Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Improper Liaison Leads to Killing

A woman who received a sexually transmitted disease after her husband committed adultery was convicted of manslaughter after seeking revenge.

On 18th February 1840 Elizabeth Brown got into a row with Margaret Farrell, who kept a cooperage in Queen Street, off Old Hall Street roughly where the Liverpool Echo offices now are. When Mrs Farrell pushed Brown away, she was struck on the neck by Brown's husband and went inside to get a poker. 

After being struck several times by the poker, Brown fought back leaving Farrell on the ground. This led to Farrell's daughter Mary going back into the house and fetching a customer William Dunn to assist. Dunn saw a man named James Lynch about to strike Farrell with a piece of wood and shouted at him to stop, raising his arm to take the blow himself.

Farrell returned home and Dunn went to his lodgings opposite, but when he came back outside Brown threw a half brick at him, which bounced off his forehead. Lynch then punched Dunn in his wound and kicked him as he fell on the floor. Dunn was taken to a surgeon and had his wound dressed, while Brown and Lynch were charged with assault and fined twenty and forty shillings respectively.

On 2nd March Dunn developed lockjaw and died in the Northern Hospital. A postmortem by Dr Arnott concluded that this had developed specifically as a result of the head wound. Brown and Lynch were then charged with manslaughter and appeared  at the assizes on 27th March. Under cross examination, Farrell admitted having had an 'improper liaison' with Brown's husband, which led to 'a certain disease' being transmitted between all three of them. Lynch claimed that he had taken a knife from Dunn's hand but another man named Fitzgerald said that this was not the case.

Dr Arnott was challenged by the defence counsel over the lockjaw, with it being suggested that Dunn had not looked attended to his wound properly. The jury took half an hour to find both prisoners guilty of manslaughter, leading to Brown receiving one years imprisonment with hard labour and Lynch two years. The judge ordered that both also had to serve a weeks solitary confinement at the beginning and end of their sentences.   

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