Monday, 2 March 2015

Killed Over Broken Cups

A market trader who demanded reimbursement for some cups that had been broken ended up being kicked to death by an angry mob.

On 1st October 1870 Alexander Currie was at his stall on Great George Place when two girls accidentally broke two cups. The 47 year old went to their parents home to get money for the breakages and then returned to the market.

Unknown to Currie, a woman had followed him back to the stall and then wilfully smashed some crockery. When he chased after her into Greenland Street a crowd gathered around and began kicking at Currie, having been told by the woman that he had been abusive about Irish people.

After the beating stopped Currie was taken to the Southern Hospital where he died the following day. A post mortem revealed that he had a fractured skull and that this had been the cause of death. Some witnesses did come forward and two labourers Martin Judge (age 30) and Joseph Welsh (age 17) were charged with manslaughter.

At the assizes on 13th December witnesses were called to state that Welsh was just one of the crowd and did not administer any blows. In doing this though they implicated Judge, but said he had only punched not kicked Currie. In summing up Mr Justice Mellor said that any party who had struck the deceased was guilty of manslaughter even if it had only been a punch not a kick.

The jury found Judge guilty of manslaughter but acquitted Welsh. In sentencing Judge to 5 years penal servitude, Justice Mellor acknowledged that he hadn't struck the fatal blow but did say that 'a person who was being pursued and hooted by a crowd was not to be set upon and beaten with impunity.'

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