A violent assault by a group of friends on an innocent neighbour led to one of them ending up dead in 1875, leading to a conspiracy to blame their victim for the crime.
On the afternoon of Sunday 25th April 1875 Jeremiah Cash was set upon for no apparent reason by up to eight individuals in Raymond Street, Vauxhall. In his desperate attempt to get away into the safety of his own property, he struck out in self defence leading to 22 year old Winifred McCabe falling to the ground and receiving a head injury.
When the police arrived, it was alleged that Cash had assaulted McCabe with a meat cleaver and he was arrested for wounding, while she was taken to hospital. She was discharged the following day and went home to bed but she never left it, dying on 18th May. At the inquest six witnesses told the Coroner that they had seen Cash quarrel with McCabe's brother before going inside and returning with a cleaver under his coat, which he then used to striker her.
Cash was committed for trial at the Liverpool Assizes but there were sensational developments on 19th August. The six witnesses told the court the same story but Cash had a dozen witnesses who stated that he was attacked without provocation, with some of them saying they then saw Maria Cain come out of her house and drop a meat cleaver from under her dress. Crucially, Cain's young son stated that he had seen her leave with the cleaver and he feared she was going to kill somebody with it. After acquitting Cash, who had worked for the same employer for 18 years with an unblemished record, Mr Justice Archibald ordered that all those who had given evidence against him be charged with perjury.
Cain was the first to be tried for perjury on 16th December, when another neighbour told the court he had overheard her concocting the cleaver story in the pub on the day of the row but had been too scared to tell anybody about it. Cain was found guilty and sentenced to a total of 14 years imprisonment, 7 years for lying to the Coroner and 7 in respect of the Assizes. The sentences were to run consecutively, Justice Archibald telling Cain that he 'could hardly think of a crime more wicked' given a man's life was at stake. The following day five more were tried and sentenced to gaol terms of between 18 months and 7 years.