Thursday, 28 February 2013

Shell Shocked Soldier Shoots Nurse

In 1919 a United States citizen who had fought in the First World War shot dead a nurse after she ended their relationship.

Joseph Hutty was originally from Detroit and enlisted with the Canadian forces in 1916. After suffering serious wounds to his legs whilst carrying a fellow soldier to safety as shells exploded around him, he was admitted to the Northern Hospital at Great Howard Street 1918. Whilst learning to walk again as well as recovering from shell shock, he met trainee nurse Alice Jones, (known as Kitty), who had come to Liverpool from Rochdale.

After Hutty asked Alice's father for permission to marry her, he agreed but only on the condition she finished her nursing qualifications first. Hutty returned to America and the two exchanged letters, but in March 1919 Alice broke off the relationship without giving a  reason, although she maintained there was nobody else involved.

Hutty came to England with his heart set on getting Alice to change her mind. However she refused to see him, saying she wanted to focus everything on her career. It soon became apparent that she was courting another American serviceman, Frank Schoo, who was a chief officer in the navy. 

On the evening of 24th July 1919 Alice got the train from Rochdale  to Exchange station where she was met by Schoo, who escorted her to the hospital. After he had seen her off at the steps, Hutty emerged from where he was hiding and shot Alice dead with a revolver. A porter ran out and carried her into the hospital building, but she was soon pronounced dead.

Hutty disposed of the revolver but soon surrendered himself to a policeman on the corner of Dale Street and Moorfields. He said that he had committed a murder and that he was not drunk. He said he accepted the charge of murder when it was read out to him at the Bridewell and whilst on remand claimed that a rash on his face was as a result of venereal disease caught from Alice.

At his trial Hutty's defence said he suffered shell shock and had an 'uncontrollable impulse', but in summing up the judge said all murders were a result of this and why should this be any different. Hutty was sentenced to death on 27th October but after a 3,000 people including the Lord Mayor signed a petition his sentence was commuted to life imprisonment due to his war service and shell shock. However, he did eventually die of hanging, committing suicide in 1922 at Maidstone prison.

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Man Murders Wife Then Sleeps Next To Her Body

In 1910 dock fireman Henry Thompson killed his wife and slept with the corpse for two nights before his horrific crime was discovered.

54 year old Thompson lived in York Street, which runs off Duke Street in Liverpool city centre, along with his 47 year old wife Mary and their lodgers Mr and Mrs Reynolds. On the night of 30th July Thompson was drinking in the house with Mr Reynolds and Mary's brother, but Mary herself was not present. At around 11.30pm Mary's brother left and Thompson was heard to shout to Mary who was in the street words to the affect of 'You can stay where you've been all night, I'll kill you if you come in. I've been nearly hung for somebody and I'll be hung for you.'

In the early hours Mary crept into the Reynolds' room and asked them to shield her from her husband. When Thompson went into the room himself, Mary was hidden behind the bed and he was told she was not there. Not believing them, Thompson walked to the bed and found Mary, dragged her out the room and threatened to throw Mrs Reynolds out of the window if she intervened.

Mrs Reynolds would later give evidence saying that she did not see Mary alive after then and had heard a female voice scream 'Harry don't choke me' and something heavy being dragged along the floor. For the whole of Sunday 31st July Thompson gave the impression that all was well with Mary, refusing Mrs Reynolds's offer to make her some tea but instead sending her out for some whisky, saying it was Mary's birthday. In the evening, Thompson gave Mrs Reynolds some meat and asked her to cook it for Mary, but refused to let her see his wife, using force to prevent her going up the stairs. When Mr Reynolds went to bed that night he went into Thompson's room as he was not in the house, but there was no light and he saw nothing untoward.

The following morning, Mrs Reynolds had grown so suspicious of Thompson's behaviour that she went in the room while he was in a deep sleep and found Mary's body next to him, stone cold and dressed in the same clothing as she had been wearing on the Saturday night. Police were called and Thompson taken to the local Bridewell.

Thompson acted erratically while in the Bridewell, saying first he knew nothing about it, then that he may have struck her accidentally and that Mary was a good woman when she didn't drink. A post mortem showed that Mary had been strangled and in his trial Thompson said that Mary had been alive on the Sunday night when they both went to bed, but he was awoken by police in the morning and she was dead. The jury found him guilty and Thompson told the judge to 'sentence away' and that he was not afraid of death.

Thompson was hanged on 21st November, two days before a much more notorious wife killer, Dr Crippen, was hanged at Pentonville in London. Thompson acted with complete nonchalance in the days before his death, joking with warders that he would be senior to Crippen on the other side. John Ellis, the hangman wrote that Thompson went to his death with an 'air of utter unconcern' and that he had 'never hanged a cooler man' in his life.

Monday, 25 February 2013

Man Hanged For Shooting Sister In Law

In 1904 William Kirwan was sentenced to death after shooting his sister in law dead as he believed she was covering up his wife's extra marital affair.

Kirwan, a butcher, lived with his wife Catherine and two children in Richmond Row, Everton (below). Catherine's sister Mary Pike lived in Great Newton Street, that runs from London Road to Brownlow Hill and it is there that the murder took place.

On 26th February 1904 Kirwan followed Catherine to her sister's house and accused her of the affair, also saying that the house in Great Newton Street was being used as a brothel. As Catherine asked Mary to confirm her whereabouts on the days Kirwan believed she had been unfaithful, he produced a revolver and fired shots at both sisters then left the house.

Neither woman had been hit by the shots and a lodger in the property managed to bolt the door and get them both to safety before shouting for a policeman. When a constable arrived Kirwan surrendered himself but as Mary came out of the house to confirm that it was him who had fired the shots, he managed to take the gun out of his pocket and shoot her in the stomach.

As the officer arrested and disarmed him, Kirwan admitted that he had intended to kill both women. Mary died a few days later and the charge of attempted murder was increased to wilful murder. He attempted to justify the shooting because of the alleged infidelity but the fact it had been witnessed by a policeman meant that there was only ever going to be one verdict - guilty.

Kirwan was hanged by James Billington on 31st May 1904 in a double execution alongside Ping Lun. Due to the notoriety of the case, Kirwan's wife and children changed their name to Kirwin, with Catherine remarrying in 1918.

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Son Hanged For Murder of Mother

Thomas Corrigan murdered his mother in 1873 following a drinking spree and paid for his crime with his life. 
For the previous two years 23 year old Corrigan, a dock porter, had been seeing a lady called Martha Knight, with whom he had already had two children. When Corrigan began taking her back to his parents' property in Chisenhale Street, Vauxhall, his mother Mary remonstrated with him, leading to the tragic killing.

On the afternoon of 1st November, Corrigan went to bed with Martha before coming downstairs at 6.30pm and demanding his supper from Mary, who told him it was in the oven. When Corrigan opened the oven door and saw nothing was there he punched her to the floor before kicking, stamping and jumping on her, acts that were witnessed by two lodgers, James Harris and James Canavan. 

Harris tried to intervene, meaning that Mary managed to crawl to the apparent safety of her lodger's room, but Corrigan followed her and threw her down the stairs before taking off his belt and beating her about the head with the buckle. He then jumped on her again before holding a knife to her throat, but Harris's wife managed to dissuade him from stabbing her. Corrigan was in a complete rage and had locked the front door to prevent anybody escaping and raising the alarm, and was also able to terrorise others in the house into remaining totally still as he carried on his attack.

Despite Mary's screams no neighbours contacted police, probably because such sounds were commonplace in the vicinity, especially of a Saturday evening. When Corrigan had finally finished the assault Mary was placed in bed and a priest sent for, who was told by him that she had fallen down the stairs. The priest, Father Ross, didn't believe Corrigan's story and on leaving the property went to the Chisenhale Street bridewell, telling the desk sergeant of his suspicions. 

Police Constable McDowell was dispatched the the property and met Corrigan in the street, who told him that Mary had died suddenly. McDowell immediately arrested Corrigan and sent for Inspector McAuley from the Dale Street bridewell, who found a frightful sight on arrival at 30 Chisenhale Street. Mary's face was mashed to a pulp, her eyeball was ruptured, hair was all over the floor and ribs were broken. Corrigan was charged with murder and replied 'No sir you are wrong, who can prove that? I only came to the officer to get a doctor.' The following day, thousands of people came to Chisenhale Street to look at the house where the atrocity had occurred. 

At his trial, Corrigan's defence was that he was in a 'fit of horrors' due to alcohol and as such should only be found guilty of manslaughter. This didn't cut any ice with the jury and when he was sentenced to death by Justice Quain he was told that his mother was somebody he was 'bound to love and cherish' and that the crime had 'disclosed such a state of brutality so shocking that I have never heard anything like it before.' Quain told him to expect no mercy and sentenced him to death. Whilst awaiting execution at Kirkdale he was attended to by Father Bonte, whilst his own father forgave him for the crime and requested the prison take a photograph of his son so he could have a keepsake. Corrigan was hanged on 5th January 1874.