Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Killed Over Coal

A dispute between two trimmers on board a Liverpool registered vessel led to one of them being gaoled for sixteen years.

At 4pm on On 8th January 1905 German Emil Baumann finished his four hour shift on board the Booth Line's Caereuse, which was sailing from Barbados to New York. He was challenged by his relief William Maguire, who felt he had not left sufficient coal to last the half hour it would take him to clean out the furnace.

About twenty minutes later Baumann appeared at the stoke hole and taunted Maguire, refusing to send any more coal down to him. He then challenged Maguire to a fight and the two men went onto the forecastle. Another seaman named James Mackay then saw Maguire fall down clutching his chest which had blood pouring out of it. The ship's doctor was called but Maguire was dead within minutes, with wounds in his chest and abdomen.

An inquiry in New York ruled that there was sufficient grounds to extradite Baumann to the United Kingdom and on 20th February he appeared before Mr Justice Wills at the Liverpool Assizes. Baumann claimed that Maguire had first come at him with a knife, but the witness Mackay said that only the German had a weapon. 

When the jury deliberated, Baumann was saved by the fact Maguire had willingly left his post to fight him. This led to him being found guilty only of manslaughter but the judge said it was very near to murder. He was then sentenced to sixteen years penal servitude.

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