Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Grandson Killed by Flying Poker

A man who threw a poker at his wife when she hit him was found guilty of manslaughter and gaoled for five years after his grandson got in the way and died from the injuries. 

On the night of 29th June 1880 John Grant Murray returned to his home in Talbot Street (off Islington) somewhat worse for drink and was hit with a crutch by his wife, who was also drunk. Talbot then threw a poker at her, which instead hit his nineteen month old grandson Samuel Wright on the head as he was running across the room.

Samuel was taken to the Infirmary where he was found to have a compound fracture of the skull. He died on 13th July and an inquest before the Coroner Clarke Aspinall saw evidence given by Murray's daughter in law of what had occurred. The jury returned a verdict of manslaughter, but magistrates then committed him for trial on a charge of murder.

At the Liverpool assizes on 26th July the murder charge was withdrawn and Murray tried only for manslaughter. His defence counsel Mr Shand submitted that both he and his wife were drunk at the time and the occurrence was purely accidental. The judge, Mr Justice Bramwell, interjected and said that the only accident was that Murray's grandchild rather than his wife had been killed, to which Mr Shand replied that no harm had been intended.

After Murray was found guilty the judge ordered that he be stood down for a while, telling him: 'It is a most abominable offence even if no mischievous result had been occasioned. I am not sure I shall not send you to penal servitude to teach you and others not to fling pokers at their wives.'  

Murray waited on the cells whilst another prisoner James Kelly was tried for grievous bodily harm on his wife. Justice Bramwell then brought them both up to be sentenced together, saying that their conduct was 'cruel, unmanly and ruffianly.' He then sentenced both to a term of penal servitude, which in Murray's case was five years. 

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