Friday, 25 November 2016

Runaway Boy Beaten to Death

A boy who tried to run away from home was beaten so severely by his father that he died from his injuries.

On 5th October 1887 Ann Murphy, who lived in Paget Street (off Boundary Street, where Beers Timber supplies is now), heard the son of a family who lodged with her screaming 'Father don't beat me I won't stop out anymore.' 

Ann, a shoemakers wife, went next door to fetch the boy's mother. When they both returned his father Thomas Lazarus had gone out but tied the door so that his son, seven year old Edward, could not leave the room. His mother opened the door and took him to  the Northern Hospital due to his distressed state. When he was undressed, his body was covered in bruises and he also had an open wound on his shin.

Edward remained in hospital and grew weaker in the coming days. On 15th October Thomas was apprehended by police at Nelson Dock where he worked as a labourer. He was taken to the hospital to witness his son make a deposition, in which Edward stated that he had been beaten with a strap. When Thomas was taken to the bridewell and charged with assault he replied 'I have nothing to say.'


On 23rd October Edward died with his mother by his side. A postmortem determined that he had died as a result of blood poisoning, caused by an abscess from a bruise on the thigh. 

An inquest took place two days later before the Coroner, Clarke Aspinall. Ann Murphy said that she was aware Edward had been brought home by the police earlier on the day in question, the fifth time in three weeks that this had happened. Dr Fisher, one of two doctors who carried out the postmortem, gave his opinion that considerable violence had been used and described four thick parallel strokes on Edward's back that were similar to what would be expected from a strap. The jury returned a verdict of  manslaughter and Thomas was committed to trial at the assizes on a coroner's warrant. 

Thomas appeared before Mr Justice Day on 14th November. He was found guilty of manslaughter but recommended to mercy by the jury. In sentencing Justice Day renowned for his tough sentences, said he could see no grounds for the jury's recommendation. He then sentenced Thomas to eighteen months imprisonment. 

Whilst Thomas was in jail his wife gave birth to another child, Jeremiah, and on his release he took up employment as a marine fireman.

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