Sunday, 17 October 2021

A Revolting Discovery in Bootle

In 1921 a woman who burnt her newborn child was found guilty of concealment of birth due to doctors being unable to agree on whether or not it had been born alive.

On 21st March that year Margaret Lynch of 15 Southey Street noticed a foul odour coming from the room of Bridget Tucker, a 24 year old factory machinist who lodged with her. She entered and opened a tin that was inside a trunk, which to her horror contained a baby's head wrapped in paper and a black stocking. 

When police were called, Bridget said that she had given birth then had put her hand over the mouth and burnt the body. Amazingly she had managed to conceal her pregnancy from both her landlady and another woman who shared the room with her.

Bridget was charged with murder but by the time of the inquest on 1st April, she had told detectives that she did not think the baby was alive. Two police surgeons said they were unable to establish whether or not the baby had had a separate existence. This led to a verdict that there was no evidence as to the child being born alive.

At Manchester Assizes on 2nd May, prosecutors confirmed that they would no longer be proceeding with the murder charge. Bridget's defence counsel told the court that she had not concealed the birth to defeat the law, but because as a lone woman from the west coast of Ireland she was unable to bear her shame and anguish about giving birth out of wedlock. 

Bridget was found guilty of concealment of birth but with a strong recommendation for mercy. The judge indicated that Bridget had suffered enough and sentenced her to seven days imprisonment, meaning she could be released immediately due to time spent on remand. Bridget fainted and had to be carried out of the dock.

Friday, 15 October 2021

Killed by a Ginger Beer Bottle

In what was described by the press as "a sordid story" and "low life tragedy", a man in Bootle was killed when his partner hit him over the head with a ginger beer bottle. She was charged with murder, but found guilty of manslaughter and jailed for ten years.  

At the beginning of August 1912 dock labourer Arthur Mallin and Mary Ellen Mason took up lodgings in Aber Street, which used to be off Irlam Road. On the 10th of the month, the couple went out drinking in the afternoon, returning at teatime quite intoxicated but on good terms. When Arthur said he didn't want to go out again, Mary hit him with a ginger beer bottle. Although he had a cut to the head, Arthur remained calm and simply went out to avoid any further confrontation. 

A few hours later Mary asked the landlady to go out with her to look for Arthur. They found him in a hotel, where he was stood at the bar cutting tobacco. Mary told him to come outside and he did, only to be dealt a blow to the face. Arthur reminded Mary that he had a knife in his hand, but she grabbed it from him along with a cap he had been wearing to hide his cut head.

When Arthur asked for his cap back Mary gave it to him, then stabbed him in the chest with the knife. Arthur staggered into an adjoining street and fell down. When a passing woman asked why Mary had stabbed him she replied "mind your own business". She then took two shillings and a watch from Arthur's pockets and kicked him, telling others looking on that he had had a fit and was shamming.  

The police were quickly on the scene to arrest Mary, while a horse ambulance was summonsed to take Arthur to hospital, where he was pronounced dead on arrival. A postmortem revealed wounds to the head and also two and a half inch deep puncture wound in the chest. Death was caused by hemorrhage from the wound. 

Mary was charged with murder appeared before Lord Coleridge on 6th November that year. Medical evidence was heard that it was very unlikely that Arthur could have fallen against the knife, and also that the head wounds were caused by blows of considerable force. The jury found her guilty of the lesser charge of manslaughter but she was told by the judge that her actions were a little less than murder. He then sentenced Mary to ten years imprisonment. 

Thursday, 20 May 2021

Silly Argument Leads to Death

What was described as a silly argument between between friends led to one of the dying from their injuries after a fight. When the case went to trial however, leniency was shown by the judge.

On 9th April 1957, Brian Connolly and Philip McAndrew, both aged 22, went for a few drinks at the Queens Hotel in Stoneycroft with a man named, John Neilson. Around closing time they began arguing about the merits of another friend, and crossed Queens Drive to settle this by fighting on some wasteland.

Neilson was given their coats to mind, then Connolly stuck McAndrew on the chin with his fist and he fell down instantly. He died before an ambulance called by Connolly arrived. Connolly was taken to Old Swan bridewell and questioned. He admitted throwing one punch and was charged with manslaughter. When he appeared at the magistrates court in the morning, he was remanded on bail for a surety of £25.

Philip McAndrew's death was the second tragedy involving the children of the family from Crofton Crescent. In 1937 his brother Donald died aged 6 when he fell from a drainpipe whilst climbing to retrieve a football. 

On 30th May a committal hearing took place, where the cause of death was confirmed as aphysxia due to swallowing vomit.  Neilson confirmed that McAndrew went down on his back after being punched just once and hadnt struck any blows. Rex Makin, who was defending Connolly, read out a statement which said "We had about five pints of beer each and Phil and I started arguing about another mate of ours. Due to the drink we had this silly argument continued and Phil issued a challenge to me. I feel really sorry about the whole thing, it should never have happened." Makin contended that there was no case to answer, but the magistrate felt that it should proceed to trial.

Connolly, a lathe turner who lived in St Oswald's Crescent, appeared at St George's Hall on 30th November. His defence counsel maintained that this had been a 'friendly fight' and that the two men had been laughing and joking as they walked over the the field. Connolly was found guilty but spared jail by Mr Justice Lynskey, who instead placed him on probation for three years. 

Monday, 17 May 2021

Nine Year Old Killer Lacks Understanding

When a three year old girl died as a result of being hit by a brick thrown by a nine year old boy, he avoided punishment. 

At around 6pm on the evening of 6th June 1912, a number of children were playing in Wilfer Street, off Earle Road in Edge Hill. One of them, nine year old John Dean, struck a girl called Fulwood and also through a small piece of brick through a glass window on her family's front door. The girl's elder sister came out of the house and gave John a thrashing, but as she was returning to her house he threw a brick in her direction. This fell short and hit the head of three year old Alberta Maher, who was sat on her own doorstep.

Alberta fell down injured and was taken to the children's infirmary at Myrtle Street. An operation was performed but she succumbed to the injury three weeks later. The daughter of a tram driver, she was buried in a public grave at West Derby Cemetery.

An inquest was held before the Coroner, Mr Sampson, with the Daily Post reporting that 'several children of tender years were there to give evidence.' John was sat apart next to his parents and described as 'diminutive, of rather ragged appearance.' 

After hearing the evidence, the Coroner told his jury that if John understood the danger of what he as doing then a verdict of manslaughter should be returned. After a lengthy deliberation the jury concluded that 'the deceased died as a result of the injuries from the stone thrown by the lad, who was not of sufficient understanding to be accountable for his actions.'

The Coroner told all those who had given evidence to keep their play free of quarrels and that there was too much stone throwing going on, especially by young boys. He also told John that had the police taken action, then he would have been sent to a reformatory. 

Monday, 3 May 2021

Lovers Found Dead

A man shot his lover who was less than half his age before turning the gun on himself, after he found out she had started seeing someone else. 

On the morning of 29th July 1948 a farm labourer saw what he thought was a couple sleeping in a field off Stockbridge Lane, Huyton. He informed the police but when a constable went to investigate, he uncovered a tragic event. The man and young woman were both dead with gunshot wounds, and a revolver was still in the man's hand. 

The two people were identified as sixteen year old Margaret Whiteside, who lived with her family in nearby Winstone Road (pictured), and Stephen Coady, a thirty five year old man from Netley Street, Kirkdale. 

An inquest took place the following day overseen by Mr Bolton, the Coroner for South West Lancashire. Evidence was heard that Margaret and Stephen had been seeing each other for about a year. They had met at the home of Stephen's sister in Peasefield Road, a short distance from Margaret's home. 

In early June, Margaret had started seeing Bob Bamford, who was closer to her age. She decided to end the relationship with Stephen, who responded that he had nothing left to live for. On 28th July, she arranged to meet Stephen in Stockbridge Lane to hand some letters back to him, then failed to return to Bob at 10.30pm.

Letters which had been found in Stephen's pockets were read out by the Coroner. They were addressed to Margaret's parents, who had no idea about the relationship and said "I am sorry to this day that I was ever born to meet your daughter. I love her far too much to face life without her, you may curse me for the rest of your days but I only hope I roast in Hell for the injustice I have done to you."

The jury returned a verdict that Stephen had murdered Margaret and then committed suicide while the balance of mind was disturbed. 

Tuesday, 27 April 2021

Death at Brothers First Meeting In Three Years

When two brothers went out drinking for the first time in three years, the night ended in tragedy when a fight broke out, leaving one of them dead. 

In  April 1943 William Clare, a twenty year old naval seaman, returned to his family home in Grovehurst Avenue, Dovecot. On the 17th (a Saturday) he went to a pub with his 33 year old brother Patrick, a labourer who lived in a flat in Stockbridge Lane, and another friend. 

The brothers left the pub at 10pm on good terms, walking ahead of their friend. However when he caught up, he found a crowd gathered around Patrick, who was lying on the pavement, his face bruised and battered. He was carried into a house to await the arrival of an ambulance, but he was declared dead on arrival at hospital.

The following morning William refused to believe it when told that Patrick had died. He attended a police station and said "I am the brother of the chap who was found dead. I don't know how it happened, we had a row and started fighting." William was charged with manslaughter but granted bail when he appeared in court on the Monday.

On 4th May William appeared at a committal hearing, where he was defended by Rose Heilbron. His statement was read out, in which he had said the brothers started fighting after disagreeing over whether William had leant Patrick £1 or 10 shillings in the pub. When William had left his brother, he was leaning against a tree and shouted that he wold see him the following day.

Dr Grace, who had carried out the postmortem, said that Patrick had bruising above his eye,  cut on the nose and three teeth were knocked out. He believed that death was a result of shock due to a contused wound on the jaw. After prosecutors acknowledged that William had cuts to his face, Miss Heilbron submitted that it was a most distressing case but that it was an accident and there was no case to answer.

Dismissing the charge, the presiding magistrate Mr Worrall said "This is one of the most unhappy cases that has come before my court."

Monday, 26 April 2021

Not Guilty Due to a Plaster

A man whose friend died after they had a fight was cleared of the killing when it became apparent his wound had not been treated properly. 

On Saturday 6th November 1909 two friends, James McCabe and Charles Leeson, began arguing whilst drunk at the Pacific Hotel in Linacre Road, Bootle. When pushed by McCabe, Leeson responded by hitting him on the head with a pint glass that he was holding.  

McCabe suffered a cut above his left eye but was still able to seek medical attention from a doctor who dressed it. The following morning he got up to go to work as normal at the local gas works, taking off the bandage and having his wife stick a plaster over the cut.

After less than an hour at work, McCabe left as he felt unwell. He went to bed and remained there for 24 hours, passing away on the Monday after erysipelas had set in. On being arrested Leeson admitted holding a glass but insisted it was the back of his hand that struck his friend. 

At the trial on 30th November Dr Mayor, who had dressed the wound on the night of it occurring, gave evidence. He stated that the bandage should never have been removed and replacing it with a plaster meant that discharge was prevented from escaping.

Leeson himself took the stand, saying they had been friends for over 25 years and never had a falling out until that night, on which McCabe struck the first blow. Leeson was fond not guilty and discharged,