Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Fatal Quarrel in Little Italy

A fight between two Italian men in 1883 led to one of them dead but the other wasn't convicted due to doubts over the exact cause of death.

On the evening of 19th November that year 22 year old Joseph Roselle, an ice cream vendor, was playing Italian games with several others in a pub on the corner of Gerard and Christian Street in an area then known as 'Little Italy'. After losing two or three in succession he accused others of cheating and began arguing, leading to him and another man Rafaeli Pelusi being thrown out of the pub.

Once outside the two men began fighting, both using their belts, until a policeman came along and split them up. Pelusi, who made his living as a street fiddler, had three wounds on his head and was taken to the dispensary and then sent home. A few days later Pelusi contracted meningitis and died, but a post mortem also revealed there were injuries to the brain as a result of the wounds.

Roselle was charged with manslaughter and appeared at the Liverpool assizes in front of Mr Justice Butt on 7th February 1884. Although there was no doubt that he had struck Pelusi on the head with his belt, there were considerable question marks over whether the wounds or the meningitis were the cause of death. As such he was acquitted.

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