The murder by a Spanish sailor in Oldhall St. 1863

Liverpool Mercury May 14th 1863

The murder by a Spanish sailor in Oldhall St.

Another brutal murder has been perpetrated in Oldhall St on Tuesday night by a man supposed to be a foreign sailor, the victim a man names James HARRISON, and a Pole named Henry COHEN has been severely injured.

About 9.15pm on Tuesday night HARRISON [who had been on shore for some time and resided at a beerhouse kept by his sister in Grenville St] in the company of the injured man COHEN and a man named John W. HOWELL, 3rd mate of the ship Calloon, now lying in the Bramley-Moore Dock, left Mr MOTT'S public house in Oldhall St [where they each had three 2d worths of whiskey] about 9pm, and proceeded in the direction of the Exchange. When opposite Fazackerly St, COHEN jostled accidentally against a man who appeared to be a Spanish seaman, who at once drew a knife or dagger from his waist and stabbed COHEN, then ran away. COHEN fell immediately, HARRISON and HOWELL followed the assassin across the street, but the latter stopped again with COHEN, shortly afterwards HARRISON was heard by COHEN and HOWELL to cry out and HOWELL saw the murderer stab HARRISON with the knife or dagger. HARRISON ran into a baker's shop in Oldhall St and the assassin made off down Union St and was lost sight of.

HARRISON and COHEN were conveyed speedily to the Northern Hospital and were attended to by Dr HEELIS, HARRISON had sustained a deep wound in the pit of the stomach from which his bowels protruded and expired within about 20mins of reaching hospital. COHEN had sustained a puncture wound in the back and it is feared his wounds will terminate fatally.

PC 10 apprehended a Spanish seaman, Miguel A. BARNO on suspicion of being the man who had stabbed HARRISON and COHEN. He was taken to the Northern Hospital and ranged with seven others, placed before COHEN who could not identify him.

In consequence of information received by Supt BOYD, Det officers MACAULAY and BANDFORD proceeded to Pennington St off Hotham St, where they apprehended a Spanish seaman in the garret of a brothel there on suspicion of being the murderer. The man was taken to the police station and gave the name Joseph ALVA and stated he was formerly cook on board the brigantine Pepita, now lying in the Victoria Dock. Two boy witnesses identified him as the man they saw running down Fazackerley St after the murder. A woman named MOORE who says she saw a man running away after the murder and tried to stop him and said to the suspect, [known amongst the Spanish lodging house keepers as Jose] "You villain you have hurt these two men"

A man named Antonio BARGOS, who keeps a foreign sailors boarding house, stated he knew Jose and that he had, had supper at his house on Tuesday night, about 9.30pm that night he came breathless into the house as if he had been running. BARGOS asked him what was the matter and Jose replied, "I have come from Oldhall St and I have come from fighting with two or three Englishmen" He said he was walking along the street when these men pushed him, and made game for him, he told them not to do so and they made game of him again, when he made use of a "wounding instrument" meaning a pocket-knife or dagger. BARGOS told him he had done very wrong using a "wounding instrument" in England, when Jose is said to have replied, "It is better to be in prison than in the cemetery, because there were three against me." BARGOS told him to leave the house and he did so. BARGOS'S wife states that when Jose came in he said to her husband, "Oh Antonie, pardon me" BARGOS asked what was the matter, when he said, "I have given two stabs to Englishmen" He then took off his shirt and left the house. He had in his possession at that time a dagger knife with a light metal handle.

When Jose was apprehended he was dressed in other clothes to those he usually wore, but when placed amongst a number of other prisoners several parties spoke positively to his being the man whom they saw running away from the scene of the murder. The knife which inflicted the injuries has not yet been found.

Jose is a young man apparently about 22yrs of age and middle height.

Mr John LADMORE, interpreter and translator, 5 Dale St, afforded every assistance to the police in the case, who up to a late hour last night were engaged in investigating the circumstances connected with the murder.

COHEN still remains in a dangerous state.

Liverpool Mercury May 15th 1863

Henry COHEN, the Pole stabbed by the Spanish seaman Jose, has had a change for the better, and is now progressing favourably, although he is not by any means out of danger.

Liverpool Mercury May 16th 1863

Yesterday the borough coroner P. F. CURRY held an inquest into the causes of the death of James HARRISON the man murdered in Oldhall St on Tuesday last.

The first witness called, Mary HARRISON, a single woman residing with her mother at the Globe Inn, Grenville St, South, who said :-

“The deceased, James HARRISON was my brother, he was 34, a mariner, and lived with me. At 11am on Tuesday last the deceased went out for a walk in good health and I saw no more of him after that. At 9.45pm information came to me that the deceased was badly injured and taken to the Northern Hospital. My mother went there at once but did not see the deceased, as she was told he was dead. The next day I went to the hospital and saw him dead."

John Wells HOWELL, 3rd mate on the ship Caloon, now lying in the Bramley-Moore Dock, said, "About 9.15pm on Tuesday last I was in company with the deceased James HARRISON and Henry COHEN, we were all three walking arm in arm along Oldhall St, when opposite Fazakerley St we met a foreigner, apparently a Spaniard, and when passing him COHEN happened to jostle him, upon which the foreigner drew a knife and stabbed COHEN, then ran away. I and the deceased HARRISON ran after him, COHEN then fell and I went to his assistance, the deceased followed after the foreigner, soon after I heard the deceased cry out and saw him go into the baker's shop in Oldhall St opposite where he was stabbed. The foreigner then ran off, I think down Union St, and I lost sight of him. I then took COHEN to the Northern Hospital and left him there. I was in the hospital when the deceased HARRISON was brought in, where I saw him dead yesterday. We were perfectly sober when we met the foreigner, we called the foreigner no names - By Mr COBB, The foreigner had a blue shirt on, a sash round his waist and dark trousers. I thought he had a mark on the left side of his face, but there was nothing particular, he had black whiskers."

Christopher MOFFATT, PC. 521, said, "On Tuesday night I was on duty in Exchange St, East, about 9.20pm, I received information that two men were stabbed in Oldhall St. I went to that street and found the deceased HARRISON, lying on his back in the shop of Mr SIMPSON, a baker, bleeding from a wound in the belly. I got assistance and removed him at once to the Northern Hospital, where I have since seen him dead."

Antonio BARGOS, being sworn through an interpreter said, "I am a Spanish boarding-house keeper, residing at 39 Lancelot's-hey. The accused whose name is ALVAREZ, belonged to the Spanish brig Papeta, of which he was a seaman. He has not slept in my house but has had three meals there, he had his supper there on Tuesday night at 6pm and left 5mins afterwards and went to a public house. I saw him again from 9.15 to 9.30pm in my house, my wife and myself being the only persons then present. He came breathlessly into the house as though he had been running. I asked him what was the matter and he said, "I have come from Oldhall St and I have come from fighting two or three Englishmen. I was walking along the street and these three began to push me and made game of me, and came upon me. I then made use of a wounding instrument, meaning a big knife or dagger, I believe I have wounded someone" He did not say in what part, but it was in the body the stab was made. I said to him, "You have done very ill using wounding instrument in England" He replied, " It is better to be in prison than in a cemetery, there were three against me." I told him the laws of England are very exact. He then said he did not know where to go, and I told him to go where he could for I would not have him in my house. When he came in he was dressed in black trousers, blue shirt of wool, woollen muffler, [produced and identified by me], a red sash around his waist, a woollen red shirt under the blue one, a dark silk handkerchief around his neck. He took off the blue shirt and muffler and threw them on the sofa and left them there. My wife may have heard what Jose said, both she and I told him to leave the house. When Jose left my house to go to the public house I and four others went with him, I stopped only a minute and left them there, one of the men is named LEWIS. Maria BARGOS wife of previous witness testified exactly as her husband other than stating that, He asked her could he leave his blue shirt and muffler, she refused, at the same time that he pulled off his blue shirt, he took a red case [bound at the sides and top with gilt] containing a dagger from his waist and laid it on the table, the handle appeared spotted with blood, he then took it and put it into his waistband again, and went straight out.

Mrs COOK wife of Mr COOK stationer, Oldhall St, gave evidence and spoke positively as to the identity of the accused.

The lads James DOWNIE, James SHUTTLEWORTH and Griffith JONES, who followed the accused through the streets, also spoke positively as to the identity of the accused, but gave a description of the dress dissimilar from that of the other witnesses.

Hannah MOORE, wife of Robert MOORE a boatman, residing at No 2 court, Fazakerley St, said, "On Tuesday night about 9pm I was in the druggist's shop in Oldhall St, purchasing a box of salve, which I took to the public house kept by Mrs WILSON, at the corner of the street. As I was coming out the accused was running across the street and knocked against me, I saw a knife in his right hand, then saw a man fall across the street. The prisoner ran down Fazakerley St. I next saw him in the police office, I am sure he is the man, he was bareheaded when he passed me."

Ann ROBINSON a prostitute, of 10 Pennington St who had known the prisoner for a fortnight and had spent 13 nights with him at the above residence, a brothel kept by Harriet EMSON, spoke to meeting him in Williamson Square on Tuesday night and passing the night with him. He had then no knife with him, but she had seen him carrying a dagger with a leaden coloured handle in a dark case.

John MACAULAY a detective officer spoke to hearing of the two men being stabbed in Oldhall St and in consequence of information he had received, he apprehended the accused in a brothel in Pennington St.

Francis VAUBIN a Belgian lad employed on board the brig Papeta, bound from Havana and now lying in the Victoria Dock, said the accused was cook on board that vessel, he lent the cook the blue shirt [produced] on Friday last to go to market he had not since returned it.

Mr Newton HEELAN, house surgeon at the Northern Hospital, said, on Tuesday night 12th inst the deceased was brought there suffering from two incised wounds in the pit of the stomach, on the wound on the right the bowels protruded, the other wound was smaller an inch in length and depth. He died in about half an hour after admission. He had made a post mortem and had found the right wound had penetrated the liver about 4inches, the cavity of the abdomen was filled with blood. The cause of death was haemorrhage and shock caused by the wound of the liver, all the organs were healthy.

Elizabeth BRAY a single woman living at 8 Mona Place, Leeds St, with her father said, "About 9pm on Tuesday I was on my way to the General Postoffice with a letter and when I reached the corner of Fazakerley St, I saw four men scuffling on the opposite side, I advanced towards them and saw a man draw a knife from a red belt he had around his waist, and stab one of the other three men. I went back to the corner of Fazakerley St and stood there. One of the men ran away and the other three continued scuffling, afterwards one of the men came over and knocked me against the public house door, he had a knife in his hand which he shook, and the splashes of blood from it fell upon my apron. He turned around to me and said in Spanish "Ven aqui" [come here] I saw nothing of the accused after that, the person I saw stabbed was HARRISON, whose body I have seen this morning. I have also seen the accused in the bridewell and at once recognised him as the man who stabbed the deceased.

Mr COBB addressed the jury on behalf of the accused

The Coroner summed up the case, there were two questions for the consideration of the jury, as to the cause of death of James HARRISON, and of that there was no doubt for the surgeon had proved that death was due to the wounds inflicted in the stomach, and then by whom were those wounds occasioned ? He alluded to the evidence and said it was up to the jury to say whether, under the circumstances, they could return any other verdict than that of "Wilful murder" against ALVAREZ.

The jury without hesitation returned a verdict of "Wilful murder" the witnesses were bound to give evidence against the prisoner at the next assizes.

Liverpool Mercury, Aug 18th 1863

Monday Aug 17th, at the Crown Court, before Mr Justice BLACKBURN

Jose Maria ALVAREZ, aged 23, was indicted upon having at Liverpool on the 12th of May, feloniously and of malice and aforethought killed and murdered one James HARRISON. He was also charged with feloniously wounding one Henry COHEN, with intent to murder him. Mr CONWAY and Mr A. PEEL appeared for the prosecution, and Mr Charles RUSSELL defended the prisoner.

The following witnesses were called, in the case for the prosecution, John W. HOWELL, seaman, Henry COHEN, photographer, Sarah COOK, Elizabeth BRAY, Hannah MOORE, James DOWNEY, James SHUTTLEWORTH, Griffith JONES, boys, Maria BARGOS and Antonio BARGOS [husband and wife], Ann ROBINSON, Police Constable MACAULAY, John LADMORE, PC. LEES, Dr EDWARDS, Christopher MOFFAT, Mr HEELIS surgeon, the Northern Hospital.

Mr RUSSELL addressed the court on behalf of the prisoner

The jury retired to consider their verdict at 3.55pm, and came into court again at 4,30pm

The Clerk of the Arraigns [Mr SHUTTLEWORTH], have you agreed upon a verdict ?

Foreman, we have

The Clerk of the Arraigns, Do you find the prisoner guilty of murder ?

Foreman, we do with a strong recommendation to mercy.

His Lordship, Upon what ground gentlemen ?

Foreman, on account of him being a foreigner and not understanding the English language.

His Lordship, I understand you to mean gentleman, that although you do not think that sufficient to justify you in saying that it mitigated the offence from murder to manslaughter, yet it is a matter which somewhat palliates the offence ?

Foreman, that is so my lord.

The Clerk of the Arraigns then asked the prisoner through the interpreter if he had anything to say why the court should not proceed to pass sentence of death upon him.

The Interpreter, The only thing he has to say is that it was not he.

His Lordship, then put on the black cap, and addressing the prisoner said - You have been found guilty by the verdict of the jury, after a patient consideration, of the crime of wilful murder, and it only remains for me to do that which the law imposes upon me to do, to pass sentence upon you. The jury have recommended you to mercy. That recommendation I will forward to the proper authorities, but from the nature of the crime you have committed I would not recommend you to entertain any hopes of that recommendation being carried into effect by her Majesty's Government. Upon that I have not the power to decide, I must now pass upon you, the sentence of the law for wilful murder. His Lordship proceeded to pronounce the sentence of death in the usual way. Translated by the Spanish Consul, the prisoner who did not seem at all moved, then left the court.

Liverpool Mercury Sept 14th 1863

Kirkdale Saturday

At noon on Saturday Jose Maria ALVAREZ, the Spanish seaman convicted of the murder of James HARRISON, in Oldhall St, was executed on the scaffold erected at the western angle of Kirkdale Gaol. The criminal died an ignominious death at the early age of 22. He was born at Cadiz where his father and mother and five sisters are now living. At 17 he shipped on board a small coasting vessel belonging to the port of Cadiz and was subsequently employed on various ships belonging to his own nation. A few months ago he became cook on board the Spanish barque Perpita, which arrived in this port in May last and at the time the murder was committed was lying in the Victoria Dock


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