Saturday, 3 January 2015

Man Kills Niece During Epileptic Fit

A terrible tragedy occurred in 1881 when a 6 year old girl was killed by her cousin whilst he was having a fit, leading to the judge handing out a severe rebuke for the man's parents.

Henry Taylor, a 25 year old labourer, lived with his parents at Trowbridge Place (off Brownlow Hill). Also living there was his cousin Agnes Blanche Jones, who had been adopted by the Taylors, having been the illegitimate daughter of Mrs Taylor's sister. On the 29th January of that year he suffered a severe seizure that prevented him from going to work, then on the evening of 2nd February his mother saw the signs of another one coming on.

Henry's mother sat up watching him for some time, but at 1am as he got more agitated she persuaded him to go to bed. As soon as he got upstairs his mother heard gurgling and a scream, but Henry shouted down that everything was okay. When she got a lamp and went up however, she found him standing with  a knife in his hands and Agnes lying on a sofa bleeding heavily.

A doctor and policeman were sent for and Agnes was declared dead at the scene, her head almost severed from the body. Henry told the officer that he had done it and handed him the knife, before being taken into custody and making his first appearance before the police court the following morning.

Henry was tried the following week at the Liverpool Assizes, where evidence was produced to show that he had suffered epilepsy all his life. Once this had been heard the Mr Justice Stephen intervened and stopped the trial, saying a symptom of he disease was a tendency to get into a mad fury and kill people unconsciously. He ordered the jury to return a verdict of not guilty on the grounds of insanity.

After ordering Henry to be detained at Her Majesty's Pleasure, the judge was then very critical of Henry's parents, saying that it 'was lamentable they left the prisoner at large when it was clear he was not fit to be at liberty.'

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