Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Killed Over Gravy

A man who complained to his common law wife that there was no gravy on his steak and started beating her was killed after she reacted by stabbing him.

Towards the end of 1862 Sarah Lyons, who was 21 years old, began moved in with Edward Corduroy at his lodgings in Upper Frederick Street. They lived together as man and wife and although not married Sarah often gave her name as Corduroy.

The couple frequently quarrelled with Sarah having an addiction to drink. Edward worked as a watchmaker in nearby St James Street and it was an incident on his return home for dinner on 7th April 1863 that led to his death. After remarking that there was no gravy to go with his steak, Sarah playfully tapped him on the nose with a fork, leading to them arguing after he said she had been drinking again.

When Edward struck Sarah she ran into kitchen screaming 'Mrs Randalls save me he will kill me'. Edward followed her and punched her to the floor. She got up and hit him back, then the two of the fell to the fall grappling after Edward had hit her again Mrs Randalls managed to separate them and also took a shovel which Sarah had managed to get hold of. As the two got up though Sarah grabbed a knife the table and stabbed Edward in his side.

Edward went to bed and a Dr Bruce of Great George Square, who just happened to be passing, was called into the property. He found the wound to be half an inch thick and sent for a police officer, who retrieved the blood covered knife. Sarah was taken to the Jordan Street Bridewell where she was in hysterics on being told that Edward's life was in peril.

Edward lingered for a few days but on 11th April a deposition was taken from him by a magistrate. He stated that he did not think Sarah had intended to cause harm and had given him every assistance in the aftermath.

At the assizes on 11th August Sarah sat sobbing bitterly as evidence was given by Mrs Randalls that Edward had a history of mistreating her. The defence counsel argued that she did not know what she had picked up from the table and as such she should be acquitted of manslaughter. After a short deliberation the jury found Sarah guilty of manslaughter but gave a strong recommendation for mercy due to the provocation received.

Justice Blackburn said that the evidence left no doubt about the verdict, but that it was not without provocation. He then passed a sentence of four months imprisonment, which equated to time spent in prison awaiting trial. Sarah, described by the Liverpool Mercury as 'a respectable looking young woman' was then helped from the dock by officials.

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