Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Fatal Quarrel on a Blackpool Boat

A boat trip to Blackpool ended in tragedy when a crew member drowned in the River Mersey following a fight on the landing stage.

On Saturday 21st July 1906 Herbert Harris and some friends went on the steamboat Greyhound to Blackpool, but on the return journey a row broke out when he accidentally stood on the toes of a crew member named Austin Gibbons.

Back at Liverpool the row escalated and on the landing stage Harris struck a blow at 21 year old Gibbons who retaliated. As Harris stepped back to avoid the punch, he fell over a chain and into the Mersey.

Gibbons was arrested by police the following day and remanded on a charge of wilful murder but the body of Harris was not recovered until 29th July. An inquest returned a verdict of manslaughter, meaning Gibbons was only on trial for that offence when he was committed to the assizes.

At the Liverpool assizes on 17th December Gibbons was found guilty but strongly recommended to mercy by the jury. He was then sentenced to one months hard labour by Justice Lawrence, who commented that it was a disgrace nobody had tried to save Harris.

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