Thursday, 27 October 2016

Fatal Assault on a Gamekeeper

A Friday afternoon trip to a pub in Aintree for some of the Earl of Sefton's workers ended in tragedy when one of them was beaten with a belt and later died.

Photo by Rept0n1x
On 28th March 1884 three gamekeepers employed by the Earl of Sefton at Croxteth Park went drinking at the Blue Anchor inn in Aintree. They heard a disturbance in the taproom and on investigating saw the landlord struggling to deal with a labourer called Patrick Kearney.

When the gamekeepers tried to get Kearney to leave he lashed out at them with a leather belt, striking one of them, William Sutton, with the buckle. Sutton fell down but was helped back up by one of his friends and as Kearney was being put out of the inn, he again tried to hit Sutton with the belt.

Sutton was not concerned with what had happened and the three gamekeepers remained drinking until 10pm with nobody informing the police. However the next day he began to feel unwell and sought treatment at the Royal Infirmary, leading to Kearney being taken into custody on 5th April charged with cutting and wounding. Sutton remained at the infirmary there until 19th April when he passed away due to his injuries. 

The inquest took place on 21st April before Mr Driffield and evidence was given by Sutton's two friends, Robert Hill and George Clay. They said that Kearney had the belt wrapped around his hand and was using the buckle as the weapon. This evidence was backed up by a blacksmiths apprentice named Joseph Brownbill.

The landlord of the Blue Anchor, William Pye, stated that he had been putting a number of men out after he saw four or five on top of Kearney. He went on to say that he did not see Kearney commit any assault, but that when he left the pub, he did have a belt in his hand.

The jury returned a verdict of manslaughter and Kearney was committed for trial at the Liverpool assizes. On 20th May he was found guilty and sentenced to eighteen months imprisonment.

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