Saturday, 14 January 2017

A Fatal Quarrel in Old Swan

When a man was charged with murder after a fight with a neighbour in Old Swan, he was discharged after the inquest accepted his explanation that he only acted to protect his wife.

On Saturday 3rd May 1924 John Wildes and his wife had a row at their home at 45 Oceanic Road, Old Swan. This led to Mrs Wildes and the couple's baby going to stay with her aunt who lived at 3 Runic Street, which adjoined Oceanic Road. 

Runic Street in 2017
On the Sunday Wildes went round to Runic Street at regular intervals but was told that his wife was not there. At around 10pm he knocked again and when he heard the baby crying, refused to believe that his wife was out. He demanded entry and the couple then began arguing, leading to a 37 year old labourer named Walter Hill, who lived next door in number 5, to come out of his home and see what was going on.

Hill and his wife stood near the doorstep as the argument continued, which Wildes resented. He came out of the house and confronted Hill, leading to both men trading blows. 

The disturbance was heard by another neighbour, 37 year old meat porter Walter Hill. He appealed for a halt, which was resented by Wildes and a fight broke out between the two men. Hill struck Wildes on the head, causing him to fall down injured. An ambulance was called but he died on the way to hospital around midnight.

Derby Lane police stationHill was arrested and taken to the police station on Derby Lane, where he was charged with murder at 4am. Later that morning he appeared before the stipendiary magistrate in Dale Street, appearing dazed as he listened to the evidence. Described by the Liverpool Echo as 'of respectable appearance' he was remanded in custody pending an inquest.

In addition to the new baby, 32 year old meat porter Wildes and his wife had a three year old son. He had served with the Kings Liverpool Regiment during the war and was held captive in Germany for two years. Prior to his altercation with Hill, he had called on the knocker-upper to get him up at 4am. This appointment was kept, the knocker-upper being unaware of the tragic events of a few hours earlier.

On 7th May an inquest took place before the coroner. Wildes' widow Catherine said that her husband had been drunk when he returned home on the Saturday night and hit her. This had led her going to her aunts, where she remained on the Sunday. Her aunt, Sarah Wildes, then said that on the Sunday evening Mrs Hill had told her husband not to interfere in a family quarrel. This led to Wildes coming out and hitting her and then Hill who struck back, causing him to fall to the floor.

Hill gave evidence himself and said that Sarah Wildes had asked his assistance in getting Wildes out of her house. When Wildes came out and struck his wife, he stepped in and was struck himself before delivering what turned out to be a fatal blow in retaliation. Asked by the coroner how many times he had struck Wildes, Hill replied that it was just once and only to defend his wife.

The coroner told the jury that there were only two possible verdicts, manslaughter or misadventure. After returning a verdict of the latter, Hill was then taken to appear before the stipendiary magistrate. Acting on behalf of the police, Mr Howard Roberts withdrew the murder charge and offered no evidence on any other crime. A very relieved Hill was then discharged and told he was free to go.

No comments:

Post a Comment