Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Stabbed Spaniard's Killer Unknown

When a Spanish sailor died after being stabbed in 1861 nobody was convicted due to doubts over who had struck the fatal blow.

At 11pm on 27th December that year a local lady called Mary Jones was accompanied to the Francis dancing saloon in Hood Street by 26 year old Antonio Lopez. Soon afterwards Louis Edmon, a fellow Spaniard whose ship Victoria was berthed in King's Dock, entered the bar along with a man named Garibaldi and began rowing with Jones. 

After striking Jones with a cane, Edmon was then challenged by his fellow countryman and both went outside to fight. Lopez was stabbed and taken to the Royal Infirmary where he died three hours later. Before Lopez slipped into unconsciousness police paraded a number of men, including Edmon and Garibaldi who had been apprehended, before him. After Edmon was picked out the person who carried out the stabbing, he was taken to the central police station where Jones identified him as having been involved in the fight.

The inquest took place on 31st December where the coroner Mr Cobbs addressed the jury to the tune that the facts of the case meant it was manslaughter not murder. After that verdict was returned, nineteen year old Edmon was before the police court on 1st January where he was committed to the assizes for trial. Garibaldi was charged with being an accessory before the fact, it being said he had encouraged Edmon to use  knife in the fight.

On 24th March Edmon appeared at the assizes where the landlady of the dancing hall gave evidence. In cross examination she said that another man named Lloyd had also had a knife and was threatening Lopez in a row over a scarf. Although she had told the police about this, the man had not been traced as they seemed happy with Lopez's identification of Edmon.

In his closing speech for the defence Charles Russell said that the evidence suggested it was unsafe to convict Edmon and even if it was determined he struck the fatal blow, it had been in self defence. After the jury considered the case for half an hour, they returned a verdict of not guilty and Edmon was discharged. This meant the total collapse of any case against Garibaldi, who cold not be guilty to being an accessory now that Edmon was not guilty of the killing itself.

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