Friday, 1 July 2016

A Butchers Revenge

A butcher who reacted to a baying Sectarian crowd outside his shop by stabbing a man was convicted of manslaughter.

On 25th May 1848 a crowd gathered outside a butchers in Simpson Street owned by Parker Unsworth.  This was supposedly because his wife had given evidence at the police court that morning against two boys who had been arrested for fighting.

It seems that abuse was shouted at Unsworth who then lashed out with a knife, stabbing John Clarke, a thirty year old stevedore. Clarke staggered a few paces towards Bridgewater Street then fell down and was pronounced dead on his arrival at the Southern Hospital. When Unsworth was told that Clarke was dead he fainted and had to be carried into a car that was procured by police o take him to the Bridewell 

The inquest took place the following day and the first witness was Michael Vallaly, who said he was the father of one of the two boys who had been seen fighting by Mrs Unsworth. He stated that he had expressed surprise to Unsworth that his wife had given evidence, but understood that he had no control over what she did. He then claimed that Clarke appeared outside the shop and Unsworth said 'There's another Irish scoundrel' and stabbed him with a kitchen knife, causing the bowels to protrude. 

After describing how Clarke fell down and shouted out that he was dying, Vallaly then claimed that he saw Unsworth wipe the blood from the knife with his fingers and then cut some meat with it. In cross examination he denied saying anything abusive to Unsworth and again admitted that one of the boys who Mrs Unsworth had given evidence against was his own son.

The next witness was a man named John Jones who said that Vallaly was waving his fist at Unsworth's shop shouting 'You Orange B*st*rd' when Clarke tried to move him away, only to be stabbed himself. Vallaly, according to Jones, was intoxicated and two other men had also been trying to persuade him to move on. A lady called Ellen Millchrest said there were up to forty people outside Unsworth's shop and that when he struck the blow with the knife he had not crossed its threshold.

A dejected Unsworth then made a statement of his own, saying that Vallaly had come into the shop and threatened to kill him, then a crowd gathered and someone shouted 'pull him out and 'mash his brains'. Unsworth said he was cutting meat at the time and when someone rushed into the shop he lashed out with the knife.

The jury returned a verdict of manslaughter and added that Vallaly's evidence was 'unworthy of belief'. Unsworth was committed to the South Lancashire Assizes for trial and found guilty but with a strong recommendation for mercy. He was then sentenced to three months imprisonment by Mr Justice Cresswell.

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