Monday, 27 April 2015

One Month for Saucepan Killer

A man who returned home for dinner to find his wife had spent the morning drinking hit her over the head with a saucepan, but was sentenced to just one months imprisonment when she died from her injuries.

In 1860 Thomas and Mary Rawlinson, who were in their early forties, lived in a cellar in Mason Street, off Wapping. They led a wretched and miserable life, with Thomas being honest and industrious but Mary being of drunken and profligate habits, spending all the housekeeping money on drink. She was said to also take sailors home to engage in immoral habits.

On Tuesday 19th June that year Thomas went to his work as a carter and Mary invited some friends into their cellar for drink. By 11am she was in a state of helpless intoxication and when Thomas returned home an hour and a half later he found the door bolted.

Thomas knocked at the door for fifteen minutes before Mary eventually answered and when he asked if she had prepared any dinner she replied that she hadn't. He then said 'It is a hard thing for a man who has been working all day to come home and find there is none ready.'  Mary then called Thomas a 'dirty son of a bitch' and went back down to the cellar.

Incensed by his wife's conduct and language, Thomas followed her down to the cellar and picked up a saucepan, striking her on the forehead with it. Mary's skull was fractured and she was taken to the Southern Hospital where doctors held out little hope of a recovery. The following day, Thomas appeared at the police court and was remanded for seven days. Mary never regained consciousness and died on the Friday afternoon.

The next day an inquest was held before the borough coroner Mr Curry, where a verdict of wilful murder was returned. However when he was committed for trial the charge was reduced to manslaughter. On 14th August Thomas appeared before Baron Martin at the assizes, where he was found guilty but with a recommendation to mercy from the jury. He was then sentenced to one months imprisonment with hard labour.

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