Wednesday, 6 May 2015

The Christmas Eve Tram Tragedy

Ten children were left without a father after a senseless attack that took place on a tram on Christmas Eve.

Forty year old Edward Molloy was returning to his home at Glynn Street in Orrell on 24th December 1929 on the Bootle to Litherland tram. When he went to get off he felt a hand go into a pocket where he had a bottle of rum. When he gripped the hand in question he was grabbed around the throat and pushed onto the road. A man intervened but was knocked unconscious by the assailant, 30 year old labourer William Inman of Islington.

Two other men who were passing by went to help but were assaulted by Inman, leading to all four who had been hit lying spark out on the ground. Inman made the mistake of going to hospital for treatment where he acted irrationally leading to doctors calling the police.

Molloy went home with a wound on the head and spent Christmas there, giving evidence in the police court in the new year when Inman appeared there on charges of assault with intent to rob. However Molloy then developed blood poisoning and died in Walton hospital on 23rd January.

On 12th February at the Liverpool assizes Inman pleaded not guilty to manslaughter and wounding with intent. He was then shocked to learn that the Grand Jury had allowed a murder charge to go ahead as well. In addressing the jury, the prosecution counsel said that if they were satisfied Inman had intended to cause violence and Molloy died as a result, then he should be guilty of murder. Justice Roche did intervene though and pointed out that they should take account of what weapon was used.

Molloy's evidence to the police court was read out and when one witness tagged 'My Lord' to every answer he gave laughter broke out in the public gallery. The judge was not impressed and ordered it to be cleared, saying 'I will not have laughter during a murder trial, clear the gallery at once I will not have this court used as a place of amusement.' 

The medical evidence showed that the wound was not dangerous, but the source of the infection was Inman's fist and that it had been cleaned and treated properly. As a result of this,  Justice Roche indicated that he would be directing the jury to dismiss murder and only consider whether Inman was guilty of manslaughter.

Inman's only defence was that he was drunk and could remember nothing therefore was incapable of putting thought to any action. This was no excuse though and a guilty verdict was returned. Telling Inman that he was a violent man, Justice Roche sentenced him to seven years penal servitude.

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