Wednesday, 24 April 2019

A Walton Double Tragedy

A mother who cut the throats of her two young children was found guilty but insane.

On 15th April 1933 the landlady of 34 Dumbarton Street, off County Road, heard moans coming from an upstairs room. On going in, he found 33 year old Lilian Wright lying on the bed with a throat wound. Next to her were the dead bodies of her children Audrey (4) and Lawrence (2).

The bodies of the children were removed from the property on stretchers, while Lilian had her wound bandaged and was taken to the Stanley Hospital in a semi conscious state. Lilian's husband William,  a haulage contractor, returned home to be greeted with the terrible news and collapsed into the arms of neighbours. The family had only moved to Dumbarton Street four days earlier, as Lilian had felt isolated at their previous home in Mossley Hill and wanted to be nearer friends she had known since childhood.

Later that evening William was taken to see his wife in hospital. She wrote him a note saying "Are Audrey and Lawrie dead? Please bury them in Church Road, near Dad. I would not leave them, I love them, bury me with them."

Lilian was transferred to Smithdown Road hospital and remained in a serious condition for five weeks. When she was finally discharged on 24th May, she as taken straight to the police court where she was charged with two murders and attempted suicide. 

At the Assizes on 14th June, it was heard that William had been a kind and loving husband, but Lilian was convinced her eldest child would not survive and that she was being slowly poisoned. She was found guilty of murder but insane and ordered to be detained at His Majesty's Pleasure. 



Friday, 19 April 2019

Sister in Law Killed in Drunken Brawl

When two sisters in law spent the day drinking it ended up in an argument over missing money, leading to one of them dying after being stabbed.

Comus Street (www.liverpoolpicturebook.com)Mary Costello, who lodged in a court off Comus Street in Everton, spent 24th August 1892 drinking with her sister in law Elizabeth Costello. Elizabeth was married to Mary's husband, who was away at sea. Late in the afternoon the pair were in their lodgings drinking with a number of other women. An argument then broke out over a missing sixpence, which a blind occupant of the house had obtained that day through begging. This resulted in Elizabeth stabbing Mary in the neck with a rusty kitchen knife. 

Rather than send for a doctor, those present tried to revive 38 year old Mary by pouring brandy down her throat. It was only when other residents of the court heard what had happened that a policeman and doctor arrived. Life was pronounced extinct and the body was taken to the Northern Hospital. By this time Elizabeth had absconded and she was not arrested until 7am the following morning at a house in Chisenhale Street.

The Liverpool Echo described the premises where the stabbing took place as 'worse than a piggery'. It reported that the bedclothes consisted of shoddy remnants and there were no linen, pillows or sheets. 

Elizabeth, who was aged 23, admitted to fighting with Mary, but claimed she had got her wound when falling against the spout of a kettle. She appeared at the Magistrates Court on the same morning as her arrest and was remanded for eight days. The inquest took place on 26th August, where one of the other women present said that Elizabeth had thrown the knife at Mary. However a doctor who carried out the post mortem said that the wound had been caused by a strong blow. In summing up, the Coroner said that drink was no excuse and after a minute's deliberation the jury returned a verdict of manslaughter.

At the committal hearing on 22nd September, there was so much arguing among the witnesses that the prosecutions opening comments had to be delayed. Eventually, despite him asking for a charge of murder, Elizabeth was committed to the assizes on the lesser charge of manslaughter. On 10th September Elizabeth pleaded guilty to the charge and was sentenced to twelve months imprisonment.