Wednesday, 16 September 2015

The Bostock Street Tragedy

A row between a couple after an all day drinking session led to the all too familiar scenario of one dead and the other being sentenced to fifteen years imprisonment.

On 1st October 1890 Esther Martin hosted a gathering at her home in Bostock Street, which involved a lot of drinking from 10 o'clock in the morning. By late afternoon most had left or retired to bed when Esther heard moaning from the cellar. On going down to investigate she found her friend Sarah Scarisbrick lying there with her clothes ripped and blood coming from wounds in her shoulder and abdomen.

Sarah was still conscious and said she had been stabbed by another guest, Robert Jones, a 42 year old gas fitter with whom she co-habited. He was sat by her saying nothing. Sarah's sister Ellen Rainford heard the commotion and went to the cellar and on seeing what had happened, told him that he had now finished her sister off like he often said he would.

Ellen ran to find a a policeman and when two officers arrived, they bravely intervened to stop Jones when he took a knife out of his pocket and attempted to cut his own throat. A police officer arrived and on being arrested Jones said 'I can't say owt about it.' Sarah was taken to the Northern Hospital but died the following day from shock as a result of the wounds.

When Jones appeared at the Liverpool Assizes on 15th December, people who had been there on the day told how they had been arguing over whether or not Sarah would have a child with him. Sarah's family members said that Jones had a violent temper when drunk, but they were generally a contented couple.

Jones's solicitor made no attempt to deny that Jones had committed the deed. However he pointed to the lack of premeditation and amount of drink consumed. After Justice Cave directed the jury not to consider a murder verdict they found Jones guilty of manslaughter but there was little leniency in sentencing, as he was ordered to serve fifteen years in gaol.   

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