A man who killed his mother by battering her with a hammer was declared insane and detained at His Majesty's pleasure.
Shortly before 9am on the morning of Saturday 15th January 1916 a man walked into the police office in Dale Street and said that he had hit mother with a hammer at their home in 10 Thames Street, off Lodge Lane. Communication was made with Lark Lane police station and officers from there went round to the property, where they found 64 year old Mary Ann Christian in her bed, her her head covered in blood. Elsewhere in the bedroom there was a blood stained hammer.
Mary was rushed to the Royal infirmary but pronounced dead on arrival. Back at Dale Street her son, 31 year old Herbert Christian, was told at 1050am that he was being charged with the murder of his mother. His reply was 'Thank God she is away from all this persecution. God have mercy upon us.' Herbert was taken to the police court where the Stipendiary Magistrate Stuart Deacon, remanded him for eight days.
Four days after she was killed, Mary was buried at Toxteth Park Cemetery, while the inquest took place on 26th January before the Deputy Coroner Mr A.G Inglis. The first witness was William Christian, Mary's husband. He said he had gone to work at 530am on the morning of the murder and his son was sound asleep. After explaining how he had been told to return home from his work after his wife had died, he said that Mary's mother had spent 22 years in the Rainhill asylum and that he had been married to his wife for 35 years. Asked how Herbert felt about his mother, William responded that he was fond of her and was worried about her welfare should he be called up for army service.
Herbert's wife Maud said that Herbert and his mother had no problems when they lived together but that he had been peculiar of mind in recent times. He had worked as a tram conductor and then a cleaner for Liverpool Corporation Tramways. His foreman from the Dingle tramsheds, Mr Young, confirmed that he had been hard working and diligent, but resigned before Christmas as he believed colleagues did not like him.
The deputy coroner told his jury that they only had to determine how Mary met her death, not Herbert's state of mind. This led to them returning a verdict that she had died as a result of injuries inflicted by Herbert.
Herbert was back at the police court on 3rd February when he was committed to the Manchester Assizes for trial. His wife gave evidence, saying he and his mother were devoted to each other but that he had been of strange mind lately. She said that on one occasion he had accused her of tampering with his food and that he was convinced that work colleagues were conspiring against him.
On 21st February Herbert appeared at the Manchester Assizes where it was said he was suffering delusions and incapable of instructing counsel. He was declared unfit to plead by the jury and ordered by the judge to be detained during His Majesty's pleasure.