Sunday, 28 October 2018

Tragedy of a Devoted Couple

When an elderly couple in Edge Hill fell upon hard times the husband believed there was no other way out other than for them to die together. 

In the early hours of 28th December 1933 police were called to 17 Royston Street in Edge Hill by the Annie Morris, sister of Jane Davies. On arrival officers were met by Jane's 63 year old husband, dairyman Joseph Davies who said to them "Go upstairs, I have done the missus in. See, I have done myself in too." On entering a bedroom they found his wife Jane with a very serious throat wound. There was no sign of any struggle and both Jane and Joseph were rushed to the Royal Infirmary.

Joseph received six stitches and within two days was declared fit to be put before magistrates, charged with attempted murder. On being told this by the detective sergeant, he replied "Something came over me"' At his first court appearance, Joseph stood silent in the dock as he was remanded for a week. He was described in the Liverpool Echo as tall and grey haired.

Jane had nine stitches and her wounds were not thought to be life threatening, but she died two weeks later on 14th January 1934 at Sefton General Hospital. This led to Joseph being charged with murder and on 25th January he appeared before the police court, where prosecutor Mr J. R. Bishop described he and Jane as 'a devoted couple who had fallen on hard times'. The court also heard how Jane was suffering from ill health and required hospital treatment.

A deposition taken from Jane was read out. which stated that in addition to her health concerns they had business worries and had remained awake until 5am on the night in question. Joseph then got up with the intention of doing away with himself, then returned with a razor and after seeing her husband lean over the bed she felt a sharp pain then recalled no more. Medical evidence was then heard that a postmortem revealed the cause of death to be pneumonia and heart disease. Doctors from the Royal Infirmary stated that Jane was expected to recover  in full at the time of her transfer, but it was then heard that at Sefton she had refused food.

Annie Morris told the court that she visited her sister daily, and that she had stayed overnight on 27th December. She added that Jane had been suffering from a pain in her side for two years and that this had now been discovered to be a tumour that needed surgery in the New Year. The couple were extremely worried about this and the potential impact on their business. 

After hearing all the evidence the magistrate said that the prima facie case for murder had not been made out, then committed Joseph for trial on the lesser charge of attempted murder, as well as attempted suicide. On 28th February Joseph pleased guilty to both charges and was sentenced to three days imprisonment, leading to his immediate release. He had wept throughout the proceedings, in which his defence barrister saying he had 'come to the conclusion there was nothing else to do but leave this life together.'

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