Thursday, 6 August 2015

Tragic Killing of a Granddaughter

A man who took his granddaughter for a walk and killed her was detained in a lunatic asylum after he was found to be not responsible for his actions.

In 1880 retired Irish born seaman Richard Maguire lived at Howe Street in Bootle with his daughter, her husband and granddaughter Catherine, who was two months short of her second birthday. He was very fond of Catherine and used to love taking her out on walks, but it was on one of these where he had an episode that led to him causing her death.

When 62 year old Maguire got up on the morning of Saturday 3rd January that year he told his daughter and Thomas that they had better look after Catherine, as he had dreamt he was going to kill her. They took no notice of this and at midday he took her out and didn't return until the next morning.

When he got to Howe Street the next morning  he was wet and wild looking and Catherine's parents were frantic with worry. When his daughter asked where she was, Maguire replied 'IN HEAVEN I HOPE' and said that a fair haired woman had taken her off him but he would go back to try and find her. After a sleep Maguire was again challenged over Catherine's whereabouts and said he was sat on a step and his deceased wife had taken her off him, with the girl saying 'TA GRAN.'

Maguire was taken into custody and told the police they would never find her. However she was found lying face down in a ditch on the morning of 6th January. A post mortem found that she had been suffocated. When Maguire was charged with murder he tried to put his head in a water closet as he was returning to his cell.

At the inquest at the Crosby Hotel on 8th January Maguire's son in law Thomas Kiernan explained that they had always had good relations and he was trusting of Maguire with Catherine. This was despite him having spent three months at the Haydock asylum before Christmas, with Kiernan believing Maguire was a bit weak minded but nothing else. When Maguire was asked if he had questions, he could only reply that he loved Catherine as if she was his daughter.

Other witnesses gave accounts of Maguire's movements on the fateful day, which had been quite extensive. One man had seen him in Sefton and Catherine was crying, Maguire replying that her mother's head was burnt. A man who had seen them in Crosby Village at 6pm asked how Catherine was so wet and Maguire replied that she had fallen into the canal. By 8pm Maguire seemed to be heading in the direction of Bootle but was alone and acting very erratically, telling a coachman that he had been conducting a christening but an unknown female had taken the child away.

A verdict of wilful murder was returned and Maguire was committed for trial at the next Liverpool assizes,
appearing before Lord Chief Justice Coleridge on 10th February. Dr Barr of Kirkdale gaol said he was of the opinion that Maguire was of unsound mind and when further historical details were given the judge stopped the case. The jury was ordered to find Maguire of unsound mind and he was sent to Broadmoor Criminal Lunatic Asylum.

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