A man was charged with murder after cutting the throat of another resident of a lodging house, but when the case got to court his defence counsel said it was the state which was the real guilty party.
On the night of Saturday 20th May 1916 several residents of a lodging house in Derby Road, Bootle, had a drinking session in the back kitchen but when one of them, Edward Tudor, started singing Thomas Lynch objected. They began fighting and were separated by Edward Hind, the only man there who had remained sober.
The two men, both labourers who previously been on good terms, were taken to different rooms to calm down but Lynch shouted 'Orange Bastard', leading to them squaring up to each other again. Hind again got between them and noticed that Lynch was bleeding from the eye so he went to get some water. As he was doing this, Lynch took a knife and cut Tudor's throat, despite Hind's attempts to again intervene.
The police came and arrested 38 year old Lynch and searched the premises, finding the bloodied knife in a toilet cistern. 49 year old Tudor died on the way to hospital, his jugular vein having been cut. This led to Lynch being remanded pending the outcome of the inquest.
On 31st May Tudor's brother John told the Deputy Coroner that he would regularly get drunk at weekends, but he was not aware of any problem between him and Lynch. He said he saw the two men grappling, but did not know who had struck the first blow. Other residents of the lodging house said both men were worse for drink and nobody could be sure who struck the first blow, but they were all in agreement that Lynch had a knife in his hand after Tudor fell bleeding.
The youngest witness was fifteen year old William Bone, who had seen Lynch singing an Irish song about the River Shannon which upset Tudor who told him it was his turn to sing. After a verdict of wilful murder returned Lynch was committed for trial.
At the assizes on 23rd June Hind gave evidence stating that he had seen Lynch strike the first blow, but Bone said he had seen Tudor butt Lynch. The doctor from Walton gaol told the court that Lynch's face was badly wounded. After the prosecution had finished their evidence, Mr Justice Low said there was strong evidence of provocation, a prolonged struggle and alcohol involvement. He asked the prosecution if they still wished to pursue a capital charge and they agreed to seek a manslaughter conviction only.
When Lynch's defence counsel Mr Madden addressed the court, he said that there was so much driking going on that the evidence was unreliable. He then went on to claim that it was the state who should take the blame as they were the ones who allowed people to indulge in alcohol. Justice Low though summed up by saying that self control was crucial and if the state took responsibility for all drunken acts then nobody was safe. After being found guilty of manslaughter, Lynch was then sentenced to twelve months imprisonment with hard labour.