Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Leniency for Tailor Who Killed Wife

A man who was unhappy about the way his wife was running their business kicked her to death but was treated leniently by the judge.

In 1846 Owen Tully and his wife Catherine lived in Thomas Street (which ran parallel to Lord Street from Paradise Street to Derby Square), where they ran a small provisions shop. Owen was a travelling tailor and left his wife to take charge of the business, but he often got angry if she allowed women into the shop to drink with her.

On Monday 21st September that year, the couple were having tea at around 7pm when two women arrived, leading to Owen angrily saying 'It's no use running a shop when you have so many women coming about and drinking.' When Catherine asked her husband if she was drunk he replied that she was and punched her, an act that was witnessed by their servant Bridget Smith and the two women.

Owen went into the back yard leaving his wife lying on the floor complaining of a sore head. Bridget sent a passer by to fetch Catherine's sister Bridget Murphy, who arrived and told her that it served her right, as she did have women around drinking too often. Catherine then grabbed her sister by the hair but Owen intervened and forced her off, then kicked his wife in the abdomen as Mrs Murphy escaped.

Owen ran off out of the shop as the three remaining ladies helped Catherine onto a chair. The 32 year old was bleeding badly and she soon lost consciousness. A surgeon, Dr Moorhouse of Cleveland Square, was sent for but she was dead within about two hours. A post mortem revealed the cause of death to be loss of blood and that injuries were consistent with being kicked.

On the Wednesday an inquest heard from Bridget Murphy, Bridget Smith and one of the two other ladies who were present. Owen was committed for trial on a coroner's warrant and his description circulated and he handed himself in soon afterwards.

When Owen appeared before the assizes, the doctor who carried out the post mortem admitted under cross examination that the external bruising was minimal and it could not be certain that death was a direct result of being kicked. This led to a verdict of manslaughter being returned with a plea for leniency. Owen was then jailed for just two weeks.

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