Friday, 20 March 2015

Bootle Man Hanged For Killing Wife

In 1884 Peter Cassidy killed his wife and claimed it was in retaliation for being struck, but the prosecution were able to prove that there had been a pre-meditation on his part to commit murder anyway.

Cassidy was a 54 year old tinsmith with the Cunard shipping line who lived at Howe Street in Bootle. He had been married to Mary for over twenty years and they had three children, one living in America, one in domestic service in Manchester and the other at an industrial school. The marriage was not always a happy one with both drinking regularly and there were frequent quarrels. Mary often left for brief periods and it was after she had gone to stay with their daughter in Manchester for ten days in June 1884 that the murder was committed.

While Mary was away Cassidy was visited by a man named Mr Swift, whom he was hiring furniture from. Payments had not been kept to and Swift removed then items, promising to return them when the outstanding amount was paid. Mary returned on 25th June but first went to the room of Mr & Mrs McGee, who gave her some tea. When Cassidy heard that she was there he went and angrily confronted her, saying he had even been to Manchester looking for her. He demanded she return to their room to tidy up but Mary said that she was ill, although she did agree to come up if he helped.

St Mary's Church BootleSoon afterwards they went up to their room but when Mr McGee heard two loud thuds he went to investigate, and saw Mary lying in a pool of blood with Cassidy next to her. Caught red handed, Cassidy said ‘Alright Pat I done it and will stand for it.’ Mr McGee went for a policeman and when he arrived and asked Cassidy what happened he produced a bloodied mallet. He was taken into custody and a doctor called who confirmed the death. A search of the room also found a blood covered meat cleaver hidden behind some boards. As he was being transported to the Bridewell he said ‘Well I don’t know what to say about it I’m sorry it happened.’

After the inquest returned a verdict of wilful murder on 28th June Cassidy appeared at Bootle police court two days later for committal to the assizes. On the same day Mary was interred at St Mary’s churchyard, a large crowd singing hymns at the graveside. The only relative present was their daughter who fainted as the coffin was lowered into the grave.

Cassidy appeared before Justice Day at the assizes on 31st July. Mr McGee recalled finding Cassidy standing next to his wife’s body while the police officers who were called testified to his responses. Mr Swift who had hired out the furniture told how four days before the killing Cassidy was scathing about his wife’s habits and said he would ‘do for her.’ The doctor who attended said that there was a cut and bruise above Mary’s eye which was probably caused by the mallet, but the cause of death was due to a fractured skull, which had been pierced three times by the cleaver.

A statement from Cassidy was put in to the effect that he had been chopping some wood chips when Mary hit him with the mallet, leading to him retaliating with the cleaver and not intending to kill. Several witnesses testified to Cassidy’s character and even Mr McGee acknowledged that when the couple weren’t in drink he was a kind husband. This though didn’t sway the jury who found him guilty of murder but with a recommendation of mercy. Justice Day told him that he would forward the recommendation on but he should not be buoyed by it and then passed the death sentence in the usual form. 

Cassidy, who had remained motionless throughout the trial, didn’t say a word as he was removed from the dock. After a petition forwarded to the Home Secretary by his friends asking for a reprieve was refused he was hanged at Kirkdale by James Berry.

No comments:

Post a Comment