Tuesday, 22 September 2015

The Park Lane Tragedy

A man who stabbed his landlord to death after being evicted for insulting his wife was told by the judge how fortunate he was to be convicted just of manslaughter.

Towards the end of 1895 Anders Janson, a 57 year old Swedish man who worked as a shipwright, lodged in Park Lane at a boarding house run by John Lindstrom. After being there a year he had gained the trust of Lindstrom and was allowed to look after his cottage in Town Green for the winter.  

By the time he returned to Park Lane in the Spring of 1897, Janson's drinking habits had increased and this led to an argument which ended up in Lindstrom dying. At around 5pm on 25th March that year Janson was drunk and abusive to Mrs Lindstrom, leading to his landlord deciding to turn him out of the house. Without warning Lindstrom went into the dining room and grabbed Janson from behind and literally took him out into the lobby. Instead of running away though Janson took a knife from his pocket and thrust a knife into Lindstrom's abdomen, causing the bowels to protrude.

The police and a doctor were sent for and Janson made no attempt to resist arrest, saying that he had been kicked and punched by Lindstrom. Janson was taken to the Main Bridewell in Cheapside and initially charged with wounded and remanded for a week. His victim was operated upon but died at the Northern Hospital on 29th March, leading to an inquest at which  a murder verdict was returned. 

Janson was initially committed to the assizes on a murder charge but when his trial opened on 11th May Justice Wills said that the jury should only consider a manslaughter verdict. His defence was that he was genuinely scared and that Lindstrom was bigger and stronger than him. Captain Patterson from the Cashmere was brought up to testify to Janson's good character but this didn't prevent the jury from finding him guilty. 

Two days later Janson was brought up for sentence, with Justice Wills saying that he was 'sorry to have to sentence a decent looking man to a severe punishment.' However the judge described the killing as 'as near to murder as it could be' and said there was no excuse. He them imposed a term of twelve years penal servitude.

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