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.