Friday, 21 September 2018

Teenage Girl Accidentally Shot By Brother

There was a tragedy in 1888 when a fifteen year old girl was accidentally shot dead by her brother, who did not realise the gun was loaded. 

On the afternoon of Sunday 11th November that year at 62 Chatham Street, Catherine Lang asked her widowed mother Elizabeth for a book called Good Thoughts By Great Minds. She was told to go upstairs and see her brother Hugh as he had it. A few moments later Elizabeth heard the sound of a gunshot and on going to a bedroom to investigate, was pushed out the way by Hugh who was in a distressed state. 

Catherine was lying on the bed with a wound to the head, while a revolver was on the floor. A doctor was called but life was pronounced extinct and he stated that death had been instant. Hugh, who was a junior clerk and in a state of total shock, accompanied his grandfather John Dickson to the detective office. 

Hugh made a statement which read "My sister wanted a book which was in the room where my cousin sleeps. I went to get the book, she followed me. I was on my knees getting the book when I saw her sitting on the bed. I saw the revolver which I had in the box and pointed it at her in a playful manner. She said 'Oh, I am not frightened of it.' I must have pressed the trigger too tightly and it went off. I did not know it was loaded, although I must have loaded it myself. The revolver was my fathers."

John Lang, a commercial traveller, had died eleven years previously and detectives established that it had belonged to him. Hugh was detained at the detective office pending an inquest, which was arranged for two days later before Clarke Aspinall at the Coroner's Court. 

Hugh's mother Elizabeth explained that she was aware Hugh had a revolver belonging to his late father, but was unaware there were also cartridges. His uncle and cousin both said they had heard the shots and at first thought it was a firework. Hugh gave evidence himself, saying that he had two pistols and a revolver belonging to his late father, but he hadn't remembered which of them was loaded.

Mr Aspinall told the jury it was one of the most painful cases he had ever dealt with and it was for them to decide if the firing was accidental or not. They returned a verdict of accidental death, with a comment that firearms should not be allowed to come into the control of youths. The Coroner told Hugh that he was free to go and that it was clear he and his sister were greatly attached and he had been greatly affected by the incident. 

Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Lodging House Accused Acquitted


Field Street (Liverpool Picturebook)

When a widow died after being kicked by a fellow lodging house tenant, doubts over her health led to him being acquitted at his trial.

On 12th August 1917 at a lodging house in Field Street, Everton, 41 year old widow Mary Cockford was talking to her sister whilst stood on the steps. Labourer Edward Kennedy returned home about 930pm and shouted at Mary to stop blocking the entrance. 

When Mary's sister tried to calm him down, Kennedy kicked Mary in the breast and stomach. As Mary then stood up and tried to straighten her hair, Kennedy seized it and pulled her down. She landed heavily and became unconscious, dying soon afterwards.

Kennedy, also aged 41, was arrested on suspicion of murder and held in custody until the inquest which took place three days later. Evidence was heard that Kennedy had taken a dislike to Mary as she used to allow his wife to stay in her room when they had quarrelled. Medical evidence suggested that Mary had a weak heart and stomach condition, but they would not have led to death unless exposed to excitement or violence. This led to the coroners' jury returning a verdict of manslaughter.

At the Crown Court trial however, medical experts were not as certain about the cause of death. under cross examination they admitted that Kennedy's blows only 'might' have led to the heart failure. This led to him being acquitted and freed from the dock. 

A Fatal Night Out

A woman's decision to go out with her friend while her boyfriend worked a nightshift proved fatal when she was battered to death by him the following day.

In 1968 James Tierney, a 41 year old hotel porter who was separated from his wife, began cohabiting with twenty year old Joan Edwards at a flat in 22 Princes road, Toxteth.

On the evening of 22nd July that year Joan went out with another female who lived in the property, calling Tierney at his work to say that she would be out all night. The two women then met a couple of Arab sailors in a public house and went on to a club, before accompanying the two men their ship.

The following morning Joan went shopping and then to the cinema, too scared to go home to face Tierney. He located her in a pub that afternoon, dragging her into a van being driven by his friend and battering her. He continued the assault back at the flat, eventually inviting a friend to see what he'd done and calling an ambulance shortly after midnight. 

Joan was pronounced dead on arrival at hospital, the cause of death being found to be cerebral hemorrhage due to repeated blows to the head. When interviewed by detectives, Tierney said he was very fond of Joan and hadn't meant to kill her, but admitted beating her with his fists and then a stick from a broken maiden. He went on to say 'I could not stop myself when I started, because I did not like the way she had carried on'.

At Liverpool Crown Court on 28th October Tierney was defended by leading Q.C Rose Heilbron, whose offer of a guilty plea to manslaughter was accepted by the prosecution. In mitigation, she told the court 'She had gone off and stayed away overnight and he had made a long search before he found her. None of this condones what he has done, but it is only fair to put forward the reason for the provocation that led to this assault. He had lost his self control and was in a frenzy because she had gone off with another man'

In his pre sentencing remarks the judge, Mr Justice Lyell, said 'This is as bad a case as I have ever known. This was not just one sudden blow, this was a long drawn out brutal attack'. He then imposed a sentence of twelve years imprisonment.

Sunday, 10 June 2018

Acquittal for Lodging House Keeper

A landlord who struck one of his tenants was charged with manslaughter after she died, but later acquitted at his trial.

In the early hours of 7th August 1905 John Scott Moon, the keeper of a lodging house in Towson Street, was having an argument with his wife. They were interrupted by 73 year old widow Elizabeth Smith who told Moon that he should be ashamed of himself. Moon then went up the stairs to the landing where Elizabeth was stood, and smacked her in the eye saying 'I will give it you you for interfering'.

Despite having a cut to her eye Elizabeth didn't seek treatment until the following day, when a doctor ordered her immediate removal to the workhouse hospital. When her daughter visited, Elizabeth told her that she felt like she had been hit by a sledgehammer and felt something crack. She died on 22nd August, with a postmortem finding that death was the result of a blood clot behind the injured eye. 

Fifty year old Moon was arrested and charged with manslaughter, appearing at the Liverpool assizes on 1st December. Medical evidence was heard that Elizabeth had senile disease of the brain and any slight injury could accelerate death. Moon stated that he had acted in a moment of mad passion and had been under the influence of drink. After much deliberation, the jury found him not guilty. The judge discharged him from the dock, commenting that the jury had opted for 'the safer course'.

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Baby Argument Leads to Wife Strangulation



An argument between a married couple of their baby led to the death of the wife by strangulation, but the husband was convicted only of manslaughter due to the lack of premeditation. 

On 21st March 1966 at 18 Holland Street in Fairfield, 29 year old Indian paint sprayer Manohar Malhotra and his wife Sudershana argued over feeding their baby. This resulted in an attack by Manohar and Sudershana being rushed to hospital only to be pronounced dead on arrival. 

Manohar was charged with murder and committed to trial at Liverpool Crown Court. However a postmortem had showed that Sudershana had died of asphyxiation but also that there were only marks of one hand on her throat. This led to the prosecution counsel Mr Forrest accepting a guilty plea to manslaughter. He acknowledged that if Manohar had intended to kill, then he would have used both hands.  

A statement from Manohar was read out that said "I was very angry and got hold of her throat. I pushed her away and she fell to the floor". His defence counsel Mr George Bean told the court that the marriage was a happy one, it was a moment of petulance and he could never have imagined such an act could have such disastrous results. 

In sentencing Manohar to three years imprisonment, the Mr Justice Paul told him "If you treat your wife like that in a fit of temper and she died, you must be punished".

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Dental Extraction Gone Wrong

When a seaman died after fighting with a fellow crew member, no charges were brought about when it was found the death was a result instead of a failed dental procedure. 

On 17th November 1906 the Balasore of Eyre, Evans & Co arrived in Liverpool from San Francisco. One of the shipmates, a 23 year old Barbadian named Samuel Archer, was taken to hospital feeling ill and died later that day. 

Enquiries established that during the voyage Archer had been in a fight with Italian Luigi Cocini and received a broken arm as well as broken teeth. Towards the end of he voyage, Archer had asked a fellow crew member to extract some teeth, which went badly and resulted in a broken jaw.

A postmortem revealed that Archer died from shock as a result of the broken jaw, and not in relation to injuries sustained in the fight which had occurred on 24th October. As a result of this, an inquest returned a verdict of accidental death and Cocini was discharged.

Saturday, 24 March 2018

Mother Guilty of Tuberculosis Death

When a woman died in 1937 after suffering from tuberculosis for two years there was no initial cause for suspicion, but events took a macabre twist and her mother was found guilty of manslaughter.

liverpool murdersOn 22nd October that year Florence Smith, who had been suffering from the disease for two years, died at her home in Suffolk Street, off Duke Street in the city centre. She was buried four days later in Allerton cemetery but when her mother Esther Davies failed to return the keys to her flat, the owners made a horrific discovery whilst clearing it out.

In the corner of a room was a pram containing the mummified body of a baby, which was estimate to have been dead for nine months. A post mortem was carried out by Dr Lynch from the University of Liverpool, who was unable to determine whether or not the child had been born dead or alive.

Esther was traced to her home in Elmham Crescent, Fazakerley and initially remanded in custody charged with Endeavouring to Conceal The Birth of a Child. 49 year old Esther was in a distressed state when she appeared at the magistrates court and was allowed to remain seated.

Due to the concerns raised by neighbours about Florence's condition in the days leading to her death the Coroner ordered the exhumation of her body. Tests showed that the body was thin and wasted, with the cause of death being pthisis of the left lung. However, the fact Esther had not sought medical assistance prior to death meant that prosecutors charged her with manslaughter, saying that death had been accelerated by her criminal neglect.

Esther was back before magistrates on 6th December and was committed for trial at the assizes but allowed bail. This was opposed by the prosecution, who said she should remain in custody for her own safety. As she was freed from the dock she stated 'I am not guilty of both charges'.

Suffolk Street in 2017
On 8th April 1938 the jury at St George's Hall heard that post mortem results showed no evidence of Florence having eaten for several days before her death. A neighbour also testified that when Esther realised her daughter was dying, she found a terrible state of affairs, with the bedsheets being saturated in blood and her hands riddled with maggots.

The defence said that Florence had refused to go to hospital and wouldn't eat any food. To them it was not a case of wilful neglect, rather Esther simply misunderstanding how serious the situation was. However she was found guilty and sentencing adjourned to the Manchester assizes so probation reports could be prepared.




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.