Thursday, 31 March 2016

Twelve Months For Breadknife Killing

A man who killed a baby with a knife that was intended for a woman was jailed for just twelve months, the judge accepting that no harm was meant.

On 10th April 1893 fifteen month old Richard Scott was lying in bed with his grandmother, a  Mrs Colburn, in a house where she lodged in Richmond Row. Another resident of the house named James Lavender, a twenty one year old labourer, returned home drunk and was scolded by Mrs Colburn for his intemperate habits.

About half an hour after the initial exchange of words, Lavender came back downstairs for a drink of water and was again reprimanded by Colburn and her daughter, Catherine Scott. Lavender then picked up a bread knife and lunged towards Colburn, who covered herself with the bedclothes. The blow he struck missed her completely and instead the knife plunged into the body of Richard, who let out a cry then went silent.

Lavender picked the toddler up and ran with him to the dispensary, but he was declared dead on arrival. On 15th May Lavender appeared at the assizes before Mr Justice Wills, where the jury were instructed to return a verdict of manslaughter. Despite the act of running at someone with a breadknife, the judge said that he acknowledged no serious harm was intended and imposed a sentence of just twelve months imprisonment.

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