Friday, 25 April 2014

Man Kills Partner With Fatal Push

When a man's partner died after suffering a head injury when he pushed her and she fell against a table, the trial judge was forced to comment that he had never seen so many crimes from drunkenness in any other large town.

46 year old Thomas Evans saw in the New Year of 1867 by going out drinking with Elizabeth Hughes, who he cohabited with in Fox Street, Everton (below).


After returning to their 1st floor lodgings in the early hours they argued and Mrs Simons, the landlady who lived below, went up to see what was going on. She saw Elizabeth bleeding from a cut head but when she asked for a doctor, Thomas laughed and said that she would be alright.

Three weeks later Elizabeth died and the surgeon who attended her said it was down to fluid on the brain caused by her wound. Thomas admitted to having pushed Elizabeth, causing her to lose her footing and bang the back of her head on the corner of a table.

Thomas was indicted for manslaughter and found guilty, causing Mr Justice Mellor to say that he did not know any other large town where he saw so many crimes committed as a result of drunkenness as Liverpool. However, concluding that Thomas did not intend to cause harm, he sentenced him to just 12 months imprisonment with hard labour.

Monday, 7 April 2014

Killing of a Gamekeeper


The shooting of a gamekeeper at Knowsley Hall in the early Victorian period led to five poachers being sentenced to death, although only one of them ended up on the gallows.

At around 430am on 10th November 1843 watchers on the Knowsley Hall estate became aware of ten men and a dog looking for game and Richard Kenyon, the gamekeeper was summoned. After shouting out to the men he was shot in the stomach and overpowered. He managed to retreat to safety while the group of ten dispersed, some towards St Helens and some to Liverpool. Kenyon, whose bowels were hanging out when he got home, died four days later


John Shaw, a known poacher had a dog and was formerly a gamekeeper at Knowsley, was soon arrested at his home in Eldon Street, Vauxhall, after watchers told police they believed they had heard his voice. On 15th November, the day after Kenyon died, he appeared at Kirkdale Sessions House and was committed for trial.

The evidence against Shaw was flimsy at best, as although witnesses said they had seen him in Huyton the evening before the shooting, others saw him in Scotland Road after midnight. It was also acknowledged he hadn't fired the fatal shot so a £100 reward and the promise of a Queen's Pardon was offered for anyone with further information on the crime. This led to John's 19 year old son Nathan, who lived with him in Eldon Street, coming forward and indicating that he was involved, not John.

He claimed that some of the men set out from London Road and joined up with others at Old Swan and Eccleston. John Shaw, Nathan said, met them at Old Swan but went back to Liverpool as the others went towards Prescot. In all there were ten men, two of them with guns and he said it was John Roberts who fired the fatal shot.

When Roberts was arrested, police found gun caps in his cellar. James Hunt was apprehended on 19th November and was in possession of a poachers net. Thomas Jacques and Joseph Rimmer were rounded up and Henry Fillingham was found sleeping in a barn in St Helens under some straw. The other four men - John Webster, William Webster, Henry Robinson and Thomas Tither - remained at large, while Nathan Shaw was not charged.

At the trial Nathan Shaw repeated what he had told the police, and witnesses confirmed that they had seen him and other Defendants walking back towards Liverpool. Watchers identified the men on trial, a pawnbroker told how John Roberts had lodged the gun with him in a false name, while a surgeon told how Kenyon's death was directly as a result of the gunshot wound. The defence was quite straight forward. They dismissed the evidence of Nathan, claiming it was being given purely out of greed and the desire to get his father off a serious charge. They also said that he watchers evidence was unreliable, as they had mistakenly believed John Shaw was there and it had been shown that he wasn't. The Defence then made the mistake of calling two relatives of Jacques to try and prove an alibi, but they contradicted each other which only made the Prosecution case stronger.

In summing up, the judge said that if the jury were satisfied Roberts had shot to cause injury then it was murder and if they believed the fellow defendants had agreed using a gun was necessary then they were guilty as well. The jury deliberated for forty minutes and found all the defendants guilty, but gave a strong recommendation for mercy. The female relatives in court were so upset that they had to be removed before sentencing was passed.

Direct appeals were made by the relatives of he condemned men to Lord Derby, who refused to show sympathy. However the Home Secretary commuted the sentences on all of them to transportation for life except Roberts, who was to be hanged in public at Kirkdale on 20th January 1844. He claimed in the condemned cell that he had shot out of fear and also somewhat worse for wear through drink.

Around 30,000 turned out for the execution, which included a number of Roberts' female relatives who were shrieking as he took to the scaffold. Before the bolt was drawn he gave a short speech to the crowd, shouting 'Good People, never let yourselves be entangled with the devil nor go into bad company. Farewell.' After Roberts fell to his death, the hangman was pelted with stones by some of the crowd. Of the four men who evaded capture, three were never found but Robinson handed himself in in December 1846, having been in the army with the 48th Regiment of Foot. He was also sentenced to death, commuted to transportation for life.

Friday, 4 April 2014

Execution Ends 'Merry Life'

A teenager who killed two farm workers in an arson attack was hanged in 1882, bringing to an end what he described as a 'short life and a merry one.'

Originally from County Mayo in Ireland, Bernard Mullarkey came to England in 1879 at the age of 16. He had a brief spell in the army with the 95th Regiment of Foot, from which he deserted, before taking a series of labouring jobs and eventually ending up in Maghull where he worked for a farmer named John Sumner.

Mullarkey slept in an outhouse on the farm with three other workers, a father and son both named Thomas Cruise, and a man named Thomas Jordan. There appeared to be no ill feeling between them at first but during the month of September 1882 Mullarkey began to tell the others he would 'swing for them' and set fire to the outhouse. He also made a threat to do so whilst in conversation with a fellow drinker in a local pub.

On the 25th of that month, all four men went to Bradley's provisions shop in the evening and on returning to the farm, Mullarkey told the others he was going to the washhouse and they went to sleep in the loft. Soon afterwards though, one of them men was awoken by screams and saw that the barn was alight. As they desperately tried to put the flames out with sacks, one of them looked out of the window to see Mullarkey standing in a courtyard, having got the horses out of danger. Rather than get a nearby ladder to help, Mullarkey instead went away to find Mr Sumner and by the time he arrived back one of the three men, the elder Thomas Cruise, was dead.

After putting out the flames a police sergeant who arrived on the scene asked Mullarkey what he knew. Giving his name as Charles Rogers, he said that he had fallen asleep drunk in the washhouse and woke to find the building on fire, having no idea how it had started. The policeman was able to establish that the fire had been started from below the loft, indicating that none of the three men in there could have been responsible. Mr Cruise's body was also found to have received a blow to the head before the fire had started.

A Coroner's inquest returned a verdict of wilful murder and Mullarkey was committed for a trial that took place at Liverpool Assizes on 17th November. The evidence against him was largely circumstantial as nobody had seen him start the fire or enter the outhouse. However, in summing up, Justice Day pointed to the threats made a few days before, his odd behaviour at the time of the fire and the fact that those giving evidence as to his conduct had no reason to lie. Damningly, he also said that if Mullarkey set fire to the building knowing somebody was inside then it was murder. The jury took just seventeen minutes to return a verdict of guilty.


On being sentenced to death by, Mullarkey replied : 'Well sir, you can only judge a fellow on this earth. You can not judge me in the next, where we shall all be judged. I am as innocent of the crime I am going to swing for as the child who is not born yet.'


Whilst awaiting his fate in Kirkdgale gaol Mullarkey was visited by two cousins, but he refused to allow his parents to spend what little money they had on coming to see him. In his final letter to them he wrote that he had been an indifferent son, but his life had been 'a short and merry one.' On 4th December Mullarkey got up at 6am, had a good breakfast and was attended to by Father Bonte. He was hanged by William Marwood, having walked firmly to the scaffold..