A man who killed his father by hitting him over the head with a hammer was shown no mercy by the judge, who said the provocation he received was not sufficient to justify the actions. As he was sent to gaol for twenty years, the man's mother was removed from the court crying.
On the evening of Monday 21st October 1867 a 53 year old tailor named Thomas Ellison went out drinking with his wife, then they both returned to their home in Cropper Street, near Central Station. On arrival there Thomas accused a man named Joseph Murphy of being too familiar with his wife and shouted that he would stab him or any man who came near.
Murphy made it to the safety of his own house, accompanied by the Ellisons' son John. However a few minutes later Thomas came out with a knife. He went over and sharpened it on Murphy's doorstep shouting that he would use it on his own son if he had to. John responded to this by taking a hammer going out and hitting his father over the head with it, watched by his brother Alfred.
Thomas died immediately and the first police officer on the scene Inspector Hough arrested both Murphy and John Ellison. He also seized a hammer covered in blood and hair and called for a doctor who arrived at 2am and noted a severe scalp wound. When the post mortem took place it was concluded that death was as a result of extravasated blood on the brain, caused by the blow which had been carried out by a blunt instrument.
When morning arrived an inquest took place in which the cause of death was determined as wilful murder by Ellison, with Murphy being cleared of any participation. He was immediately discharged and Ellison committed for trial on a coroner's warrant.
When Ellison appeared at the assizes on 15th December the grand jury through out the charge of wilful murder and he pleaded guilty to manslaughter. His defence counsel Mr Torr asked then judge to consider how while under the influence of drink he was excited and unaware of the damage his actions may cause.
In passing sentence though Baron Martin said this was the most aggravated case of manslaughter. He refused to take into account that there was provocation, pointing out that Ellison was safely inside his home with the doors and windows locked as his father was acting in a threatening manner. He then said that it was only the guilty plea that had avoided a life sentence, but the prisoner was still given a lengthy term of twenty years penal servitude.
Ellison looked shocked when the sentence was read out and he was immediately taken down to the cells. His mother then stood up screaming, shouting 'My lord I have nine children without a father, take mercy on my son he has been a good son.' She was then removed from the courtroom by officials.