Saturday, 10 January 2015

Deadly Assault on Pregnant Woman

A woman who violently assaulted a neighbour led to the baby being stillborn and the mother dying of her injuries, with the killer being transported for seven years.

On 31st August 1844 Mary Sooghan and Catherine Gillis, who both resided in Craven Street, got into an argument which also involved Catherine's daughter Mary Quiggins. 58 year old Gillis then spat in Sooghan's face before pulling her up by her hair and throwing her to the ground.

3 weeks later on 22nd September Sooghan complained of a pain in her right side and a doctor was called. She was found to be in a slow labour and losing blood. Three days later she gave birth to a stillborn male child and was admitted to the Infirmary.

Sooghan's condition gradually deteriorated and she died on 9th October. A post mortem was carried out and found that was inflammation of the womb. At the inquest the following day Dr Callon told the Coroner that this was a result of external violence and had been the cause of death. A verdict of manslaughter was returned against Gillis, but Quiggins was acquitted of aiding and abetting.

On 17th December Gillis appeared before the Lancashire Winter Assizes and although she admitted what happened, maintained that she had been struck in the face first. Her defence counsel also alluded to her previous good character describing her as a 'quiet, peaceable, industrious woman.' This cut little ice with the judge and jury though and she was found guilty. Telling her that it was one of the most aggravated cases he had ever dealt with, the judge sentenced Gillis to seven years transportation.

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