Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Man Kills Daughter With Poker

Shortly before the outbreak of the First World War a 7 year old girl was killed when she was struck by a poker that was thrown by her father in a row over a pawned vest.

The tragedy occurred in Ernest Street, Toxteth (now no longer there, but off Miles Street to the south east of the Tesco Extra) on the evening of Saturday 25th July 1914. William Archibald Kay, a dock labourer who was a father of eight, returned home and handed his wages to his wife, telling her to get his vest back from the pawn shop.

When Kay's wife asked if the vest could wait for another week he became annoyed and an argument broke out, concluding with him ordering her to 'get out'. When she told him to 'guide his temper' he replied 'I'll guide you' and pushed her into the lobby, then threw a poker after her. The poker missed his wife but struck 7 year old Mary Jane on the head.

Mrs Kay was so shocked at what happened that she fainted in the street, and Kay immediately picked the girl up in his arms and shouted for passers by to call a doctor. When Dr Chavasse arrived, Mary Jane was dead and a devastated Kay surrendered himself to the police, telling him that he had done it to 'my little favourite.' A post mortem revealed that death was caused by haemorrhage caused by the blow.

On 28th July the inquest took place. Mary Jane's brother Robert told the Coroner that the family lived comfortably and although his father was addicted to drink at times and could be quarrelsome, he had never hit his wife. Mary Jane was his favourite child and had been in hospital a few weeks earlier with an infection, but made a full recovery. Kay was still wearing his dock labourers uniform and sat dejected throughout the proceedings, sobbing when his affection for Mary Jane was mentioned. The jury returned a verdict of wilful murder and Kay was committed for trial at the Liverpool Assizes.

When the Assizes opened on 27th October, Mr Justice Darling indicated that he did not believe this case amounted to murder and Kay was allowed to plead guilty to manslaughter. The following day, Kay received a sentence of just six months imprisonment in light of his previous good character. 

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Pub Fight Leads to Life Imprisonment

A 24 year old man who was involved in a large scale brawl at a pub and refused to heed his father's advice to go him ended up being sent to jail for life after being convicted of stabbing a bystander to death.

Shortly before midnight on Saturday 26th January 1861 there was a row in Mellor and Llewellyn Spirit Vaults at the corner of Dale Street and Johnson Street. A customer named Patrick Hefferan, who had been there for about two hours with his brother and friends, refused to make way for Thomas Donegan who was entering via the Dale Street doors. After a short scuffle involving a number of customers Donegan was removed into the street by the barman James Barlow, but he returned and struck another man down before leaving again.

Police arrived and told all customers, numbering no more than twenty in total, to leave. One of those was James Cassidy, who stopped and leaned against a wall in Johnson Street, a decision that was to prove fateful for him. Donegan said to Cassidy 'Are you one of them?' and without giving him a chance to answer punched him on the cheek despite his own father's pleas for him to stay away. Cassidy, who hadn't even been in the part of the pub where the row took place fell almost instantly.

Police who were at the scene weren't alarmed at first, as they assumed Cassidy had been drinking and fallen easily after the punch. What they didn't realise though was that Donegan, who had quickly run off, had a knife within his clenched fist and when Cassidy was seen to be bleeding heavily a doctor was called. He was taken to the North Dispensary in a cab  but it was too late and he was dead on arrival, the jugular vein having been severed.

Donegan remained at large for a week, eventually being found in Cornwall Street in Everton hiding under a bed. Unbeknown to him, his uncle was battling serious injuries after being accidentally slashed by Donegan during the fracas in the vaults. When he arrived at the Bridewell, warders made him ham, bread and coffee but he had no appetite and instead asked for spiritual help.

On 1st April Donegan appeared before Mr Justice Hill at the Liverpool Assizes, where witnesses testified to having seen him strike Cassidy. Donegan's father was placed in the awful position of being called to the witness box but the prosecution didn't ask him any questions and he instead just had to confirm to the defence that after the stabbing, he didn't see him again until he has been arrested.

Mr Littler, the defence counsel, told the jury that Donegan had had no previous ill feeling towards Cassidy and he was wound up due to the earlier altercation. Given this lack of premeditation, he argued that a manslaughter verdict was most appropriate. When Justice Hill summed up, he left Donegan's fate very much in the balance. He stated that if he had struck the deceased with a weapon without provocation then it was murder, but if it had been in the heat of the moment, having been involved in a quarrel if could be reduced to manslaughter. A big problem here was that despite the earlier fracas, Cassidy was clearly not part of he group that had been fighting in the spirit vaults.

The jury returned a verdict of 'manslaughter of a very aggravated character'. In sentencing, Justice Hill said that a murder verdict would have been reasonable and that Cassidy had been a 'peaceable man, who gave no offence'. Telling Donegan that he was sentencing him to something as 'near as capital punishment could be' and from a duty he could not shrink, Justice Hill imposed a sentence of penal servitude for life.

Monday, 21 July 2014

High Seas Killer Swims For It

A seaman who killed his officer tried to swim his way to freedom but was captured and brought to Liverpool to face trial, where he was shown some leniency by the judge.

43 year old William Brown joined the Regina as a boatswain in the autumn of 1867 for a voyage to Sierra Leone. It was there on 4th January that Joseph Dunlop, an Antwerpian who had adopted a British surname, joined the vessel as an able seaman.

The Regina with its nine man crew set sail from the Sherbo River on 7th February and the sailing was without incident until the early morning of 3rd March when Brown, Dunlop and a Dane named Nordholm were together on deck. Dunlop was refusing to carry out Brown's instruction to pump the ship, instead challenging him to a fight, leading to the Captain going on deck to calm both men down.

As Dunlop was heading to his bunk, Brown got hold of an iron bar and struck him five times with it in full view of Chief Officer John Thomas. Half an hour later, Dunlop was found dead by Thomas in the forecastle and an examination of the body revealed a gash above the eye and fractures to the skull. He was buried at sea and Brown was then locked in a cabin, but not put in irons.

When the vessel came within 10 miles of the North Wales coast, Brown made a dash for it by making a rope out of his bed linen and clambering out of his window and down the side of the ship. The man at the wheel saw this and raised the alarm, leading to a boat being launched and Brown being captured as he made his desperate bid for freedom.

On 17th April 1868 the Regina arrived in Liverpool, where Brown was taken into custody by the river police. Violently shaking, he asked if transportation was still ongoing and said that he did it in self defence but was sure to be hanged or transported. He appeared before Mr Raffles the stipendiary magistrate and was committed for trial at the Summer Assizes.

At this trial, Brown claimed self defence although the only provocation was that Dunlop had refused to carry out a duty. In summing up though Baron Kelly directed the jury to find him guilty of manslaughter and due to Brown's previous good character, he received a fairly lenient term of twelve years penal servitude.

Sectarian Slur Was No Defence

A man who stabbed another to death in Bevington Hill was convicted of manslaughter and jailed for life after the jury refused to accept his plea that the killing took place in self defence after he was called a 'Papist'.

On 8th May 1868 some workers from the Allinsons Brewery in Gildart Street went for a drink after work in a pub in Bevington Hill. When one of them, Richard Cropper, left on his own at about 930pm he encountered 26 year old butcher Edward Bailey outside, who said to him 'You're the one who has come to kill the Papists.'

When Bailey responded that he didn't want to kill anyone, especially a Papist as he was one himself, Cropper reacted angrily and challenged him to a fight. As the men squared up to each other, Cropper's colleague Arthur Brock came out of he pub and persuaded him to walk away and go home. As Cropper headed home, Brock and Bailey got into an argument, leading to the latter taking a knife out of a sheath that was around his waist and plunging it into Brock's chest.

Brock staggered off and collapsed after about 100 yards. By the time a doctor arrived, he was dead, the knife having gone between two ribs and protruded four inches into his body. Police soon found Bailey at his home in as court off nearby Ennerdale Street and he was taken into custody. A post mortem found that Brock had died from an internal haemorrhage caused as a result of a puncture to the heart.
Bailey was charged with murder and stood trial before Baron Kelly on 20th August. Witnesses said they had seen both Cropper and Brock act aggressively and Bailey's employers testified to his good character. But his claim that he had been rounded on by three men calling him a Papist and that he acted in self defence was not accepted. Due to the element of provocation however, he was found guilty of manslaughter rather than murder.

The judge showed no leniency in passing sentence, saying it was a most aggravated form of manslaughter. As he was sentenced to penal servitude for life, Bailey's wife let out several shrieks and had to be removed from the courtroom.

Monday, 14 July 2014

Thrown From a Cart

A foreign sailor who was a passenger in a cart was killed after a teenager tampered with the bolts leading to him being thrown to his death.

On Friday 10th February 1826 Christian Andersen, a Norwegian seaman aboard the Sylph, drank in beerhouses around the Baltic Triangle before getting into a cart in Kitchen Street. It was owned by Mr Pye, who was a miller in Wavertree and objected to Andersen's intoxicated state. 

A row ensued and whilst the pair were arguing, an 18 year old named Ralph Clarke unfastened the bolts that connected the cart to the shafts that were around the horse's body. Several people saw this and alerted Mr Pye, who refastened the bolts. However Clarke immediately removed the bolts again, just as Mr Pye was driving his horses on. This time there was no time for him to be made aware and as the horses moved off, the cart tilted and Andersen was thrown out of it, landing head first onto some stones.

Andersen was taken  to the South Dispensary in an insensible state, where he was found to have a fracture to his skull. He never regained consciousness and died later that evening. Clarke had been taken into custody at the scene and on the Monday an inquest jury found him guilty of manslaughter. He was committed to Lancaster Assizes for trial, where he was sentenced to two years imprisonment with hard labour.

Friday, 11 July 2014

Killer Walks Free as Judgement Respited

A man Kirkdale man who killed another man after he made offensive remarks about the woman he was with walked free from court after the judge was satisfied he had not intended to cause any serious harm to his victim.

On the evening of 2nd August 1825 Mathias Kelly was walking next to a field near Kirkdale Gaol with a lady called Mary Calton. A man called John Warn, who neither of them knew, shouted something insulting to the couple and threw a brick at his elbow. Kelly responded by throwing the brick back and then struck Warn when he feared having the brick thrown back at him. This didn't deter Warn, who threw the brick at Kelly's head and cutting it. Kelly then punched Warn in the face and he fell backwards onto the ground.

A friend of Warn's called the Watch and Kelly quickly left the scene with Colton, not realising the extent of Warn's injuries. Kelly arrived at his mothers house in Sir Thomas Street at 11pm and had the wound dressed by his mother's servant Mary Allen. At around the same time Warn was arriving at the Infirmary suffering from bleeding to a three inch wound to the head. He was examined by a surgeon and died a few days later, never having regained consciousness. An officer of the Watch who had stopped Kelly when he saw him bleeding recalled this and had the foresight to take further details, then managed to take him into custody.

Kelly was tried at Lancaster at the end of that month. Witnesses testified that the place where the altercation took place contained lots of loose rubble, and doctors who examined Warn felt the injury from which he died was a result of being cut as he fell down, not the actual blow. With others testifying to Kelly's good character, the jury concluded that Kelly was guilty of manslaughter and that he had been provoked in the first instance. Jusice Bayley then respited sentence, effectively letting Kelly go free in the knowledge he would be re-sentenced should he get into any further trouble.

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Gaol Killer Transported

A prisoner who stabbed another to death whilst in Kirkdale Gaol was extremely fortunate to evade a murder conviction and was instead transported for life after being found guilty of manslaughter.

George Metham, who had already returned to England after being transported for seven years, was coming to the end of a custodial sentence at Kirkdale in May 1825. He was transferred to another part of the prison where inmates could mix more freely, but taking advantage of these privileges led to the killing that would see him take to the seas again.

Metham took a sum of money with him when he moved and managed to add to this by successful gambling. However a group of prisoners led by William Hudson decided to rob Metham of this money, but their plan was communicated to him by another inmate. Methan sent word back that he had a knife and would use it if attacked.

On the evening of 16th May Metham finished in the workshop at about 8pm and was taken to the day-room by a turnkey. Metham had the knife on him at that point as he had been using it to cut bread, and he quickly hid it in his clothing without shutting it. On entering the room where the other prisoners were he stood with his back to the wall, ready to fight off any attack if it came.

For several minutes some other prisoners, who were unaware that Metham had been tipped off, tried to entice him away from the wall but he stayed where he was. Eventually Hudson went up and grabbed Metham by the collar, then tried to bundle him to the ground. Metham responded by drawing the knife and stabbing his attacker in the belly.

Lancaster CastleHudson died two days after the incident and Metham was charged with murder and appeared before Justice Bayley at Lancaster Assizes on Saturday 20th August. That he had stabbed Hudson to death was not denied, it was just a case of determining whether or not it was self defence. A prisoners gave evidence stating that Hudson had planned to rob Metham, while another old how there had been no previous ill feeling between the two, with Metham having twice given Hudson tobacco in the preceding days.

The only evidence in respect of any intention to cause harm came from Metham himself, whose testimony did not do him many favours. In admitting that he had the knife in anticipation of the attack, the judge suggested that this could be tantamount to premeditated murder given the robbery should not have caused any physical harm and the idea of a prisoner having money in gaol was absurd. However, it was also pointed out that Metham admitted to having used the knife to cut bread just beforehand and may not have had time to close it before hiding it from the turnkey. Another factor in Metham's favour was that he only had the knife as a precaution and did nothing to provoke any attack.

After deliberating for an hour the jury returned a verdict of guilty of manslaughter, the foreman saying they believed it was of the most aggravated character. The judge wasted no time on a prisoner who had already been transported once, telling him that this time it would be for life. On 1st August 1826, Metham arrived at Van Dieman's Land (now Tasmania) aboard the Woodman, on which he sailed with 149 other convicts.

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Pawn Tickets Catch Murderer

A man who committed murdered a relative of his wife's employer during a burglary in 1832 was caught when police found evidence he had pawned the stolen items.

20 year old plasterer John Thomas was originally from Oswestry in Shropshire and in December 1831 arrived in Everton to be with his new wife Elizabeth, who was a servant to Mr and Mrs Okell. They lived in Breck Road, which was then Breck Lane and part of Everton which was a village in its own right and not part of Liverpool. They ran a spirit vaults in Liverpool at Seddon Street, still in existence near the junction of Duke and Paradise Streets.

On the afternoon of Monday 9th January 1832 Elizabeth and Sarah Okell were in an upstairs room together when Sarah opened a drawer containing some silver plated cutlery. The following morning Sarah went to the spirit vaults, leaving her 25 year old niece Ellen Bancroft in the house. The property had some damp and Elizabeth had suggested that her husband may be able to fix the patches, but when he did go around on the premise of looking at them the next afternoon he had other ideas. Taking a poker that was next to the fire he hit Ellen over the head then forced open the draws and stole some of the sliver.

Thomas had waited until his wife had left the house before committing the act. When it happened she was at the spirit vaults with Sarah, having taken some caps there which she had been asked to make. At around 8pm Thomas went there to collect his wife, whispering something that Sarah was unable to hear. A couple of hours later Sarah returned to Everton, where she saw Ellen being removed to the Infirmary in a car. She had been found around 7pm by Sarah's nephew Samuel, who had climbed in through a kitchen window and found her sat in a chair covered with blood, while a bloodied poker was lying on the floor by her side. Ellen was conscious but confused and a doctor who attended dressed the wound before arranging for her to be taken to the Infirmary.

When Sarah went upstairs, she found that the dressing table draw had been smashed open and the cutlery was missing. Four spoons had already been pawed by then, having been taken by a man matching Thomas's description to Mr Little's pawnbrokers in Liverpool. On the Thursday evening police went to Mr & Mrs Thomas's lodgings, taking both into custody in relation to the assault and burglary. A search of the room found some damning evidence was found by way of a chisel which was the same size as what had been used to force open the draws, as well as pawn tickets for items of a similar nature to what had been stolen. 19 shillings was also found in Elizabeth's purse, the items having been pawned for 20 shillings.

Ellen lingered on in the Infirmary until the evening of 15th January, when she slipped away. She had been conscious the previous day though when Thomas was taken by police to see her and she identified him as the man who had come to the house to check the damp and then assaulted her. The inquest began the following day and lasted for three days, which included a visit to the Infirmary by the Coroner's jury to view the body. After a verdict of wilful murder against Thomas was returned he was committed to the Lancaster Assizes for trial but Elizabeth was discharged, having apparently been no more than an unwitting accessory to the crime. Ellen was buried in her home town of Weaverham, near Northwich, a week to the day after she was attacked.

At his trial on Friday 9th March there were plenty of witnesses who gave damning testimony against Thomas. In addition to the police evidence, a local resident said she had seen Thomas pacing back and forth along Breck Lane at about 4pm on the day of the burglary, while a joiner working at a nearby property positively identified him as having left the Okell's house, as did a stonemason who saw him running. The pawnbroker's assistant identified Thomas as having pawned the spoons, while Mrs Okell confirmed that they were the ones that had been taken. Dr Horton, surgeon at the Infirmary stated that Ellen's death was as a direct result of the wound.

After the prosecution closed their case, there was little defence Thomas could offer and in summing up, the judge said that if the jury were satisfied Thomas had entered the house and struck the fatal blow there was only one verdict they could return. It took just a few minutes for the foreman to announce a verdict of guilty. Thomas showed little emotion as the judge donned the black cap and sentenced him to death, telling him to spend the few moments left in this life to seeking mercy and forgiveness.

Thomas's execution took place just three days after the verdict, on the morning of Monday 12th March in front of a crowd of 3,000. On reaching the scaffold he shook hands with fellow convict William Heaton, who had been sentenced to death after murdering a man in Burtonwood. Both men were hanged simultaneously at 8.15pm, the Lancashire Advertiser  reporting that Thomas struggled a little. After being cut down, Thomas's body was sent to Liverpool where it was to be used by surgeons for dissection.