Friday, 24 April 2015

Old Swan Wife Dies After Push

A man whose wife died after he pushed her was cleared of killing her when the jury accepted that he had not intended to cause any harm by his actions.

In 1890 Edward Cannell, a 38 year old labourer, lived with his 37 year old wife Mary in at 8 Wilton Grove in Old Swan. Edward was known to be a caring husband and father, but his wife was of intemperate habits.

At around 530pm on Saturday 22nd November that year an insurance collector called at the Cannell household but was told by Edward that he should come back on the Monday when he would have 2d to give him. Mary was at the time asleep on the sofa but woke soon afterwards, when she was pushed by Edward as she got up. She fell on a floor and cut her head and Edward immediately instructed their 14 year old daughter Annie to seek help from a neighbour.

When Mrs Kershaw from number 10 and her husband Joseph went into the property they said they thought Mary was dead. Edward and Joseph then went to Old Swan police station where Edward was charged with causing her death. 

On the Monday the inquest took place at the Queens Arms (on the site of what became the Paraffin Oil Shop), with Annie crying bitterly when she saw her father, who kissed her tenderly. She told how she had been sent out to buy two gills of beer for her mother in the morning but was out all afternoon and couldn't say if any more drink was bought. She had seen her father push her mother after quarrelling over money and the floor was slippery as it hadn't been cleaned for a week. 

When Dr Andrew Kelly gave his evidence, he said that the push as was described by Annie was sufficiently strong enough to cause the haemorrhaging that caused death. He did though acknowledge that the internal organs were diseased due to the level of alcohol consumption. When asked by the Coroner if he had anything to say Edward replied 'The truth has been spoken, I can not alter it.' A verdict of manslaughter was then returned.   

Edward appeared before Justice Cave at the Liverpool Assizes on 17th December, where the defence argued his push was not intended to cause any harm. They also pointed out how Edward had sent Annie to fetch a neighbour immediately and that he had handed himself into the police. This led to Edward being found not guilty and he was set at liberty. 


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