Tuesday, 20 February 2018

New Mother's Violent Death in Bootle

A Bootle man who killed his lodger who had recently given birth was jailed for twenty one months. 

On 16th September 1887 Mary McDonald gave birth to a baby at 9 Molyneux Street, a small street that ran off Derby Road next to Millers Bridge. She and her husband John lodged at the house with Daniel Madge, a twenty eight year old labourer and his wife. 

The following night Madge disturbed Mary with his singing, leading to John telling him to leave them alone as she was in a weak condition. He did so for an hour but then had an argument with his own wife before going back into their room and challenging John to a fight. Before John could even take up the offer, he had been beaten about the head with a bowl by Madge. 

When Mary placed her hand on Madge to calm him down, he pulled her out of the bed and then threw her out the door into the street. She lay there for several hours due to her husband being unconscious inside the house.

When Mary found by a neighbour she was taken to the Bootle Borough Hospital where she died six days later of peutonitis brought on by violence and exposure. Madge had already been charged and remanded in custody for cutting and wounding John and now faced an indictment of manslaughter.

When Madge appeared before Mr Justice Day on 11th November his defence counsel argued that the peutonitis had been brought on by Mary having insufficient clothing to cover her following her confinement. This argument was rejected and Madge was found guilty of manslaughter then jailed for twenty one months. 

Saturday, 13 January 2018

Wavertree Lake Tragedy

A woman who drowned her baby boy in Wavertree Lake was found not guilty due to her mental instability.

At around 2am on Sunday 21st July 1912 Police Constable George Smith was passing Wavertree Lake (now a park) when he heard groaning. He waded into the lake and the water was up to his shoulders by the time he saw the outstretched arm of a lady who was clearly struggling.  He managed to swim with her to a shallower part of the lake and another constable helped him pull her ashore.

The lady was insensible but when she regained consciousness was wailing 'Oh my baby'. PC Smith then went back into the lake with grappling irons and half an hour later located the body of a baby boy.  Enquiries established that the woman was Charlotte Heather, who lived with her husband, an electrician, in Cronton Road.

On 1st August the inquest took place. Charlotte's district nurse Elsie Williams said that she was often strange and bewildered in her manner and would worry about money. Such was Charlotte's mental state that Elsie would often sleep overnight at the property and once she had woken up in a trembling fit, saying both her and the baby had fever.

At the direction of the coroner a verdict of wilful murder against Charlotte was returned. They asked if a rider could be added that she was temporarily insane, but the coroner stated it was not their duty to determine the mental state of the prisoner. He did assure them that full consideration would be given to this at the assizes and then commended PC Smith for his prompt actions on rescuing Charlotte and recovering the baby's body.

On 1st November Charlotte appeared at the Liverpool assizes. She told the jury that she had been in bed and heard a voice calling her to see her sister. She can remember sitting by the side of the lake but nothing after that. The jury returned a verdict of not guilty and she was immediately discharged from the dock. She returned to her husband and four years later the couple had another child, a baby girl called Bronwen.