Friday, 24 July 2015

Sailor Kills Shipmate Over Lodgings

Two sailors who had travelled from America on the same ship got into a drunken row over their lodgings, leading to one of them dead and the other convicted of manslaughter.

The incident took place in Paul Street in Vauxhall Road in the early hours of 17th July 1858. Two sailors, Patrick McMahon and James Connolly, had arrived together in Liverpool a week before, travelling from America on the same ship. They remained on friendly terms right up to the 16th when they both went out drinking in pubs in the north end of the town with a woman named Cunningham who lad lodged in the same boarding house as them in Paul Street.

After Cunningham left them at around 10pm she assumed they would both be returning to their ship Fidelia which was sailing the next morning. However after a few more drinks at around midnight they both went to the lodgings but were refused admittance, leading to McMahon breaking the door down. The two men then began arguing between themselves and stripped to their waists to fight with punches being exchanged.

A man named Schroeder came down and tried to separate them but was stabbed in the leg by McMahon, who then pierced Connolly's heart with the knife. A crowd gathered around and a drunken McMahon made no attempt to escape.  A police officer patrolling Vauxhall Road was summoned and was offered no resistance as he apprehended him, whilst stood just two yards away from the body.

At the police court in the morning evidence was given by Cunningham that Connolly had struck the first blow, but with Schroeder being too wounded to give evidence, the case was adjourned until the following day. After he gave evidence to the coroner, a verdict of manslaughter was returned but back at the police court, the Magistrate Mr Mansfield said that the grand jury should decide on the charge, as this was technical murder given McMahon had the knife in his hand for some time.

On 14th August, much to McMahon's relief, the grand jury threw out the murder bill and he was tried only for manslaughter. After being found guilty he was then sentenced to just six months by Baron Pollock, due to the fact that Connolly had started the fight.

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