Sunday, 31 March 2013

Fiancee Killed By Army Veteran

In 1928 Albert Absolom killed his fiancee Mary after he became jealous of her friendship with other men, leading to him being hanged for the murder.

Absolom was discharged from the army in 1923 and took lodgings in Scotland Road, working as a labourer. He met Mary Reed, who lived with her parents in Garibaldi Street and they began saving for a future together.

Absolom though was in and out of work and a marriage never seemed to be close, leading to him getting jealous of Mary's friendships with other men. It was one of these that would lead to the tragic events of 11th May 1928.A week earlier, Mary had gone out for the evening with her neighbour whilst Absolom worked in a fish and chip shop and he refused to believe that any wrong doing hadn't occurred.

At around 6pm on 11th May Absolom and Mary were seen arguing in Sackville Street (situated adjacent to Roscommon Street) outside St Peter's Church. When Mary tried to leave Absolom prevented her then pulled out a knife and plunged it into her throat. Mary collapsed at his feet and Absolom threw the knife away before running off, but some other males managed to catch him and turn him into a Rose Hill police station, where he admitted his act.

Mary died on the morning of 17th May and thousands of women lined the streets for her funeral and followed the hearse all the way to Walton Cemetery. Absolom was tried for her murder in July where his defence was that Mary's death wasn't a direct result of the stabbing but due to other occurrences in hospital. This was rejected and he was found guilty, although the jury did recommend mercy on the grounds of his previous good character.

The Home Secretary refused to grant a reprieve, informing Absolom of this just two days before he was hanged by Thomas Pierrepoint on 25th July. A crowd of around 200 women waited outside Walton Gaol for the execution notice to be pinned on the wall.

Friday, 29 March 2013

Man Hanged After Suicide Pact

In 1927 William Robertson and his lover entered into a suicide pact but when his own attempt failed he ended up facing the hangman anyway.

37 year old salesman Robertson lived in Channell Road in Kensington and was dating Evelyn Jennings, the owner of a hairdressing salon in Prescot Road. On 15th August 1927 the couple went to Speke, then just a small country village, where Robertson cut Evelyn's throat, killing her instantly.

When he tried to do the same to himself, he failed to do so and was found by a police constable crawling down a footpath where he wrote a note saying 'I love her dearly, save her not me.' There was absolutely no chance of saving Evelyn, as such was the force of the cut her head was almost severed from the body, which was lying in bushes.Robertson was taken to Garston hospital where he pleaded with doctors to let him die, saying that Evelyn was fed up and couldn't go on, and that they had planned to die together.

Garston Hospital, photo by Sue Adair 
At the inquest two days later a doctor said that there was absolutely no doubt that Evelyn's wounds had been inflicted by somebody else. Evelyns brother, who lived in Chester, told the coroner that he had received a letter from her stating that she loved Robertson but he was having no luck and they couldn't go on any more. Ominously it said 'He is going and I don't feel I can possibly hang on without him. You will find us in a wood off Boundary Lane on the main road to Liverpool.'

Robertson was first able to appear at Widnes Police Court on 12th September, when he was committed to the Assizes for trial. On 28th October at the Liverpool Assizes his defence pleaded insanity but this was rejected and Robertson was found guilty of murder and sentenced to death. He was hanged by Thomas Pierrepoint on the morning of 6th December, walking firmly and unassisted to the scaffold.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Callous Husband Admits Intent to Kill Wife

In 1911 a man killed his wife before handing himself in to the police and pleading guilty at his trial, but this plea still wasn't enough to save him from the hangman.

Fifty Seven year old seaman Thomas Seymour married his cousin Mary in 1904, with some suggesting that it was down to an inheritance she had received. The couple moved to a property at 3 Breckfield Place, part of which remains off Breckfield Road North, near the Grove pub.

By 1910 Seymour had left the Merchant Navy and spent most of his days drinking. The relationship had deteriorated and Mary often left him after a beating, only to return. On 11th March 1911 Mary's sister Elizabeth knocked at the house and Seymour refused her entry, but when she did manage to push him aside she was confronted with the sight of Mary lying dead on the floor, her head beaten to a pulp with a coal hammer.

Seymour calmly told Elizabeth he was going out to find a policeman. On handing himself in, the officer thought he was crazy but was then confronted with the sight of Mary's body. Seymour then co-operated with the coroner's inquest and on his first appearance at the magistrates' court asked if the matter could be dealt with there and then to avoid wasting any more time. This request was refused due to the stipendiary magistrate not having enough sentencing powers and he was committed to stand trial at the Liverpool Assizes on 19th April.

Continuing to show total indifference to his fate, Seymour pleaded guilty and said he had intended to kill his wife. Justice Avory refused to accept this plea and instead adjourned for lunch. In the early afternoon Seymour was brought back into court and the prison medical officer, Dr Arthur Price, was questioned by the judge. Dr Price stated that he had observed Thomas since 13th March and he seemed fully aware of his actions and the consequences of them. Seymour was then taken back down to the cells to be spoken to by counsel, who were told by the judge to reiterate the consequences of a guilty plea.

When Seymour came into the dock for the third time that day he was quite agitated, replying 'Certainly I do' when asked if he understood that there was only one sentence that could be passed. Telling Seymour that he had an air of indifference, Justice Avory passed the death sentence and the prisoner then walked firmly down the steps to the cells.

No appeal against the sentence was made and Seymour was hanged at Walton by John Ellis on 9th May, continuing to show no emotion. Due to the notoriety of the case, a larger crowd than usual turned up outside the gaol, described by the Liverpool Echo that evening as 'a bigger cluster of busybodies.'

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Man Buries Hatchet Into Wife's Head

In 1897 Thomas Lloyd was hanged after an apparent confession to the murder of his wife, saying that he would swing for her.

55 year old boilermaker Thomas lived with his wife, 52 year old Julia in a house shared with other families in Tillard Street, which was off Fountains Road in Kirkdale. It was a stormy marriage, with frequent alcohol fuelled rows and it was one of these that led to the tragic events that saw both of them end up dead.

In June 1897 Thomas left their home for several days but on the 19th he plucked up the courage, after downing several pints, to ask Julia to take him back. She relented but the following morning Julia was found by a neighbour lying in a pool of blood with serious blows to her head and was taken to the Stanley Hospital.

Thomas remained on the run for nearly a week and was picked up by police on 24th June, initially telling the officer, 'I did it, I'll swing like a man.' However on being charged with attempted murder he told detectives at Westminster Road Bridewell that nobody saw him strike her. After Julia died in Stanley Hospital of a haemorrhage two days later Thomas was then charged with murder. There was a further tragedy prior to the inquest which took place on 1st July when police officers attended the property to summons two females. They were found  in bed, one of them having lain over her baby daughter causing her to suffocate to death.

Thomas was tried at the next Liverpool Assizes on 30th July. Other residents of Tillard Street told how they had heard drunken rows coming from the Lloyds' room on 19th June, with Thomas having been heard to shout 'I will kill you and the other too.' Thomas had also been seen walking around with a hatchet and soon afterwards shout 'I will cut your head off.'

Thomas's counsel argued that he was provoked into the crime by Julia's bad temper and asked for a verdict of manslaughter. However the judge directed that the jury could only find him either guilty or not guilty of murder. The jury returned a guilty verdict after just twenty minutes and he was sentenced to death by Justice Bruce (left), who called it a savage attack. There was some sympathy for Thomas and over 9,000 signatures were collected in a petition that was handed to the Home Secretary on 14th August. Despite this a reprieve was refused and Thomas was hanged at Walton on 18th August.

Friday, 8 March 2013

No Reprieve For Man Who Stabbed Partner

In April 1894 a Kirkdale man stabbed his partner to death after accusing her of infidelity and failed in his appeal to have his death sentence commuted to life imprisonment.

John Langford, a 40 year old confectioner who was originally from Shropshire, separated from his wife and began co-habiting with a woman named Elizabeth Stephen and her three children in Cockerell Street off Walton Road.

Both were prone to drunkenness and Elizabeth spent Easter Monday, 2nd April drinking most of the day, with Langford  believing she was out with another man. He went out to work a nightshift, leaving her lying intoxicated on a rug in front of the fire. The next morning he came home to find Elizabeth had gone out, and found her drinking with two women in a pub on the corner of Florence Street and Walton Road.

After Langford struck her Elizabeth ran off but he caught up with her in the entry behind Cockerell Street and plunged a knife into her chest. He then tried to slit his own throat and both were taken to the Stanley Hospital in Stanley Road. Elizabeth died that day but did manage to tell police that she had brought the trouble on to herself due to her conduct. Langford survived and police stood guard by his bed, with him eventually being fit enough to appear before magistrates on 17th April on a murder charge.

On 3rd May Langford stood trial at the Liverpool Assizes and was found guilty, but with a recommendation for mercy. He was sentenced to death by Justice Day and the expected commutation to life imprisonment never came. Langford was hanged at Walton by James Billington on 22nd May. He went to the gallows with a resigned acceptance in an execution which members of the press were allowed to witness for the first time in many years.

Imprisoned In Attic And Beaten To Death

In 1894 John Walber was kept chained up in his home for four months before being beaten to death by his wife who suspected him of infidelity.

50 year old John and his wife Margaret, 53, lived at 6 Gildart Street, off London Road, along with Margaret's son John Murray and a number of lodgers. They had married in 1888 but it was not a happy one, with both of them addicted to drink. John was a French polisher while Margaret ran a small grocery store at the address.

In 1893 Anne Connolly, who had been in a relationship with John in the 1870s moved into a house in nearby Oakes Street and renewed her acquaintance with John again, although he maintained it was purely on a friendship basis. One afternoon that summer John told Margaret that he was going out for a drink and after she had followed him to Connolly's house, she burst the door down and punched him several times.

When John returned home later that evening there were further arguments before he collapsed drunk. When he awoke, he found that he was stripped and chained to the wall of his attic, the door of which had been padlocked. Margaret had managed to get him up there with the help of her son.

For four months John was kept in the attic, his non appearance being explained away to lodgers by the fact that he was sick and in need of a long rest. However on 16th November a great disturbance was heard from the attic and Margaret told other residents that her son John had beaten her husband to death and fled the property. When the police arrived, they found what the Liverpool Mercury described as a gruesome sight. John had been beaten with the chain and also with a porcelain chamber pot, which was now smashed and the walls were covered in blood.

Margaret was taken in for questioning and after the police found inconsistencies in her story and bloodstains in her clothing, she made a statement to the effect that she had hit him with a chain after seeing he had managed to get some trousers on and was looking to leave the property. Her son was traced to Dublin and was brought back to Liverpool for questioning, where he told police that his mother had given him two gold sovereigns and sent him away after he had come across Margaret standing next to John's dead body.

Margaret was charged and stood trial at Liverpool Assizes on 14th March 1894. It did not take the jury long to reach a verdict of guilty and Margaret was sentenced to death by Justice Day. After being given consolation by Father Wade, she was hanged at Walton on 2nd April by James Billington. The press reported that after initially acting with a resigned acceptance, she broke down crying when the pinionning started.