Sunday, 8 February 2015

Beaten to Death by His Father

A cruel father whose child died after he had inflicted regular beatings was found guilty of manslaughter and transported for twenty years.

33 year old Thomas Keegan and his two year old son John lodged in Addison Street with a Mr and Mrs Welsh, being accommodated in the attic. Keegan was a bad father and often starved and beat the child, usually under the influence of drink.

On the afternoon 23rd November 1855 Mrs Welsh heard Keegan beating John and shouted at him to stop, to which he replied 'mind your own business let me chastise my child.' Later that evening a widow named Mrs Pannell, who was another lodger that shared the attic, saw Keegan pull John's hair out, punch him and then smash his face against the floor.

The following morning Keegan went out at 8am leaving his son alone in the attic with Mrs Pannell. She offered John some food but he didn't eat any, leading to Mrs Welsh calling for the police. When an officer arrived Keegan had returned and on observing the bruises on John's face, he was taken to the workhouse while his father was arrested.

John died two days later. A workhouse surgeon who carried out a post mortem found a fractured eye socket and concluded that although he was poorly generally, it was the beatings that had accelerated the death as there was every chance of a recovery otherwise.

After being charged with manslaughter Keegan appeared before Justice Wightman at the South Lancashire Assizes on 14th December. The jury found him guilty with very little deliberation and the judge described him as committing 'cruel inhumanity towards a helpless child.' Keegan was then sentenced to be transported for twenty years.

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