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.

West Derby Road 1913 (www.liverpoolpicturebook.com)
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's mother had been in an asylum in Russia, failed and he was hanged at Strangeways Gaol on 6th January 1920.

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