Thursday, 5 February 2015

The Killer Tried Twice

In 1863 a man was convicted and imprisoned for cutting and wounding, only to find himself back at court on a manslaughter charge after his victim died from the injuries.

At 1130pm on 2nd May 1863 Daniel Fitzgerald, a sailor, was involved in an argument with a washer woman in Saltney Street, near Clarence Dock. John Carr, an 18 year old who was returning home from St Johns Market stopped to see what was going on and Fitzgerald went up to him and asked him aggressively if he would be sticking up for her.

When Carr said he didn't know her Fitzgerald punched him without warning and the two men started grappling on the ground. During the scuffle Fitzgerald drew a knife and stabbed Carr in the head and shoulders. Carr was treated at the Northern Hospital and discharged, leading to Fitzgerland being convicted of wounding on 22nd May and being sentenced to 12 months imprisonment.

There was then a tragic twist to the case when Carr was readmitted to hospital a week later due to erysipelas setting in. He died on 2nd June and the coroner's court returned a verdict of manslaughter.

On 13th August Fitzgerald appeared at the Assizes where he was found guilty of manslaughter after a very brief hearing. The the judge deferred sentencing given the curious legal situation of being tried twice for the same incident. The following day he declared that it was lawful for Fitzgerald to be tried first for wounding then for manslaughter saying to him that it was 'For technical reasons which I need not state to you and which you would not understand'. However he did state that he did not believe it fair to impose any additional penalty, meaning Fitzgerald would be out of jail ten months later.

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