Saturday, 29 June 2019

Returning Fireman Stabbed to death

A man who went for a drink with family and friends after returning from sea was stabbed to death, with his assailant being convicted of manslaughter.

On Sunday 19th November 1865 the Helvetia arrived at arrived at Bramley Moore Dock from New York. Later that evening one the crew members, 22 year old fireman William McManus, went to the Bells public house, situated close to the railway bridge in Boundary Street, Kirkdale. He was accompanied by his sisters Mary and Catherine, as well as some other friends. 

At about 9pm a man named Daniel McKenna, who was known to McManus, entered and asked if he had seen a man named Daniel Close. He was sat with McManus, who pointed him out as being sat on the end of their table. Some words were exchanged between McKenna and Close leading to one of William's friends, William Nicholson intervening and telling McKenna to keep away. McKenna then struck Close but then left the pub after being hit himself by Nicholson.

Ten minutes after McKenna had left, McManus and his party got up and went outside themselves. Unbeknown to them, McKenna was waiting and punched McManus, who returned the blow. Very soon afterwards, McKenna ran up behind McManus, stabbing both him and another man, John Grady, in the abdomen. Nicholson gave chase but slipped, allowing McKenna to get away. McManus was carried to a nearby druggists in Athol Street but he was dead within ten minutes. Grady was luckier and managed to get himself to hospital for treatment.

At 6am the following morning, McKenna, a foundry worker, was apprehended by detectives in the cellar of his mother's house in Barmouth Street. He was wearing fresh clothes but ordered to change into what he was wearing the night before. Before being told what his charge was, he immediately confessed that he had been in a "frightful row" and did not know what he had done. McKenna was taken to the Police Court and remanded into custody by the Stipendiary magistrate Thomas Stamford Raffles. 

On 22nd November, an inquest took place before the Coroner, Mr P. F. Curry. The two McManus sisters described the events in the the pub, but admitted they did not see if McKenna had a knife. Nicholson told how there had been no provocation at all from McManus. Both he and another friend recalled that as soon as McManus fell, he shouted out "I am stabbed". On questioned about whether they saw a knife, they both said it was too dark.  John Grady, who had recovered sufficiently enough to give evidence, said that he had tried to prevent McKenna rushing at McManus, only to be stabbed himself. 

Detectives told the coroner they had recovered a cleaned up knife from McKenna's clothing. Dr Costine, who had been unable to save McManus at the druggists, described the wound that caused death as being three inches deep caused by a sharp cutting instrument. A verdict of wilful murder was returned and McKenna committed for trial at the next assizes. 

On 19th December, McKenna was found guilty of the lesser charge of manslaughter. This was on the basis that he and McManus had generally been on good terms and that the period for any malice aforethought was short. Telling him that he had taken a life by rash use of a dangerous weapon in the dark, the judge imposed a sentence of seven years penal servitude. 

Pawned Clothes Triggers Killing

When a man returned home from work to find his wife had spent all their money on drink and pawned his clothes, he killed his wife in a fit of rage. However after being found guilty of manslaughter he was treated leniently by the judge. 

On 16th December 1865 Henry Greenwood returned to his Leeds Street home from his job as a foundry worker to find his wife Mary leaving carrying an empty jug which she tended to get filled with ale. He dragged her back into their room and on finding she had spent his 24 shillings wages as well as pawning some of his clothes, told her he would "do for her this time".

Other occupants of the floor heard screams and then Mary ran onto the stairs, her dress torn. Henry followed her and knocked her down before kicking her about the head and body. Leaving her for dead, he then went into Gore's public house in nearby Vauxhall Road. 

A neighbour named Mrs Croft went to Gore's and told Henry he had killed Mary, leading to some men restraining him. When a police officer arrived though he managed to escape and was eventually caught in Westmorland Place. On being charged with the death of his wife he replied "All right I am very sorry" and was described by the constable as being "perfectly sober".

A postmortem revealed the cause of death to be extravasation due to blood on the brain, as a result of external violence. An inquest before the Coroner Mr P. F. Curry returned a verdict of manslaughter and Henry was committed for trial.

On 27th March Henry appeared before Mr Justice Mellor, where representation were made that he had become exasperated by his wife's intemperate habits. It was also stated that the couple's daughter had been sent into service to avoid her mother's influence and even had her own clothes pawned. 

After some deliberation the jury found Henry guilty of manslaughter with a recommendation for mercy. He was then gaoled for sixteen months by the judge. 

Thursday, 27 June 2019

The Crosby Abortionist

During the 1940s a widow in her seventies was twice convicted of manslaughter after the deaths of women on whom she performed illegal abortions.

On 17th July 1944 Doris Chipchase, the widow of a merchant seaman who lived in Oriel Road, Bootle, died at Walton Hospital. Investigations established she had recently had an abortion carried out by another widow, Isobel Parker, a former nurse and midwife who lived at 3 Fairholme Road in Crosby. 

Fairholme Road
Parker was charged with manslaughter and granted bail. When she appeared at the assizes the following October, she was defended by Rose Heilbron who told the court the abortion had been carried out as a 'good turn'. as Ida had threatened suicide. 

Despite Heilbron's submissions, Parker was found guilty. Mr Justice Stable had no room for sympathy when it came to passing sentence. Jailing her for nine months, he told her "People who undertake to perform these operations should know that when death results there is no reason so far as that I am aware why they should not be indicted for murder".

Eighteen months after Parker's release, thirty year old Edna Stephens died after visiting her home. Unmarried, she was a sergeant with the Womens Auxiliary Air Force and had onlly recently returned from two years service in Egypt. She was stationed at Padgate, Warrington but her parents lived nearby at 5 Sandheys Avenue. At 530pm on Saturday 14th December 1946 she knocked at the door and was introduced to Parker by her daughter in law Olivia, who then went to the cinema with her husband. 

Within an hour Edna was dead. She had been found collapsed in the kitchen by a lodger Josephine Smith, who was alerted by the sound of groaning. Edna's regular doctor, Dr Brenner was called to the property and accused by Parker of sending Isobel to her. Furiously denying this, he passed the information about the death to the police. On being arrested later that evening, Parker claimed she had only examined Edna and prior to her collapse and repeated that Dr Brenner had sent her. 

A postmortem established that an abortion had been carried out using a sharp instrument, and that Edna had been three or four months pregnant. When she appeared at an occasional court in Seaforth two days later, Parker complained of being hard of hearing and said she had recently suffered a stroke. Despite her poor health, a request for her to be granted bail was refused and she was remanded into custody.

Initially prosecutors wanted to charge Parker with murder but at a committal hearing the following January this was reduced to manslaughter, along with 'using an instrument to procure miscarriage'. Parker had limped into court with the aid of a stick and needed to be helped to her seat by a warder. 

On 12th February 1947 Parker was back in the familiar surroundings of St Georges Hall for another trial. Her defence barrister, Basil Nield, said the evidence was purely circumstantial and suggested that Miss Stephens could have been "interfered with" by somebody else before visiting Parker. This failed to convince the jury who took just fifteen minutes to find her guilty.

In sentencing Parker to three years imprisonment, Mr Justice Singleton said "If anyone should know the danger of the practice you carried on this young girl, you with your experience ought to have known it".

Parker's second victim Edna Stephens is buried in St Luke's Church in Crosby, where her grave is marked by a CWGC headstone.

Death of a Teamowner

When a Liverpool teamowner was killed by one of his employees after a row, the jury took a lenient view and found him guilty only of manslaughter. 

On 25th March 1889 George Godfrey, was in the fruit rooms at Victoria Street with one of his employees, a porter named  Samuel Vaughan. After some words were exchanged between the two over an outstanding delivery to a Blackburn trader, Godfrey punched Vaughan, causing him to fall to the ground.

An hour later, Vaughan confronted 25 year old Godfrey in his office which was upstairs in the same building, demanding a shilling. The request was refused and as Godfrey was leaving via some stairs, Vaughan hit him from behind with an adze (a cutting tool). Godfrey was taken to the Northern Hospital.

Vaughan was apprehended later that evening at a public house in Conway Street. As he was being conveyed to the Bridewell he said to the police officer "I struck him with the flat end, not the sharp end". Four days later Godfrey died from inflammation of the brain having never fully regain consciousness. He was just twenty five years old.

The funeral of Godfrey took place on 2nd April and was attended by a number of master carters and fruit merchants. There were nine mourning coaches and 3,000 lining the streets around his home in Rose Vale, Everton. Around 400 mourners were at Anfield Cemetery, where he was buried in the Roman Catholic section. It was the second tragedy within a year for his widow, the couple had lost their baby daughter the previous May.

The day after the funeral Vaughan, who had initially been charged with wounding, was brought before the Police Court and committed to the assizes to stand trial for murder. A crucial factor behind this decision was that he had an hour to calm down after being struck by Godfrey and that he had told another porter he would "knock his brains out" and intended to "do for him".

On 23rd May Vaughan stood trial and unusually for the time, gave his own statement. He claimed that  Godfrey had again hit him in the office and that he found the adze used was on a table there. Prosecutors acknowledged that an adze was not usually carried by porters. In the closing statement, Vaughan's defence counsel described him as "an uneducated passionate man who was smarting under the blow which he had received". It was also pointed out that although nobody had seen or heard Godfrey strike Vaughan at the top of the stairs, it was the same case in relation to the blow with the adze.

After deliberating for ten minutes the jury returned a verdict of manslaughter. However Mr Justice Stephens was in no mood for leniency. He told Vaughan that due to his use of an implement and having gone to the office intending to cause harm, a murder verdict would have been justifiable. Saying it was for the protection of the public, he then imposed a sentence of fifteen years penal servitude.

Tuesday, 4 June 2019

An Edge Hill Double Tragedy

A former soldier who had never overcome the trauma of the trenches killed his wife and daughter in 1929. He was found guilty of murder but insane at the time and detained at His Majesty's pleasure. 

On 30th April that year, at 4.25am, John Edward Jones called at the bridewell in Lawrence Road and stated that he had "done in" his wife and baby. Police officers attended his home at 21 Casterton Street, off Spekeland Road, and found the body of ten month old Eileen on a bed. She was lying alongside her 35 year old mother Mary, who was still alive but bleeding heavily from a head wound. Three step children were cowering in a corner. 

Three hours later 42 year old John was charged with the murder of Eileen and made an extraordinary statement. He told the detective inspector that he had married Mary, a widow in 1927, but for the last year she had told him he was no more than a lodger as she had enough to do looking after the children. John stated that a row started over his arrest two nights previously for being drunk in the street. After being called a "Welsh rabbit" and "worm" he waited for her to go asleep then hit her three times with a hammer and did the same to little Eileen. After wondering for a few minutes what to do, he decided to hand himself in at the bridewell. A note was found  was found on his possession which said "My God, murder. No wonder. Give me a dog's life after what I went through".

A dishevelled John appeared at the magistrates court where he was remanded, charged with the murder of Eileen and attempted murder of Mary. When Mary died on 1st June, the attempted murder charge was withdrawn and replaced with one of murder. 

John appeared at the Assizes on 17 June. Evidence was heard that during the First World War he had suffered a shrapnel wound to the forehead and been kept prisoner for two years. A medical expert called by the defence said that he repeatedly had dreams of being in battle and that he carried out the act during an epileptic dream state. However, Dr Ahearn from Walton gaol suggested John's lack of horror at what he had done on coming round meant he knew what he was doing. 

After twenty five minutes of deliberation the jury came back and asked to see the legal definition of insanity, as read in the judge's summing up. After reviewing this it took just twelve minutes to return a verdict of guilty but insane at the time of the act. John was then ordered to be detained at His Majesty's pleasure by Mr Justice Charles.