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.

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