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.