Monday, 29 June 2015

Chain Gang For Wife Killer

A man who battered his wife to death avoided a murder conviction and was sentence to spend the rest of his life working in chains.

In 1836 Alexander and Jane Cassidy maintained a largely drunken existence at their Shawhill Street home in the town centre. Alexander had on many occasions been heard to say he would 'pay his wife as near he could to her life' if she continued drinking, but he didn't seem to think there was anything wrong in himself acting in such a way.

On 13th October that year at about 11pm both were seen to be very drunk in their kitchen by their two lodgers, who went to bed. Soon afterwards though there was a disturbance and one of the lodgers, William Shaw, ran downstairs to find Alexander standing over his wife holding a cutlass. Despite Shaw's presence and the fact that Jane was already unconscious, Alexander kept reining blows on her leading to the lodger intervening saying he had done enough.

Shaw managed to prise the weapon from him and Alexander said 'I believe she has gone'. He was taken into custody and claimed that her injuries had been caused in a fall. A post mortem revealed the body to be in a shocking state, with puncture wounds on the face and legs, fifteen broken ribs and the chest cavity filled with blood.

Alexander was committed to trial at the assizes, where he appeared before Baron Alderson on 27th March the following year. Somehow he managed to convince the jury that he had not meant to kill and was found guilty of manslaughter, leading to him being sentenced to transportation for life and to work in chains.

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