.


The following afternoon Monterro was arrested at George's Dock near to his ship the Triumphante while Williams was apprehended at a boarding house in Peter Street, where Monterro had fled from. Both were taken to the Northern Hospital on the morning of 25th October, where the Coroner took a deposition from Crimp, who remained in a critical condition. He was able to state he had been punched by Williams and stabbed by a Spaniard, but couldn't positively identify Monterro.

The inquest into Crispin's death took place later that day. A man from the boarding house told the Coroner that the Spaniard had come into the house in a frantic state and washed a knife, before saying that he had 'rompe' two Englishman, which translates as ripped or broken. The jury returned a verdict of wilful murder against Monterro but acquitted Williams, leading tom some angry shouts from friends of the deceased.

Monterro stood trial on 8th December, by which time Crimp had made a full recovery. A female witness Anne Browne told that she had seen him with the knife and told Crimp that he was bleeding. James Thomson repeated the evidence he had given to the Coroner about the knife being cleaned at the boarding house. After a brief deliberation, the jury found the Spaniard guilty of manslaughter.

The following day, Monterro was brought back to the court where the judge, Baron Alderson, sentenced him to transportation for a period of twenty years. He was told that had he not been a foreigner, it would have been for life. He landed in Western Australia on board the ship Adelaide along with 259 other convicts on 16th April 1855.

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Liverpool's First Police Killing

The first killing of a police officer in Liverpool took place in 1838 when an inspector died whilst trying to disrupt a prize fight, leading to six men being transported for life.

On the evening of Monday 28th May that year Inspector George Wharton was in Blair Street, when a member of the public told him that there was a fight taking place nearby in Parliament Street. In going there with two constables he found nothing, but was redirected to the top of Hill Street where two men were stripped to the waist and a large crowd gathered.

Wharton managed to take one of the men into custody, but as he was leading him away some of the mob followed him, with Edward Connolly hitting him over the head with a plank enabling the prisoner to escape. Other males were surrounded Wharton's colleagues who were trying to arrest the other fighter. Inspector William Ross was held by James Macklin, then hit over the head by Patrick Canning with an eighteen inch stick and fell to the ground. He was then repeatedly kicked and hit with bricks and planks by James Durning and Martin Murphy, as well as Connolly who returned there after hitting Wharton. George McCarty was in the background shouting 'GO ON'.

As his colleagues tried to assist they were tripped by other members of the crowd, which number twenty to thirty. They managed to escape and secure further assistance, but by the time they got back Ross was unconscious and bleeding on the ground. The crowd had made no attempt to disperse and were not outnumbered to taken into custody, while Ross was carried to the Infirmary.

Despite the best efforts of surgeons to save him, Ross died on 6th June with Dr Nottingham telling the Coroner's inquest that he was no doubt the death was a result of the injuries received, which had caused inflammation of the brain. The funeral took place on 8th June, with a 90 minute procession from the Infirmary to Mount Street cemetery. All police officers who were not on duty, numbering 300 in total, were in attendance.

On 14th August, the six men who were all in their late teens or early twenties were tried for wilful murder at the Assizes in Chapel Street. Although there was no doubt that all had been there and five had taken part in the assault, it wasn't clear who had actually struck the blows which proved fatal. As such all were found guilty of manslaughter, including 19 year old McCarty who had done no more than shout at the others to take part in the assault.  Mr Justice Williams said due to the enormity of the offence he had to pass a severe sentence and sentenced them all to transportation for life.