Sunday, 5 April 2015

Open Verdict After Violent Death

A man who was violent towards his girlfriend avoided prosecution after a jury could not be sure that her death was as a result of the beatings she received from him.

In August 1895 Eliza Connor moved her boyfriend James Gilboy into her parents home in Back Portland Street. Gilboy was a carter but 25 year old Eliza didn't work and spent a lot of her time drinking. On Monday 9th September at 1030pm Eliza was found by a policeman near her home with two cuts on her head and told him she had been hit by a man but didn't know who.

She refused to be taken to the dispensary and was then taken home by Gilboy, who told her mother that that the bruises on her head were as a result of being beaten with a stick by two cattle drawers.
The following morning Gilboy went out to work saying he had had enough of her and would not be returning that night. Eliza went to a wake and when a friend saw the cut on her head they surmised that Gilboy had done it, word of which got back to him.

Two days later on Thursday 12th September Gilboy saw Eliza speaking with a the same friend in Downe Street and demanded to know why she suggested he had beat her. Gilboy then punched Eliza two or three times, pulled her by the hair and threw her to the ground, then kicked her in the stomach.

When Gilboy threatened to treat Eliza's friend in the same way she ran off, but half an hour returned to the area and found Eliza dead in a doorway in Richmond Place. Her body was removed to the deadhouse at Princes Dock and Gilboy was apprehended in Kensington by Detective Mylchreest the following morning. He said 'I know nothing about it I have not seen her since Tuesday morning' and on being formally charged at the detective office he said 'Its a lie, I am as innocent as God above.' He appeared before the stipendiary magistrate the following day and was remanded for a week pending the coroner's inquest.  

The inquest took place on the Monday morning and the doctor who conducted the post mortem said that Eliza was suffering from pneumonia and all organs were in a congested state. The cause of death was a hemhorrhage on the brain, but he could not be sure whether or not this was down to a violent blow. Another doctor was of the same opinion, saying that given the condition of the lungs he was surprised she was even walking about.

The jury came back to the coroner saying they were sure the death was in part due to violence but when advised the evidence did not show this and a conviction was unlikely, they returned an open verdict and Gilboy was freed.  

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