Wednesday, 13 February 2019

Canada Dock Tragedy

A man who went to the aid of a crew member on board a ship berthed in Canada Dock died from stab wounds, leading to the assailant being convicted of manslaughter. 

At about 10pm on 6th November 1906 Wallace Tate, from Loxdale Street in Dingle, went to see off a relative on board the steamer Manchester City. The Manchester Line vessel was due to sail at 2am for Buenos Aries. Whilst there he witnessed an altercation between able seaman John Wells and the boatswain, after Wells had refused orders to go on deck.  

When Wells assaulted another crew member called Driscoll that had stood up for the boatswain, Tate went to break things up. There was a brief struggle and Wells ran off throwing a knife away as he did so. Driscoll had a stab wound in the hand but Tate appeared unhurt and went to sit on a bunk. However a few minutes later he doubled up and fell unconscious on the floor. He was rushed to Stanley Hospital where it was confirmed he had died from a severed artery near a wound on the groin.

Twenty nine year old Wells, who lived in Greenside off Brunswick Road, was arrested on the quayside and appeared before the Police Court the following morning. He said he could recall nothing of the incident, having been drunk. He was then committed to the assizes charged with wilful murder.

Wells appeared before Justice Sutton on 3rd December, where the prosecuting counsel pursued the capital charge on the basis Wells was not acting in self defence. However due to his having been drinking, there being no previous animosity with Tate and the very short premeditation period, he was found guilty only of the lesser charge of manslaughter. Wells was then sentenced to five years penal servitude.