Thursday, 30 April 2015

Stabbed With Scissors Over Half a Crown

A man who got into a row with a friend who he believed owed him money was stabbed with a pair of scissors, but the killer was given a lenient sentence after the jury recommended mercy.

One evening in early June 1933 Clarence Collingwood, a 24 year old hairdresser,  went on a heavy drinking session with labourer William Colduck, aged 46. They began arguing over half a crown (12.5p), which Colduck said that he had loaned to Collingwood, who took him back to his lodgings in Islington.

Whilst there the pair had a scuffle and Colduck ran off. When he got to his home in Everton Road he noticed that he was bleeding from the armpit and sought treatment. Nearly three weeks later he died of blood poisoning and during the post mortem, the point of a scissor blade was extracted from the shoulder bone.

Collingwood was arrested and charged with murder, saying 'I am not guilty' when he appeared before the police court on 28th June. He appeared at the Manchester assizes on 11th July where the murder charge was not pursued. During a trial for the lesser charge of manslaughter Collingwood claimed he had acted in self defence and although he was found guilty with a recommendation for mercy by the jury. He was then sentenced to six months imprisonment.

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Liverpool Woman Oversees Death by Flogging

The brutal treatment of natives in Britain's colonial past was emphasised when a Liverpool woman was jailed for manslaughter after a man died from wounds received during a flogging.

In 1920 Major Geoffrey Selwyn, whose father was a former headmaster of Liverpool College, took advantage of  soldier settlement scheme and emigrated with his wife Helen from Liverpool to Kenya. They bought land to farm in Kitale, employing a number of Kuosh locals. 

Liverpool College in 19th Century
Geoffrey had been injured in the war and after ten years he let his wife take over the running of the farm as his health deteriorated. On 8th June 1934 he noticed that some cowbells were missing and he set off with five of his servants to follow the tracks of the thieves.

Geoffrey fell behind his staff and when he caught up with them at a neighbouring farm they were arguing with some Suk natives. Six of them were brought back to the Selwyn's farm where Helen ordered that they each be flogged. She watched on as four of her men held each down in turn, while another beat them with a broken rubber tyre. This broke before the last man faced his punishment and he was instead beaten with a leather strop.

The man who was beaten last, named as Keyen, died in hospital two weeks later of septicaemia which developed after the wounds on his thighs became infected. Mr and Mrs Selwyn were arrested, along with their five servants. Geoffrey, whose brother Edward was the Dean of Winchester Cathedral, had to be taken to hospital under guard and died of malady at the age of 46. Helen was admitted and treated for a heart complaint before being released. On 28th July Helen and five servants appeared at the Magistrates Court in Kitale for committal to the Supreme Court in Nairobi.

On 24th September Helen was allowed to sit on a chair next to the dock due to her condition. The trial almost had to be stopped when one of her servants collapsed and had to be taken to hospital, but the judge ordered that it should proceed. Despite the flogging having taken place three months earlier, the scars and bruises were still evidence and an Indian medical assistant who attended to them told how shock could have killed any one of them in the aftermath. He believed that Keyen's death was not of shock however, but due to him being beaten with a different implement to the others, which was dirty hence led to the wounds becoming infected.   

A statement made by Keyen when he was dying was read out, which said that he did not know anything about any cowbells and couldn't understand why he was beaten. The others who had been flogged said they didn't steal the cowbells and they also told how Geoffrey refused to have them transported to hospital, saying 'I won't have any baboons in the car.' 

When Helen took the stand, she took full responsibility for ordering the floggings but bemoaned the lack of luck she and her husband had had. She claimed that thefts were on the rise but they couldn't afford security guards even though they feared for their oxen.  Believing the strop to be a suitable implement for carrying out the beatings, she explained how the thighs were on the receiving end as no internal organs would be damaged. Claiming that she didn't know blood had been drawn she said with tears in her eyes 'I had no intention of killing, no intention of seriously injuring, my only intention was to make them confess.' A British doctor appeared on her behalf to say that the conditions at the hospital were dirty and that was where the germs were picked up which infected the wound.

In summing up the judge said the facts did not amount to murder but all six defendants were found guilty of manslaughter. The jury recommended mercy for Helen, who was sentenced to one year's imprisonment while the servant's each received a term of one month.

Tragic Case of Police Constable and Daughter

A Liverpool police officer who was distraught at the death of his wife gassed himself and his daughter to death.

On  Sunday 19th March 1939 Police Constable Edward Hall called on his colleague William Cumming at his home on Pinehurst Avenue, Anfield. 32 year old William's wife had died four months earlier but he was in better spirits than he had been some time and said he had visited the grave in Anfield cemetery that morning.

At 10am on the Monday William's housekeeper  went to the property and made a tragic discovery in one of the bedrooms. There she found the bodies of the police officer and his eight year old daughter Sheila, surrounded by the smell of gas.   A hose had been disconnected from the gas fire and directed instead into the bedroom.

An inquest on 21st March heard evidence from Constable Hall, who told the coroner about his colleague: 'His feet had been cut from under him, he was becoming beaten down by fate and more and more depressed.'  His housekeeper said that he had seemed much better than he had been for a while.

The jury returned a verdict of suicide in relation to William and with respect to Sheila it was one of murder but 'while the balance of mind was disturbed.' He was described by his superintendent as 'a very cheerful man who had received awards for bravery on two occasions' and it was reported that the police had done all they could during this difficult time, excusing him from night duty.

Boy's Body in Kit Bag

Shortly after the outbreak of World War 2 a seven year old boy was murdered in Liverpool, with the killer putting the body in a kit bag and dumping it under his bed.

Around midday on Saturday 16th September 1939  seven year old John Terence Court (known as Terry) went out to play in Everton Road with his younger brother. The pair soon got separated after John was last seen talking to an eighteen year old mess-room steward named Robert Dillon, who was known to them both.

Everton Road (
When John's mother and father were told of this  they went to  Dillon's home in Godfrey Street (situated where Everton Children's Centre now is) and were told by him that he had brought their son there and sent him away with some cigarette cards. Mr Court then reported John as missing, while Dillon went to the cinema. 

At around 9pm that evening Dillon's mother was in his bedroom and noticed a large seaman's kitbag under his bed and asked what was in it. He immediately confessed to his crime, saying 'I'm sorry mum I went mad.' She informed the police and Detective Sergeant Hooley attended, finding several cuts on the neck of John's body. When he asked Dillon why he had done it he replied 'I don't know what made me do it, I lost my temper, I did not mean to do it.' Terry was buried in West Derby Cemetery. 

Dillon was taken into custody and when he appeared at the police court on 2nd October to be committed for trial a statement was read out from him. This stated that Dillon put his hand over John's mouth as he was looking at some cards. When the boy starred to wriggle, he punched him, then stabbed him in the neck and chest. Dillon had then stripped the body and put it in a bag, before washing the knife in the bathroom.     

On 1st November Dillon appeared at the assizes, where two doctors gave evidence that appeared to indicate he did not know what he was doing. One described the attack, which resulted in twenty stab wounds, as frenzied and the other said it was during a fit and he was unaware of his actions. However, in summing up Mr Justice Stable said that if Dillon was not in control of his mind at the time, then he should not have been in a position to provide such a detailed statement in relation to the circumstances of the killing. After an hour's deliberation, the jury returned a verdict of guilty.

Dillon, who was described as 'dull and backwards' in syndicated press reports, showed no emotion as he was sentenced to death. However, on 27th November the verdict was quashed at the Court of Criminal Appeal and the verdict substituted with one of 'guilty but insane' leading to Dillon being detained at His Majesty's Pleasure.   

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Jubilee Killer Cleared

A woman who killed her husband in self defence after he cut up her coat to make clothes for their daughter was cleared of all charges after the jury accepted her explanation of events.

On the night of 7th May 1935 Muriel Murdoch, a 26 year old housewife, visited a friend to discuss their involvement in the week long celebrations for the Silver Jubilee of King George V. When she returned to her Breck Road home she found her husband James cutting up one of her coats. When she demanded to know what he was doing he said it was to make clothes for their daughter and that he was entitled to cut it up as what was his wife's was also his.

The 25 year old joiner then took hold of Muriel's wrists and pushed her to the floor, hitting her on the head and shoulders as he did so. As the shocked woman pulled herself up James came towards her and fearing she would be struck again, she picked up a file and threw it, striking his head.

When James held his head in his hands Muriel immediately went to his aid, bathing it and apologising for hurting him. Her husband replied 'we all have our quarrels' and kissed her, but when his condition deteriorated James was taken to hospital where he died in the early hours of the following morning. A post mortem revealed the cause of death as compression on the brain as a result of the internal bleeding caused by the blow to the head.  
Muriel was charged with murder and on 21st May she was committed to trial at the next Liverpool assizes. However when she appeared there on 13th June the Crown opted to proceed only with the lesser charge of manslaughter. Muriel wept as she told the court how her and James had been happily married for six years and had two young children. Recalling the incident she said 'I did not intend to hit him, I would not hurt him for the world.'

Dr Shannon from Manchester Prison said that he had examined her and she had a bruised eye and marks on her body. The jury did not even leave their box as they returned a verdict of not guilty and Muriel was discharged from the dock.  

Monday, 27 April 2015

Mother Who Malnourished Baby Not Charged

A Victorian woman whose baby died of malnourishment avoided any charges even though she was seen to mistreat it on the night of the death.
After the death of her husband, middle aged Catherine Warren lived with a dock porter named Canberry in Kew Street, off Scotland Road. In April 1868 she gave birth to a baby boy, which she named George.  

On 20th June Catherine took the baby to a doctor due to a bowel complaint, then was later seen in an intoxicated state in Scotland Road. When some passers by remonstrated with the way she was carrying George by holding his head under her arm and leaving the body and legs dangling, she said it was nothing to do with them. She then punched one of the concerned members of the public whilst tightly squeezing George's head under her arm, causing him to scream.
A police officer was notified and he took Catherine to the Athol Street bridewell. Baby George was given to Dr Sheldon who took him to the Liverpool Workhouse, but he was dead on arrival. A post mortem found that there had been no violence but the child was very under-nourished and the rough treatment may have accelerated death.

At the coroner's court on 22nd June an open verdict was returned, with Catherine being severely censured for her neglect and ill treatment. Catherine, who had been remanded in custody since the death, was then released.

One Month for Saucepan Killer

A man who returned home for dinner to find his wife had spent the morning drinking hit her over the head with a saucepan, but was sentenced to just one months imprisonment when she died from her injuries.

In 1860 Thomas and Mary Rawlinson, who were in their early forties, lived in a cellar in Mason Street, off Wapping. They led a wretched and miserable life, with Thomas being honest and industrious but Mary being of drunken and profligate habits, spending all the housekeeping money on drink. She was said to also take sailors home to engage in immoral habits.

On Tuesday 19th June that year Thomas went to his work as a carter and Mary invited some friends into their cellar for drink. By 11am she was in a state of helpless intoxication and when Thomas returned home an hour and a half later he found the door bolted.

Thomas knocked at the door for fifteen minutes before Mary eventually answered and when he asked if she had prepared any dinner she replied that she hadn't. He then said 'It is a hard thing for a man who has been working all day to come home and find there is none ready.'  Mary then called Thomas a 'dirty son of a bitch' and went back down to the cellar.

Incensed by his wife's conduct and language, Thomas followed her down to the cellar and picked up a saucepan, striking her on the forehead with it. Mary's skull was fractured and she was taken to the Southern Hospital where doctors held out little hope of a recovery. The following day, Thomas appeared at the police court and was remanded for seven days. Mary never regained consciousness and died on the Friday afternoon.

The next day an inquest was held before the borough coroner Mr Curry, where a verdict of wilful murder was returned. However when he was committed for trial the charge was reduced to manslaughter. On 14th August Thomas appeared before Baron Martin at the assizes, where he was found guilty but with a recommendation to mercy from the jury. He was then sentenced to one months imprisonment with hard labour.

Killed by Husband's Unmanly Conduct

A brutal husband who assaulted his wife and pushed her down some steps was convicted of manslaughter after she died from her injuries. 

At about 1030pm on Sunday 28th July 1867 Thomas Quinn, a dock labourer, returned to his home in Star Street, Dingle in a drunken state and began quarrelling with his wife Rose. 

After hitting her several times he took hold of her by the shoulders and pushed her down the steps into the street, then got hold of a poker and struck his seven year old son over the head with it.

Police officers arrived and took Rose and the boy to the Southern Hospital, while Quinn was taken into custody and charged with assault. Their son was discharged into the care of relatives soon afterwards but Rose was in a very precarious state with a fractured skull. 

The next morning Quinn appeared before Mr Mansfield at the Magistrates' Court, the Daily Post describing him as 'a repulsive looking fellow.' On hearing from Dr Woollaston that his wife remained unconscious, Quinn apologised for his 'unmanly conduct' and was remanded for a week. 

Rose never came around and died on 3rd August. At the coroner's inquest the couple's eleven year olod daughter gave evidence of her father's violent conduct, leading to a verdict of manslaughter. The following day he appeared back at the magistrates' court for a committal hearing, where his daughter turned away and sobbed bitterly on seeing him in the dock. The magistrate Mr Raffles said to Quinn 'I hope you now understand the effects of you taking drink.'

On 19th August Quinn appeared before Lord Chief Justice Bovill and pleaded guilty to manslaughter receiving a sentence of seven months imprisonment.   

Policeman Dies After 'Liverpool Touch'

A police officer who was tripped whilst giving chase died after complications arose from his injuries, leading to a man being convicted of manslaughter.  

In the early hours of 6th June 1869 a row took place in Maguire Street, off Scotland Road when Constable Irvine intervened. He was stabbed several times by a woman who fled, with Irvine having to give up the chase as he became weakened by loss of blood. Constable Samuel Kingsberry took over but as he was running along Rose Place he was tripped by 29 year old labourer Michael Carroll, who said 'There is a Liverpool Touch for you'.

Kingsberry was treated by a doctor from the East Dispensary and on 16th June he developed a severe cold so was ordered to rest in bed at his home in Amber Place, off Latimer Street. He then developed lockjaw as a result of tetanus and he died on 23rd June. The funeral of the 35 year old, who left a wife and three children, took place three days later with 400 officers marching slowly from Hatton Garden to Toxteth Park cemetery in Smithdown Road.

Carroll was charged with manslaughter and tried before Mr Justice Hannen on 13th August. His defence counsel objected to the reading of Kingsberry's dying deposition because it had only been signed by the magistrate on the last page. However the judge ruled that even if it was usual to sign every page that was not in statute and it could be accepted. After evidence was shown that Carroll had tripped Kingsberry and death was caused by the injury received, his employer gave testament to his good character and temperate habits.

After being found guilty Justice Hannen said that Carroll could not have contemplated that death would occur from tripping somebody up. However he could not ignore what was an outrageous acti and told him that a mischievous spirit had made him inclined to thwart Kingsberry from doing his duty, that of pursuing an evil doer. He then imposed a sentence of nine months imprisonment with hard labour.

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Court Rules Wife's Death Caused by Fall

A violent husband who was charged with manslaughter after the death of his wife was acquitted after a jury decided that her death was not as a result of injuries received from his beatings.

On 21st July 1857 cart owner William Swift returned to his home in Mile End and asked his servant Mary Gorman if his wife, also called Mary was in, to which she replied that she wasn't. Mary had lied as Mrs Swift was actually asleep in the servant's room and when both women were in there 31 year old Swift broke the door down and punched his wife several times, causing her to bleed. 

The assault had happened in front of the couple's young daughter, who Swift threw out of he house. Mary Gorman went and found a policeman who came and helped 30 year old Mrs Swift climb out of the window. In doing so, she fell from a dog kennel and landed on some timber, but she got up straight away and did not appear to be hurt. She was then taken to the St Anne Street dispensary where her wound was dressed and she then stayed with a neighbour overnight.

The following day Mrs Swift went to Pritchard's beer house in Bevington Hill and was followed there by her husband, who hit her causing a black eye. She was then taken to the dispensary again by Mary Gorman and on their return home, they saw Swift talking to a police officer offering him £5 if he could be spared arrest. That night Swift was arrested and initially charged with assault, with doctors being of the opinion that his wife was in a very precarious state.

Two days later, Mary Swift died at her mother's home in Tatlock Street, having now developed delirium tremens in addition to the erysipelas which was as a result of the head wound. A post mortem couldn't conclusively determine the cause of death with doctors failing to agree over which condition was responsible. A corner's court found a verdict of manslaughter and Swift was committed to Kirkdale prison to await trial at the assizes.   

Swift was due to stand trial on 21st August but as Mary Gorman was going into court she was threatened by his sister Ellen Christie. This led to Christie's arrest and appearance at the police court, where she was fined £20. The trial did take place the following day when three doctors said they believed erysipelas was the cause of death and two thought it was more likely as a result of delirium tremens. Swift's defence counsel contended that the servant was an unreliable witness and that the even if erysipelas was the cause, the infected wounds could have been the one that occurred after Mary fell off the kennel. After twenty minutes deliberation, a not guilty verdict was returned.   
As Swift was being freed from the dock there was a cheer from the public gallery which was quickly suppressed by the judge, Baron Watson. He indicated that if there was any more noise he would commit those responsible to prison for contempt of court. 

Friday, 24 April 2015

Old Swan Wife Dies After Push

A man whose wife died after he pushed her was cleared of killing her when the jury accepted that he had not intended to cause any harm by his actions.

In 1890 Edward Cannell, a 38 year old labourer, lived with his 37 year old wife Mary in at 8 Wilton Grove in Old Swan. Edward was known to be a caring husband and father, but his wife was of intemperate habits.

At around 530pm on Saturday 22nd November that year an insurance collector called at the Cannell household but was told by Edward that he should come back on the Monday when he would have 2d to give him. Mary was at the time asleep on the sofa but woke soon afterwards, when she was pushed by Edward as she got up. She fell on a floor and cut her head and Edward immediately instructed their 14 year old daughter Annie to seek help from a neighbour.

When Mrs Kershaw from number 10 and her husband Joseph went into the property they said they thought Mary was dead. Edward and Joseph then went to Old Swan police station where Edward was charged with causing her death. 

On the Monday the inquest took place at the Queens Arms (on the site of what became the Paraffin Oil Shop), with Annie crying bitterly when she saw her father, who kissed her tenderly. She told how she had been sent out to buy two gills of beer for her mother in the morning but was out all afternoon and couldn't say if any more drink was bought. She had seen her father push her mother after quarrelling over money and the floor was slippery as it hadn't been cleaned for a week. 

When Dr Andrew Kelly gave his evidence, he said that the push as was described by Annie was sufficiently strong enough to cause the haemorrhaging that caused death. He did though acknowledge that the internal organs were diseased due to the level of alcohol consumption. When asked by the Coroner if he had anything to say Edward replied 'The truth has been spoken, I can not alter it.' A verdict of manslaughter was then returned.   

Edward appeared before Justice Cave at the Liverpool Assizes on 17th December, where the defence argued his push was not intended to cause any harm. They also pointed out how Edward had sent Annie to fetch a neighbour immediately and that he had handed himself into the police. This led to Edward being found not guilty and he was set at liberty. 


Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Sea Captain Cleared

The captain of a vessel who struck a crew member for not carrying out an instruction was cleared of killing him due to there being no conclusive evidence as to the cause of death.

On 22nd November 1883 the Estrelia sailed from Cork to Liverpool on a voyage that took two days. When the vessel was about two miles from the mouth of the River Mersey the captain John Martin gave orders to the second mate John Sullivan to set the main topsails.

Rose Place (
Sullivan, who was under the influence of drink, refused and was punched in the face by Martin, causing him to fall to the deck, hitting a metal spar as he did so. On arrival in Liverpool Sullivan went to the North Dispensary where his swollen jaw was bound up and he was told to return there the next day. He failed to do this and three days later the 60 year old was found dead at his home in Rose Place.

On the same day that Sullivan had died Martin had appeared at the police court on a charge of assault and was allowed to pay £3 to settle the matter. He now faced arrest again, being taken into custody to attend the coroner's inquest. After a postmortem revealed that Sullivan died from pressure on the windpipe as a result of a fractured jaw, leading to a manslaughter verdict being returned.

After Martin was charged with manslaughter he was given bail set at £50. He then surrendered himself to the Liverpool assizes on 7th February 1884. During his trial sufficient doubts were raised about Sullivan's health in general, as it was shown he had kidney disease brought on by excessive alcohol consumption.

Mr Aspinall, defending, said that the evidence was not sufficient to justify a conviction and the jury returned a verdict of not guilty, leading to Martin's release from the dock.

Fatal Quarrel in Little Italy

A fight between two Italian men in 1883 led to one of them dead but the other wasn't convicted due to doubts over the exact cause of death.

On the evening of 19th November that year 22 year old Joseph Roselle, an ice cream vendor, was playing Italian games with several others in a pub on the corner of Gerard and Christian Street in an area then known as 'Little Italy'. After losing two or three in succession he accused others of cheating and began arguing, leading to him and another man Rafaeli Pelusi being thrown out of the pub.

Once outside the two men began fighting, both using their belts, until a policeman came along and split them up. Pelusi, who made his living as a street fiddler, had three wounds on his head and was taken to the dispensary and then sent home. A few days later Pelusi contracted meningitis and died, but a post mortem also revealed there were injuries to the brain as a result of the wounds.

Roselle was charged with manslaughter and appeared at the Liverpool assizes in front of Mr Justice Butt on 7th February 1884. Although there was no doubt that he had struck Pelusi on the head with his belt, there were considerable question marks over whether the wounds or the meningitis were the cause of death. As such he was acquitted.

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Dead On Children's School Steps

A woman who said goodbye to her emigrating children was later found dead on the school steps. Her older son was charged with manslaughter but acquitted when the court heard she was so diseased that her death could have occurred at any time.

54 year old widow Ann Foster was a woman described by the Liverpool Mercury as someone who was 'of intemperate habits who got drunk daily.' She lived in Upper Mann Street and on 30th December 1895 she went to the nearby industrial school in Grafton Street to say goodbye to two of her children who were being emigrated to Canada.  

After spending 45 minutes with her children and the headmistress Ann returned to Mann Street, first visiting her neighbour Mrs Ramsey where she had some drink.  After Ann had returned to her own home, Mrs Ramsey heard some screams from there and the words 'go out' being shouted. Ann then returned to Mrs Ramsey's with a bloodied nose, closely followed by her 23 year old son Robert, who grabbed her by the hair, threw her down and kicked her in the body.

Robert left making further threats to kick her entrails out if he saw her again. A few minutes later Ann went outside into the court and danced along to some tunes that were being played on a mouth organ. At around 9pm she was found leaning on a door of the Grafton Street school. When Mrs Brent, wife of the keeper tried to help Ann fell into her arms, gasped twice and died.  An inquest returned a verdict of manslaughter against Robert who was then committed for trial.

On 16th March 1896 Robert appeared before Mr Justice Kennedy at the Liverpool assizes in St George's Hall. The circumstances of him assaulting his mother were read out to the court but the doctor who had attended and conducted a postmortem said the injuries had only 'probably' accelerated her death, which was down to fatty degeneration of the heart. As a result of this evidence the prosecution accepted they could not proceed. Justice Kennedy then consulted with a more senior judge and ordered that Robert be discharged as had not been charged with any lesser offences such as assault.

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Terror at Murder Victims Wake

When a man was murdered in Vauxhall Road there was further terror for his friends and family when a floor collapsed at his wake leading to all those present falling into a cellar below.

At 7pm on 30th December 1876 William Grimes and his brother John, both sailors aged 22 and 19 respectively, were walking along Vauxhall Road near the corner with Green Street. A labourer named Simon Finnegan called out to them 'Hey Larrie' and when William replied that they must be mistaken as neither were of that name he said 'It would be different if this were Lightbody Street.'

The brothers' friend Patrick Lynch squared up to Finnegan and said 'Why can't you let us pass without a quarrel', leading to him being punched in the face. Finnegan's companion 21 year old James Young went to kick Lynch who was now on the floor but William pushed him off. Young then drew a knife out of his pocket and plunged it into William's stomach several times. He fell down and said 'Oh God I am gone into the next world.'

William was taken to  a druggists shop and then to the Northern Hospital, where he died at 7am the next morning, at a time when he was meant to be sailing out of Liverpool aboard the Iberian.

Young and Finnegan then ran to the house of Elizabeth Rush in Tatlock Street where Finnegan's mother was visiting. Young was in an agitated state, covered in blood and threw the knife on the fire grate pleading Mrs Finnegan to get rid of it, then said to his friend 'If you are taken first don't snitch upon me.' and 'I'll be hung for this.' Finnegan handed himself in and Young, one of the cornermen who terrorised the streets locally, was apprehended on 2nd January.

On 4th January Finnegan was released from custody when prosecutors opted not to proceed with any charges against him. At the inquest the following day Mrs Finnegan described what had happened in Mrs Rush's house and John Grimes told of the circumstances surrounding the stabbing. A verdict of wilful murder was returned and Young was committed for trial at the next assizes.

On Saturday 6th January 1877 William's body was removed from the Northern Hospital to his mother's home at a court in Gascoyne Street where a wake was held well into the night. The coffin was in a table in the middle of the room with guests drinking and dancing around it but at 2am on the Sunday morning the wooden floor gave way, causing all the guests to fall seven feet into the cellar below, to the horror of those living there.

The coffin smashed to pieces and William's body rolled onto the floor. The occupants of the cellar called the police who arranged the removal of the body to another house in the court. All those present at the wake, with the exception of William's mother and brother, were then ordered to return to their homes.

On 16th March Young's trial took place, the defence counsel suggesting that William and John Grimes were violent men and pointed them both having been in gaol for assaults. Patrick Lynch testified that he struck nobody and all three men were just walking along the street minding their own business, having had just one glass of ale each.  A 12 year old girl named Matilda Hughes gave evidence that she had been sent out on an errand and saw the three men walk past Young, who then produced the knife. She was certain that nobody had struck Young or Finnegan before then.

Mrs Finnegan and Mrs Rush recalled Young's admissions in the immediate aftermath and a surgeon from the Northern hospital stated that William had been perfectly sober when giving his dying deposition. After 35 minutes deliberation the jury returned a verdict of murder but asked for mercy on the grounds of William's previous bad character and that there could have been verbal provocation. Young said to the judge 'Oh Lord spare me have mercy' and then interrupted the judge again with the same words as sentence of death was being passed. He cried for three hours in the cells afterwards but he was later spared by the Home Secretary, his sentence being commuted to life imprisonment on 28th March.

Monday, 6 April 2015

Dead After Pub Straightener

When two men in a pub decided to settle their argument with  a straightener one was left dead and he other imprisoned for manslaughter

On the evening of 16th September 1882 Edward McGuiness, a 29 year old shoemaker, was drinking in Mr Grace's public house in Scotland Road.  He got into a row with Philip Clarke over a trivial matter and the two men were ordered by the landlord to fight in the yard to sort things out and not come back in until they had done so.

They took off their coats and fought outside for twenty minutes, both returning together to the bar where they shook hands. Clarke, who also now had his shirt off, had a bloodied nose and left the bar straight away carrying his coat.When he got to his home in Ben Jonson Street the 32 year old labourer could not stand straight and fell onto the floor, telling his wife that he had a pain in his stomach.

 After remaining in bed for the rest of the weekend Clarke went to the dispensary on the Monday morning and was admitted to the workhouse hospital. The following day McGuiness was apprehended by police in the same public house and taken to Clarke's bedside. When Clarke told the detective he had been kicked in the stomach McGuiness denied it but he was taken into custody.

Clarke died two days later on on 21st September. A post mortem revealed he had a ruptured bladder which had been caused by a kick. On 24th November McGuiness  appeared at the assizes before Mr Justice Day. He was found guilty of manslaughter and sentenced to six months imprisonment with hard labour.

Sunday, 5 April 2015

One Week's Jail For Killing

A Japanese sailor who killed a fellow crew member following a row on a ship was found guilty of manslaughter but recommended to mercy and jailed for just one week.

On 14th September 1882 the Joseph B Thomas arrived at Alexandra Dock after sailing from San Francisco. During the afternoon two crew members were working on deck when one of them, a 19 year old Japanese man who had taken the name George King, twice accidentally trod on the toes of the other, Californian John Borden.

Borden slapped King and a struggle ensued and the two men were separated. However Borden then rushed at King who grabbed a bar and struck him on the head. There was no blood and he continued to work, but the following day he felt sick and was was unable to get out of bed. The captain sent for a doctor but by the time he arrived Borden had died, a post mortem revealing there was a fractured skull.

King had disappeared and was not apprehended until four days later at Garston. He was charged with manslaughter and committed to the assizes for trial. On 24th November the court heard how the two men had been almost like brothers on the voyage and after being found guilty there was a strong recommendation for mercy. Mr Justice Day then sentenced him to just one week in gaol.        

French Sailor Acquitted Over Prostitute Death

A French sailor who was charged with manslaughter after admitting assaulting a woman who later died was cleared when medical evidence showed that she had a condition which could have caused death at any time.

On 16th October 1882 August Forestier, a boatswain on board the Valparaiso which was berthed in Wapping Dock, met with a prostitute named Ann Oliver in Cornhill. They went into the gateway of a warehouse, where they were heard to quarrel at about 10pm. Forestier then punched and kicked Ann, who was soon afterwards found unconscious at the scene and taken to the Southern Hospital.

At 11pm Forestier was stopped by a policeman in the area but a man who had seen the incident did not recognise him and he was released. The following morning Ann died and detectives boarded the Valparaiso, where the watchman confirmed that Forestier had returned to the ship soon after 11pm and said he had kicked a woman who tried to rob him. This led to him being arrested and although he admitted to the officers that he pushed Ann when she tried to steal his watch, he denied kicking her.

At the coroner's inquest on 21st October Dr Davidson from the Southern Hospital said that death was a result of an injury to the brain, which was in a diseased state. Ann had bruises on her face and a  black eye. This led to a verdict of manslaughter and Forestier was committed to trial at the assizes.

When Forestier appeared at the assizes on 20th November a second doctor from the Southern Hospital, Dr Paul, said that Ann was prone to having fits at any moment and he could not be sure her injuries resulted in the one that led to her death. As such, Justice Day directed the jury to acquit Forestier and he was freed from the dock.

Stone Throwing Scavanger Cleared

A man who threw stones back at youths who had pelted him was arrested on suspicion of causing the death of one of them, but cleared due to insufficient medical evidence.

On Monday 25th September 1882 John Hair, who lived with his mother in Raymond Street, returned home with a cut on his shin, saying he had got it by falling over an ashpan whilst playing in Tenterden Street.

John went to work in a nearby flour mill on the Tuesday and Wednesday but had to stay off on the Thursday as he was in more pain. He was taken to the workhouse hospital the following day where he died on the morning of Sunday 1st October.

Whilst at hospital John admitted that there had been more to his injury then he had first revealed. He stated that he and some friends had been throwing stones at a scavenger who was looking in middens. This man, named William Bennett, then chased John and his friend and knocked him down then kicked him.

After John died Bennett was apprehended in relation to the death and told the policeman that he had been wheeling his barrow and came under attack from stones but although he chased John he did not strike him.

At an inquest at the police court on 4th October, a shopkeeper in Tenterden Street said that she had seen Bennett kick John, but the doctor who carried out the post mortem said although the cause of death was tetanus, there was no evidence as to how the shin injury came about. As such the jury returned an open verdict and Bennett was released.

Youth Kills Man With Poker

A youth who was belted by a man for throwing stones at his house threw a poker back at him, leading to the man's death but an acquittal in court.

On the afternoon of Sunday 1st October 1882 a fourteen year old called John Ross and some friends were setting off fireworks in Norris Street,which was situated off Bevington Hill in Vauxhall. A 28 year old Hungarian man named Fedor Matyazski, who worked as a labourer in a sugar refinery, went out and sent them away.

A few minutes later Ross and his friends returned to Norris Street and threw stones at Fedor's windows. Fedor, who was known locally as being hotheaded, came out and ran after Ross but was stopped by a passing carter named Charles Fyles. Ann Kalmann, who lived in the house with Fedor, hit Charles with a poker causing him to leave the scene and they then caught up with Ross in Burrough's Gardens.

On catching Ross Fedor took off his belt and hit him a few times, causing the youth to pick up the discarded poker and launch it at him, embedding it in the back of his skull. A police constable patrolling in Limekiln Lane saw the crowd gathered and went over where he saw Fedor lying on the ground. Those present refused to give any information and were dispersed. Fedor refused to be taken to a  dispensary, saying he would call a doctor to his home.

Ann took Fedor back to the house and removed the poker but he died three hours later before a doctor was able to attend. Ross was apprehended in Dryden Street that evening, telling the detective that he had been hit with the poker and simply thrown it back, not intending to cause any harm.

A post mortem revealed that death had been as a result of hemorrhaging due to a fracture of the skull, the poker having penetrated two inches and caused a laceration in the brain. Two days later at the inquest the jury returned a verdict of manslaughter and Ross, whose father had died three years earlier, was committed for trial at the assizes but allowed bail.

Ross appeared before Mr Justice Day on 23rd November. He was able to convince the jury that he had not actually thrown any of the stones and had acted in self defence by throwing the poker, leading to a not guilty verdict.


Mother's Death Sentence Reprieve

A woman who killed her young daughter as she was unable to pay for her upkeep was faced the death penalty but this was commuted to life imprisonment.

In January 1878 Emily Jones, a heavily pregnant 19 year old, came to Liverpool from Chepstow in South Wales. After giving birth she gave the baby girl to a nurse called Mrs Hughes who lived in Beaufort Street and took a position in the Kirkdale Industrial School as a laundry assistant.

After leaving there in March 1879 she took the child back and went to stay with her sister in Bembridge Street, off Wellington Road in Toxteth. On Sunday 30th March Jones told her sister Fanny Clarkson that she was taking the little girl back to the nurse and would pay 2s 6d for maintencance.

On 1st April Fanny was cleaning the room where Jones stayed and moved a box, which she thought unusually heavy. She opened it and found the dead body of the child inside and her husband called the police. Constable Phillips was examining the room when Jones returned from being out looking for work. When asked what she knew about the box she broke down, admitting that she had strangled the child as she was just a poor servant girl and couldn't afford to raise her.

A postmortem confirmed the cause of death was strangulation by tying a chord around the child's neck and Jones was committed for trial at the assizes. Her defence was that she was insane at the time of the killing and her old doctor from Chepstow travelled to give evidence, saying she had suffered fits of mania as a child. However doctors who had seen her in gaol were of the opinion she was of sound mind, leading to her being found guilty and sentenced to death, but with a recommendation for mercy due to her young age.

Jones was due to hang on 18th May alongside Thomas Johnson but a week beforehand her sentence was respited to allow for the Home secretary to look further into the case. On 30th May it was confirmed that a reprieve had been granted and the sentence was commuted to penal servitude for life.

Open Verdict After Violent Death

A man who was violent towards his girlfriend avoided prosecution after a jury could not be sure that her death was as a result of the beatings she received from him.

In August 1895 Eliza Connor moved her boyfriend James Gilboy into her parents home in Back Portland Street in Vauxhall. Gilboy was a carter but 25 year old Eliza didn't work and spent a lot of her time drinking. On Monday 9th September at 1030pm Eliza was found by a policeman near her home with two cuts on her head and told him she had been hit by a man but didn't know who.

She refused to be taken to the dispensary and was then taken home by Gilboy, who told her mother that that the bruises on her head were as a result of being beaten with a stick by two cattle drawers.
The following morning Gilboy went out to work saying he had had enough of her and would not be returning that night. Eliza went to a wake and when a friend saw the cut on her head they surmised that Gilboy had done it, word of which got back to him.

Downe Street in 1927 (
Two days later on Thursday 12th September Gilboy saw Eliza speaking with a the same friend in Downe Street (where Liverpool John Moores University Byrom St building now is) and demanded to know why she suggested he had beat her. Gilboy then punched Eliza two or three times, pulled her by the hair and threw her to the ground, then kicked her in the stomach.

When Gilboy threatened to treat Eliza's friend in the same way she ran off, but half an hour returned to the area and found Eliza dead in a doorway in Richmond Place. Her body was removed to the deadhouse at Princes Dock and Gilboy was apprehended in Kensington by Detective Mylchreest the following morning. He said 'I know nothing about it I have not seen her since Tuesday morning' and on being formally charged at the detective office he said 'Its a lie, I am as innocent as God above.' He appeared before the stipendiary magistrate the following day and was remanded for a week pending the coroner's inquest.  

The inquest took place on the Monday morning and the doctor who conducted the post mortem said that Eliza was suffering from pneumonia and all organs were in a congested state. The cause of death was a hemhorrhage on the brain, but he could not be sure whether or not this was down to a violent blow. Another doctor was of the same opinion, saying that given the condition of the lungs he was surprised she was even walking about.

The jury came back to the coroner saying they were sure the death was in part due to violence but when advised the evidence did not show this and a conviction was unlikely, they returned an open verdict and Gilboy was freed.  

Friday, 3 April 2015

Killing at Kirkby Station

A farmer who killed his brother in law with a pitchfork in 1854 was found guilty and recommended to mercy, leading to a punishment of just six months in gaol.

Henry Shacklady was a 29 year old farm labourer who was employed on a casual basis by his brother in law, 40 year old Henry Mercer. However on 7th August that year due to his drunken habits, Shacklady was told by Mercer that his services would no longer be required.

Three days later Shacklady had been drinking and came across Mercer in a wheatfield on the road to Simonswood, near Kirkby station that had opened four years earlier. Mercer went off to his granary and returned to a pitchfork, leading to Shacklady pleading 'Thou are not going to kill me are thou.' He then ran off fearing for his life but when Mercer caught him, he was struck in the head and fell to the ground.

Mercer then struck him again and Shacklady's sister Martha Webster, who had been helping their sister and Mercer's wife after she gave birth to a baby, tried to get between them. However the fork was swung at her and when she got out of the way it hit her brother on the head.

Shacklady never got up again and a post mortem established infusion on the brain as a result of the blow to the head. An inquest at the home of Mrs Ashcroft in Redbrow returned a verdict of wilful murder and Mercer was committed for trial at the Liverpool assizes, which were taking place at the end of that month.

On 24th August Mercer was found guilty of manslaughter but with a recommendation for mercy.  Baron Platt told him he had 'rendered himself an irresponsible agent by drunkenness' and hoped he would 'reflect on the transaction' as 'drunkenness is the curse of the nation.' Commenting that his previous good character had saved him, Mercer was then sentenced to six months imprisonment.

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Works New Years Party Death

A works New Years Eve party descended into a drunken brawl that left one employee dead and another transported for life.

On 31st December 1828 the bosses of Messrs MacKie & Co, a dye importers based in Eccleston, took their workforce out for ale. The drinking went on until 7 o'clock the next morning when a fight broke out amongst staff, with sides being taken when two of them started quarrelling.

The Ship Morley and Other Vessels RMG BHC3502.tiff
A man named John Hughes went to protect another, Slater, who was on the ground. He was then punched down by 40 year old Thomas Boyle, who went on to jump on  his belly with both feet. Boyle then started kicking at Slater and threatened to do to him what he had just done to Hughes.

Hughes died on the morning of 2nd January and when his body was opened the bladder was found to be injured and small intestine ruptured. The Liverpool Mercury described the case as 'one of those brutal cases, so disgraceful to this part of the country, where parties fight by kicking and stamping on each other.'

Boyle was charged with murder and appeared at the Lancaster assizes the following March. Several work colleagues testified for his character, saying he had stayed down himself for twenty minutes during the fracas. They also said he was a peaceable character and once saved Hughes's life following an accident.

After deliberation the jury found Boyle guilty of manslaughter and Justice Bayley commented that due to the enormity of the offence he had to be transported for life. He arrived in New South Wales aboard the Morley on 3rd December that year.