A shocking killing in Victorian Liverpool saw a 55 year old man batter his alcoholic wife to death and only narrowly avoid being found guilty of murder.
Peter Flynn lived with his wife Margaret in a court off Saltney Street, just south of the Stanley Dock warehouse. On the evening of Saturday 16th February 1895 he returned home about 6pm and gave Margaret £1, which she said wasn't enough to buy what was needed. She then left the house and drank for a few hours, returning about 11pm.
The following morning, Flynn approached a nearby policeman and told him that he had found his wife dead in bed, and explained cuts to her head by the fact she had fallen in the street. Strangely though, blood was found on the furniture but not in the street or steps of the house and a post mortem revealed thirteen broken ribs.
At the trial which took place on 22nd March, the jury heard how Flynn was a hard working man, who was angered by his wife's drinking habits. Neighbours told how they had heard arguing coming from their property and also screams of 'murder', and that Margaret had earlier been found at the bottom of some steps and was helped inside.
After being found guilty of manslaughter, Flynn was told by the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Russell of Killowen, how he had been lucky to avoid a murder conviction, as it was apparent Margaret's injuries were the result of a 'a series of acts of brutality over a considerable period of time.' However after acknowledging that Flynn was of previous good character and there were circumstances which had provoked him, Russell passed a sentence of just six years penal servitude.