Monday, 24 December 2018

Amputee Charged with Manslaughter

In 1934 the driver of a motorcycle combination who had his leg amputated after a crash which killed his cousin was charged with manslaughter. 

At 1030pm on 20th August that year Edward Fielding was driving the combination along Higher Road with his cousin Joseph riding pillion. Two passengers were in the sidecar. A head on collision occurred with a motor car near to the railway bridge. An ambulance was also sent for and all occupants of the combination were taken to Whiston Hospital. The driver and passenger of the motor vehicle were not injured.

At 2am Joseph succumbed to his injuries. Edward had his leg amputated, one sidecar passenger had a broken collar bone and the other suffered shock.

Edward remained in hospital for over a month and after being charged with manslaughter, appeared in court at Widnes on 14th November. The prosecutor said it was an unfortunate case, but one which the police had a duty to proceed with. Edward was described as driving recklessly on the wrong side of the road and there was no provision for more than one passenger in the sidecar. A witness who had seen the combination on Halebank Road told the court that all the occupants were shouting and singing. 

The manslaughter charge was dismissed but Edward, a carter who lived in Claribel Street, Toxteth, was found guilty of dangerous driving. He was fined £5 and banned from driving for five years. 

Sunday, 23 December 2018

Kensington Son Insane

A man who gassed his mother to death but failed with his own suicide attempt was found guilty of murder but insane.  

Royal Infirmary ( 23rd April 1959 neighbours of 73 year old widow Rosina Moore became concerned for her welfare due to the curtains of her home in Gaerwen Street remaining closed as midday approached. Gaerwen Street was situated off Farnworth Street, on the site of what is now Butler Crescent. 

After knocking at the door of her  and receiving no answer the window cleaner gained entry through an upstairs window, where he found Rosina dead in bed. 

Downstairs, Rosina's 35 year old son Stanley was unconscious on the kitchen floor, near to a cooker which had the gas pipes turned on. He was taken to the Royal Infirmary where he was treated for coal gas inhalation, remaining there for six days. 

On being discharged Stanley was arrested and charged with his mother's murder. He told detectives from Prescot Street CID who interview him "I was just browned off with having no work".

Stanley appeared at Liverpool Crown Court on 18th June. The prosecutor read out a letter addressed to the Coroner that Stanley admitted to having written. It said he was taking this course of action as he had fallen foul of an international political organisation of world power that controlled the British police and he could not fight alone any longer. With respect to his mother, he added that she would be better off dead as there would be nobody to care for her.

Medical officers from Rainhill Hospital and Walton Gaol both said that Stanley was suffering from insane illusions and unable to make a rational judgement. Without leaving their box, the jury returned a verdict of guilty but insane and Stanley was detained at Her Majesty's pleasure. 

Body in a Coal Bunker

The killer of a woman whose body was found in a coal bunker was sentenced to life imprisonment after the jury refused to accept he acted in self defence.

At lunchtime on Tuesday 21st April 1959 Irene Samuels, concerned for the welfare of her friend June Moorcroft, returned to her home at 12 Princes Avenue where she had a basement flat. There, she found the battered body of  20 year old June in a coal bunker to the rear of the property. The body of June, who lived at 17 Jermyn Street but regularly stayed with Irene, was badly bruised and there were also stab wounds.

CID officers from Essex Street and Lark Lane police stations were summonsed and attention immediately focused on Edward Butts who had cohabited with Irene until two months previously.  Enquiries soon established that he had taken some blood stained clothing to a dry cleaners in Birkenhead. Butts' orginally from Guyana, was arrested at 4.15pm when he returned to  63a Garmoyle Road in Wavertree where he occasionally lodged.  

June was originally from Cambridge and had separated from her husband Ivan a few months previously.  He was finally contacted at 1130pm in Peterborough, where he worked as a booking agent for a circus, and travelled through the night to get to Liverpool where he attended the police headquarters to arrange formal identification of the body.

After being charged with murder at 550am on 22nd April, Butts appeared at the magistrates' court in Dale Street where he was remanded in custody. The prosecutor Mr F. V. Renshaw told the court that Irene had become concerned after noticing blood stained bedding in a laundry basket and that the key to the coal bunker was missing. Initially she believed June could be responsible for the bedding, but she decided to return home after speaking to a neighbour who told her Butts was seen leaving her flat the previous evening with a heavy holdall.

The trial took place at St George's Hall and began on 20th June, lasting for three days. The jury heard how Butts had blood belonging to June's blood type on his trousers that he put in the dry cleaners. The trousers also contained June's hair.  Butts claimed that he had gone to Birkenhead on the Tuesday morning to visit his brother and sister in law, but neither backed up his alibi. A surgeon also described how he had a facial injury which could have been caused by somebody fighting off an attack. 

In his defence, Butts claimed that June had come at him with a knife after he called her a prostitute, and she had been accidentally stabbed as he fought her off, having initially beaten her back with an iron tube.  However this version of events, as well as an offer of pleading guilty to manslaughter, was rejected. After being found guilty of murder,  Butts was sentenced to life imprisonment. 

Sunday, 16 December 2018

Sefton Park Mother Declared Insane

A mother who battered her son to death with a hammer in a flat in Sefton Park was declared insane.

On the afternoon of 2nd October 1947 at a flat in 20 Aigburth Drive, Sefton Park, Isabella Warden battered her 16 month old son Derek to death with a hammer. She then went to Lark Lane police station and said to the desk sergeant "I have done something terrible, I have killed my baby." Officers went to the address and broke in, where they found Derek's body in a cot, with a hammer next to it. 

A suicide note was also found in the property, written by Isabella and addressed to her husband Oliver which said  "I am sorry for doing this terrible thing but I can't face life any longer, and this has been in my mind for weeks and I can't get rid of it. You don't deserve such treatment, but life never deserved the kind of life I have given you for the past year. I can't think straight, and everything is on top of me, and I can't bear to see you looking so miserable when you think you have failed to make me happy. Oh, why did you ever meet me, and why was I ever born."

As Isabella said she had taken 400 aspirin tablets, she was rushed to Smithdown Road hospital where she begged doctors to let her die. Officers had the terrible task of calling Oliver at the tailor shop he managed, telling him to return home immediately, where he had to confirm the dead child's identity and receive the news his wife was in hospital.

A postmortem revealed that Derek had been in good health but died of multiple fractures to the skull and laceration of the brain. 

When Isabella was fit to be discharged from hospital, she was charged with murder and first appeared at Liverpool Magistrate's Court on 13th October. She looked dazed and had to be supported by two court officials, then was allowed to sit down and take sips of water. 

On 6th November at the Liverpool Assizes, Dr McCormack from Stranegways Prison in Manchester said that he was of the opinion that Isabella was incapable of understanding an indictment of murder and had no memory of the crime. She was then ordered by the judge to be detained at the King's pleasure.    

Sunday, 18 November 2018

The Poisoning Landlord

A Liverpool born man who let greed get the better of him was hanged after he was found guilty of poisoning his tenant.  

Frederick Henry Seddon was born in Liverpool in 1872 and baptised at St Peters Church in Church Street. At the age of 21 he married his wife Margaret at St George's Church in Everton. They would have five children together. 

Seddon was an insurance agent and he was known to be energetic, respectable and charitable. During the Boer War he organised concerts at the Picton Lecture Hall in William Brown Street, with proceeds going to widows of servicemen.  At this time he was living at 88 Belmont Road, Anfield.

At the beginning of the 20th Century Seddon secured a position as superintendent with the Liverpool & Manchester was promoted to superintendent in his firm and moved to Buckinghamshire, where he began speculating in property. He bought a fourteen bedroom house in Tollington Park, North London in 1909 and the following year let the first floor to a wealthy spinster named Eliza Barrow. She moved in with Ernest Grant, the eight year old son of a friend who had died and who she was now the guardian of.

Eliza had substantial savings and annuities. However she agreed to allow Seddon to take a controlling interest in return for an annual sum and living rent free for life. 

88 Belmont Road
On 14th September 1911 Eliza Barrow died having suffered excruciating stomach pains. Just a month earlier, she and Ernest, along with Seddon's family, had holidayed together in Southend. Seddon then arranged for her to be buried in a communal plot instead of her family vault in Islington. 

When Frank Vonderahe, a cousin of Eliza's went to take over estate, he was informed by Seddon that there was nothing left after the funeral expenses and paying for Ernest's upkeep. Frank went to the police with his suspicions, leading to Eliza's body being exhumed on 15th November. A postmortem took place and two grains of arsenic were found in the stomach, leading to the arrest of Seddon and his wife. 

The trial took place at the Old Bailey, where it was proved Seddon's fifteen year old daughter Maggie had bought flypaper from a chemist. Against the advice of his counsel, Seddon conducted his own defence, suggesting that Eliza could have drank water that the flypapers had been getting soaked in. 

Seddon was found guilty and sentenced to death, but his wife Margaret was acquitted. He was hanged at Pentonville on 18th April 1912. Margaret returned to Liverpool, marrying American James Cameron just seven months later. She took the emigrated to America with him and the five children.

Friday, 9 November 2018

Killed Over a Cigarette

A man in a hostel was killed after he had denied a cigarette to another resident. 
At around 3am on Saturday 28th September 1957 Joseph Flynn, a frail 78 year old, was asleep in his dormitory bed at the Westminster House hostel in Kirkdale. This was a local authority run home situated in the former Kirkdale Industrial School building. He was woken by Patrick Hyland, who slept in the next bed, rummaging through his belongings. 

Kirkdale Industrial School (
When Flynn remonstrated with 66 year old Hyland, he was met with a series of blows about the head. Hyland then went to the hostel office and said that a man was injured in the dormitory. Staff then  found Flynn to be conscious and even though he had blood coming from his nostrils, he refused medical attention.

Six hours later Flynn's condition was found to have deteriorated and he died at 930am. Detectives from Westminster Road police station attended and told Hyland that he would be detained on suspicion of causing the death. He responded that he had slapped Flynn, but only after being called a B*STARD.

A postmortem found that Flynn had a broken jaw and had died of cerebral haemorrhage due to multiple blows causing bruising to the brain. On being told of the postmortem results that evening. Hyland replied 'It was just a bout of fisticuffs'. After being charged with manslaughter, Hyland was remanded in custody at the Magistrates Court on the Monday morning. 

On 11th February 1958 Hyland admitted manslaughter, saying that he had been drinking ale, stout and surgical spirit and was looking for a cigarette. His defense counsel said 'If ever the expression demon drink had a meaning it was this case. For the rest of his life he will carry the burden of having killed a fellow creature for the price of a cigarette'. Hyland, described by the Liverpool Echo as a chronic drunkard, was jailed for fifteen months. 

Tuesday, 6 November 2018

Murder at the Blind Home

A partially sighted man in his seventies who killed a fellow resident of the care home where he resided was detained at Her Majesty's pleasure. 

Balliol Road in 1970s ( 1pm on 1st December 1951 police were called to Connolly House in Balliol Road, a Bootle Corporation's home for the blind. On arrival they found 46 year old Margaret Hughes lying on a landing with a throat wound. She as taken to hospital but was dead on arrival.

Later that afternoon detectives took Frederick Wilson, a 76 year old partially sighted resident of the home, into custody.  Wilson admitted cutting Margaret's throat with a razor but when examined by Dr Brisley at Walton gaol, was found to be suffering from a progressive disease of the mind. At the Liverpool assizes on 14th February 1952, the judge accepted that he was unfit to plead and detained him at Her Majesty's pleasure. 

Connolly house later became a home for elder persons and was demolished in 2010 to make way for an extension to Hugh Baird College.

Monday, 5 November 2018

Uncle Strangles Baby Nephew

A man who killed his baby nephew because he was 'squawking' was declared unfit to plead when he appeared at court charged with the murder. 

At 920am on 6th November 1951 George Thomas McCready, a 35 year old seaman, walked into Rice Lane police station and said to the desk sergeant 'I have just strangled my nephew.' McCready was kept in custody while Superintendent Balmer of the murder squad went to his home at 30 Burleigh Road South, Everton. After seeing the body of 19 month old Thomas Boston, who was the son of McCready's sister, Balmer returned to Rice Lane and formally charged him with murder.

McCready was taken straight to Dale Street to appear before the Stipendiary Magistrate Arthur McFarland. Prosecutor Mr J. R. Bishop said that on being charged, McCready had replied 'I took the baby into the front bedroom and strangled him because he was squawking.' McCready remained silent throughout the hearing, during which he was granted legal aid and remanded.

The following February McCready appeared before Mr Justice Streatfield at the Liverpool Assizes. Evidence was heard from Dr Brisley, Chief Medical Officer of Walton Gaol, that he suffered epileptic insanity and suffered a number of fits while one remand. The judge accepted that McCready was unfit to plead and detained him at His Majesty's pleasure. 

Wednesday, 31 October 2018

Manslaughter by Furious Driving

A carter who didn't stop when he ran over a child was found guilty of manslaughter and jailed.

At 430pm on Friday 19th December 1845, eleven year old Mary Bruce was crossing from St James Church to Great George Street when she was knocked down by a cart being driven by Charles Murphy. She was crushed by the wheels passing over her body and died an hour later.

At the inquest several witnesses said that Murphy was driving at a rapid rate and at first didn't stop. A verdict of manslaughter was returned and he was committed to the assizes for trial.

The following April, 21 year old Murphy was found guilty. After hearing that he had been to jail five five times, including for furious driving, he was sentenced to nine months imprisonment. 

Sunday, 28 October 2018

Tragedy of a Devoted Couple

When an elderly couple in Edge Hill fell upon hard times the husband believed there was no other way out other than for them to die together. 

In the early hours of 28th December 1933 police were called to 17 Royston Street in Edge Hill by the Annie Morris, sister of Jane Davies. On arrival officers were met by Jane's 63 year old husband, dairyman Joseph Davies who said to them "Go upstairs, I have done the missus in. See, I have done myself in too." On entering a bedroom they found his wife Jane with a very serious throat wound. There was no sign of any struggle and both Jane and Joseph were rushed to the Royal Infirmary.

Joseph received six stitches and within two days was declared fit to be put before magistrates, charged with attempted murder. On being told this by the detective sergeant, he replied "Something came over me"' At his first court appearance, Joseph stood silent in the dock as he was remanded for a week. He was described in the Liverpool Echo as tall and grey haired.

Jane had nine stitches and her wounds were not thought to be life threatening, but she died two weeks later on 14th January 1934 at Sefton General Hospital. This led to Joseph being charged with murder and on 25th January he appeared before the police court, where prosecutor Mr J. R. Bishop described he and Jane as 'a devoted couple who had fallen on hard times'. The court also heard how Jane was suffering from ill health and required hospital treatment.

A deposition taken from Jane was read out. which stated that in addition to her health concerns they had business worries and had remained awake until 5am on the night in question. Joseph then got up with the intention of doing away with himself, then returned with a razor and after seeing her husband lean over the bed she felt a sharp pain then recalled no more. Medical evidence was then heard that a postmortem revealed the cause of death to be pneumonia and heart disease. Doctors from the Royal Infirmary stated that Jane was expected to recover  in full at the time of her transfer, but it was then heard that at Sefton she had refused food.

Annie Morris told the court that she visited her sister daily, and that she had stayed overnight on 27th December. She added that Jane had been suffering from a pain in her side for two years and that this had now been discovered to be a tumour that needed surgery in the New Year. The couple were extremely worried about this and the potential impact on their business. 

After hearing all the evidence the magistrate said that the prima facie case for murder had not been made out, then committed Joseph for trial on the lesser charge of attempted murder, as well as attempted suicide. On 28th February Joseph pleased guilty to both charges and was sentenced to three days imprisonment, leading to his immediate release. He had wept throughout the proceedings, in which his defence barrister saying he had 'come to the conclusion there was nothing else to do but leave this life together.'

Eggs Dispute Ends in Death

A dispute between seamen over eggs ended with one of them dying on their ship's arrival in Liverpool and his attacker being convicted of manslaughter.

On 1st January 1867 the Caboceer docked at Aveiro in Portugal and in the afternoon the crew members were given leave to go ashore by the captain. That evening, back on the vessel, a dispute arose over ownership of a quantity of eggs that had brought aboard. This ended with 36 year old first mate Evan Matthias pulling the hair of able seaman Miles Dempsey, with so much force that his head bled. He then dragged Dempsey onto the deck and knelt on his chest with great force and hit him with a belaying pin.

Ten days later, twenty year old Dempsey complained of pains in his chest and was unable to resume his duties. He remained bedbound until the vessel arrived at Liverpool's King's Dock on 23rd February. He was taken to the workhouse hospital while Matthias was arrested and charged with assault. On the 28th Dempsey died, leading to Matthias being committed for a manslaughter trial at the assizes.

At the trial on 29th March evidence was heard that Matthias claimed all of the eggs were his, while other crew members had said they were to be shared out equally. It was also heard that Dempsey had a cold when he joined the Caboceer and this worsened when he spent a night on deck in the rain. The workhouse doctor said that he had dropsy and exhaustion, with a postmortem revealing chronic disease in the heart. In his opinion, death was accelerated by excitement occasioned by the assault. 

After the jury returned a verdict of guilty, sentence was deferred until the following day. Mr Justice Mellor told Matthias that taking all factors into consideration, Dempsey would probably not have died if he was in good health. However, he added that the jury had come to the right conclusion in points of law and that violence on ships was too common. He then imposed a sentence of five months imprisonment with hard labour. 

Tuesday, 25 September 2018

Unsolved Murder of a Boy in Anfield Cemetery

The killing of a teenage boy whose body was found in Anfield Cemetery has never been solved. 

Widowed mother Margaret Howell of Bidston View in Walton Road last saw her thirteen year old son Edward alive when he left home at 6.30am on Friday 11th June 1875. He was on his way to work as an apprentice stonemason for Mrs Stirling's monumental works at Anfield. 

Edward did return home for his dinner whilst his mother was out at work, but on going back out looking for bird nests he never returned. His disappearance was reported to the police and posters were distributed asking for information about his whereabouts. 

At 10.55am on Saturday 19th June a body was found in some trees at Anfield Cemetery by four dock labourers. It was removed to the deadhouse there. Margaret identified the body as that of her son, who appeared to have strangulation marks around his neck.

At the inquest on 22nd June Margaret was asked by The Coroner Mr Driffield about her son's passion for birdnesting. She explained how he had promised her he would only find one more nest then would stop. She also did not believe he would have gone looking for nests in the cemetery, but more likely met his death whilst trying to escape a beating from someone on whose land he had trespassed. She described him as 'generally a healthy boy'. His uncle John Garrity, who also worked as a mason at Mrs Stirling's yard, described him as 'well and hearty and never in strange mind.'

Portrait of Richard Assheton Cross, 1st Viscount Cross.jpg
Richard A Cross, Home Secretary
Dr Matthew Hill of Bootle, who carried out the postmortem, said that he believed death was the result of strangulation with a cord or possibly a neck tie. Crucially, he suggested that the low state of decomposition indicated that Edward had not been killed at the cemetery, but more likely elsewhere before being carried and dumped there.  The cemetery's gardener George Priestly explained that he had twice been where the body was found that morning and not seen it, while the bushes and shrubs appeared to have been placed over it deliberately for concealment. This was confirmed by a police constable. 

Two brickmakers who worked in Cherry Lane told how they had been working at 6.45pm on the day Edward disappeared and had heard two screams from the direction of the cemetery. They also had passed through the cemetery the following Tuesday about fifteen yards from where the body was found, and noticed a cap that was later identified as being Edward's. They both said that they had heard one local resident was extremely strict with anybody who went on their land.

After the jury returned a verdict of 'wilful murder against a person or persons unknown' police made exhaustive enquiries but found no real clues to the killers identity. This led to the Home Secretary authorising a reward of £100 on 17th July to anyone who could provide information leading to a conviction. Such was the lack of information that he also granted Her Majesty's Pardon to any accomplice who would give evidence against the killer. Despite this, nobody came forward and the killing of Edward Howell remains unsolved. 

Monday, 24 September 2018

Killed By A Bale of Cotton

When a man died after being hit by a bale of cotton that was thrown down the stairs, two men were charged with manslaughter.

At 8am on 26th December 1861 William Gordon, a fifty year old letter carrier for the General Post Office, was delivering mail to the offices of Joynson & Maitland in Druid's Court, Dale Street. 

Dale Street (Liverpool Picture Book)As he was climbing some stairs to the first floor he struck by a bale of cotton and knocked backwards. This bale was being taken to a waiting cart by two employees of cotton merchant Pierre Mussabini who occupied the top floor of the building. 

Gordon was taken by cab to the Royal Infirmary where he made a statement to police, saying that he had seen bales of cotton thrown about before and that nobody was in charge of it on this occasion. The two employees, Archibald Cunningham and Dennis Mulheren, were then questioned. They both claimed that Mulheren had been in front of the bale and slipped, causing it to topple over and crush Gordon.

At 10am the following day Gordon passed away at his home in Guilford Street, off Everton Road. A surgeon put his death down to fracture of the spine at the neck caused by external violence.  He was buried two days later at St James Cemetery, with about one hundred post office employees attending his funeral. 

At the inquest before the Coroner Mr P F Curry on 30th December, a verdict of manslaughter by gross negligence was returned, leading to Cunningham and Mulheren being committed for trial. Gordon had worked as a letter carrier for the Dale Street district for 28 years and all bars and hotels in the street agreed to take donations that could be passed to his widow.

On 26th March 1862 Cunningham and Mulheren, described as 'respectable looking' in Liverpool Mercury, appeared at the Spring Assizes. Their defence was that they were bringing the bale of cotton down the stairs in the usual manner and on slipping, Mulheren had jumped out of the way not knowing Gordon was about to go onto the stairs. This was accepted by the jury and both werefound not guilty and discharged from the dock. 

Friday, 21 September 2018

Teenage Girl Accidentally Shot By Brother

There was a tragedy in 1888 when a fifteen year old girl was accidentally shot dead by her brother, who did not realise the gun was loaded. 

On the afternoon of Sunday 11th November that year at 62 Chatham Street, Catherine Lang asked her widowed mother Elizabeth for a book called Good Thoughts By Great Minds. She was told to go upstairs and see her brother Hugh as he had it. A few moments later Elizabeth heard the sound of a gunshot and on going to a bedroom to investigate, was pushed out the way by Hugh who was in a distressed state. 

Catherine was lying on the bed with a wound to the head, while a revolver was on the floor. A doctor was called but life was pronounced extinct and he stated that death had been instant. Hugh, who was a junior clerk and in a state of total shock, accompanied his grandfather John Dickson to the detective office. 

Hugh made a statement which read "My sister wanted a book which was in the room where my cousin sleeps. I went to get the book, she followed me. I was on my knees getting the book when I saw her sitting on the bed. I saw the revolver which I had in the box and pointed it at her in a playful manner. She said 'Oh, I am not frightened of it.' I must have pressed the trigger too tightly and it went off. I did not know it was loaded, although I must have loaded it myself. The revolver was my fathers."

John Lang, a commercial traveller, had died eleven years previously and detectives established that it had belonged to him. Hugh was detained at the detective office pending an inquest, which was arranged for two days later before Clarke Aspinall at the Coroner's Court. 

Hugh's mother Elizabeth explained that she was aware Hugh had a revolver belonging to his late father, but was unaware there were also cartridges. His uncle and cousin both said they had heard the shots and at first thought it was a firework. Hugh gave evidence himself, saying that he had two pistols and a revolver belonging to his late father, but he hadn't remembered which of them was loaded.

Mr Aspinall told the jury it was one of the most painful cases he had ever dealt with and it was for them to decide if the firing was accidental or not. They returned a verdict of accidental death, with a comment that firearms should not be allowed to come into the control of youths. The Coroner told Hugh that he was free to go and that it was clear he and his sister were greatly attached and he had been greatly affected by the incident. 

Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Lodging House Accused Acquitted

Field Street (Liverpool Picturebook)

When a widow died after being kicked by a fellow lodging house tenant, doubts over her health led to him being acquitted at his trial.

On 12th August 1917 at a lodging house in Field Street, Everton, 41 year old widow Mary Cockford was talking to her sister whilst stood on the steps. Labourer Edward Kennedy returned home about 930pm and shouted at Mary to stop blocking the entrance. 

When Mary's sister tried to calm him down, Kennedy kicked Mary in the breast and stomach. As Mary then stood up and tried to straighten her hair, Kennedy seized it and pulled her down. She landed heavily and became unconscious, dying soon afterwards.

Kennedy, also aged 41, was arrested on suspicion of murder and held in custody until the inquest which took place three days later. Evidence was heard that Kennedy had taken a dislike to Mary as she used to allow his wife to stay in her room when they had quarrelled. Medical evidence suggested that Mary had a weak heart and stomach condition, but they would not have led to death unless exposed to excitement or violence. This led to the coroners' jury returning a verdict of manslaughter.

At the Crown Court trial however, medical experts were not as certain about the cause of death. under cross examination they admitted that Kennedy's blows only 'might' have led to the heart failure. This led to him being acquitted and freed from the dock. 

A Fatal Night Out

A woman's decision to go out with her friend while her boyfriend worked a nightshift proved fatal when she was battered to death by him the following day.

In 1968 James Tierney, a 41 year old hotel porter who was separated from his wife, began cohabiting with twenty year old Joan Edwards at a flat in 22 Princes road, Toxteth.

On the evening of 22nd July that year Joan went out with another female who lived in the property, calling Tierney at his work to say that she would be out all night. The two women then met a couple of Arab sailors in a public house and went on to a club, before accompanying the two men their ship.

The following morning Joan went shopping and then to the cinema, too scared to go home to face Tierney. He located her in a pub that afternoon, dragging her into a van being driven by his friend and battering her. He continued the assault back at the flat, eventually inviting a friend to see what he'd done and calling an ambulance shortly after midnight. 

Joan was pronounced dead on arrival at hospital, the cause of death being found to be cerebral hemorrhage due to repeated blows to the head. When interviewed by detectives, Tierney said he was very fond of Joan and hadn't meant to kill her, but admitted beating her with his fists and then a stick from a broken maiden. He went on to say 'I could not stop myself when I started, because I did not like the way she had carried on'.

At Liverpool Crown Court on 28th October Tierney was defended by leading Q.C Rose Heilbron, whose offer of a guilty plea to manslaughter was accepted by the prosecution. In mitigation, she told the court 'She had gone off and stayed away overnight and he had made a long search before he found her. None of this condones what he has done, but it is only fair to put forward the reason for the provocation that led to this assault. He had lost his self control and was in a frenzy because she had gone off with another man'

In his pre sentencing remarks the judge, Mr Justice Lyell, said 'This is as bad a case as I have ever known. This was not just one sudden blow, this was a long drawn out brutal attack'. He then imposed a sentence of twelve years imprisonment.

Sunday, 10 June 2018

Acquittal for Lodging House Keeper

A landlord who struck one of his tenants was charged with manslaughter after she died, but later acquitted at his trial.

In the early hours of 7th August 1905 John Scott Moon, the keeper of a lodging house in Towson Street, was having an argument with his wife. They were interrupted by 73 year old widow Elizabeth Smith who told Moon that he should be ashamed of himself. Moon then went up the stairs to the landing where Elizabeth was stood, and smacked her in the eye saying 'I will give it you you for interfering'.

Despite having a cut to her eye Elizabeth didn't seek treatment until the following day, when a doctor ordered her immediate removal to the workhouse hospital. When her daughter visited, Elizabeth told her that she felt like she had been hit by a sledgehammer and felt something crack. She died on 22nd August, with a postmortem finding that death was the result of a blood clot behind the injured eye. 

Fifty year old Moon was arrested and charged with manslaughter, appearing at the Liverpool assizes on 1st December. Medical evidence was heard that Elizabeth had senile disease of the brain and any slight injury could accelerate death. Moon stated that he had acted in a moment of mad passion and had been under the influence of drink. After much deliberation, the jury found him not guilty. The judge discharged him from the dock, commenting that the jury had opted for 'the safer course'.

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Baby Argument Leads to Wife Strangulation

An argument between a married couple of their baby led to the death of the wife by strangulation, but the husband was convicted only of manslaughter due to the lack of premeditation. 

On 21st March 1966 at 18 Holland Street in Fairfield, 29 year old Indian paint sprayer Manohar Malhotra and his wife Sudershana argued over feeding their baby. This resulted in an attack by Manohar and Sudershana being rushed to hospital only to be pronounced dead on arrival. 

Manohar was charged with murder and committed to trial at Liverpool Crown Court. However a postmortem had showed that Sudershana had died of asphyxiation but also that there were only marks of one hand on her throat. This led to the prosecution counsel Mr Forrest accepting a guilty plea to manslaughter. He acknowledged that if Manohar had intended to kill, then he would have used both hands.  

A statement from Manohar was read out that said "I was very angry and got hold of her throat. I pushed her away and she fell to the floor". His defence counsel Mr George Bean told the court that the marriage was a happy one, it was a moment of petulance and he could never have imagined such an act could have such disastrous results. 

In sentencing Manohar to three years imprisonment, the Mr Justice Paul told him "If you treat your wife like that in a fit of temper and she died, you must be punished".

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Dental Extraction Gone Wrong

When a seaman died after fighting with a fellow crew member, no charges were brought about when it was found the death was a result instead of a failed dental procedure. 

The Balasore, courtesy of State Library of South Australia
 - PRG 1373/13/32
On 17th November 1906 the Balasore of Eyre, Evans & Co arrived in Liverpool from San Francisco. One of the shipmates, a 23 year old Barbadian named Samuel Archer, was taken to hospital feeling ill and died later that day. 

Enquiries established that during the voyage Archer had been in a fight with Italian Luigi Cocini and received a broken arm as well as broken teeth. Towards the end of he voyage, Archer had asked a fellow crew member to extract some teeth, which went badly and resulted in a broken jaw.

A postmortem revealed that Archer died from shock as a result of the broken jaw, and not in relation to injuries sustained in the fight which had occurred on 24th October. As a result of this, an inquest returned a verdict of accidental death and Cocini was discharged.

Saturday, 24 March 2018

Mother Guilty of Tuberculosis Death

When a woman died in 1937 after suffering from tuberculosis for two years there was no initial cause for suspicion, but events took a macabre twist and her mother was found guilty of manslaughter.

liverpool murdersOn 22nd October that year Florence Smith, who had been suffering from the disease for two years, died at her home in Suffolk Street, off Duke Street in the city centre. She was buried four days later in Allerton cemetery but when her mother Esther Davies failed to return the keys to her flat, the owners made a horrific discovery whilst clearing it out.

In the corner of a room was a pram containing the mummified body of a baby, which was estimate to have been dead for nine months. A post mortem was carried out by Dr Lynch from the University of Liverpool, who was unable to determine whether or not the child had been born dead or alive.

Esther was traced to her home in Elmham Crescent, Fazakerley and initially remanded in custody charged with Endeavouring to Conceal The Birth of a Child. 49 year old Esther was in a distressed state when she appeared at the magistrates court and was allowed to remain seated.

Due to the concerns raised by neighbours about Florence's condition in the days leading to her death the Coroner ordered the exhumation of her body. Tests showed that the body was thin and wasted, with the cause of death being pthisis of the left lung. However, the fact Esther had not sought medical assistance prior to death meant that prosecutors charged her with manslaughter, saying that death had been accelerated by her criminal neglect.

Esther was back before magistrates on 6th December and was committed for trial at the assizes but allowed bail. This was opposed by the prosecution, who said she should remain in custody for her own safety. As she was freed from the dock she stated 'I am not guilty of both charges'.

Suffolk Street in 2017
On 8th April 1938 the jury at St George's Hall heard that post mortem results showed no evidence of Florence having eaten for several days before her death. A neighbour also testified that when Esther realised her daughter was dying, she found a terrible state of affairs, with the bedsheets being saturated in blood and her hands riddled with maggots.

The defence said that Florence had refused to go to hospital and wouldn't eat any food. To them it was not a case of wilful neglect, rather Esther simply misunderstanding how serious the situation was. However she was found guilty and sentencing adjourned to the Manchester assizes so probation reports could be prepared.

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

New Mother's Violent Death in Bootle

A Bootle man who killed his lodger who had recently given birth was jailed for twenty one months. 

On 16th September 1887 Mary McDonald gave birth to a baby at 9 Molyneux Street, a small street that ran off Derby Road next to Millers Bridge. She and her husband John lodged at the house with Daniel Madge, a twenty eight year old labourer and his wife. 

The following night Madge disturbed Mary with his singing, leading to John telling him to leave them alone as she was in a weak condition. He did so for an hour but then had an argument with his own wife before going back into their room and challenging John to a fight. Before John could even take up the offer, he had been beaten about the head with a bowl by Madge. 

When Mary placed her hand on Madge to calm him down, he pulled her out of the bed and then threw her out the door into the street. She lay there for several hours due to her husband being unconscious inside the house.

When Mary found by a neighbour she was taken to the Bootle Borough Hospital where she died six days later of peutonitis brought on by violence and exposure. Madge had already been charged and remanded in custody for cutting and wounding John and now faced an indictment of manslaughter.

When Madge appeared before Mr Justice Day on 11th November his defence counsel argued that the peutonitis had been brought on by Mary having insufficient clothing to cover her following her confinement. This argument was rejected and Madge was found guilty of manslaughter then jailed for twenty one months. 

Saturday, 13 January 2018

Wavertree Lake Tragedy

A woman who drowned her baby boy in Wavertree Lake was found not guilty due to her mental instability.

At around 2am on Sunday 21st July 1912 Police Constable George Smith was passing Wavertree Lake (now a park) when he heard groaning. He waded into the lake and the water was up to his shoulders by the time he saw the outstretched arm of a lady who was clearly struggling.  He managed to swim with her to a shallower part of the lake and another constable helped him pull her ashore.

The lady was insensible but when she regained consciousness was wailing 'Oh my baby'. PC Smith then went back into the lake with grappling irons and half an hour later located the body of a baby boy.  Enquiries established that the woman was Charlotte Heather, who lived with her husband, an electrician, in Cronton Road.

On 1st August the inquest took place. Charlotte's district nurse Elsie Williams said that she was often strange and bewildered in her manner and would worry about money. Such was Charlotte's mental state that Elsie would often sleep overnight at the property and once she had woken up in a trembling fit, saying both her and the baby had fever.

At the direction of the coroner a verdict of wilful murder against Charlotte was returned. They asked if a rider could be added that she was temporarily insane, but the coroner stated it was not their duty to determine the mental state of the prisoner. He did assure them that full consideration would be given to this at the assizes and then commended PC Smith for his prompt actions on rescuing Charlotte and recovering the baby's body.

On 1st November Charlotte appeared at the Liverpool assizes. She told the jury that she had been in bed and heard a voice calling her to see her sister. She can remember sitting by the side of the lake but nothing after that. The jury returned a verdict of not guilty and she was immediately discharged from the dock. She returned to her husband and four years later the couple had another child, a baby girl called Bronwen.