When a man died after being hit by a bale of cotton that was thrown down the stairs, two men were charged with manslaughter.
At 8am on 26th December 1861 William Gordon, a fifty year old letter carrier for the General Post Office, was delivering mail to the offices of Joynson & Maitland in Druid's Court, Dale Street.
As he was climbing some stairs to the first floor he struck by a bale of cotton and knocked backwards. This bale was being taken to a waiting cart by two employees of cotton merchant Pierre Mussabini who occupied the top floor of the building.
Gordon was taken by cab to the Royal Infirmary where he made a statement to police, saying that he had seen bales of cotton thrown about before and that nobody was in charge of it on this occasion. The two employees, Archibald Cunningham and Dennis Mulheren, were then questioned. They both claimed that Mulheren had been in front of the bale and slipped, causing it to topple over and crush Gordon.
At 10am the following day Gordon passed away at his home in Guilford Street, off Everton Road. A surgeon put his death down to fracture of the spine at the neck caused by external violence. He was buried two days later at St James Cemetery, with about one hundred post office employees attending his funeral.
At the inquest before the Coroner Mr P F Curry on 30th December, a verdict of manslaughter by gross negligence was returned, leading to Cunningham and Mulheren being committed for trial. Gordon had worked as a letter carrier for the Dale Street district for 28 years and all bars and hotels in the street agreed to take donations that could be passed to his widow.
On 26th March 1862 Cunningham and Mulheren, described as 'respectable looking' in Liverpool Mercury, appeared at the Spring Assizes. Their defence was that they were bringing the bale of cotton down the stairs in the usual manner and on slipping, Mulheren had jumped out of the way not knowing Gordon was about to go onto the stairs. This was accepted by the jury and both werefound not guilty and discharged from the dock.