Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Million to One Chance of Death

A man whose partner died after he struck her was spared punishment after his defence counsel successfully argued that it only occurred due to a million to one chance.

On 4th October 1953 Francis Corbett, a 30 year old miner who was originally from Cork in Ireland, got into an argument with Alice McCormack, a 35 year old widow with whom he lived in Amberley Street, Toxteth (situated near the junction of Upper Parliament and Mulgrave Streets).

At some point Corbett hit Alice in the chest and stomach but when she became motionless he ran for help. She died of died of a cerebral haemorrhage and her body was found to be quite bruised. On being charged with manslaughter Corbett replied 'Nothing matters the one I love is gone.'

When Corbett appeared at the assizes on 2nd November he pleaded guilty to manslaughter. In mitigation Mr Pigot who was representing him said that the blow he gave 'would only once in a million cause death, but that million to one chance came off.'

Justice Byrne told Corbett that the blow did not cause the death but did accelerate it due to her already suffering from cerebral haemorrhage. Referring to it as an exceptional case, he conditionally discharged Corbett and said 'I can see no reason for sending you to prison, you will have it on your conscience for the rest of your life, that is a tremendous penalty.'

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