Saturday, 28 February 2015

Killing of a Peacemaker

A man who light heartedly tried to calm down an elderly female who was acting anti socially ended up getting hacked to death by the woman who was descibed as a 'tigress' by the trial judge.

At about 9pm on the evening of 17th September 1870 a 62 year old Irish woman named Bridget Daley was outside her home in Grosvenor Street looking for an argument with anybody and throwing dirt about. Despite being hit by the dirt 59 year old neighbour Patrick McDermott made light of the situation and pacified her. He then put his hand on Bridget's shoulder and persuading her to return down to her cellar.

Patrick followed Bridget into the cellar to make sure she remained quiet but she then set about him with a cleaver, striking him several times on the face. Patrick managed to cry out 'murder' leading to several passers by rushing down the cellar steps, where they saw him lying on the floor with several cuts. Bridget was still kneeling next to him, striking away with cleaver.

A policeman was sent for and Bridget calmly told the officer she had struck Patrick with a cleaver as he had no business being in her cellar. She was initially taken into custody and charged with assault, while Patrick was taken to his own house and treated by Dr Birney from the East Dispensary.

Patrick died on the Sunday evening and on the Monday Bridget appeared before the police court charged with assault. She was remanded in custody for seven days pending the outcome of the inquest, which was to take place the following day. With the post mortem concluding that death was caused by suppuration of the brain due to the injuries of two of the wounds, a verdict of manslaughter was returned. Bridget was then committed to the assizes on a coroners warrant.

In its report of the trial, which took place on 13th December, the Liverpool Courier & Commercial Advertiser described the street where the incident took place as 'that locality of drunkenness and disorder.' Bridget was undefended but shouted from the dock that the witnesses were lying and if Bishop McHale was there he would speak about her character.

The jury found Bridget guilty and she was described by Mr Justice Mellor (left) as 'like a tigress' and of a 'very cruel and wicked disposition.' She had ten previous convictions for assaults and fighting, leading to Mellor believing the streets were better off without her. He then passed a sentence of twenty years penal servitude, the severity of which caused a sensation amongst those present in court.

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