A woman who killed her husband in self defence after he cut up her coat to make clothes for their daughter was cleared of all charges after the jury accepted her explanation of events.
On the night of 7th May 1935 Muriel Murdoch, a 26 year old housewife, visited a friend to discuss their involvement in the week long celebrations for the Silver Jubilee of King George V. When she returned to her Breck Road home she found her husband James cutting up one of her coats. When she demanded to know what he was doing he said it was to make clothes for their daughter and that he was entitled to cut it up as what was his wife's was also his.
The 25 year old joiner then took hold of Muriel's wrists and pushed her to the floor, hitting her on the head and shoulders as he did so. As the shocked woman pulled herself up James came towards her and fearing she would be struck again, she picked up a file and threw it, striking his head.
When James held his head in his hands Muriel immediately went to his aid, bathing it and apologising for hurting him. Her husband replied 'we all have our quarrels' and kissed her, but when his condition deteriorated James was taken to hospital where he died in the early hours of the following morning. A post mortem revealed the cause of death as compression on the brain as a result of the internal bleeding caused by the blow to the head.
Muriel was charged with murder and on 21st May she was committed to trial at the next Liverpool assizes. However when she appeared there on 13th June the Crown opted to proceed only with the lesser charge of manslaughter. Muriel wept as she told the court how her and James had been happily married for six years and had two young children. Recalling the incident she said 'I did not intend to hit him, I would not hurt him for the world.'
Dr Shannon from Manchester Prison said that he had examined her and she had a bruised eye and marks on her body. The jury did not even leave their box as they returned a verdict of not guilty and Muriel was discharged from the dock.