Monday, 1 July 2019

Six Weeks For Paraffin Lamp Killing

When a woman threw a paraffin oil lamp at her husband as he returned from work, it exploded and he died from his burns. She was charged with manslaughter, but given a lenient sentence by the judge. 

At 9pm on 2nd March 1883, forty six year old carter Henry Hibbert returned to his home at Maynard Street (off Upper Parliament Street, where commerce Way is now situated). He was very soon back in the street again screaming for water as his clothes were on fire. 

Henry's wife Sarah ran out after him and along with a neighbour named Ellen Campbell, wrapped clothing around him to put the flames out. Within fifteen minutes a police constable arrived and found Henry sat in a chair inside his property with burns to face and body. He told the officer that Sarah was responsible, as she had thrown a paraffin oil lamp at him. 

Both husband and wife were taken to the Infirmary, as Sarah had burns to her hands. After they were dressed she was taken to the Bridewell and charged with assault, while Henry remained in hospital. The following day he was visited by his boss, a fruit trader who lived in Windsor Street. Henry told him that as soon as he opened the door the  lamp was thrown at him and the ball of it burst when it struck his head. 

Henry died ten days later and after an inquest returned a verdict of manslaughter, Sarah was committed to the assizes for trial an appeared before Mr Justice Day at St Georges Hall the following month. She pleaded guilty and despite Day's reputation for tough sentencing, she was imprisoned for just six weeks. At the same assizes, a woman who stole a mans trousers was sent to gaol for eighteen months. 

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