Monday, 19 January 2015

Brother Shot by Mistake at New Year

In the early 1920s there was a tragic occurrence when a man shot his brother dead by accident at a New Years party.

On 1st January 1923, 25 year old Peter McDermott was at a stay behind at the Hare & Hounds pub in Commutation Row with his 18 year old brother Michael and some other friends. At around 130am Michael, who had drank a large volume of port, complained of feeling ill. Peter playfully told him to pull himself together and pointed a revolver at him, not knowing it was loaded. The gun went off and Michael, a ship steward, slumped from his chair and died instantly.

Commutation Row (www.liverpoolpicturebookcom)
Peter panicked and took a cab home, where he was arrested on suspicion of murder soon afterwards, saying to the sergeant 'Oh my God please don't tell me he is dead.' He was initially charged with wilful murder when he appeared before Mr Deacon, the Stipendiary Magistrate the following day, although prosecutors did indicate they may seek another charge when all the facts were known.

The gun in question had been given to Peter earlier in the year while he was working for the Criminal investigation Department in Dublin, as he feared he was being tailed by irregular forces. Enquiries established that although he had been given it lawfully, he was not meant to have taken it out of Ireland.

After an inquest returned a verdict of death by misadventure, Peter was back before the magistrates court on 11th January. Prosecutors withdrew the murder charge and instead he pleaded guilty to an offence under the Firearms Act, that of having a revolver and ammunition without a permit. Peter, who said his brother was also his best friend, was then sentenced to three months imprisonment.

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