Friday, 17 October 2014

Killed by Bailiffs

In 1852 a man who jeered four bailiffs was killed by them, but they were given lenient sentences considering the brutality of the attack.

On the afternoon of 1st January that year four County Court bailiffs named Tomas Gallagher, Patrick Cummins, Michael McKew and James Langan, all aged between 20 and 24, seized some goods from a house in Dryden Street. As they were travelling down Great Homer Street in a cart the horse started going slowly and they used the whip without mercy.

Many passers by jeered the men, saying they should be whipped themselves. One of those was James Hincks, who worked collecting faeces from local cesspools. Whilst pushing his barrow he joined in the cries of 'shame', but his was one dissenting voice too many. After some words were exchanged the four men jumped from the cart and set upon Hincks, who was first beaten to the ground by McKew with a scoop used for picking up the excrement. 

Gallagher  followed up the beating by thrusting a screwdriver into Hincks's side, causing his bowels to protrude from the wound, while Mangan and Cummins hit him with forks. When crowds gathered around, Gallagher swung at them with a chisel and he also tried to fend of an attending police officer with it. All four men were taken to the Bridewell and appeared at the police court the following day charged with assault, where they were remanded for seven days, Gallagher claiming that Hincks's friend had struck them with scoops first.  

On 7th January Hincks died of gangrene caused by inflammation of the wound. The four men were then charged with manslaughter and found guilty at the South Lancashire Assizes on 26th March. Gallagher was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment, McKew 15 months, Cummins 12 months and Mangan 6 months

Monday, 13 October 2014

Man Walks Free After Killing Wife's Lover

The differing standards of the time were demonstrated in 1857 when a man who stabbed his wife's lover to death with a pair of scissors walked free from the dock after receiving a token sentence from the judge.

Bostock St www.liverpoolpicturebook.com
James Davies, a tailor, lived in Bostock Street with his wife and the couple would occasionally give lodgings to seafarer Robert Renses, a widower who had been married to Davies's sister. However, he soon suspected that Renses and his wife were having an affair and this was admitted by the adulterous couple on the afternoon of 25th May.

At about 7pm that evening Davies went into a pub whilst quite intoxicated and told a man in there that if he returned home he would show him some fun. The man, a baker called Robert Hodgson who knew Davies by sight agreed and when they got to the house, Mrs Davies was in the parlour and was immediately struck by her husband, who then went upstairs looking for Renses.

Rather than find Renses hiding under the bed where he expected, Davies instead found him apparently sleeping in his children's bedroom. He then took a pair of scissors out of his pocket and stabbed Renses several times before threatening the same to Hodgson, who tried to intervene. Davies then fled and Hodgson sent for a doctor.

Renses died almost instantly and Dr Horrocks who examined the body concluded that he had engaged in sexual activity with a female shortly beforehand. Davies was apprehended by a policeman on Scotland Road and was taken to the Bridewell, his request to stop for some beer on the way being refused. The following day at the inquest the Coroner ordered the two children to be taken into care as they should not remain with a woman of 'such abandoned character.'

Davies was charged with murder and appeared at the South Lancashire Assizes on 14th August. That he had killed Renses was not in doubt, the only question was whether he was guilty of murder or manslaughter. In summing up Mr Baron Watson said that if a man found out about an act of adultery then he could only be guilty of manslaughter and even then of the lowest decree.

Given Davies was believed to have found them in bed that afternoon, the jury took no time at all to return a verdict of manslaughter. As Davies's defence counsel Mr Aspinall began to address the judge in mitigation, Baron Watson interrupted him and said 'You dont suppose I'm going to punish him for this Mr Aspinall.' He then passed a sentence of four days imprisonment, meaning Davies could be released immediately as that was the length of time since the Assizes had started.

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Tenant Kills Landlord

A landlord who wanted his tenant to leave was killed after being hit with a plank of wood, leading to the tenant closely avoiding the death penalty.


In 1857 dock labour John Kilduff lived in a court at New Bird Street, letting out the lower floor of the house to 30 year old Patrick Kilroy and his wife. For reasons that never became apparent, Kilduff gave Kilroy a week's notice to quit on 2nd April.

Two days after receiving the notice, a Saturday, Kilroy and his wife began moving their furniture out of the property, but Kilduff refused to refund any rent in respect of them leaving earlier than required. Mrs Kilroy felt that they should stop moving out, but her husband wanted to continue and after an argument occurred between them, he threw a mattress out of the window.

Kilroy went away saying there would be blood later that night and on his return to the court at 11pm, he stood outside shouting at Kilduff to come outside and fight him. Kilduff's wife Winifred went down and locked the door, and managed to shout for help and a policeman arrived to take Kilroy away.

Once he had calmed down Kilroy was let go and went back to the court and hid in the darkness, observing Kilduff open the door to look around shortly afterwards. Kilroy then pounced and struck Kilduff over the head with a five feet piece of timber. He then went to strike again but Kilduff managed to fend it off with a hatchet and got inside, where he collapsed. He was taken to the Southern Hospital where he died the following Wednesday, 8th April. Doctors concluded that it was a direct result of the blow to the head that had fractured his skull.

Kilroy was charged with murder and appeared before Mr Baron Watson at the South Lancashire Assizes on 14th August. His defence counsel asked for understanding from the jury, saying there had been provocation in that Kilduff had a hatchet. A verdict of manslaughter was returned but the judge was in no mood for leniency, telling Kilroy that he should be thankful the jury had taken a favourable view of the case. He then sentenced him to fifteen years penal servitude.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Lodger Hanged for Shooting Landlady

An argument over whether or not to go to a party in 1921 led to a woman being shot dead by her lodger who was hanged for then killing.

43 year old widow Olive Jackson cohabited with customs officer Richard Duff in Newby Street, Walton. A 43 year old ship's steward named Thomas Wilson lodged with the couple when he was on shore leave and the three adults regularly went out together.Wilson appeared to have some affection for Olive, as at Christmas 1920 he was angry when he saw her kissing another man under the mistletoe.

On the evening of 9th April 1921 Wilson went out with Olive, but near to midnight they got into an argument over whether or not to continue to a sing-song at another address. Wilson objected to one of the male guests, who he didn't believe was fit company for Olive. He eventually agreed to go, only to take out a revolver and shoot Olive dead. Neighbours rushed to the scene and found her body riddled with five bullets.

Wilson had already made his escape and stayed at a guest house near Lime Street station, giving his name as Smith. The following morning he was spotted by detectives trying to buy a ticket to London at the booking office and surrendered when Constable Hanlon pointed a gun at him as he put his hands towards his own hip pocket.

When Wilson was taken into custody he was searched and a revolver and ammunition recovered. He admitted carrying out the shooting, but insisted he did not intend to kill Olive.

On 12th April the inquest took place and on seeing Wilson in the dock Richard Duff shouted 'YOU MURDERER' before collapsing. He managed to recover and give evidence, then tried to get at Wilson, leading to several court officials intervening to restrain him. Five police officers were required to carry him out of court, where he was in a state of collapse and had to be given medical attention.

After the coroner's jury returned a verdict of wilful murder Wilson was committed to trial at the Manchester Assizes, where he was found guilty on 2nd May and sentenced to death. As he left the dock Wilson made a sign of the Cross and he was hanged at Strangeways on 24th May.

Friday, 3 October 2014

Army Deserter Kills Brother

A soldier who had overstayed his leave killed his brother after being reported by him to the Military Police, leading to him being convicted of manslaughter.

30 year old James O'Neill was a Private with the Royal Welsh Fusiliers and stationed in Seaforth Barracks at the start of 1917, although he had seen action in France where he was wounded the year before. On being given some leave he went to stay with his married sister and their brother William in Epworth Street off Islington.

On the afternoon of 9th February all three siblings went drinking in a nearby pub and then returned to the house in Epworth Street, where they had more drink and a sing-song. The joviality soon turned sour though and the brothers began to argue, with William saying he could never forgive James for the occasion he got battered by him on the Dock Road. This had been after James took offence to some remarks William had made about his wife, who was now living with another man much to James's distress.

The two brothers started to fight but the sister intervened and William was ordered out of the house. He then went down to Lime Street station and told two military policemen that he would take them to a deserter. On arrival back at the house their sister said 'God forgive you' to William and insisted James was no deserter as he had just overstayed his leave a few days. It was later admitted though that he had told his family he had no intention of going back.


James made no resistance and was allowed to change and have a cup of tea by the military police, but as he was led out he put his hand in his pocket and drew out a razor, quickly slashing it across the throat of his brother, who died instantly. He then calmly handed the razor over to the police and said 'I am well satisfied now'. When he was arrested and searched, a diary was found in James's pocket in which he had wrote that he would do wrong if his wife continued to openly live with another man.

After being charged with murder James was tried on 18th April before Mr Justice Bailhache. James's defence was that he had not been of sound mind since his wife's infidelity and he had been provoked by his brother. However doctors told that although he had been very down in prison, he new the difference between right and wrong.

When the judge summed up, he drew attention to the random nature of the blow that was struck, which could easily have connected with the chin or nose and not caused death. Consequently, the jury found James guilty of manslaughter without leaving the witness box and he was sentenced to seven years penal servitude.