A labourer convicted of manslaughter after a man was kicked to death by a crowd in Garston was given a lenient sentence as the prosecution could only show that he had thrown a punch rather than use his feet.
On the evening of 2nd December 1885 John Wainwright and John Diffey got into an argument outside the Cock & Trumpet public house (which stood at corner of Church Road and Banks Road). Diffey took off his coat but a crowd had gathered and Wainwright said 'When I fight I fight with one at once not a thousand'.
Both men went inside the pub, 23 year old Diffey saying he would kill Wainwright before the night was out. Wainwright left alone but he was followed and struck on the face with a belt, then Diffey punched him and he fell to the ground. A crowd surrounded him and kicked at his body, before leaving him lying there.
Wainwright managed to get himself home and went to bed but complained of severe belly pains in the night. A doctor was called and ordered his removal to the cottage hospital, where he died on 11th December of inflammation of the bladder.
Diffey was charged with manslaughter and appeared at the Liverpool assizes before Mr Justice Day on 15th February 1886. Witnesses said that the words by Diffey to the effect that he would kill Wainwright were said jokingly and that when he struck him the hand was open not clenched. The prosecution was also unable to produce anybody who saw Diffey place any kicks, leading to a guilty verdict but a sentence of just six months imprisonment.