Monday, 17 May 2021

Nine Year Old Killer Lacks Understanding

When a three year old girl died as a result of being hit by a brick thrown by a nine year old boy, he avoided punishment. 

At around 6pm on the evening of 6th June 1912, a number of children were playing in Wilfer Street, off Earle Road in Edge Hill. One of them, nine year old John Dean, struck a girl called Fulwood and also through a small piece of brick through a glass window on her family's front door. The girl's elder sister came out of the house and gave John a thrashing, but as she was returning to her house he threw a brick in her direction. This fell short and hit the head of three year old Alberta Maher, who was sat on her own doorstep.

Alberta fell down injured and was taken to the children's infirmary at Myrtle Street. An operation was performed but she succumbed to the injury three weeks later. The daughter of a tram driver, she was buried in a public grave at West Derby Cemetery.

An inquest was held before the Coroner, Mr Sampson, with the Daily Post reporting that 'several children of tender years were there to give evidence.' John was sat apart next to his parents and described as 'diminutive, of rather ragged appearance.' 

After hearing the evidence, the Coroner told his jury that if John understood the danger of what he as doing then a verdict of manslaughter should be returned. After a lengthy deliberation the jury concluded that 'the deceased died as a result of the injuries from the stone thrown by the lad, who was not of sufficient understanding to be accountable for his actions.'

The Coroner told all those who had given evidence to keep their play free of quarrels and that there was too much stone throwing going on, especially by young boys. He also told John that had the police taken action, then he would have been sent to a reformatory. 

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