Saturday, 12 March 2016

Killed Over the Price of Ham

A widow punched and kicked her elderly mother after an argument over the price of some ham, causing her to die from her injuries. Despite the coroner thinking it was a case of murder, she ended up being jailed for just eighteen months.

On 9th December 1859 Caroline Smith bought some ham for her widowed daughter Caroline Brocklebank and returned with it to their home in Boundary Terrace, off Bute Street in Everton.

When Brocklebank was told how much the ham had cost she reacted furiously, striking her mother and causing her to fall and cut her head on the fender. She then kicked her about various parts of the body and turned her out into the street.

A lady named Ellen Becton, who also lived in the house, found Caroline outside and took her to the workhouse hospital, where she was found to have a fractured skull. When told by Ellen where her mother was Brocklebank replied that she hoped she died. After a deposition was taken from Caroline, twenty seven year old Brocklebank was apprehended and charged with assault. However when Caroline sent word to the court that she would not give evidence against her daughter, the case was dropped. 

Caroline's condition worsened but her daughter had no sympathy. When Brocklebank visited her on Christmas Eve she was heard to say 'May the curse of God fall on you for saying I hit you.' When she died from her injuries on 28th December Brocklebank was arrested and and inquest took place before the Coroner, Mr P F Curry. The deposition was read out and although its contents were quite horrific, it did say that it was the first time Brocklebank had attacked her mother in the two years they had been back living together. 

In his summing up Mr Curry said he felt this was a case of murder, but the jury returned a verdict of manslaughter, the foreman of the jury saying it was because there had been no previous assaults. Brocklebank was committed to the Liverpool assizes for trial, where she was found guilty on 22nd March 1860. The judge, Sir Hugh Hill, sentenced her to eighteen months imprisonment with hard labour.

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