Monday, 29 June 2015

Chain Gang For Wife Killer

A man who battered his wife to death avoided a murder conviction and was sentence to spend the rest of his life working in chains.

In 1836 Alexander and Jane Cassidy maintained a largely drunken existence at their Shawhill Street home in the town centre. Alexander had on many occasions been heard to say he would 'pay his wife as near he could to her life' if she continued drinking, but he didn't seem to think there was anything wrong in himself acting in such a way.

On 13th October that year at about 11pm both were seen to be very drunk in their kitchen by their two lodgers, who went to bed. Soon afterwards though there was a disturbance and one of the lodgers, William Shaw, ran downstairs to find Alexander standing over his wife holding a cutlass. Despite Shaw's presence and the fact that Jane was already unconscious, Alexander kept reining blows on her leading to the lodger intervening saying he had done enough.

Shaw managed to prise the weapon from him and Alexander said 'I believe she has gone'. He was taken into custody and claimed that her injuries had been caused in a fall. A post mortem revealed the body to be in a shocking state, with puncture wounds on the face and legs, fifteen broken ribs and the chest cavity filled with blood.

Alexander was committed to trial at the assizes, where he appeared before Baron Alderson on 27th March the following year. Somehow he managed to convince the jury that he had not meant to kill and was found guilty of manslaughter, leading to him being sentenced to transportation for life and to work in chains.

Slaying of an Innkeeper

A dreadful occurrence took place in 1831 when an innkeeper was killed after he tried to restrain a man who had gone to his pub with a knife.

At around 11pm on Thursday 28th April that year a Miss Pickering opened the door of her brother-in-law's public house at Devon Street, to be greeted by the sight of a man wearing no coat, stockings or shoes. He asked for a glass of ale but Miss Pickering saw a knife up his sleeve so she asked what he would do with it. She received the shocking answer that the man was going to stab the first man that came near him.

Miss Pickering shouted for her brother-in-law William Roberts who came to the door with another customer. The man ran off but the two others gave chase and cornered him in Moss Street. William had a stick which he tried to use to knock the knife out of the man's hand, but he was rushed at by the man, who stabbed him in the belly and ran off.

When a watchman named John O'Donnell arrived on the scene, he was slashed in the wrist and back. More watchmen arrived and managed to knock the man down, but he got up and escaped before eventually being secured by two constables who managed to put handcuffs on him.  He was then conveyed to the Bridewell covered in bruises, such was the force needed to finally restrain him.

At the Bridewell the man identified himself as 44 year old James Malone and he told officials that he had been quarrelling with a woman prior to his actions. William had managed to walk home but he died on the Saturday morning, leaving a wife and six children.

At Lancaster Castle on 12th August Malone was acquitted on the grounds of insanity after evidence was heard regarding his behaviour whilst in the castle awaiting trial and and while previously residing in Chester. He was then ordered by the judge to be detained at an asylum.

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Seaman Transported For Brothel Stabbing

A seaman who was due to sail to Australia missed the voyage when he was arrested for killing a prostitute, but he got sent there anyway by the judge after being found guilty of manslaughter.

On Christmas Eve 1833 John Taylor, a mate on the Bardaster which was to sail for New South Wales the following day, went to what was described by the London Standard as a 'bad house' in Atherton Street (now Torr Street), Everton. He was looking for some of his shipmates, but was told that there were no sailors there.

Accounts of exactly what happened next differed, but at some point Taylor was put out of the door, leading to him producing a knife that was hidden up his sleeve and plunging it the left breast of Mary Benson, who died almost instantly. Taylor ran off but was quickly apprehended by a policeman and taken to the Bridewell.

Lancaster Castle
At the inquest on 27th December, Taylor was allowed to question the two female witnesses present, Mary Tierney and Ann Coleman. He put it to them that he had been struck with a poker and attacked by all three, but this was denied. After the jury returned a verdict of wilful murder Taylor, who was described as a 'coal black negro of ferocious aspect' was committed to the assizes for trial.

On 18th March 1834 Taylor was tried at Lancaster Castle. Tierney and Coleman struggled under cross examination and gave conflicting accounts. Tierney said that Taylor had walked out of the door quietly, but Coleman claimed that there was a struggle and it had taken ten minutes to get him outside. A surgeon stated that death was instant, while Taylor reiterated in his defence that he had used the knife after being attacked with a poker.

In summing up, the judge said there had been some provocation and the two women had given contradictory evidence. As such, he urged the jury to return a verdict of manslaughter which they did without hesitation. However Taylor was still given a heavy sentence, being told he would be transported for life. Ironically the Bardaster, on which he had intended to sail a free man, was used to transport convicts later in the decade.

Saturday, 27 June 2015

Doctor Killed By Man He Sectioned

A man battered his doctor to death after being sectioned following a road accident, leading to him being detained indefinitely.

doctors crosby
On the 17th March 1945 James Rogers, who resided with his mother Mary at Hawthorne Road in Bootle, told her to accompany him to Dr Alfred Stewart. After initially refusing, Rogers grabbed her by the neck and she agreed to do so, her son saying he wanted answers as to why he had been sent to a lunatic asylum by Dr Stewart. 

Back in 1932, Rogers had been involved in a car accident and spent a month unconscious in hospital. He was later admitted to mental health wards at Sefton General Hospital, from where he wrote threatening letters to Dr Stewart. In November 1944 he had written one which said 'You packed me off just as if I was a spare lunatic floating around. I had to suffer constant indignity, you will pay me £250. Failing an agreeable reply I will commence total operation to bring to an end the pompous parade of Dr Stewart in Crosby to an end.' 

When they got to the surgery at Crown Buildings in Crosby just as it was closing, Rogers twice punched Dr Stewart with considerable force, then repeatedly hit him on the head with a telephone as his mother pleaded for him to stop. As the doctor's wife and daughter ran in the room and found him unconscious, Rogers left the scene and calmly walked into a police station and told officers 'I have come to you before you come looking for me, I have killed a man'. Dr Stewart, a veteran of the Boer War and World War one, died from his injuries two days later.

When Rogers appeared at the assizes on 16th April the prosecution described the attack as frenzied. Mary was in the horrible position of having to give evidence in the trial and told the court that her son had suffered severe headaches ever since the accident. She said he was now violent towards anybody who disagreed with him and had attacked the doctor 'like an absolute madman.'

Dr Murdock from Walton gaol said he had examined Rogers and found him to be suffering from insane delusions due to suffering a split mind.  The jury found him guilty but insane and the judge ordered that he be detained as a criminal lunatic at His Majesty's pleasure.

State Blamed For Lodging House Killing

A man was charged with murder after cutting the throat of another resident of a lodging house, but when the case got to court his defence counsel said it was the state which was the real guilty party.

On the night of Saturday 20th May 1916 several residents of a lodging house in Derby Road, Bootle, had a drinking session in the back kitchen but when one of them, Edward Tudor, started singing Thomas Lynch objected. They began fighting and were separated by Edward Hind, the only man there who had remained sober.

The two men, both labourers who previously been on good terms, were taken to different rooms to calm down but Lynch shouted 'Orange Bastard', leading to them squaring up to each other again. Hind again got between them and noticed that Lynch was bleeding from the eye so he went to get some water. As he was doing this, Lynch took a knife and cut Tudor's throat, despite Hind's attempts to again intervene.

The police came and arrested 38 year old Lynch and searched the premises, finding the bloodied knife in a toilet cistern. 49 year old Tudor died on the way to hospital, his jugular vein having been cut. This led to Lynch being remanded pending the outcome of the inquest.

On 31st May Tudor's brother John told the Deputy Coroner that he would regularly get drunk at weekends, but he was not aware of any problem between him and Lynch. He said he saw the two men grappling, but did not know who had struck the first blow. Other residents of the lodging house said both men were worse for drink and nobody could be sure who struck the first blow, but they were all in agreement that Lynch had a knife in his hand after Tudor fell bleeding.

The youngest witness was fifteen year old William Bone, who had seen Lynch singing an Irish song about the River Shannon which upset Tudor who told him it was his turn to sing. After a verdict of wilful murder returned Lynch was committed for trial.

At the assizes on 23rd June Hind gave evidence stating that he had seen Lynch strike the first blow, but Bone said he had seen Tudor butt Lynch. The doctor from Walton gaol told the court that Lynch's face was badly wounded. After the prosecution had finished their evidence, Mr Justice Low said there was strong evidence of provocation, a prolonged struggle and alcohol involvement. He asked the prosecution if they still wished to pursue a capital charge and they agreed to seek a manslaughter conviction only.

When Lynch's defence counsel Mr Madden addressed the court, he said that there was so much driking going on that the evidence was unreliable. He then went on to claim that it was the state who should take the blame as they were the ones who allowed people to indulge in alcohol. Justice Low though summed up by saying that self control was crucial and if the state took responsibility for all drunken acts then nobody was safe. After being found guilty of manslaughter, Lynch was then sentenced to twelve months imprisonment with hard labour.

Judge Slams Liverpool After Manslaughter Verdict

A Judge laid into Liverpool after sentencing a husband for killing his wife, saying there was too much brutality in the city.

In 1905 John Hughes lived with his wife Catherine in Raleigh Street in Bootle. The marriage was not a happy one and their children were neglected, with Catherine being fined six times in relation to this. On the  evening of 14th December 1905 the couple began another of their numerous drunken rows during which 43 year old Hughes grabbed a table knife and stabbed her in the stomach.

Catherine died a few hours later and the following morning Hughes appeared before the Magistrates' Court charged with murder and was remanded in custody. The inquest on 20th December heard that the marriage was an unhappy one due to Hughes's drinking and returned a verdict of wilful murder.

On 21st February 1906 Hughes appeared at the Liverpool assizes before Mr Justice Grantham, where he was found guilty of manslaughter. The judge commented that 'there was too much of this horrible brutality and drunkenness' in Liverpool, although did say the situation had improved since he was last there.

Justice Grantham expressed astonishment that publicans continued to serve men like Hughes, who they knew so well, day after day and night after night. He then told Hughes, who had 36 previous convictions for drunkenness, that he had lived a life not fit for a dog and sentenced him to fifteen years penal servitude.

Friday, 26 June 2015

Tram Worker Kills Love Rival Colleague

Two tramway workers who also shared lodgings then fell for the same girl, leading to one of them killing the other and being detained at His Majesty's pleasure.

In 1902 two friends, James Deeney and Thomas Sharkey, both aged 27, worked together on the Liverpool Corporation tramway. Deeney was a guard and Sharkey a timekeeper and both lodged in Beatrice Street in Bootle, sharing a room.

In the early hours of 2nd April that year scuffling was heard from the room where the two men lodged and Sharkey was heard to shout 'Oh Deeney Deeney.' It then went quiet and the police were called. On entering the room, Deeney was found to be stood with a fender in his hand standing over Sharkey, who lay in a pool of blood and whose head had been battered in. Deeney admitted hitting him with the fender and was taken into custody, while Sharkey died in hospital shortly afterwards.

At Walton gaol solicitor William Quilliam went to visit Deeney but he was in an agitated state and it had to be postponed. Enquiries into his background had established his parents had both been dead for some time. Deeney had managed to say that he and Sharkey remained on good terms right until the fatal incident.

An inquest took place on 9th April, when it emerged that both men had been courting their landlady's daughter and the row erupted after she expressed a preference for Sharkey. A verdict of wilful murder was returned.

When Deeney appeared at the assizes on 6th May he was found 'guilty but not responsible' after medical evidence was heard which included the fact that both his parents had been insane. The judge, Mr Justice Walton, then ordered him to be detained indefinitely.

Wife Killed After Coffin Row

A husband was acquitted after his wife died following a row over payment for a coffin for their dead child, whose body was laid out in the house when the deed took place. It was a case where the reluctance of those present to give evidence against him seemed to play a key part in the not guilty verdict.

The macabre incident took place in Maguire Street (where the Wallasey tunnel approach now is) on  Friday 11th October 1867. A man named Mr Mackay delivered a coffin to 30 year old beerhouse keeper James Hobin after his one year old son Alban had died. James invited Mackay down to his cellar for a glass of ale, but his wife Eliza refused to give him the ale tap despite the pleas of two other people present, Mr and Mrs Croft.

When James began to get angry Eliza succumbed and gave Mrs Croft the tap then went down into the cellar, followed by her husband. An argument then broke out over the cost of the coffin and James was seen by the Crofts and his servant Margaret Mulholland to strike a blow at heavily pregnant Eliza, although it was said that she didn't cry out.

The following day Eliza showed Margaret a wound on her belly, from which the intestines were part protruding. A doctor was sent for and Eliza told him that she had fallen on the spout of the kettle, but after he expressed doubts at such a story she admitted that she had been stabbed with the ale tap. This led to a police officer being called by the doctor and James was arrested and taken to the Bridewell in Chisenhale Street on a charge of wounding.

Eliza died on the Sunday morning and the inquest was held before the coroner Clarke Aspinall on 15th October. Medical evidence produced showed that the wound had come from a knife or other sharp instrument but Margaret and the Crofts were sketchy with their evidence, leading to criticism from the coroner who implied they didn't want to incriminate James. After Mr Croft took to the stand again he admitted her had seen James put something in his pocket after hitting Eliza and the jury returned a verdict of wilful murder, leading to James being committed for trial at the assizes.

James was no stranger to the court, having been before them for failing to keep to the terms of his beer license on many occasions. He avoided now being on trial for his life when prosecutors opted to press ahead with a charge of manslaughter only. His defence was that Eliza had fallen down the stairs and in response to him having a bloodstained knife on him when arrested, his counsel said that if he had stabbed with it, he would have disposed of it or at least cleaned it up. It was also stated that Eliza was a violent woman who had hit him with a shell earlier that day, leading to the jury acquitting him after just a few minutes deliberation. Baron Martin then discharged him from the dock.

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Fatal Quarrel on a Blackpool Boat

A boat trip to Blackpool ended in tragedy when a crew member drowned in the River Mersey following a fight on the landing stage.

On Saturday 21st July 1906 Herbert Harris and some friends went on the steamboat Greyhound to Blackpool, but on the return journey a row broke out when he accidentally stood on the toes of a crew member named Austin Gibbons.

Back at Liverpool the row escalated and on the landing stage Harris struck a blow at 21 year old Gibbons who retaliated. As Harris stepped back to avoid the punch, he fell over a chain and into the Mersey.

Gibbons was arrested by police the following day and remanded on a charge of wilful murder but the body of Harris was not recovered until 29th July. An inquest returned a verdict of manslaughter, meaning Gibbons was only on trial for that offence when he was committed to the assizes.

At the Liverpool assizes on 17th December Gibbons was found guilty but strongly recommended to mercy by the jury. He was then sentenced to one months hard labour by Justice Lawrence, who commented that it was a disgrace nobody had tried to save Harris.

Fireman Kills Daughter in Fit of Temper

A row between a man and wife led to their baby daughter being killed by a flying mug but the judge showed mercy when it came to sentencing.

On 26th May 1906 after having had too much to drink fireman Samuel Sweeney began an argument with his wife at their Dublin Street home, leading to him picking up a mug and throwing it at her. Unfortunately it hit their nine month old daughter on the head and she died from her injuries.

At the assizes on 2nd August Sweeney was found guilty but with a recommendation for mercy. The judge told him that he was a hard working man who gave way to temper and drink. However, as he had been on remand for two months he imposed a sentence that would mean an immediate release - seven days imprisonment.

Mother Kills Son With Red Hot Poker

A woman who killed her teenage son with a poker after a quarrel was convicted of manslaughter but given a lenient sentence by the judge who acknowledged that her actions had occurred after provocation.

On 15th October 1867 Anne Ellis, a 48 year old widow who made a living making shoes, returned to her home in a court off Fleet Street in a state of intoxication. One of her two sons left the house but sixteen year old William remained and the two exchanged words, resulting in Anne taking a red hot poker from the fire and striking her son between the legs with it.

A woman called Mrs Moss who lived in the same house came to see what was going on and saw William bleeding heavily from a wound on his thigh. Anne said she hit him in self defence after he threatened to put her head under the grate, but William told her not to believe that.

Attempts to stop the bleeding with a handkerchief and sticking plaster failed and William attended the royal infirmary,where Dr Puzey attended to him. He died on 26th October from pyaemia due to the wound becoming infected. Medical experts were of the opinion that the wound was consistent with being caused by a hot poker.

The inquest was held on 29th October, with the Daily Post describing the case as having a 'deplorable set of circumstances.' Taking into account the evidence of Anne and Mrs Moss, the coroner Clarke Aspinall said that there were only three verdicts possible - murder, manslaughter and accidental death. Stating that he did not recommend the latter, the jury returned a verdict of manslaughter and a warrant was made out for Anne's committal for trial.

Anne appeared at the assizes on 12th December and pleaded guilty to manslaughter. In sentencing Baron Martin said there was no doubt 'that the crime was committed in a moment of passion'and that the case 'was not one for severe sentence.' He then ordered that Anne go to prison for three months.

Monday, 22 June 2015

Reprieve For Mother Who Gassed Daughter

A woman who gassed her daughter as she was scared what would happen after her husband was hospitalised was sentenced to death but then reprieved by the Home Secretary.

Shortly after 830am on the morning of  Saturday 13th April 1940 Georgina Cashmere walked up to a policeman on Prescot Road, Fairfield and said that she was in trouble. She told the officer 'My husband is in a mental home and my daughter is going mental so I gassed it.'

The flat above a shop at 168a Prescot Road where Georgina lived was searched and officers found the body of two year old Jane Cashmere in a cot in a bedroom. The 41 year old was taken to Old Swan police station where she said that she did not think she would live long enough to bring Jane up, so had put a tube from the gas ring to her face at 5am that morning. She had then carried the dead body of the girl upstairs to her cot.

A post mortem concluded that Jane had died from carbon monoxide poisoning and on 18th April Georgina was committed for trial at the next Manchester assizes. Submissions were made by the defence that the charge should be reduced to manslaughter but this was overruled.

Georgina had married her husband in 1936 and Jane was born in July 1937. The following year she gave birth to another daughter who died of mastoid at just a few weeks old. The marriage had its difficulties, with Georgina confiding in her sister that her husband made her do things sexually that she should not. She also suspected he may have been abusing Jane, who on one occasion put a teddy bear between her legs and said 'daddy does that.'

The latest admission to hospital followed a number of earlier spells, with Georgina's husband having had previously been in Rainhill and Winwick asylums for periods amounting to nearly four years. She was genuinely scared that Jane may have inherited a mental illness.

Less than three weeks after the killing, on 30th April, Georgina appeared before Justice Lewis and pleaded guilty. The prosecutor Mr H. Rhodes called it 'a very sad case' but the law meant that the judge had no option but to pass the death sentence in the usual form. When he got to the phrase 'hanged by the neck until you are dead' she screamed 'Oh sir don't say that' and as she was being taken down the steps cried 'he doesn't mean it.'

The Home Secretary Sir John Anderson acted swiftly to intervene in the case, commuting the sentence to life imprisonment on 6th May. Georgina died in Broadmoor in 1948.

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Children's Throat Cut By Mother At Dinnertime

Two boys who came home from school for their dinner never returned as they had their throats but by their mother, who was detained at His Majesty's pleasure following a guilty but insane verdict.

On the morning of 13th March 1929 Annie Stewart, a 31 year old mother of two who lived in Hesketh Street off Lark Lane, went to a nearby barbers and asked to borrow a razor as her husband's was broken. She explained that he needed to finish a shave before going to work as a warehouse packer, but she had other ideas in her mind when she got given it.

At noon that day her two children, seven year old Norman and five year old Gordon, returned home from school for their dinner she cut their throats with it. Annie then ran into the street screaming that she had killed her children. A local shopkeeper called the police and when they attended they found the bodies of the two boys in the front room with a razor nearby, blood splattered everywhere. 

Annie was arrested and the following day she had to be carried into the dock at the magistrates court, where she was remanded in custody for a week. She fainted and had to be revived before being helped from the dock, a scene that reduced some of those present to tears. On 25th March magistrates paid tributes to the police who had dealt with the harrowing case as Annie was committed for trial at the assizes. She was also granted permission to see her husband.

On 3rd April there was a sensational development when Paul Senar, a 34 year old ship's steward from Upper Mann Street in Dingle, was arrested and charged with both murder and 'counselling, procuring and commanding to murder'. As he appeared at the magistrates court for his committal hearing, it was claimed that he had been acquainted to Annie for eight months without her husband's knowledge and she had written to him whilst he was at sea. 

When the charge was put to him in court Senar, a married father of four, described it as 'ridiculous' and pleaded not guilty. Prosecutors alleged that Senar had been at Annie's home fifteen minutes before the killing and the motive was for both of them to rid themselves of their previous lives and start again somewhere else.

Both appeared at the assizes on 15th April, where interest was huge and queues began to form at 8am for seats in the public gallery. It was estimated that one thousand tried to gain admittance and police had to be called to disperse crowds who fought to get to the front of the queue.

Neighbours told how they had seen Annie with Senar near the house and in Sefton Park, while her husband said she had been a good mother and on the whole the marriage had been a happy one. However, she had been suffering depression since the death of her mother but just two days before the killing, they had gone to the cinema together and everything seemed normal. 

When the prosecution had finished presenting their evidence Justice Shearman intervened and ordered the jury to acquit Senar, against whom any evidence was circumstantial at best. He didn't deny knowing Annie, but insisted he had never been in her house and any inconsistencies in statements given to the police were to try and hide the matter from his wife. He was discharged from the dock and left the court immediately, having been told by the judge he had to accept some responsibility in that his actions had put Annie's mind in the state it was.

Basil Nield, defending Annie, then called medical evidence which showed Annie has attempted suicide as a teenager and been suffering acute melancholia of late. This led to the jury deliberating for just ten minutes before finding Annie guilty but insane. Justice Shearman ordered her to be detained at His Majesty's pleasure and Annie then had to be helped from the dock by two wardresses 

Butcher Who Helped Neighbour Killed

A man in Vauxhall who offered help to a female neighbour who had been thrown out of the house was killed by her husband, who was hanged for his crime. 

On the evening of 18th July 1877 a butcher named John Campbell was having supper at his Latimer Street home with several family members. A lady called Mrs McGovern attended, saying she had been thrown out by her forty year old husband Patrick and she joined the supper party for a couple of hours.

Shortly after midnight Mrs McGovern went back to her husband who was a marine store dealer. A few minutes later John went to the McGovern household to check everything was okay and told Patrick that he had been wrong to do what he did. Without any further provocation, Patrick picked a kitchen knife up off the table and plunged it into John's abdomen.

John ran back into his own house screaming, the knife still embedded in his body. His sister in law Ann Kearns pulled it out and sent for a policeman. When an officer arrived McGovern was taken into custody and John was removed to the Stanley Hospital. With John in a critical condition a magistrate's clerk took a deposition from him the following day in the presence of McGovern. 

John lingered on until 24th July when he died, leading to McGovern being committed to the assizes for trial. At the magistrates court hearing Detective Inspector Carlisle explained that McGovern was also under investigation for stabbing his wife's brother, who lay in a dangerous state at the Northern Hospital. He was a man known to have a history of drunken violence, once being sentenced to two months imprisonment for assaulting his wife.

When McGovern appeared before Mr Justice Hawkins on 3rd August, his defence counsel tried to suggest that the killing was no more than a struggle and it was John who had gone around with the knife. They added that by harbouring Mrs McGovern after she had been thrown out of the house, it was an act of sufficient provocation to reduce the crime to manslaughter. 

In summing up though, the judge said that given all the facts, he was at a loss to see how there could be any mitigation to reduce the crime from murder to manslaughter. This led to the jury taking just a few minutes to return a guilty verdict and McGovern responding by saying 'I am innocent of it I know nothing at all about it.' As he passed the death sentence Justice Hawkins showed no pity, telling McGovern that 'anybody that has heard the case can not hesitate to come to the conclusion that yours was the hand that inflicted the deadly wound.'

After being sentenced McGovern fainted and had to be helped up by two warders. His wife screamed and howled, and had to be escorted out of the courtroom. McGovern was hanged at Kirkdale gaol on 21st August, alongside John Golding who had killed his neighbour in Edge Hill. He showed a complete indifference to his fate whilst at Kirkdale, but as he was brought out into the prison yard he was trembling and had to be held up by warders to stop him fainting as the noose was being put around his neck. When the bolt was drawn by William Marwood, he dropped to an instant death and was buried within the precints of the prison.

Saturday, 20 June 2015

Revenge Poker Killer Hanged

A man who got beaten by a neighbour who he challenged to a fight got his revenge by killing him with a poker, leading to him being hanged at Kirkdale gaol.

In 1877 John Golding, a 25 year old former soldier lived with his mother in Shenstone Street in Edge Hill whilst working as a labourer. At about 1030pm on 16th July that year he knocked on the door of a neighbour named Thomas Vaughan and asked him come outside with him to help 'soften someones head.' Vaughan declined  the invitation but Golding went ahead and challenged another neighbour called Daniel Lloyd to a fight. He then punched Golding to the ground and with his head bleeding, two neighbours then helped him home and dressed the wound.

A few minutes later Golding came out of his house with a poker and smashed Lloyd's window. When his wife Sarah came to see what was happening Golding pushed past her then struck Lloyd, who was sat at a table, four or five times on the head with the poker. Lloyd was taken to the Royal Infirmary,where he died on 24th July from a fractured skull having never regained consciousness.

The following day Golding, who had been remanded in custody the morning after the incident on a charge of assault, was committed to trial at the assizes after the inquest returned a verdict of wilful murder. At his trial on 3rd August Golding had nobody except his defence counsel advocating for him. His neighbours weren't concerned about his predicament, having described him to journalists as a 'violent fellow' and a 'terror of the neighbourhood.' He had previously been in trouble for assaulting police. 

The jury found him guilty of murder but with a recommendation for mercy. In sentencing him to death Mr Justice Hawkins told Golding that his version of events was untrue, there had been no provocation and the killing had taken place out of 'revengeful feeling.'

On 18th August communication was received from Whitehall that the Home Secretary Viscount Cross could see no grounds for a reprieve and the execution was confirmed for the following Tuesday 21st August. Golding had been hopeful of being spared the death sentence but he now resigned himself to his fate, attending divine service on the Sunday and being given communion by Father Bonte.

The executioner William Marwood arrived at Liverpool on the Monday having travelled from Ipswich, where a hanging he had been scheduled to carry out was postponed at the eleventh hour. The weather was befitting of an execution, with rain coming down in torrents throughout the night and the sky being filled with black clouds at 745am when the press were admitted to the gaol and bells began to toll.

At 8am the prison governor and Father Bonte came into the yard followed by Golding and Patrick McGovern, who was from Latimer Street and also being hanged for killing a neighbour.Golding remained calm, albeit extremely pale, even when Marwood took time adjusting the rope after being dissatisfied with his first attempt. He then writhed for two to three minutes after the bolt was drawn before life was finally pronounced extinct.

Toxteth Mother Drowns Baby

A woman drowned her daughter as she was worried about being fiend for not having her vaccinated, but she was found to be insane at the time of the killing.

At 545am on 6th March 1891 thirty year old Mary Kavanagh woke her husband Arthur and told him she had drowned their nine month old daughter Mary. Arthur,a beerhouse keeper, sent for the police and also went to find a doctor.

When police officers arrived at the house in Upper Luke Street, Toxteth (off Windsor Street) they found Mary sat with the body of nine month old Norah on her lap. Mary told them that she had drowned her in a dolly tub that was in the yard as she feared being summonsed for not having her vaccinated.

Mary then attempted to breast feed the dead child and when she got up was staggering, although this was down to weakness not drink. When her neighbour came in to see what was going on, Mary asked who all the policemen were. At the detective office, Mary said she had no recollection of what had happened.Later that morning she appeared at the magistrates' court and was remanded pending the outcome of the inquest.

Rainhill Asylum
The following day an inquest took place before the deputy coroner Mr C.S. Samuell. Her neighbour Janet Ellams said she had known Mary for three years and she had often complained of pains in the head. She added that for the past week she had been acting strangely and had a wild look about her. otherwise she was very fond of Norah. The jury returned a verdict of wilful murder, but asked for a rider to be added that Mary was depressed. Mr Samuell said that such a rider was unusual but not illegal and after rechecking with the jury foreman he added it on.

When Mary appeared at the assizes on 20th March both Dr Beamish from Walton gaol and Dr Wigglesworth from the Rainhill Asylum both gave evidence that she was unfit to plead. The judge ordered her to be detained at Her Majesty's pleasure and she was transferred to Broadmoor where she remained for five years before being discharged back to her home.

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Baby Left in the Snow to Die

A mother who left her baby in a hole in some wasteland on a snowy night was only convicted of child abandonment due to inconclusive medical evidence over the cause of death.

On Christmas Day 1891 Matilda Royle, a 25 year old barmaid, gave birth to a baby boy that she named Bruce at a lodging house in Seacombe run by Mrs Maitland. She remained there until the following spring but then moved to another house, giving baby Bruce to a nurse called Mrs Williams to raise, paying 5 shillings a week. By 19th November 1892 though she had fallen behind with payments and had to take him back, telling the nurse that she would be taking him across the Mersey to the Children's Infirmary in Myrtle Street. 

Matilda came to Liverpool with another lodging house resident named Emma Kraft, but records showed that Bruce was never taken to the hospital. Sometime in early December Matilda took the Dingle Tram to St Michaels and left Bruce in a hole on some waste ground next to Marmion Road. She then took all of his clothes to Emma and told her to burn them, saying that she had left Bruce in a hole wrapped in a woollen skirt and with a bottle of milk. 

On 27th January 1893 a ten year old boy was playing on the waste ground and found male body parts, leading to him finding a policeman. The body was covered with canvas and there was also burnt wood around it, although it was common for lads to light small fires in that area. A post mortem was unable to determine the cause of death due to the body being so badly decomposed but it was estimated to be that of a child less than a year old and to have been dead for about two months. The inquest returned an open verdict and with very little to go on the police were unable to investigate the case much further.

Finally in June 1894 the police received an anonymous tip off that Emma had knowledge of what happened to Bruce. With little to lose, detectives visited her and she told them everything she knew, then was arrested in connection with the death. They then went to Windermere Street and arrested Matilda, who told them that Bruce was alive when she left him and that he had the milk. Both women were taken to Lark Lane police station and formally charged with murder, Matilda pointing out the spot where she left Bruce, which was exactly the place where the body parts were found. 

On 13th July Emma was discharged at the magistrates' court as there was insufficient evidence against her, with Matilda being committed for trial at the assizes, where she appeared before Justice Collins on 2nd August. The prosecution were faced with the difficulty not just of proving that Matilda had wilfully killed Bruce, but also that the body found was that of him in the first place. As such, following comments made by the judge, they agreed not to proceed with a murder charge and instead accepted Matilda's guilty plea to 'abandoning a child in a manner likely to cause unnecessary suffering or injury to health.'

Matilda's defence counsel pleaded that she was a respectable woman who was well thought of by her employers. They said that she had taken off Bruce's wet clothing and wrapped him in a warm woollen skirt in a well populated area where she thought he would be found. Justice Collins did not accept this mitigation however, saying that it was unlikely Bruce would be found as the hole was out of the way and it was snowing. He then sentenced her to twelve months imprisonment with hard labour.

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Seaman Killed on Emigrant Ship

A crew member on board an emigrant ship was killed by another who was convicted of manslaughter in what today would be seen as a racially aggravated attack.

On the morning of 16th July 1864 the Raymond sailed from Queenstown in Ireland bound for New York, carrying mainly emigrant passengers. The voyage was a long one and she was still at sea on 16th September, when a disagreement broke out between 21 year old John Bennett and John West, who was twice his age.

Bennett had seen West with a knife on deck and said to others around him 'If the black beast has a knife I'll knock his head off'. West turned around and told Bennett that he was just minding his own business and he should mind his, leading to Bennett throwing a punch. Someone shouted out that if they were going to fight West should put the knife down which he did.

Despite the knife having been thrown down, Bennett was seen to keep hold of a marlin spike that was used for ropework and during the struggle West was stabbed. After the two men were separated West was seen staggering on the deck with his bowels protruding. Bennett was immediately put in irons and said he had acted in self defence by stabbing him with the marlin spike. When asked what had happened West said he was stabbed by a knife not the marlin spike and a search of Bennett found no knife on him, just an empty sheath attached to his belt. 

There was no surgeon on board the ship and West had to be operated on by fellow crew members, who gave him brandy and laudanum to try and ease the pain. They put his entrails back in and sewed the wound, but he was unable to keep any food down him and died the following day. 

On arrival at New York, Bennett was handed over the British Consul. Although there were dozens of witnesses to the incident, the captain didn't have the authority to detain any of them and not surprisingly nobody volunteered to return to the British Isles to give evidence. Bennett was sent back on the mail steamer Persia, while the two crew members who witnessed the incident remained in New York until the Raymond was ready to set sail again.

Bennett arrived in Liverpool on 26th November and was taken into custody by Detective James Graham. Due to the two witnesses sailing back on the Raymond via Antwerp, he was unable to appear at the following month's assizes and instead had to wait until 27th March the following year to be tried before Mr Justice Mellor.

When the chief mate Thomas Cunningham gave his evidence he said he had seen Bennett paint West's jaw white a few weeks before the incident, but had believed it to be a joke. He also said that prior to throwing the punch Bennett had called him a 'black son of a bitch' and had not been attacked. Under cross examination though he admitted that Bennett had a reason to have the marlin spike in his hand at the time and also that West was about half as strong again.

The ship's master Lawrence Lenders told how he was attracted by a large crowd and cries of female passengers and when he got to the scene Bennett was boasting 'I told you I'd let them out for you.' When Lenders asked Bennett why he had done what he did he replied 'because he was annoying me.' In respect of the wound, the master said it was too large to have been cut with a marlin spike and he believed that a knife had been used which was thrown overboard.

In addressing the jury on behalf of Bennett, his defence counsel Charles Russell said there had been no evidence of prior ill feeling between the two men and no premeditation. As such he suggested that a manslaughter verdict would be more appropriate. In summing up the judge said that for a manslaughter verdict there had to be some form of reasonable provocation, leading to the jury deliberating for an hour before finding Bennett guilty of manslaughter.

In his pre sentencing remarks the judge said that this case was 'a very serious one for manslaughter' and that his life had been spared by the jury's decision. Telling Bennett that he deserved a 'long period of penal servitude' he then sentenced him to fifteen years. Bennett then said he was satisfied with the verdict but that Lender's evidence about him saying 'he would let them out' was false. The judge then interrupted and said that his sentence was very reasonable under the circumstances and that if he had anything else to say he should raise it with the Home Secretary.

Bird Watching Barber Kills Friend

A barber who went on a bird watching trip got into a disagreement with his friend and hit him over the head with a hammer, leading to him being convicted of manslaughter.

On the morning of 6th February 1895 Robert Atherton, a 35 year old barber from Field Street in Everton went out at 630am with photographer Robert Owen, who had been a friend of his for several years. Atherton carried a hammer and net to use as a snare, while Owen had some sticks due to suffering walking difficulties. They stopped at the Seaforth Hotel for some whisky then carried on, but around noon got into an argument on a field in Litherland due to Owen having had too much to drink.

During the row Atherton hit Owen with a hammer and a stick, then left him in a shed on the field. This was was witnessed by two boys who were trying to catch rats, who then directed Atherton to the station. He then went to Owen's home in Seaforth while the boys checked on the injured man, who they assumed to be just the worse for drink and left him there to go back to their rat catching. 

When Atherton got to Owen's home he told his father that his son had gone 'up country', but he was suspicious of Atherton now having one of his sticks. Meanwhile at the shed, Owen came round and shouted for help. When the two boys went and saw him he asked where Atherton was and when they said he had gone home, he threw a brick at them. This hit the shed wall instead and bounced back on his head, knocking him out.

At some stage 36 year old Owen woke up and got out of the shed as at 4pm he was found lying face down in a field by a coachman. He was helped up but couldn't stand and a boy playing nearby was sent for a policeman. A detective arrived and carried Owen to the Claremont Hotel, but he died on the way.  Atherton was arrested the following day at his home in Field Street, telling the detective he had a drink with Owen but no idea what happened after that. 

After being remanded by a magistrate at the local police station the inquest was held at the Seaforth Hotel where Owen's father described him as quiet and inoffensive. The two ratcatching boys, who were both sixteen, gave their evidence but the doctor who carried out the post mortem said he could not be sure as to what extent the hammer blow caused death. Dr German explained that although there was effusion of blood on the brain this could just as easily have been caused by the brick bouncing back, while the cold weather was also a factor.

The Coroner Mr S. Brighouse summed up that if violence was used then the prisoner had to be responsible for the eventual outcome, unless it had been used in self defence. The jury returned a verdict of 'death by violence' leading to Atherton being committed to the assizes for a manslaughter trial.

On 20th March Atherton appeared before Lord Chief Justice Russell. The two boys who witnessed the row admitted under cross examination that Owen had struck the first blow, hitting Atherton on the leg with a stick. The jury returned a guilty verdict but with a strong recommendation for mercy, leading to him being sentenced to just nine months imprisonment.

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Manslaughter in a Lodging House

When two men had a fight in a Kirkdale lodging house one was convicted of manslaughter after the other was found dead in the communal room the following morning.

Lord Chief justice cockburn
In 1878 Giles McMahon, a 38 year old labourer, lodged in Derby Road, Kirkdale where another labourer, 44 year old Edward Sheehan also loved. On the night of 26th May that year both men were in the reading room with other residents and although neither was drunk, they had had some beer.

Sheehan made a comment about McMahon that he objected to and rushed towards him and knocked him over, pressing his knee into his chest as he lay on the floor. They struggled a while before being separated but McMahon resumed the attack, only stopping when Mr Brewer the lodging house keeper intervened and sent him to his bed.

Rather than go to bed himself, Sheehan opted to stay in the reading room where he was last seen resting his head on his hands. The following morning he was found dead, with a post mortem establishing the cause of death as rupture of the vessels of the brain.

McMahon appeared at the assizes on 25th July before Lord Chief Justice Cockburn. After being found guilty of manslaughter he was sentenced to eighteen months imprisonment.

Monday, 15 June 2015

Jealous Husband kills Lodger

A man who suspected his wife may have been having an affair with their lodger was convicted of manslaughter after he died following a kicking.

In 1878 Daniel Burrows, a 47 year old cook lived with his wife Mary in a cellar in Blandford Street (now Kempston Street) between Islington and London Road. A French Polisher named Thomas Cropper lodged with them, but on 29th June that year Burrows got angry when his wife took Cropper with her to meet him at the Pier Head.

The following afternoon, which  was a Sunday, a neighbour named Eaves heard cries of 'murder' from the Burrows house. When he went out to investigate he saw Mary running away. On going down the steps to the cellar he found Cropper lying on the floor, with Burrows stood over him kicking at the stomach. Burrows then pressed his foot into Cropper's stomach before allowing him to crawl away. Eaves found a policeman who took the injured man to the Royal Infirmary, where he died that evening. A post mortem revealed that the intestines were ruptured.

On being arrested Burrows, who was frequently described in the Liverpool Mercury as 'coloured' said he did not intend to cause harm, but just wanted to give Cropper a good hiding and evict him from the house. When he appeared at the assizes on 26th July he was found guilty of manslaughter and in sentencing him to eighteen months imprisonment, Lord Chief Justice Cockburn told Burrows that he had a reckless disregard for life.

A Murderous Outrage at Litherland

A farm labourer was kicked to death in Litherland by a group of Irishmen in 1878 in what appeared to be a racially motivated attack.

On Sunday 2nd June of that year at around 10pm Robert Bradshaw was walking down Field Lane with his brother William, having been to the Litherland Hotel (now The Priory). They saw seven men talking with Irish accents on the other side of the road, who without warning came over and knocked William and Robert down, kicking them as they were on the floor.

Both men managed to get up and ran after the group to try and get their hats back, Robert getting there first only to be knocked about again. He had to be helped up by two of William's friends who were in the locality and they took him to a doctor as his face was covered in blood and he couldn't answer when asked who he was. The disturbance had been heard by several locals who came out of the hotel and their homes and followed the attackers who were heading towards Orrell.

Police officers went to Mr Birch's farm in Orrell and allowed to question those living in what was known as the 'Irish House'. Being unable to account for the movements that night four men were arrested and charged with unlawful wounding. They were Charles Finn, Michael Carney, James Carney and Patrick Murphy. The following day when it was light the road towards the farm was searched and there were found to be a number of blood stains as well as fence rails which were covered in blood.

William had gone home in a dazed state and fainted, not coming around until the Monday morning when Robert returned in a cab, having been operated upon. He was initially able to recall what had happened and gave a deposition but on the Tuesday morning his condition took a turn for the worse and he lost all his senses, dying on the Friday evening. He was twenty years old. A post mortem found that death was due to a fractured skull, which had been caused by a kick or blunt instrument.

On Tuesday 11th June an inquest was held before Mr Driffield at the Mill Randle Hotel. As this was taking place Robert's funeral cortege went past, with many of the crowd outside weeping bitterly. William and several other locals gave evidence as to what they saw and the jury returned verdict of manslaughter against the four men, who were all aged in their twenties.

At the Liverpool assizes on 26th July evidence was heard that suggested James Carney was the ringleader but the others were all culpable in one way or another. After guilty verdicts were returned Lord Chief Justice Cockburn told the men they had 'engaged in a spirit of nationalist animosity'. He then sentenced James Carney to six years penal servitude, Michael Carney five years and the other two to twelve months hard labour. 

Friday, 12 June 2015

An Infant Burned to Death

A baby girl died of horrific burns due to the drunken neglect of her parents, but they avoided any charged and were instead just severely rebuked by the coroner.

The tragic event took place in 1867 in Sawney Pope Street off Scotland Road, where Elizabeth Flynn took her eleven month old daughter Catherine to bed about 10pm on 18th November. An hour or two later her husband Thomas, who worked as a tailor, returned home from a pub and demanded to know where his supper was.

Elizabeth told her husband that the supper was cold as he had stopped out so late, leading to him kicking her as she lay in the bed, which was on the floor. She went downstairs to sleep, leaving the baby there but the following morning she made an awful discovery. On going back upstairs Thomas was asleep with Catherine, who was severely burned, in his arms.

Elizabeth rushed to a Dispensary where she was given dressings for the burns but Catherine died the following day. An examination of the room found that Thomas, whilst in a state of intoxication, had not placed a candle and pipe properly back in a box, leading to his whiskers and arm being burnt, as well as much of baby Catherine's body.

At the inquest before the borough coroner Clarke Aspinall on 21st November a verdict of 'found burned' was returned. The jury expressed their opinion that the mother and father were culpable and regretted their inability to impose any punishment. Elizabeth, who was described by the Liverpool Mercury as a 'dissipated woman' was then reprimanded along with her husband by Mr Aspinall for 'disgraceful conduct' before being set free.

Thursday, 11 June 2015

The Toxteth Baby Murder

A Toxteth mother who killed her baby then attempted suicide was found guilty but insane and detained at Her Majesty's pleasure.

On the night of 21st August 1899 Bridget Doyle, who was 27 years old and lived in Stanhope Street put her four children, which included a five week old baby daughter named Ellen to bed. She then began praying fervently in an apparent state of religious mania.

Bridget remained praying until 4am then took a bread knife and cut baby Ellen's throat, killing her instantly. She then attempted to cut her own throat and her eight year old son John, having been awoken by the commotion, bravely took the knife and ran into the court to raise the alarm.

Inspector Clingan from Essex Street police station was the first officer on the scene and he found a pitiful state inside the court dwelling. There was no food, hardly any furniture and Ellen's body lay on a pile of rags with blood splattered all over the floorboards. Bridget was lying on the floor in an insensible state but still alive and an ambulance was called to take her to the Royal Southern Hospital where her wound was stitched up.

The three other children were taken to the Toxteth workhouse, while Ellen's body was taken to the Princes dock mortuary. Neighbours told the press that Bridget had appeared rational in recent days but her husband James, a labourer, had not been seen for some time. Police traced him to a lodging house in David Street and he identified the body. A post mortem found that the cut had been so deep that the spinal cord was severed.

On 24th August the inquest was opened and adjourned but a week later Bridget remained in a state of delirium in hospital. John told the coroner Mr Sampson how he was woken by his mother screaming that the devil was coming to get her. Bridget's sister Mary Rowlands said how she had confided in her that she believed she was going mad. in summing up Mr Sampson told the jury that they were not there to judge the state of mind and that the only verdict they could return was one of wilful murder.

Bridget was well enough to appear before the Deputy Stipendiary Magistrate Mr Kinghorn on 27th October, where was flanked in the dock by two female warders and Dr Price from Walton gaol. she was committed for trial at the assizes, where she appeared before Justice Kennedy on 1st December at St George's Hall.

Dr Price gave an account of her mental state on her arrival at the gaol. He described how she had to be restrained and that she was 'raving' and trying to open the scar on her throat. She remained like this for five days before remaining silent for two weeks. Consequently he was of the opinion that Bridget was not fit to plead and this was backed up by Dr Wigglesworth from the Rainhill asylum.

As a result of the medical evidence, Bridget was found guilty but insane,and ordered to be kept in custody at the pleasure of Her Majesty.

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Murder of a Customs Officer

The person or persons who robbed and killed a customs officer in 1863 were never caught. 

On 4th November that year Christopher Treeby signed off duty at the Custom House on the waterfront, received 27 shillings in wages and began his journey towards his home on Portwood Street, off Upper Parliament Street.

At around 545pm a police constable named William Callister was on duty in Wavertree Road when he received information that a man had fallen and been taken into Chester's public house. Callister went there and saw that the man's face was covered in blood and he was dead. Inside his pockets were pencil cases, handkerchiefs, a knife and papers that identified him as Treeby.

A post mortem was carried out and found wounds on the face and injuries to the shoulder, arms and ribs as a result of external violence. One of the ribs had been hit so hard it had fractured and severed an artery, which was the cause of death. The body was identified at the deadhouse by a neighbour who also worked with him.

The following day an inquest held by the Coroner Mr P. F. Curry was opened and adjourned, but from the level of injuries it was quite apparent that they were not accidental. The police were also satisfied that the assault had not taken place in the public house or been carried out by the men who took Treeby in there, all of whom were in respectable occupations. A week later those who had helped him after the fall gave evidence and in summing up Mr Curry pointed out that the loss of his Treeby's money and a chain could not have resulted from the fall. A verdict of wilful murder by persons unknown was returned.

Treeby was 35 years old and had left a wife Lydia and five young children, the youngest of whom was just five weeks old. He had worked at the customs house for thirteen years and a committee was set up to provide funds for his widow. This allowed for her to be paid what would have been his salary until all of the children had reached working age. However, Lydia died nine years later at the age of 44 and her husband's killer was never brought to justice.

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Murderer Drowns Himself in Mersey.

A man who killed the keeper of his lodging house with no known motive committed suicide by jumping in the River Mersey.

During the 1st World War Mary Mowatt, whose husband was away serving with the Royal Veterinary Corps, ran a lodging house in Byrom Street called Cocoa Rooms.

Mary was a good living, religious woman who took a personal interest in the wellbeing of all of her lodgers, including 40 year old labourer William Nurse, who was originally from Barbados. When he began staying there in 1918 he was in a delicate state of health and had to be given extra food by Mary, but after a spell in the workhouse hospital he began turning to drink and was often seen muttering to himself.

On 9th September that year the body of Mary was found in the lodging house kitchen. An overturned tea urn was next to the body, which had five stab wounds in the neck. A pocket knife was found lying on the floor, which was soon identified as belonging to Nurse, who was seen with it a few days earlier. Around the same time Mary's body was found, a man fitting Nurse's description was seen to climb over the rail and jump into the River Mersey from just south of the George's Landing stage. He had left his watch and wallet on the wall and pushed away a lifebuoy that was thrown out to him.

The police could not assume that Mary's killer had committed suicide and during the course of the night over fifty lodging houses were searched. The documentation left on the dock wall had been taken opportunistically by a passer by and police promised not to prosecute anybody who handed it in. This did though arrive at the police headquarters by post and was found to contain insurance documents with Nurse's name on them. On 18th September a body was found washed up, which was identified by lodging house staff as being that of Nurse, who had been the only non white man staying there.

The inquest returned a verdict of wilful murder in respect of Mary's death and suicide for William,the jury having deliberating for just a few seconds. There was no motive but the coroner suggested that perhaps William had made 'improper overtures' which were rejected, leading to him losing his temper and taking her life.

Monday, 8 June 2015

Triple New Year Shooting Tragedy

At the end of 1918 three members of the same family were found shot dead by their servant, with an inquest later determining that a man had killed his wife and father before shooting himself.

When 36 year old farmer Anthony Knowles Bower visited Seaforth Village on the morning of 30th December that year nothing seemed untoward. He chatted with acquaintances then visited a butchers to order some meat for New Year's Day. That evening he went for a walk with his 33 year old wife Martha before returning to their farmhouse on the banks of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal at Ford. 

There were no obvious signs on that walk about the horrors that were soon to come. However at 530am the next morning servant Norah Stevenson got up and found the bodies of Mr and Mrs Bower in the sitting room. Upstairs Anthony's 69 year old father Unwin was found dead in a bedroom, along with his pet dog Biddy. All had gunshot wounds and Anthony had a revolver in his hand. Amazingly Norah had not heard any of the shots fired and the couple's fourteen month old son was still asleep in his cot unharmed.

A horrified Norah ran to seek help and police who attended found that four shots had been fired from the revolver, which still had two unused cartridges. Martha had been writing a letter when she was shot in the back of the head. There was no immediate motive for the killings, as their financial circumstances were sound. However some friends commented to the press that Anthony had not been as jovial as usual in recent weeks.

Sefton Parish Church (courtesy Rept01nx)
The inquest took place in the new year on 2nd January. It heard how Anthony had inherited the farm five years earlier from an uncle, who was nursed by Martha in later life. They then married and had a child but tensions arose due to the continued presence of Anthony's father, who Martha said made her feel like a lodger in her home. The farm foreman Thomas Ashcroft explained how a few years earlier Anthony was stung by some wasps and had acted strangely on occasions ever since.

Evidence was then given by a local doctor, who said that the couple had visited his house on their walk, but he was out. The doctor told the coroner that Anthony had a drink addiction and suffered delusional thoughts at least twice a year. The jury then returned a verdict of wilful murder in relation to the deaths of Martha and Unwin, and suicide for Anthony. All three family members were then buried in the same grave at Sefton Parish Church on 6th January 1919.