Manslaughter of Hugh M'LAUGHLIN,Liverpool police-constable 1891

Aug 19th 1891

A Liverpool constable killed in Ireland

The Strabane police have arrested 9 men, James JACKSON, William HART, John COOKE, James KINCAID, Thomas DODDS, John FLETCHER, A. WILSON, John KIDD Jnr and Thomas KIDD, for having caused the death of Hugh M'LAUGHLIN, a member of the Liverpool Police Force. M'LAUGHLIN was on leave, and when walking from Strabane to Artyarvin was, it is alleged, beaten to death. Head Constable ROBINSON asked for the prisoners to be remanded and they were conveyed to Derry gaol.

September 2nd 1891, Strabane, 8 young men were brought up on remand at a special court charged with the homicide of Hugh M'LAUGHLIN, Liverpool Policeman, who on the 1st August was attacked and beaten when leaving this town for home, and afterwards died from his injuries. The magistrates ordered the discharge of JACKSON, FLETCHER, HARTE and KINCAID, and ordered that Thomas KIDD, John KIDD, Andrew WILSON and John COOKE, be returned for trial at the next assizes, bail was refused.

Dec 12th 1891, Ulster Winter Assizes, Londonderry, before Mr Justice ANDREWS

Manslaughter near Strabane

John COOKE, John KIDD, Thomas KIDD and Andrew WILSON were arraigned on an indictment charging them with manslaughter of Hugh M'LAUGHLIN near the town of Strabane on the 1st Aug last, they pleaded not guilty.

Mr William IRVINE, Q, C, and Mr A. LANE [instructed by Mr James RIORDAN, Crown solicitor for Tyrone] prosecuted. Mr P. C. GAUSSEN [instructed by Mr W. P. MOODY] defended the prisoners.

Mr IRVINE. Q. C, briefly stated the evidence that would be produced for the Crown, which, he said would prove conclusively that all of the prisoners were guilty of the manslaughter of M'LAUGHLIN, who died on the 17th Aug, from the injuries he received on the 1st of Aug.

Daniel FERRIS, examined by Mr LANE, said he was at the Strabane fair on the 1st of Aug and left for home with Hugh M'LAUGHLIN, the deceased, they had got half a mile out of town at Mr SMITH'S gate when four men came up. One came up on the footpath and put up his hand to M'LAUGHLIN, who pushed him aside. He came up again and M'LAUGHLIN and he caught hold of each other. The stranger was put down, then there was a whistle given, after the whistle 4 or 5 came up, and someone shouted, "Go for him" COOKE came forward to M'LAUGHLIN in a fighting position and got knocked down. He got up and got knocked down again. M'LAUGHLIN then threw off his coat and went forward to those 4 or 5 people, who went back towards the town. Witness went after him to bring him back, when he met him 2 or 3 of the party threw stones. Witness caught hold of one of the party and kicked and struck at him, and then left to come up to M'LAUGHLIN He found him lying in the road not able to get up, he tried to life him, but couldn't. He then called the assistance of John BERRY, who assisted him to raise him and take him to a water tap at the workhouse. Witness and M'LAUGHLIN then went towards home, but they got as far as James ARBUCKLE'S where a cart was got and he brought him to the doctors and then took him home in the cart. When he reached ARBUCKLE'S again he walked home.

Cross-examined by Mr GAUSSEN - This would be about half an hour after the public house closed. M'LAUGHLIN appeared to have got some drink that night, but was not drunk. Witness had also got a little.

John BERRY, a shoemaker in Strabane, said he was in GORMLEY'S public-house in Strabane between 9 and 10pm on the 1st of Aug, there were the 4 prisoners and others who left about 10pm and out the Derry Rd, 2 of the party left at the meeting-house railings. Two men DOERY and COOKE were inclined to quarrel, the DOERY'S went away on and COOKE rushed after them. The DOERY'S returned to town, but COOKE did not. Witness afterwards saw COOKE out near Mr SMITH'S gate. John FLETCHER, Andy WILSON, and witness went to fetch COOKE into the town. They met Dan FERRIS and a man with him who was M'LAUGHLIN. COOKE stopped upon the pad and put up his hand, the other man asked him who he was and what he wanted. Witness caught COOKE and put him down on the ground and sat on him. Witness heard a whistle given and James JACKSON, Thomas KIDD and John KIDD came up. While witness was holding COOKE down, M'LAUGHLIN said to let him up as he was going with him, Witness said No, that he belonged to the town. COOKE overpowered witness and got up. He went over to M'LAUGHLIN who knocked him down twice. Someone called not to kick him, M'LAUGHLIN then pulled off his coat and went towards them. Then stones were thrown from the crowd. Witness went with FLETCHER and JACKSON in the direction of Derry. Witness went into a cornfield near the workhouse, FERRIS came and called, "John BERRY, the man is killed, come and help me" Witness came out and got the man washed at a water tap. He left them and came home to Strabane.

Cross-examined by Mr GAUSSEN, Q.C, -COOKE had taken drink and was quarrelsome.

Robert M'GOWAN deposed that he came up and saw the man lying on the ground, he did not know the man. He met two men going towards Strabane then he saw John BERRY and another man coming, and they took the man up and put on his coat.

John DOERY, deposed that he saw a crowd at the Barefooted Barn. One of them caught a brother of his, witness had difficulty in getting him rid. Witness said his brother turned in towards the town instead of going home. They left the town after 10pm to go home, they met WILSON and John KIDD, the latter said, "That is a coarse road out there."

Dr TRIMBLE of Strabane deposed that he saw M'LAUGHLIN on that night or early next morning, he had a contusion wound on the lower lip from the mouth to the chin. The margin of the upper jaw on the left hand side was broken into small pieces for about two inches, the corresponding gum was gone. Two of his teeth were gone and two loose. He had a scalp wound behind the ear about an inch and a half long, and two scalp wounds an inch long each on the top of the head , and a contused wound on the back of the head an inch in diameter. He died on the 17th Aug of lockjaw from the injury to the jawbone. It must have been caused by a heavy blunt body. A heavy stone thrown with violence would cause it.

This closed the case for the Crown.

Mr GAUSSEN asked to put in a statement made by the deceased.

Mr IRVINE, Q, C said he had no objections.

Mr GAUSSEN read the deposition made by M'LAUGHLIN on the 3rd Aug, in which he said he could not recognise anyone who struck him either with stones or their hands.

M GAUSSEN addressed the jury for the prisoners and called Sergeant MURRAY who had arrested Thomas KIDD, he made a statement. Mr IRVINE, Q.C, objected to the statement which was not allowed.

His Lordship then charged the jury on the evidence. The jury found the prisoners guilty and recommended all except one to mercy.

Sentence was deferred and the Court adjourned until Monday

Resumed assizes, John COOKE, John KIDD, Thomas KIDD and Matthew WILSON, convicted of the manslaughter of Hugh M'LAUGHLIN, who was at home near Strabane on furlough, were put forward. Evidence of character was given

His Lordship addressing John COOKE, said, he was satisfied, notwithstanding the prisoner previous good character, he on the night in question was behaving in a most riotous and disorderly manner, imperilling the public peace, and running the risk of such a fatality which occurred. A life was lost mainly through the disturbance which the prisoner was the origin of, and if the prisoner was not in a position to assist in throwing the first volley of stones he had an opportunity of rejoining his riotous companions and taking part in the outrage that resulted in the death of the man. He had taken into consideration that the prisoner had been in prison for about 4 months, but, notwithstanding, he could not impose a less sentence than 8 months imprisonment with hard labour. The other three prisoners should be discharged to come up for judgement on giving bail to be of good behaviour for 12 months.

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