Thursday, 2 July 2015

Kicked to Death For Pawning Clothes

A man who was unable to go to sea because his wife had pawned his clothes ended up taking a long voyage anyway, after being transported to Australia for kicking her to death.

In October 1836 fifty year old mariner John Culberson and his wife Diana took lodgings with a Mrs Crozier in Bispham Street in the Marybone area of town. Mrs Crozier soon regretted taking the couple in, as they were constantly drinking and arguing, with John often striking his wife who was usually the more drunk of the two.

Diana spent the whole of Wednesday 2nd November drinking and was extremely intoxicated when she returned home, being hardly able to stand. John told her to go to bed but she refused and swore back at him, saying she would go to bed when sober and began to lie on the floor. John then kicked her, hauled her up and pushed her out of the door.

Baron Alderson
Several persons gathered round to help Diana and demanded she be let back into the house. John took her in and kicked her again, then jumped on top of her as she fell to the floor. Mrs Crozier begged him to stop but John replied that he didn't care if he was hanged for his actions. Some people in the street heard the commotion and forced their way into the house, helping Mrs Crozier carry Diana to her room where her breathing slowed and she died soon afterwards.

When John was told that his wife was dead he acted very indifferently and surrendered himself to custody.

An examination of the body by Dr Cooper found there to be four broken ribs, a perforated lung and fluid on the chest and abdomen. He was of no doubt that death was as a result of the injuries caused and said this at the inquest, which was held on the 4th November before the coroner, Philip Finch Curry.

The coroner asked John why he had acted the way he did and he replied that he was due to go to sea on the Thursday morning, but his wife had pawned his clothes to get money for drink. He said that she had treated him badly for three years and when drunk would 'abuse and blackguard him dreadfully.' A verdict of wilful murder was returned, leading to his committal for trial at the next assizes.

On 27th March 1837 John appeared before Baron Alderson,where the jury accepted his defence of having received some provocation, returning  a manslaughter rather than a murder verdict. He received no mercy from the judge though, being sentenced to transportation for life. On 8th February the following year, he arrived at New South Wales on board the Waterloo.

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