Two teenagers who killed another youth because they felt he had no business being in their street were found guilty of manslaughter but sentenced to life imprisonment by the judge, who said it was as near to murder as could be.
On the night of 2nd May 1860 two shoeblacks John Heyes and Patrick Gibbons drank at the Lady of the Lake pub in Richmond Row, spending about two hours there. Their route home took them through Bispham Street where four teenage males including James Halloran (age 17) and Phillip Mack (age 18) objected to them being there and a stone was thrown.
After angry words were exchanged Halloran and Mack went to their homes and retrieved a sling shot and poker respectively. Their two companions had already started to attack Heyes and Gibbons with their firsts but Mack then arrived on the scene and jumped on Gibbons, who was now lying on the pavement. He then struck him on the head with a poker and Mack repeatedly hit him on the side with the slingshot, which was wound around his wrist.
Heyes managed to escape and was briefly chased by Mack, who decided not to pursue him. A woman named Mary Archibald shouted at the youths to leave Gibbons alone but they threatened to treat her the same. After the attackers had returned to their homes Heyes returned and with the help of policeman assisted Gibbons in returning to his mother's address.
On being arrested and charged with assault and wounding, Halloran and Mack showed a complete lack of remorse, blaming Gibbons presence in their street for the assault. Gibbons died on 8th May of concussion on the brain, brought about by the fractured skull and violent blows. An inquest returned a verdict of wilful murder, leading to a committal to the assizes.
The two assailants were tried on 13th August, with Heyes and Mrs Archibald giving evidence. The defence counsel argued that the fracture of the skull occurred when Gibbons struck the ground after being punched, not on being hit with a poker. It led to the jury dismissing the murder charge but finding Halloran and Mack guilty of manslaughter.
The judge, Baron Martin, said that the crime was 'as nearly approaching murder as can possibly be.' Telling them that they beat someone to death simply for going into a street where he had a right to be, both were sentenced to penal servitude for life.