A Vauxhall man who returned from Australia to kill his mother in 1916 managed to avoid the gallows when a jury decided he did it during a bout of temporary insanity.
56 year old Mary Mackin lived in a cellar Menai Street, situated where Barmouth Way is now. Her son Patrick spent a lot of time away at sea but sent money home regularly and there was no indication that there were any problems between them.
In 1910 Patrick emigrated to Australia but returned at the end of 1915, moving back in with his mother and taking up causal labour as a ship's fireman. The work wasn't regular and Patrick soon turned to drink along with his mother.
On the fateful night of 29th July 1916 Mary drank with Mrs Murphy, who lived in another part of the property, before returning to her cellar. She was then hit by Patrick and when Mary shouted for help from Mrs Murphy, Patrick told her to mind her own business when she told him to stop. However things did quieten down and Mrs Murphy returned to her part of the house.
At around 1130pm, Mary was found on the steps of the house by Mrs Hollingwood, who lived nearby. She was bleeding from the throat and a police sergeant soon arrived after seeing the commotion. He was greeted by Patrick who handed a razor over and said 'I am the man that did it you know where I live.' As he was being taken to the Bridewell Patrick said 'If my mother dies I will die with her.'
Mary was taken to the Northern Hospital where she soon died and Patrick was charged with murder. He was committed for trial at the Assizes on 2nd November, where several neighbours spoke of him having a loving relationship with his mother. Mrs Murphy said he always handed over half his pay and that she thought he was 'not altogether there.' Others said that Patrick was often seen talking to himself, had once ripped up a ten shilling note and thrown it into the gutter, and invited people to pubs for drinks only to walk away when they got there.
Doctors were in disagreement as to Patrick's state of mind. One said he was sane, but another believed he was temporarily insane at the time. The doubts over Patrick's sanity meant it was impossible for him to be convicted of murder and sentenced to death. He was instead found guilty of manslaughter and sentenced to fifteen years penal servitude.