Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Shoemaker's Dispute Ends in Death

A sectarian dispute between two shoemakers ended up with them fighting outside a pub and one dying from his injuries.

On 31st May 1871 Charles English, a thirty eight year old shoemaker went with his wife Rose and ten year old son George to buy provisions in Marybone. Their shopping complete, they stopped for a glass of beer in the Mountain Dew pub and then left. Charles went out first followed by George, who was confronted by the sight of his father lying on the ground with blood pouring from his face. A man he knew as James Sweeney was kicking him then ran off and although Rose tried to stop him, he got away.

Baron Martin
English was taken to the East Dispensary where his wounds were dressed and he then returned home to Ben Johnson Street. On 3rd June a doctor visited English and removed the stitches, but told him to go to the workhouse hospital as the eye wound was infected. Ten days later, on the 13th, English died with his wife at his side. Sweeney, who was also a shoemaker and had once worked in the same establishment as his victim, was picked up by police that day and immediately placed before the court and remanded. 

The inquest opened on 14th June, with Mrs English stating that there had been bad feeling between the two men for some time, with Sweeney having broke their door down a few months previously. Ellen Bligh, who shared a house with the English family, said that Sweeney would often turn up drunk on Saturday nights asking for a fight. English was described as a sober and healthy man, with a hairdresser who saw what happened saying that he was knocked down without provocation. Some witnesses said that Sweeney had referred to English as an 'Orange Dog.'

Several witnesses were called by an advocate of Sweeney's to state that English had fell down after verbal intimidation but no violence was used. When the manager of the Mountain Dew said that a drayman from Threlfalls brewery had witnessed everything the Coroner adjourned the proceedings until the following day in the hope this employee could be traced. The man in question was John Lee, who said he had been unloading barrels and heard a row, on turning around he saw two men grappling then Sweeney knocked English to the ground and he fell heavily. Lee stated that no weapon was used and that prior to falling English wasn't cut. After the coroner's summing up, a verdict of manslaughter was returned and all witnesses bound over to appear at the assizes.

Despite the verdict of the coroner's court, the Crown decided to press ahead with a murder charge with the case being heard before Baron Martin on 10th August. However after part of the evidence was heard, the defence counsel asked if a verdict of manslaughter could be agreed and this was consented to. Sentencing Sweeney to ten years penal servitude, the judge said to him that he was determined to put a stop to people losing their lives in England as a result of the strong feelings from Northern Ireland.

No comments:

Post a Comment