Friday, 27 March 2015

Wife Wages Thief Killed

A man who beat his wife to death after she disappeared for a week with his wages was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to fourteen years imprisonment.

50 year old bottler Richard Skelland lived with his 44 year old wife Louisa in Rathbone Street, which was situated off Great George Street. The couple were both known to drink although Louisa more so and she was often known to disappear for days on end.

On 10th August 1895 Richard gave Louisa his wages and she went away, not returning until a week later when he was paid again. Richard did not take kindly to seeing his wife return and grabbed her hair then smashed her face against the paving flags of the court before kicking her in the body. As he did this, he was shouting 'You have been away for eight days and I will make you suffer for it.'

A neighbour managed to pull Louisa away from Richard but when the couple went down the steps to their cellar, he was heard to be hitting her again. Louisa was left unconscious just inside their door where she was found in the early hours of the next morning by their son Richard as he returned home. He sought assistance from his sister Susannah but neither could wake her and a doctor was called, who ordered Louisa's removal to the dispensary.

Richard was initially arrested for wounding and after never regaining consciousness Louisa died on 29th August from wounds to the scalp which had gone to the bone. A post mortem revealed inflammation of the brain membranes, which was consistent with the scalp injuries. At the inquest a manslaughter verdict was returned and Richard was committed for trial at the assizes.

On 28th November Richard appeared before Mr Justice Collins. His defence counsel said he was a hard working man who only occasionally drank, usually as a result of being drive to it by his wife. Despite this mitigation Justice Collins said that the assault was brutal and continued, then sentenced Richard to a period of fourteen years penal servitude.

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