Monday, 30 January 2017

Extraordinary Brutality at House of Ill Fame

A Christmas Day killing at a brothel led to the convicted woman being transported for life.

On 25th December 1859 a christening celebration took place at what was described in the Liverpool Mercury as a 'house of ill fame' in Comus Street.

A court of Comus Street ( before midnight a lady called, Margaret Cross appeared outside and shouted for Mary Sullivan to come out and fight Margaret Welsh. Sullivan went out and persuaded Cross to come in the house. Once inside Cross was so drunk that she fell over but was helped up by Sullivan, who then pushed her into a room.

When Cross threw a candlestick at Sullivan it missed, leading to a furious reaction from the latter. Sullivan grabbed Cross by the hair, banged her head against a door and then threw her to the floor. She then continued the assault, kicking Cross in the chest and head as she lay defenceless. Pleading for her life, Cross cried that one more kick could finish her. Sullivan replied If thats what you want there it is' and kicked Cross in the head, causing her to lose consciousness.

Cross died before a surgeon from the Rosehill Dispensary made it to the house. After an inquest found that the cause of death was wilful murder by Sullivan, she was committed for trial on a coroner's warrant. Due to the killing having occurred as a result of a sudden quarrel, the judge Sir Hugh Hill ordered the jury to return a verdict of manslaughter.

Sullivan's lawyer pleased for leniency, saying that she had been devoid of parental control for most of her life. However when it came to sentencing there was no room for sympathy. The twenty year old had already been to prison eight times, five of them for violent offences. The judge told Sullivan that her crime was of the most grossly aggravated character using brutal violence and that she had shown little remorse. Dismissing her lack of moral upbringing as an excuse, he sentenced her to be transported for life.

As Sullivan was led from the dock she shouted to another female 'Be a good girl and God bless you'.

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