Friday, 15 May 2015

Okay to Rule Wife But Not Mistress

A man who killed his mistress was found guilty of manslaughter with the prosecution saying in its address to the court that it was inexcusable as a man was only able to rule his wife, not his mistress.

On the night of 8th October 1942 Henry Larkin, a 50 year old dock labourer, returned to the house in Upper Stanhope Street that he shared with Elizabeth Dutton. She had been at a pub with a female friend that night and met a Belgian seaman, who they invited back to the house. Larkin could hear them singing in the basement but as the guest was being shown out, he without warning grabbed Elizabeth by the neck and cut her throat with a razor.

The Belgian did not want to wait around faced with a raging Larkin and ran off, while 42 year old Elizabeth staggered into the street. A brave neighbour intervened and protected her from any further assault but it was too late to save her life.

At the Liverpool Assizes on 29th October Larkin claimed he had killed Elizabeth as she had made a fool of him, which the prosecution refused to accept. Solicitor Edward Wooll said 'In considering their relationship you must realise that while a man has some right to exercise some control over a wife, he has no right to control the behaviour of a mistress.' He then said that in law 'the sexual conduct of a mistress could not amount to provocation'.

In summing up however, Justice Oliver took a different view, telling the jury that 'A man who has lived with a woman as this man had lived with the woman for ten years was in exactly the same position as a husband so far as provocation is concerned.' This led to Larkin being found guilty of the lesser charge of manslaughter and being sentenced to five years penal servitude.

No comments:

Post a Comment