Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Sailor Who Wouldn't Buy Drink Killed

In 1853 a woman  stabbed a sailor to death when he refused to buy her a drink after she met him in a public house.

On the night of 12th July that year seaman William Goodfen and his friend went to Lovelady's spirit vaults in Pall Mall. At around 11pm Susan Campbell, described by the Liverpool Mercury as 'A woman of dissolute habits', went in and asked William for a glass of ale, which he refused to buy her.

Campbell was intoxicated and responded with foul language, leading to William slapping her in the face. She did not seem to be perturbed by this and left, with the seaman and his friends leaving soon afterwards.

When they got outside Campbell was still there and followed them for a short while before striking him on the neck. A passer by shouted at her that it was not proper conduct but she hit William again, shouting 'take that.' On feeling his neck William noticed that it was bleeding and he soon fell to the ground.

Two police officers in Tithebarn Street heard cries for help and ran to Pall Mall, where they found William in an insensible state on the pavement. He was taken to the Northern Hospital, while others in the vicinity pointed out Campbell as the person who struck the blow. On apprehension though she said that she had no weapon and only poked him with her fingers, although she also commented that she didn't care if she was hanged or transported.

A search of the area recovered a clasp knife which was covered in blood and identified as having been seen in the hands of Campbell. After William died a few days later Campbell was committed to the assizes for trial, appearing before Justice Wightman on 18th August. Her defence counsel argued that there was an element of provocation as she had been struck and a surgeon also admitted that William's life may have been saved if he had been operated upon sooner.

The jury returned a verdict of manslaughter but the judge had little time for leniency. Stating that this crime was one of many rising from the fearful tide of intemperance, he sentenced Campbell to 20 years transportation.

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