Tuesday, 20 February 2018

New Mother's Violent Death in Bootle

A Bootle man who killed his lodger who had recently given birth was jailed for twenty one months. 

On 16th September 1887 Mary McDonald gave birth to a baby at 9 Molyneux Street, a small street that ran off Derby Road next to Millers Bridge. She and her husband John lodged at the house with Daniel Madge, a twenty eight year old labourer and his wife. 

The following night Madge disturbed Mary with his singing, leading to John telling him to leave them alone as she was in a weak condition. He did so for an hour but then had an argument with his own wife before going back into their room and challenging John to a fight. Before John could even take up the offer, he had been beaten about the head with a bowl by Madge. 

When Mary placed her hand on Madge to calm him down, he pulled her out of the bed and then threw her out the door into the street. She lay there for several hours due to her husband being unconscious inside the house.

When Mary found by a neighbour she was taken to the Bootle Borough Hospital where she died six days later of peutonitis brought on by violence and exposure. Madge had already been charged and remanded in custody for cutting and wounding John and now faced an indictment of manslaughter.

When Madge appeared before Mr Justice Day on 11th November his defence counsel argued that the peutonitis had been brought on by Mary having insufficient clothing to cover her following her confinement. This argument was rejected and Madge was found guilty of manslaughter then jailed for twenty one months. 

Saturday, 13 January 2018

Wavertree Lake Tragedy

A woman who drowned her baby boy in Wavertree Lake was found not guilty due to her mental instability.

At around 2am on Sunday 21st July 1912 Police Constable George Smith was passing Wavertree Lake (now a park) when he heard groaning. He waded into the lake and the water was up to his shoulders by the time he saw the outstretched arm of a lady who was clearly struggling.  He managed to swim with her to a shallower part of the lake and another constable helped him pull her ashore.

The lady was insensible but when she regained consciousness was wailing 'Oh my baby'. PC Smith then went back into the lake with grappling irons and half an hour later located the body of a baby boy.  Enquiries established that the woman was Charlotte Heather, who lived with her husband, an electrician, in Cronton Road.

On 1st August the inquest took place. Charlotte's district nurse Elsie Williams said that she was often strange and bewildered in her manner and would worry about money. Such was Charlotte's mental state that Elsie would often sleep overnight at the property and once she had woken up in a trembling fit, saying both her and the baby had fever.

At the direction of the coroner a verdict of wilful murder against Charlotte was returned. They asked if a rider could be added that she was temporarily insane, but the coroner stated it was not their duty to determine the mental state of the prisoner. He did assure them that full consideration would be given to this at the assizes and then commended PC Smith for his prompt actions on rescuing Charlotte and recovering the baby's body.

On 1st November Charlotte appeared at the Liverpool assizes. She told the jury that she had been in bed and heard a voice calling her to see her sister. She can remember sitting by the side of the lake but nothing after that. The jury returned a verdict of not guilty and she was immediately discharged from the dock. She returned to her husband and four years later the couple had another child, a baby girl called Bronwen.

Thursday, 21 December 2017

Landlord's Narrow Escape

When a man died after an altercation with his landlord in 1892, an inquest determined he had died from natural causes. This led to the coroner telling the man detained in connection with the death that he had a narrow escape.

On Friday 5th February that year John Dalzell had tea at his lodgings in Fairy Street (off Netherfield Road North in Everton) then went out drinking. On his return his brother James made a joke that he didn't like, leading to the two fighting. John was getting the upper hand and their landlord John Glendenning intervened on James' side, leading to his wife Ann going out to find a policeman. The officer she found however said he could not intervene as the fight was taking place inside a house.

When Ann returned she saw John Dalzell lying on the kitchen floor and found that James and her husband had gone to bed. When she went back into the kitchen she realised that John was dead and went back out to find the policeman, who called in a doctor to confirm that life was extinct.

John Glendenning was taken into custody and at the inquest the following Monday evidence was heard from Ann and Dr Parry, who had carried out the postmortem. He confirmed that the only injury on the body was a black eye but that the stomach was distended from too much food and there was a problem with a heart valve. This led to a verdict being returned that excitement and drink had accelerated death and Glendenning was discharged. Before leaving however he was censured by the coroner, who said that he had had a very narrow escape.

Friday, 15 December 2017

14 Year Old Killed by Bottle

A fourteen year old boy was killed in 1885 by a flying bottle that had been targeted at somebody else.

Hopwood Street in 1930 (www.liverpoolpicturebook.com)
On 11th September 1885 Francis Beagan, a fourteen year old who lived with his widowed mother in Cockspur Street, was walking down Hopwood Street in Vauxhall. A woman ran passed him being chased by a man, who threw a bottle which missed her and hit Francis on the head.  

Francis was taken to the Stanley Hospital where he died three days later. The man concerned was 33 year old labourer Thomas Cavanagh, who was initially charged with wounding but had this changed to manslaughter. At the Liverpool assizes on 20th November he was found guilty and sentenced to six months imprisonment. 

A Man of Disgusting Habits

A man who battered his wife to death in Everton in 1889 was jailed for ten years, the judge telling him he was of 'disgusting habits'.

Robsart Street (www.liverpoolpicturebook.com)
On the evening of Sunday 30th June John Hannay and his wife Martha indulged in some heavy drinking a their Robsart Street home. They then went out but Martha refused to return home when John demanded they did, leading to him kicking her about the head and body when she did make it back there. Even when she escaped and made it to bed, he dragged her out of it and repeated the onslaught.

Martha lingered on until the following Friday when she died. John, a 23 year old dock labourer, was charged with murder and stood trial before Mr Justice Stephen on 9th August. His defence was that he was so drunk he did not know what he was doing, and that they had generally been on good terms. It was also suggested that Martha had been fighting with somebody else earlier in the day and may have got her injuries that way.

John was found guilty of murder and told by the judge that he had 'disgusting habits' before being sentenced to ten years imprisonment.

Thursday, 9 November 2017

Maltese Hanged for Norris Green Man's Death

In 1948 when 22 year old man from Norris Green was stabbed to death in Staffordshire, his Maltese killer was hanged at Walton gaol.

George Semini
Shortly after 10pm on Friday 9th October that year three young Liverpool men were stood outside the Talbot Hotel in Church Street, Newcastle Under Lyme. When a 24 year old Maltese man named George Semini walked past with a local lady, Majorie Seabridge, one of them made a remark about her height. Semini reacted ferociously, knocking one of them to the ground. Two passers by tried to restrain him but Semin broke free and knifed all three Liverpool men before running off across some wasteland.

Two of the men's wounds were not so serious, injuring the knee and One of the three men, 22 year old Joseph Gibbons, had been stabbed in the chest and died an hour later at the North Staffordshire Hospital. Joseph was originally from Berkswell Road in Norris Green and had been working in the area as a welder at a gasworks. He and his friends were at the end of their contract and had just been paid, so were enjoying a last night out in the area before returning to Liverpool the next day.

Twenty Four year old George Semini, a Maltese national who working at a local mine in Knutton, was arrested at a miners hostel. He was charged with murder and remanded in custody at a special sitting of the police court the next morning. At the inquest Joseph's father described him as peaceful and of amiable disposition and said he had recently been discharged from the army.

At this trial at the beginning of December, portrait photographs were produced of Semini holding a knife. Semini did not deny the stabbing, but said it all happened in a haze and couldn't remember exactly what happened. The fact he had been held back but broke free did not bode well for him and he was found guilty. As he was sentenced to death, Marjorie Seabridge broke down and cried and a Maltese in the public gallery shouted 'Injustice'.

Semini's lawyers appealed on the basis it was a chance medley, but this was rejected. Lord Chief Justice Goddard said in his reasons that there was no reason to draw the knife and called the stabbing a dreadful and cowardly act of revenge. 

The day before his execution Semini was visited by his friend Joe Marguerat,. Semini asked him to buy a gold locket and chain so a photograph of him could be put in there for his wife and son in Malta. On the day itself, 27th January 1949, Marguerat was one of two Maltese nationals outside the gates of Walton gaol and told reporters he had promised to look after Semini's family. Semini also had an unlikely sympathiser in Joseph's mother, who wrote to him in prison saying she knew he hadn't intended to kill him.

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Killing of a Carters Wife

A man who tried to rape a carter's wife and killed her when she rejected his advances was jailed for ten years.

On 11th May 1869 Stephen Brennan, described in the press as half witted, was invited for tea by a carter named Joseph White who lived at 249 Vauxhall Road. When Joseph went out, Brennan attempted to violate his 63 year old wife Mary. On being rebuked, Brennan struck Mary, breaking her nose and causing considerable bruising to her face.

Vauxhall Road (www.liverpoolpicturebook.com)
Mary died on 7th July and a postmortem by Dr Samuels revealed the heart, lungs and kidneys to be in poor condition. He had no doubt however, that death had been accelerated as a result of the injuries inflicted by Brennan. An inquest revealed a verdict of wilful murder leading to Brennan, who was already in prison awaiting trial for assault, now facing a murder charge.

Brennan appeared at the assizes on 17th August and was found guilty of manslaughter. He was jailed for ten years, the Liverpool Mercury saying that the killing had involved circumstances of the most fearfully revolting character.