A man who murdered a widow he was in a relationship with because she finished him for another man was sentenced to death but then reprieved.
On the night of Saturday 31st July 1920 at around 11pm a gathering was taking place in Byrom Terrace off Scotland Road. Some of those present were singing 'I loved her well, she broke her vows' which led to 43 year old labourer John Fitzgerald putting his arms around the neck of Mary Meakin and saying 'That is what you did to me.'
Mary ran round the table and to kiss a friend's baby but this didn't deter John from his raging tendencies and he grabbed her and cut the 34 year old widow's throat. Mary was taken to hospital but the 34 year old was pronounced dead on arrival, while two men managed to detain Fitzgerald and hand him over to the police.
Fitzgerald, who lived in Bevington House, a working men's hotel in Bevington Hill, appeared in court on the Monday and was remanded pending the inquest which took place on 6th August. This heard how Fitzgerald and Mary had been in a relationship until recently, but she had finished with him and started seeing a dock labourer. Earlier in that fateful evening, Mary had been in nearby pub and refused Fitzgerald's offer of a drink, replying 'No, go away I am finished with you.'
A verdict of wilful murder was returned and Fitzgerald he was committed for trial at the assizes. Before Justice Greer on 29th October he admitted the act but said he had been drunk at the time. a prison doctor said he suffered from a valvular disease of the heart which could cause delirium and morbid tendencies. He was found guilty of murder but with a recommendation for mercy. After being sentenced to death Fitzgerald waved to some people in the public gallery as he was led from the dock. Two weeks later the Home secretary acted upon the verdict and commuted the sentence to life imprisonment.