Sunday, 23 June 2013

Wife Battered in Parlour

In 1881 Everton man Joseph McEntee was hanged for killing his wife, whose body was found by fellow tenants whilst he went on the run.

Joseph, who worked as a tailor, lived with his wife Ellen (aged 50) in a three storey house at 89 Rose Place, occupying the parlour and top storey. Another family named the Penningtons rented the first floor.

Rose Place (
On the morning of 5th April 1881 one of the Pennington children, a little girl came downstairs and found a blood soaked rag on the floor and noticed that the parlour door handle was missing. She then looked through the keyhole and saw the corpse of Ellen, but was told off by her mother for being nosey. However when Martha Pennington went down herself she looked and could only see the prisoner, but when he went out she opened the door using a stick and found the battered body of Ellen.

The police and a doctor were called, who ascertained that there were five stab wounds on the body and that the death had probably occurred the night before. A niece of Ellen came forward to say that she had called to see her at 10pm and Joseph had been evasive as to her whereabouts, and had appeared to step over something as he answered the door.

A description of Joseph was circulated around police stations and he was arrested that night in Garston in a drunken state, having pawned a watch there for 30 shillings. Although he had had his moustache and beard shaved off a police constable noticed the blood on his hands and boots, which were matted with hair. When he was searched he was found to have a door knob in his pocket and was reported to have said 'its all through drink' as he was arrested.

At his trial on 10th May, witnesses acknowledged that although the couple were known to drink heavily, they were not renowned for quarrelling and that Joseph had always provided well for Ellen. His defence counsel claimed that he had returned home to find Ellen murdered and been so bewildered that he just wandered about drinking in an aimless manner. In his summing up, Mr Justice Mathew stated that the defence had acknowledged that a murder had taken place and it was simply up to the jury to decide if the circumstantial evidence pointed to Joseph as the killer. After retiring for 20 minutes they returned a verdict of guilty.

When asked if he had anything to say, Joseph replied 'Its no use now I have been found guilty.' After being sentenced to death Joseph shook hands with his counsel and was taken down to the cells. Although his solicitors tried for a reprieve on the grounds that Joseph had no murderous intent this was refused. He was hanged at Kirkdale Gaol on 31st May, a crowd of several hundred gathering outside the walls. The thud of the 'drop' was clearly heard outside and one woman in the crowd wept bitterly, saying she had known him since he was a boy and he hadn't meant it.

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Sea Captain Stabbed In Garston

In 1866 a Greek sailor stabbed a captain who was doing a good turn in taking him back to his ship, but avoided a murder conviction due to him convincing the jury he had feared for his safety.

On Sunday 11th February 1866 four sea captains had a quick drink at the Garston Hotel and left at 11pm to return to their ships. Whilst walking to the docks they came across Antonio Patrona, who was clearly drunk and Captain Evan Hughes took his arm and said that he would escort him to his ship, which he did so with the others walking further behind.

Patrona went quietly with Hughes until he reached his ship and then sang in Greek, leading to the appearance of his brother James and another sailor, George Oriata. Very soon afterwards Hughes returned from the quay and fell into the arms of Henry Jones, saying that he had been stabbed. The Patrona brothers ran away but Oriata was quickly arrested, and was identified by Hughes as having kicked him.

When police searched his ship the Antonia, Patrona was unable to produce his knife unlike all the other sailors, telling them 'Me have bad memory.' A knife the same as those belonging to the other sailors on the ship was found the following morning about 20 yards away. Using his Captain as a translator, Patrona claimed that he had acted in self defence after being hit with an umbrella but he was arrested and after Hughes died two days later he was charged with murder and committed for trial at the Liverpool Assizes.

On 31st March Patrona stood trial, a surgeon revealing that Hughes had five stab wounds and that the rupturing of the bowels had resulted in his death. Under cross examination, Hughes's fellow captains admitted they did not actually see what had gone on, only that they had heard a 'scrimmage.' Patrona's defence counsel put it to the jury that he was fearing for his own safety and didn't speak English very well and as such he should only be guilty of manslaughter. After 45 minutes deliberation the jury agreed and also gave a strong recommendation for mercy. Mr Justice Mellor took this into consideration and sentenced Patrona to just nine months imprisonment with hard labour.

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Fined For Killing Omnibus Conductor

In 1866 a bus passenger received an extremely lenient sentence after being convicted of killing the conductor of the omnibus on which he was travelling.

London Road (
On Friday 19th January that year Charles Grice was travelling from London Road to West Derby and boarded the Cabbage Hall omnibus by mistake, soon jumping off at the corner of Moss Street. The conductor John Wardle chased after him and demanded payment of the fare, but Grice said it was ridiculous for him to pay given the distance travelled and pushed him away. When Wardle asked again, Grice pushed him so hard that he fell into the path of another omnibus and had his arms and chest run over by the wheels.

Wardle was taken to the Royal Infirmary where he died from internal injuries at 1am on the Saturday morning. Within hours Grice, a respectable man who ran carriers (a taxi of the time) between Liverpool and West Derby, made his first appearance in court charged with manslaughter and was released on £100 bail.

When he appeared before the Assizes on 2nd April Grice called upon several witnesses to testify to his good character. The jury found him guilty of manslaughter and strongly recommended mercy given Grice had admitted the incident from the beginning and expressed his regret at what had happened. Mr Justice Mellor decided not to imprison him, but instead imposed a fine of £10.

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Man Hanged For Killing Aunt Over Shoes

A man was hanged in 1874 after he killed his aunt, for whom he worked , when she confronted him over a pair of allegedly stolen shoes.

21 year old Henry Flanagan was described by the Liverpool Mercury as having led a 'dissolute, wicked life' and reached a 'deplorable level of depravity.' Originally from Leitrim in Ireland, he was taken to Glasgow by his parents at the age of 15 and married a Scottish woman with whom he had a daughter in 1872.

Flanagan worked as a shoemaker and would often travel for work, which brought him to Liverpool where he was employed by his aunt Mary Flanagan at Bent Street, which was situated on what is now grass landscaping opposite the junction of Scotland Road and Leeds Street. Mary was a 50 year old widow who employed four shoemakers, with Flanagan acting as the foreman.

On Saturday 4th April the four employees finished work about 4pm and sent for ale, drinking at the shop premises along with Mary until they were intoxicated. Flanagan was then seen by Mary to drop a pair of her shoes, leading to her claiming he intended pawning them to get more drink. This enraged him but things soon calmed down and other members of the household either went out or to bed, leaving Flanagan and Mary alone in the kitchen. Flanagan then raped and strangled Mary then went to sleep on a bed, leaving her lying on the floor.

Lime Street Station (
At some point in the night Flanagan went to bed upstairs and when he was informed at 8am the following morning that Mary was dead he acted quite calmly, simply getting his coat and stating to others that he was going to Manchester and invited a friend called George O'Neill to go with him.

At Lime Street station Flanagan was told that there was no train for another six hours and he said he had to be out of town earlier and would walk instead. At a shop Flanagan bought some tobacco and paid with a gold sovereign, telling the keeper not to hand him the change (19 shillings) back as he had plenty of money. Both men walked as far as Prescot, stopping for ale several times along the way, then Flanagan announced that he was going to try and get to Glasgow.

At about 9pm that night Flanagan was found in a drunken state by a policeman in Knotty Ash. He said that he had been walking from Manchester since the Friday and was near death from starvation. He was taken to Old Swan police station (which is now the Nat West Bank on Prescot Road) where it was found that his description matched that of the man wanted for Mary's murder and he was charged, telling the officer 'it cannot be helped now.'

At his trial Flanagan's defence counsel argued that the evidence against him was purely circumstantial. However the fact Mary's purse was empty and he was in possession of a substantial amount of money and the fact his waistcoat was found next to her body helped the jury convict him after just a few minutes deliberation. A few days later Flanagan was visited at Kirkdale Gaol by his wife, child and parents, who had all travelled from Glasgow. He made a confession to them that he had robbed and strangled his aunt, but there was no intent to kill.

The execution was fixed for 8am on Monday 31st August 1874 and as the press were being admitted into the gaol, a man came running across the fields demanding to see Flanagan. The request was refused and he left, telling journalists that he was a 'very good mate.' Flanagan went to his death extremely calmly, even assisting the executioner William Marwood in placing the rope around his neck. He was hanged in a double execution along with Mary Williams.

Mother of Seven Hanged

In 1874 a Bootle mother was hanged despite pleas for mercy, leaving seven children in the care of the workhouse.

Irish born Mary Williams lived in Raleigh Street with her husband, to whom she had been married ten years, most of them unhappily. She was regularly in trouble and in 1872 was sentenced to seven days imprisonment for non payment of a fine.

On 20th April 1874 Williams got into an argument with some female neighbours who set about beating her. The brother of one of the women was Nicholas Manning, who later that evening was seen in the street by Williams who threw cups at him, causing him to run away towards his father's house, shouting that he had never struck a woman in his life. Later on he was back and Williams produced a revolver from under her apron and fired it at him, before handing herself over to police and saying that she had done it and would do it again. Manning was taken to Bootle Borough Hospital where he died two weeks later.

Williams maintained at her trial that she had only intended to frighten Manning and not cause him harm, but she was found guilty of murder. Her husband, a 27 year old dock labourer, told authorities he was unable to cope and handed six of their seven children over to the Walton Workhouse (left, photo by Sue Adair). The youngest, aged just eight months, was allowed to stay with Williams in gaol until she had been weaned before going to the workhouse.

Despite numerous pleas, including by the Mayor of Bootle, for the sentence to be commuted to life imprisonment, the Home Secretary refused to grant a reprieve and there were heartbreaking scenes when Williams said goodbye to her children when they were brought from the workhouse to see her three days before the execution. Williams was hanged at Kirkdale Gaol on 31st August in a double execution with Henry Flanagan, who had killed his aunt. Williams was the first woman hanged at Kirkdale for 30 years.

Monday, 10 June 2013

Murder And Suicide in Victorian Old Swan

In 1866 a man murdered his married cousin whilst her husband was away at sea before going on to commit suicide.

Ship's purser Thomas Train and his wife Ann lived at Wood Grove (now hardly in existence as a cul de sac opposite Kwik Fit on Edge Lane). A 20 year old servant named Margaret Golding also lived with them and Ann's cousin John Moss, who had recently returned to Liverpool from Australia where he had made cigars, also regularly stayed there and seemed to have a very close relationship with her.

For two weeks in May 1866 Thomas Train was back with his wife and expressed his disapproval of Moss's presence. At Thomas's request Moss left, but he would visit daily for a meal with Ann while Thomas was visiting Liverpool. On Tuesday 23rd May Thomas set sail aboard the Delamere, leaving Ann with instructions to leave the house in Old Swan and move to a new home in New Brighton. Moss immediately reappeared and stayed for the next two nights, then on Thursday 24th May Ann began packing up for the move, aided by her cousin and servant.

As the three of them were packing, there was a disturbing moment when Moss picked up a carving knife and began to sharpen it, saying that he didn't like this world any more and he could easily kill himself by cutting the jugular vein. By teatime though he was quite calm and after eating they continued packing. At about 930pm Ann asked Margaret to go to another room and get a dress and as she did so she heard screams. On returning upstairs she saw Moss striking Ann with a hatchet. Margaret ran outside for help and came back a few minutes with two neighbours, who found the body of Ann lying on the floor, with part of the brains lying beside the head. Police were called and they searched the house and found Moss's body in the scullery with a carving knife lying beside it, his jugular vein having been cut.

At the inquest into the deaths, it was revealed that a letter had been found in Moss's pocket, apparently written that day and for the attention of Thomas. In it he referred to Ann as 'nearly my sister' and that she was not a 'fit consort' for Thomas and as such he was 'ridding you of her'. The jury returned  a verdict of murder and suicide, having decided that Moss was of sound mind and taken his own life to prevent the law doing it for him.

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Army Reservist Kills Sweetheart

In 1895 a 26 year old man killed his girlfriend in Toxteth and was only spared execution thanks to a late reprieve from the Home Secretary.

Coal-heaver Edward O'Brien, who lived in Havelock Street in Seacombe, had for about 5 years been seeing 21 year old servant girl Sarah Jenkinson who lived in Embledon Street, off Upper Parliament Street. But in July 1895, when O'Brien was away in Warrington for training in his role as an army reservist, Sarah began a liaison with somebody else.

On 29th July 1895 O'Brien returned to Liverpool and heard of Sarah's new love before going on to spend most of the day drinking. At 1045pm he went to Embledon Street, where Sarah and her new boyfriend were, along with some other friends. O'Brien demanded to see her but she refused to come outside and he went up to her bedroom and dragged her from it down to the kitchen then cut her throat from ear to ear with a razor. Sarah went out into the yard but collapsed and was dead by the time police arrived at the scene a few minutes afterwards.

O'Brien was apprehended by police in the next street, having made only a half hearted attempt to escape and was taken to the Olive Street Bridewell where he said 'I am very sorry it is all through the drop of drink.' O'Brien was sentenced to death but this was commuted to life imprisonment following a 10,000 signature petition that contained signatures from people on both sides of the River Mersey.

Monday, 3 June 2013

Tragedy of Walton Doctor And His Son

In 1895 the son of a Walton doctor was killed by a member of his staff, a death which was followed a few months later by that of the doctor himself.

Dr. Richard Ireland, who was a visiting practicioner to the Liverpool Workhouse in Brownlow Hill, lived at 2 Harlech Street off County Road along with his wife and two sons. His assistant Patrick O'Callaghan also lived with them.

On 3rd August Dr. Ireland went away for a week, meaning not much work got done by O'Callaghan who often spent the days drinking, sometimes with Mrs Ireland. On Thursday 8th August, Mrs Ireland didn't even get dressed and had a friend, Mrs Sayers around around and drank for most of the day, whilst O'Callaghan drank alone. In the evening William was sent to bed and a row took place between O'Callaghan and Mrs Ireland, who refused to share her drink with him.

O'Callaghan was so overcome with rage that around 1am he went to the bedroom and dragged her 11 year old son William out of bed, beat him with his fists and then threw him with such force against a chair that his stomach was ripped open.  William managed to get under the bed for safety and Annie Washington, a 13 year old servant girl who sometimes stayed at the house, ran outside to get help after being woken by the screams.

When Police Constable Deacon went into the bedroom, he asked William to come out but he said his intestines were hanging out and after a doctor was called he was taken by horse ambulance to Bootle Hospital where he remained in a critical condition. O'Callaghan was arrested and charged with grievous bodily harm. He appeared at Islington Magistrates on on the morning of Saturday 10th August and remanded in custody for a week, with a police inspector stating that it was doubtful that William would make a recovery.

William failed to pull through, dying the following Wednesday after peritonitis had set in. At his inquest, held at Bootle police station on Friday 16th August, a verdict of wilful murder was returned and O'Callaghan was committed for trial at the next Assizes. William was buried at Anfield Cemetery on the Sunday, the funeral corterge being followed by a large crowd, some of whom expressed hostility to Mrs Ireland for being in a drunken state when her son was killed.

At O'Callaghan's trial in on 28th November, he maintained that he had not intended to cause any harm to William, but instead to simply to frighten Mrs Ireland. A surgeon from the Bootle Hospital said that death hadn't resulted directly from the injuries, but instead from the peritonitis and exhaustion which had been brought on by them. The day after the outrage, William had been able to give a statement to the police and this was read out in court, describing how he had been 'hammered' by O'Callaghan who kept catching up with him as he tried to get away.

O'Callaghan managed to avoid a conviction for murder on the basis he was so drunk at the time and hadn't used any implements when hitting William. He was instead found guilty of manslaughter and sentenced to 12 years penal servitude. In a sad postscript to the tragedy, Dr Ireland died of typhoid at the age of 58 the following month.