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.

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Stabbing of a Policeman

A row over whether or not a candle should be lit led to a woman having her throat cut, a policeman being killed and a man being transported for life.

On the night of Monday 15th April 1839 Daniel Cole, a 30 year old porter originally from Ireland, returned to his lodgings off College Lane at around 10pm . He found his wife was sat down talking with another lodger named Alice Murphy and a Mrs Moran, keeper of the house.

Alice lit a candle which Mrs Cole immediately put out. She lit it again and when Mrs Cole again went to put it out Daniel shouted to her 'Is this the way, what's your humour now.' Mrs Cole got up and stumbled, being worse the wear for drink, before going into the kitchen. Daniel then followed her and cut her neck from behind, but his wife managed to get away and out into the street to shout 'murder'.

A policeman immediately arrived on the scene, accompanied by a mariner named Robert Rigg who he had ordered to assist. Rigg was left holding he door shut while the officer sought further help, but Cole managed to batter it down and escape, punching Rigg in the face as he made off. He only got as far as the corner with Hanover Street, where he was stopped by Constable David Bailey, but as the two men struggled and fell down together a knife was plunged into the officers neck.

College Lane in 2017
Bailey managed to get up and knock his stick on the floor three times, while a passer by called William Selsby managed to get the knife which had fell out of a dazed Cole's hand. Thomas Fletcher, a coachmaker, stood over him until other officers arrived on the scene to secure his arrest. Whilst this was happening Bailey fell down and was carried into Atherton's public house and laid out on a kitchen table. Within two minutes he was dead, witnesses having said that blood was coming out of his neck like 'water from a pipe.'

Two surgeons were sent for and they quickly established that a main artery had been severed. Cole was taken to the Hotham Street bridewell and placed in the cells, while a the bloodied knife and hat belonging to Bailey, which had been cut, were also handed in there. Mrs Cole attended a surgery, where a doctor examined her and concluded that the inch wide wound, which was a third of an inch deep, was not endangering her.

The Coroner's inquest into Bailey's death took place the following day and after the doctors gave evidence to the effect that stabbing was the cause of death a verdict of wilful murder was returned. Cole taken to Kirkdale Gaol to a await his trial at the next South Lancashire Assizes in Liverpool's Chapel Street.

Cole's trial took place on 20th August and he was describe by the Liverpool Mercury as 'a well made broad set man, dark complexioned, with large black whiskers; his eyes are fiery and indicated a degree of wildness.' His landlady Mrs Moran told the court that he had posed no problems at all and was a hard working industrious man, but his wide was prone to drunkenness. Most witnesses could only testify that they saw a struggle followed by Bailey staggering away, but Joseph Mantler said that he had seen Cole thrust his right hand, which he assumed to have carried the knife, towards the officer's neck. Dr Callan, who examined the body afterwards, was of the opinion that the blow was a severe one, the knife only being stopped when it struck the jaw, and that death was immediate due to the severing of arteries.

The situation looked bleak for Cole but evidence was presented by the defence that he had spent several weeks in an infirmary in Ireland a decade earlier after receiving a head injury whilst blasting coal. His brother Michael explained that he believed he had never been in sound mind since and often wore tight bandages around his head to keep him stable. When he had fits of anger, he would smash up furniture and two or three people were needed to restrain him, after which he would remember nothing of the episode. In cross examination Dr Callan admitted that this could cause temporary derangement during periods of excitement. His colleague Dr McIntyre also said that just a small amount of alcohol could have brought about temporary insanity.

The jury also heard evidence that Cole was a trusted employee in a warehouse and had worked there for eight years in a job that required him to carry a knife. Fellow employees also told how he was often concerned about his wife's drinking habits, which sometimes involved her selling furniture and taking his wages then disappearing for two or three days at a time.

The defence counsel put forward a passionate defence in the trial's closing stages, painting the picture of a man returning from work to find his wife hopelessly drunk, stabbing her then finding himself surrounded by a baying crowd as he officers stopped him. It was submitted that the act was carried out in self defence after the officer struck him, although this was not what the witnesses had said. When summing up, the judge pointed out that the jury had to consider if Cole knew it was an officer he was grappling with, and also the fact that he had carried the knife without its sheath for a considerable distance.

After deliberating for 45 minutes the jury found Cole guilty of 'a very aggravated case of manslaughter.' In sentencing, the judge said that aggravated manslaughter is only in the slightest degree distinguishable from murder and as such that 'It is my duty to pronounce on you that you be transported to a place beyond the seas to such place as Her Majesty, by the advice of her Privy Council may determine, for the period of your natural life.' Eleven months later Cole and 270 other convicts sailed on the Eden bound for New South Wales, where he eventually arrived on 8th July 1841.

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Death by Poker

An argument over money led to two sisters assaulting another woman with a poker and being convicted of manslaughter after the victim died of her injuries.

On the night of 23rd June 1885 31 year old Elizabeth Miden, who lived in a court off Gore Street in Dingle, got into an argument with two sisters. They were 34 year old Mary Proffit and 21 year old Rose Meadows, who both lived in the same court. The sisters dragged Miden off her doorstep and as Meadows held her down, Profit struck her with a poker.

Miden took herself to the Southern Dispensary and had wounds above her eye and to the back of the head bandaged up, then was discharged. On her way home she was again assaulted by the sisters, with Meadows ripping her bandages off. Miden was then taken to the Southern Hospital, where she contracted erysipelas due to the cut above her eye getting infected. She died on 6th July.

At the Coroner's Inquest, Meadows and Profit claimed that they were arguing over money and Miden had gone to get a poker, which is why they used one as well in retaliation. With respect to pulling the bandages off Miden's head, Meadows said that first she had had hair her pulled by Miden. The jury returned a verdict of manslaughter and both sisters were committed for trial at the Assizes.

On 31st July the jury heard how the condition that led to Miden's death was caused in part by the wound, but was also due to her drinking habits. Both sisters were found guilty and Mr Justice Manisty said that the wounds were not serious and it was Miden's drinking habits that had hastened her death. He sentenced them to six months imprisonment with hard labour, saying the disgraceful scenes of of getting drunk and acting like brutes must be stopped.

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Locals Ignore Desperate Woman's Plight

A Danish seaman who killed a prostitute in Upper Frederick Street was sentenced to life imprisonment for manslaughter following an incident in which locals showed shocking indifference to the victim.

19 year old Matthew Dedone spent the evening of 6th September 1880 drinking in Cottam's public house, on the corner of Frederick Street and Forrest Street. His drinking companion was Humphrey Murphy and Dedone produced a knife saying that if anybody tried to hurt his friend then he was prepared to use it on them.

At around 10pm Dedone and Murphy left the pub and headed their separate ways. Shortly afterwards a local 30 year old prostitute called Cecilia Rigby did so as well. What happened over the next hour was never fully established but at 11.10pm Dedone was seen walking along Pitt Street with a knife, then dragging a woman screaming into an entry and then back out again whilst repeatedly punching and kicking her.

Nobody tried to intervene in this episode and Dedone then asked his former landlady Ann King, who was sat on her step, if she would take in Cecilia as a lodger and offered some money. She refused and Dedone apologised for his actions and went away, with Ann continuing to sit on her step talking to her friend Mary Nolan.

It was not until after midnight that anybody offered assistance to Cecilia when dock labourer Francis Kehoe was returning home and walked past Ann and Mary who were still talking. A few yards later he saw Cecilia lying on the ground in Upper Frederick Street and found that she was dead. A police constable was called and the body was removed to the Royal Southern Hospital, where a post mortem found she had died after being stabbed in the lung and heart. Dedone, who had now disposed of the weapon, was apprehended soon afterwards at his lodgings in nearby Greetham Street.

Dedone was charged with murder and appeared before Mr Justice Mellor at Liverpool Assizes on 13th November. Witnesses told how they had seen him and Cecilia arguing around 11pm with Dedone demanding the return of his shilling, before he went on to carry out the brutal assault. Dedone's defence was a simple one, that he was not there at that time but had instead gone home at 10.30pm and stayed there, so the witnesses must be mistaken in identifying him. This was contradicted by the evidence of his boarding house keeper though, who said he had returned at 11.45pm.

In summing up, Justice Mellor said that the jury had to be satisfied that Dedone was the killer and needed to ask themselves if there had been any provocation that could reduce the verdict to manslaughter. After forty minutes deliberation, a verdict of manslaughter was returned. Before sentencing, Dedone reiterated his innocence, insisting that he was in his home at 10.30pm and went straight to bed. Justice Mellor said that both he and the jury were satisfied that Dedone was responsible for the killing and that given a knife was used in the killing, the verdict was a very lenient one. He then sentenced Dedone to penal servitude for life.