Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Dead On Children's School Steps

A woman who said goodbye to her emigrating children was later found dead on the school steps. Her older son was charged with manslaughter but acquitted when the court heard she was so diseased that her death could have occurred at any time.

54 year old widow Ann Foster was a woman described by the Liverpool Mercury as someone who was 'of intemperate habits who got drunk daily.' She lived in Upper Mann Street and on 30th December 1895 she went to the nearby industrial school in Grafton Street to say goodbye to two of her children who were being emigrated to Canada.  

After spending 45 minutes with her children and the headmistress Ann returned to Mann Street, first visiting her neighbour Mrs Ramsey where she had some drink.  After Ann had returned to her own home, Mrs Ramsey heard some screams from there and the words 'go out' being shouted. Ann then returned to Mrs Ramsey's with a bloodied nose, closely followed by her 23 year old son Robert, who grabbed her by the hair, threw her down and kicked her in the body.

Robert left making further threats to kick her entrails out if he saw her again. A few minutes later Ann went outside into the court and danced along to some tunes that were being played on a mouth organ. At around 9pm she was found leaning on a door of the Grafton Street school. When Mrs Brent, wife of the keeper tried to help Ann fell into her arms, gasped twice and died.  An inquest returned a verdict of manslaughter against Robert who was then committed for trial.

On 16th March 1896 Robert appeared before Mr Justice Kennedy at the Liverpool assizes in St George's Hall. The circumstances of him assaulting his mother were read out to the court but the doctor who had attended and conducted a postmortem said the injuries had only 'probably' accelerated her death, which was down to fatty degeneration of the heart. As a result of this evidence the prosecution accepted they could not proceed. Justice Kennedy then consulted with a more senior judge and ordered that Robert be discharged as had not been charged with any lesser offences such as assault.

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