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.