Thursday, 14 May 2015

Woman Cleared of Boiling Water Death

A woman who threw some boiling water out which landed on a child and scalded him to death was cleared of all charges when she appeared before the Liverpool assizes.

On 3rd October 1949 Elizabeth Stapleton boiled some cabbage from her first floor flat in Bidder Street, Everton. Due to a leak meaning she couldn't pour the water down the sink as it would flood the flat below, she instead threw it ten feet into the communal entry.

Unbeknown to Elizabeth five year old Robert Westhead was playing in the entry and she was horrified to hear his screams as he ran back towards his own house, also in Bidder Street. She went straight out to explain to Robert's mother what had happened and told her to take him to the Royal Infirmary.

Robert died of his scalds the following day and Elizabeth was charged with manslaughter after she admitted not looking to see if anybody was in the entry. When she appeared at the Magistrates' Court on 5th October the 58 year old was very distressed and allowed bail after her solicitor said there had been no criminal intent.

On 10th November Elizabeth appeared at the assizes where the prosecution offered no evidence, having been guided by the Director of Public Prosecutions. This led to Justice Morris directing the jury to acquit and Elizabeth was discharged from the dock.

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