Thursday, 24 November 2016

Brother Killed Over Card Game

A man who killed his brother in row during a game of cards kept his head in his hands as he was found guilty of manslaughter.

On the evening of 18th June 1887 two brothers named Martin and John Goulding, who lodged in Sterne Street (off Boaler Street), played a card game with another man named Alfred Roberts. The brothers were both drunk and began to quarrel about an hour after they started playing when Martin called John a cheat.

When John denied this, Martin got up and punched his brother. This led to John picking up a kitchen knife from the table and the landlady grabbing his neck to stop him using it. John promised he had only done what he had to frighten Martin and the three men began playing cards again, with the landlady feeling confident enough to go out and leave them to it.

Shortly afterwards they began arguing again and after John left the house, Martin leaned against the wall saying to Alfred he had been stabbed. The landlord, Mr Flanagan, then came in and on seeing the blood sent for an ambulance which took Martin to the Royal Infirmary. An anxious John stopped a labourer called George Lee in Kew Street and gave him a bottle of beer in return for going to Sterne Street and checking on Martin's welfare. He returned however with the news that he had now been taken to hospital.

Thirty two year old Martin died shortly after arrival at hospital, his lung having been punctured. This led to John being arrested in the early hours at the Mechanics Home in St Anne Street. The knife was recovered from next to the railings of the Presbyterian church in Everton Brow.

At the inquest Mrs Flanagan told of seeing the knife but that they were playing cards when she left. Alfred said he had not seen John in possession of a knife or the stabbing take place, just the aftermath. A surgeon from the infirmary confirmed the cause of death and a verdict of wilful murder was returned. leading to John being committed to the assizes for trial.

John, who was just nineteen years old and worked as a hawker, appeared before Mr Justice Day on 4th August 1887. He was allowed to sit down for the duration of the trial and he kept his head in his hands all the time. 

Prosecutor Mr McConnell outlined the facts of the case and said it was solely for the jury to decide whether John was guilty of manslaughter or murder. Landlady Mr Flanagan spoke highly of John, saying he had never been any trouble and that he would pay for his brother's keep when he was out of work. She described Martin, on the other hand, as a good fighter. Alfred Roberts said that prior to falling down, Martin, who was much bigger and stronger, had been about to punch John. Under cross examination he said that both men were drunk.

After hearing the evidence of the first two witnesses the defence counsel Mr Segar intervened and stated that  John was willing to plead guilty to manslaughter. The judge refused to interfere and said he would only accept this plea if the prosecution agreed. Mr McConnell responded by saying that he would prefer to the jury to decide on what the verdict should be. Evidence was then heard as to Martin being taken to hospital and the arrest of John.

In addressing the jury, Mr Segar said that as the prosecution had refused to accept a manslaughter plea, then they should acquit John altogether on the grounds that he was too drunk to know what he was doing.  However in summing up, Justice Day said drunkenness could not be a reason to absolve someone of responsibility. The jury consulted for a short time and found John guilty of manslaughter. 

The judge deferred sentence for a week and when John was brought back up he was told that although he was of good character, a light sentence was impossible. Telling him that the jury had shown mercy, Justice Day sentenced John to seven years penal servitude.

No comments:

Post a Comment