Blackstone St, murder 1884

Liverpool Mercury, Feb 19th, 1884

Liverpool Assizes Feb 18th, Crown Court before Mr Justice BUTT

The Blackstone St murder, a dual death sentence

Five young men, Michael M'LEAN, aged 18 a labourer, Patrick DUGGAN, aged 18, a scaler, Alexander CAMPBELL, aged 20, a barber, William DEMPSEY, aged 19, a labourer and Murdoch BALLANTYNE, aged 20, a labourer, were indicted for the wilful murder on the 5th January of Exequiel Rodriguez NUNIEZ a Spanish seaman. The prosecution was conducted by Mr POTTER, Q.C, and Mr STEWART [instructed by Mr MARKS] M'LEAN was defended by Mr M'CONNELL [instructed by Mr QUELCH], DEMPSEY by Dr COMMINS, M.P, [instructed by Mr NEALE] CAMPBELL by Dr O'FEELY [instructed by Mr MADDEN] and at the request of the judge Mr BUTLER undertook the defence of DUGGAN and BALLANTYNE.

In opening the case for the prosecution Mr POTTER, Q.C, first submitted to the judge and jurors plans of the locality where the outrage was committed, and proceeded to state the facts. Shortly before 10pm on the night of the 5th January [Saturday] the deceased and another Spanish sailor were going down Regent Rd returning to their ships in the Canada Dock. As they passed the five prisoners standing at the corner of Blackstone St, BALLANTYNE struck one of them in the face cutting his lip, the deceased was attacked at the same time by one or other of BALLANTYNE'S companions, both sailors ran away in different directions. In Regent Rd NUNIEZ was overtaken by the prisoners, who kicked him, beat him with belts and otherwise ill-treated him. He managed to escape from them and ran into a passage in Fulton St, then he returned into Regent Rd, where the chase was again taken up by the men, who cried out, "Knives, boys, knives!" They overtook the man opposite the Fulton St Foundry, knocked him down and kicked him and struck him with belts. He again got away, but was caught under the railway arch at the corner of Blackstone St, where two of the prisoners M'LEAN and DUGGAN, were seen to use knives. There the deceased was left in a helpless state, and a policeman came up, and finding that he was seriously injured had him removed by ambulance to hospital. On his admission there, however, life was extinct, and it was found he had received a wound on the lower part of his neck, sufficient to account for his death, in addition he had two cut wounds on the back of a less serious nature. He had died through loss of blood in the region of the heart. When the body was searched by a policeman a sheath knife was found under the man's jersey between the shoulder blades, but how it got there the prosecution were unable to suggest. It was a question whether, if the deceased had, had it in his possession, he could have placed it in that position, but if he did put it there before the attack, it must have been impossible for him to have used it. The case was unlike many others, inasmuch as there did not appear to have been any motive for the crime, but the whole assault from beginning to end seemed to have been a piece of wanton brutality. If the prosecution proved that the prisoners were banded together for the purpose of committing a felonious attack upon the deceased, it mattered not which or how many of them inflicted the wounds which resulted in his death, they would all be in the law equally responsible. After the occurrence DEMPSEY and CAMPBELL went with BALLANTYNE to his home and there DEMPSEY asked for a brush to clear some blood off his trousers, his explanation of the blood stains being that he and CAMPBELL had been sparring and had bled CAMPBELL'S nose. On the following day DEMPSEY'S mother pawned the trousers and when they were redeemed by the police subsequent to the young man's arrest they were found to be damp and blood was still upon them. When M'LEAN was taken into custody the morning after the crime he dropped a knife, and two others were found in his possession upon which there were blood stains. It would be for the jury to decide at the close of the evidence, whether the prisoners, or which of them had, had the crime with which they were charged brought home to them.

Evidence was then called, the first witness being Charles Holland LANCASTER, architect, who certified to the correctness of the plans produced.

Joseph M'CRUBBER, a mechanic, examined by Mr STEWART, who deposed that he went to the Seven Stars public house, Regent Rd, at about 7pm on the night in question. BALLANTYNE and CAMPBELL whom he knew before, came in about an hour afterwards, about 8.30pm DEMPSEY came in, all the prisoners named remained in the house when witness left at about 9.30pm. He afterwards saw BALLANTYNE in Blackstone St, and DUGGAN and M'LEAN at the corner of Regent Rd and Blackstone St, they having overtaken him. He proceeded northwards and did not see them again.

Cross-examined by Dr O'FEELY, witness said he had known CAMPBELL all his life, and considered him quiet and peaceable and had never known him to have been in a row. By Dr CAMPBELL, He had known DEMPSEY as a respectable young man. He did not see DEMPSEY or CAMPBELL in company with or speak to M'LEAN or DUGGAN. By Mr BUTLER, DUGGAN and M'LEAN were speaking to a man when he passed them.

William M'NELLY manager of the Seven Stars public house, 27 Regent Rd, examined by Mr STEWART, said he knew CAMPBELL, DEMPSEY and BALLANTYNE, whom he saw at his house on the 5th January, they went there shortly after 8 and left about 9.30pm. He had never seen M'LEAN or DUGGAN before now.

Jose GIMINEZ a Spanish sailor, whose evidence was interpreted by Mr D'ESPINEY of the City Detective Office, said in the early part of January he and the deceased came with their ship, the steamer SERRA, to the port of Liverpool. On the night in question he met the deceased in a cafe in Pitt St, and left their about 8.30. They went in the direction of their ship and on their way they met several men, one of whom BALLANTYNE, struck witness in the face. The other men, whom he couldn't speak to positively, attacked his companion who ran away southwards. Witness went to the nearest dockgate northwards to give information to a policeman of the occurrence, but he could not make the officer understand him. He afterwards identified the body of his companion, who, as far as he knew, carried no weapons whatever about him.

Cross-examined by Mr M'CONNELL, Witness did not retaliate when he was struck. By Mr BUTLER, The same man, BALLANTYNE, who struck witness with his fists, afterwards struck the deceased. Nether of them were knocked down.

Esther RAMSDEN the wife of a rigger living at Bootle, deposed that she was in Regent Rd about 10pm on the night of the 5th Jan, standing at the corner of Blackstone St. She saw a man run towards the dock wall, and two of the prisoners DUGGAN and M'LEAN, after him. DUGGAN caught the man by the neck and held him down while M'LEAN kicked him about the lower part of his body. She saw DUGGAN kick him also. The man managed to get away and ran southwards followed by the two prisoners, who again overtook him, knocked him down and kicked him. The man got up again and ran towards the Bramley Moore Dock gates, and he turned up Fulton St pursued by the two prisoners. DUGGAN came to witness in Regent Rd and asked her could he wipe his hands upon her apron and she said, "No murderer shall wipe his hands on my apron." She then went to the corner of Blackstone St, where she saw the man who had been chased coming down Fulton St with a crowd perusing him. She saw no more of him. She saw no knife in his hands.

Cross-examined by Dr O'FEELY. Among the crowd following the man were a number of children, but they took no part in the attack.

Esther COUBEY, the wife of a cotton porter, residing in Regent Rd, examined by Mr POTTER, deposed, that about 10pm on the night of the 5th Jan, as she was coming from her house to Blackstone St, she saw two Spanish sailors, one the witness who had given evidence. As they were passing her DUGGAN struck one of them and knocked him down. He got up, and they both ran away. Witness went home and 10 mins later went out again into Blackstone St, where she saw CAMPBELL, DEMPSEY, M'LEAN and DUGGAN. The last named was beating the deceased Spaniard with a belt as he lay on the ground just under the railway arch. M'LEAN kicked him in the abdomen. She saw the four men by sight and was positive of their identity. She did not see CAMPBELL or DEMPSEY do anything to him. As she was going away she heard DUGGAN call out, "Mooney, Mooney, I have done it" She had heard BALLANTYNE call out, "Mooney."

Cross-examined by Mr BUTLER, CAMPBELL and DEMPSEY were standing by the by the deceased while DUGGAN and M'LEAN were kicking him. BALLATYNE was standing as far off as the witness.

Annie KILLEN, a girl living at 46 Regent Rd, deposed to being in Blackstone St on the night in question with her sister and seeing DUGGAN and M'LEAN kicking a man who was lying on the ground. They allowed the man to rise and he ran towards the Bramley Moore Dock. The two prisoners then went towards one of the witnesses [previously examined] and M'LEAN asked her to allow him to wipe his hands on her apron, but she refused. Witness subsequently heard that a dead man was lying under the railway arch.

Margaret KILLEN, sister of the last witness, deposed to seeing CAMPBELL and DEMPSEY chasing a man towards the dock gates. They knocked him down, kicked him, and beat him with their belts. He got away and they pursued him along Fulton St, where they caught him again. She then heard CAMPBELL shout, "Knives boys" and the man ran under the railway arch. She saw nothing more.

Cross-examined, witness admitted that before the coroner she said she could not identify either of the two men as it was dark. She had never mention DEMPSEY by name before now.

Georgina BALLANTYNE, aged 12 living at 43 Regent Rd, deposed to seeing CAMPBELL and DEMPSEY chasing a man past her home. The man fell and CAMPBELL and DEMPSEY kicked him, the man got up and ran along Blackstone St into Fulton St. Near the foundry DEMPSEY and CAMPBELL caught him and again kicked him. He afterwards ran under the arch, where he was again overtaken and either CAMPBELL of DEMPSEY called out "Knives" Her brother, the prisoner BALLANTYNE, went to run under the arch. She shouted, "Mooney, Mooney, come back, they are fighting with knives" He turned his head to come back and she went away.

Cross-examined by Mr BUTLER, My brother did come back and stood with me at the end of Fulton St, he never went under the arch.

John LODGE, aged 10, living in Regent Rd, deposed to seeing five lads beating the Spanish sailors with belts near the Fulton St, Foundry. He identified BALLANTYNE, DUGGAN and CAMPBELL. The Spaniard ran under the railway arch where he fell and the five lads again beat him. He heard CAMPBELL say, "I've done him"

Catherine BURKE aged 14, living with her parents in Blackie's-buildings, said she saw a man being chased from Fulton St into Blackstone St by Michael M'LEAN and CAMPBELL ran to meet him and stop him. M'LEAN got at the back of the man who tried to kick CAMPBELL. This was underneath the railway arch, and looking round she did not see what was done to the man. She afterwards saw him on the ground kicked with pain. The prisoners afterwards walked away.

Cross-examined by Mr M'CONNELL, I saw M'LEAN take hold of the man, but I did not see him do anything. By Mr BUTLER, DUGGAN was with me till M'LEAN came up and said, "Here's a bobby."

Catherine BARRETT, a married woman living in Blackstone St. On the night of the 5th Jan she heard a noise, and went out and saw M'LEAN walking past her door with a knife in his hand. He was then going towards the railway arch. She went in and on coming out again saw a man bleeding under the arch.

Peter BURKE, aged 11, said he saw men under the railway arch on the night of the 5th Jan beating a man. DUGGAN and M'LEAN were there beating the man, but witness was not sure that DEMPSEY was a third. There was another man that he did not know. Witness had previously seen the prisoners beating the deceased in Fulton St, and when the man ran into Blackstone St he heard CAMPBELL say, "Give me a knife my belt's broke" but DUGGAN said he had not got one.

Hugh CALLAHAN, aged 13, living a 1 Blackstone St, said he saw DUGGAN and M'LEAN under the railway arch on the night mentioned. He saw M'LEAN stab a man in the neck and DUGGAN stab him in the back. Both had knives. He did not notice any others under the arch.

Laura JOHNSTONE was called, she said she was ten years of age. On the witness coming into the box his Lordship asked Mr POTTER, Q.C, whether he intended to call any more witnesses of that age. It was perhaps the better for the prisoners, because they all contradicted each other.

Mary BURKE another young girl living in Black'es-buildings, said she was standing with DUGGAN and her sister at the corner of Fulton St when she saw a man being chased by M'LEAN, DUGGAN and witness went away together.

By Dr O'FEELY, M'LEAN and DUGGAN never went under the railway arch while the men were attacking the Spaniard. Witness and another girl, and DUGGAN and M'LEAN, went to an empty house where they stayed all night.

Mrs BALLANTYNE mother of one of the prisoners said her son was known by the name of "Mooney". Her son came home between 10 and 11pm on the night in question and DEMPSEY and CAMPBELL came in shortly afterwards. CAMPBELL had blood on his clothes and he explained the circumstances by saying that he and DEMPSEY had been sparring, and the police were chasing them. CAMPBELL'S nose was bleeding. They asked for a glass of beer which her daughter went out for, and on her return she stated that a man was lying under the railway arch with his throat cut. Directly she had said that, DEMPSEY said, "I am sick Mrs BALLANTYNE" and he went out at the back door. They all remained in the house for about three-quarters of an hour.

Cross-examined by Mr BUTLER, Her son was not excited, but quite calm when he came in.

Agnes MACKENZIE, a married woman and daughter of the last witness gave corroborative evidence

Another witness deposed to receiving DEMPSEY'S trousers [produced] in pledge the week following the occurrence, by Mrs DEMPSEY.

Police-constable EVANS 343, deposed to finding the deceased lying in a helpless condition under the railway arch, and his removal to the Northern Hospital by ambulance. The man was dead when he reached the hospital. The night was dark and there was no light near the arch.

Mr JOHNSON surgeon at the Northern Hospital deposed that he was in charge of the ambulance in which the deceased was taken to hospital. He was dead on reaching hospital He described the wounds on the body, one of which penetrated the upper part of the back to the depth of three inches, and must have been produced by a sharp instrument probably a clasp-knife. There were several other wounds on the body which were superficial. There were no bruises upon the body

The Judge, Suppose the man died within half an hour of being kicked or knocked about, would you expect to find bruises? - Witness I should not.

Cross-examined, witness said the deceased bled to death from the wound just below the back of the neck.

Inspector PEGLER deposed that he went to an unoccupied house in Fulton St about 8am on Sunday morning, the 6th Jan, where he found the prisoner M'LEAN and a girl. M'LEAN dropped a pocket knife [produced] as witness entered and he had two others in his pocket, the blades of which bore blood stains. He also wore a belt with a large buckle upon it. Witness arrested CAMPBELL the same morning and subsequently, BALLANTYNE and DUGGAN. The four prisoners made statements which he put down in writing. DEMPSEY was not then in custody.

By Dr O'FEELY, Witness did not tell the prisoners they would run the risk of being hanged if they did not make a statement. He read the statement over to each of the prisoners, and asked them if they had any corrections to make, but none of them suggested anything.

The Clerk of Assize then read the statements in which the prisoners implicated each other and exonerated themselves from active participation in the affray.

The Judge said he should say that the statement of each prisoners was absolutely valueless.

Mr POTTER though that the statements were material to show that each of the prisoners was there at one time.

The Judge said he could not exclude them, but it would be unwise to convict one prisoner on the statement of another.

Inspector PEGLER further examined, said on examining the deceased man, he found a sheath knife between his shirt and singlet.

Police-constable BAILEY deposed to arresting DEMPSEY on the 8th of January. When charged with murder he said, "What I have to say I will say on my trial” Subsequently he stated that one of the sailors made a blow at him, and that he retaliated by knocking him down and kicking him.

This concluded the evidence for the prosecution.

Mr BUTLER submitted there was no case against BALLANTYNE.

The Judge said there seemed to be evidence against each one.

Dr COMMINS contended that there was no evidence against DEMPSEY.

The Judge pointed out that DEMPSEY had admitted that he had knocked one of the sailors down, therefore it was impossible to say there was no evidence.

Evidence was then called in favour of the character DEMPSEY

. Mr POTTER in addressing the jury, said he agreed with the opinions of the Judge that it would be dangerous in a case of the importance of this to convict one prisoner on the statement of another who was under arrest on the same charge, but he submitted that as they were material as showing that each one of the prisoners was there at the time of the outrage, the jury should regard them in that light without attaching undue weight to them. It was at least clearly proved that M'LEAN and DUGGAN were active participators in the affray, and that they used knives, and if the jury were satisfied the other prisoners were acting in concert with them for a felonious purpose, and that so acting they caused the man's death, then they would say that the prisoners were guilty of the charge.

Mr M'CONNELL addressing the jury on behalf of M'LEAN submitted, in the first place, that the prosecution had not made out a case of murder, they had produced no satisfactory evidence as to the commencement of the affray. He suggested the possibility that the quarrel might have begun between the Spanish sailors themselves, and that, being in a not very peaceable neighbourhood, it was common knowledge that Spaniards were in the habit of carrying knives, and he suggested that the cry of "Knives boys knives" was due to the fact that the deceased and his companion were using them. He remarked upon the contradictory character of the evidence, pointing out that the most important witnesses for the prosecution were children whose ages varied from 11 to 14 years and he warned the jury against sending five young men to the gallows upon the unreliable testimony of children of slender experience and few years. He strongly commented upon the fact that evidence as to finding of the knife about the clothes of the deceased man had been withheld by the police until the present proceedings.

The Judge said he could not understand why the prosecution, when a knife was found on which there was said to be blood stains, should choose to leave them in absolute ignorance of what those stains were. He should have thought that the police or the medical gentlemen introduced into the case should have submitted it to some one, so that if there was blood upon it, it would be in their power to show it.

Mr M'CONNELL said his Lordship's remarks would have greater weight than his own, and he would say nothing further on that point. He would ask the jury whether the sailor's might not have provoked the quarrel by flashing their knives, and if so, the charge could not be put any higher than that of manslaughter.

Mr BUTLER on behalf of DUGGAN and BALLANTYNE, urged that the numerous contradictions in the evidence rendered it unsafe to convict the prisoners on so serious a charge. The evidence did go to show that BALLANTYNE took no active part in the affray, and it failed to make out any case against DUGGAN.

Dr O'FEELY said the evidence proved no more, if anything, than an ordinary assault against CAMPBELL, and the medical testimony distinctly showed that neither kicks nor blows caused or contributed to the death of NUNIEZ, therefore the charge of murder against his client fell to the ground.

Dr COMMINS, M.P, said there was no evidence of concert between the prisoners, and in dealing with the case of DEMPSEY he asked the jury to do solely on the testimony relating to his individual action in the affair. The evidence showed that the fight had commenced when DEMPSEY came on the scene, and that all he did was in self-defence. The deceased ran past DEMPSEY, and aimed a blow at him with an open knife, whereupon the prisoners knocked him down. The only testimony to his participation in the subsequent stage of the affray was that of a little girl and it was unreliable in a case of life or death.

The Judge in summing up said it was a very shocking case, whatever doubt there might be on other matters. Here was a foreign sailor, a stranger on the streets of Liverpool, between 8 and 9 at night, who was hunted and done to death, while the majority of the world were about, by men, and whoever they might be, they must be dreadful ruffians and deserved exemplary punishment. There was no doubt the stab in the back was the cause of death, and the suggestion of the defence pointed to the conclusion that that was an act done in self-defence. He failed to see any evidence to support that suggestion. The cry of "Knives, boys" of which there had been evidence, was susceptible to two explanations. It might be as he presumed the prosecution suggested, that it was the cry of one of the assailants to his fellows to use their knives, or the cry of somebody who saw a knife in one of the Spanish sailor's hands. That was a matter on which they could form no trustworthy judgement, because there was no sufficient evidence. The evidence given for the first time that day of the finding of a knife between the back of the shirt and the singlet of the deceased was a peculiar circumstance. It might be that the reason Inspector PEGLER did not produce the knife before the coroner to the magistrates was that he was ill-advised, at all events he was wrong in not doing so. But if he had been the sort of person which he had been suggested to be, namely, one who, to ensure conviction, was prepared to go to all lengths and conceal it, he might have put the knife in his pocket and they would not have heard of it at all. Whose knife it was there was no evidence to show, he did not think it was the sort of knife an English sailor carried, certainly not such a one as a man-of-war's man would carry, but it was one such as a Spanish sailor would be likely to carry. I was not, however likely that a man done to death would deposit such a weapon down his back, but there it was and the presence of the knife in that place was wholly inexplicable. His Lordship referred to the law on the subject, if the prisoners acted in concert with intent to do grievous bodily harm, and though only one of them struck the fatal blow, they would all be equally guilty of murder, but if they acted with the intent to commit mere assault, then the offence would be one of manslaughter. It was not necessary that the motive for murder should appear, or that malice against the victim should be shown. There were three of the prisoners, CAMPBELL, DEMPSEY and BALLANTYNE, who stood, on the evidence before the court, in a very different position than the other two, and he had no hesitation in telling the jury he thought the evidence feeble, and he should not be surprised after considering it, they came to the conclusion, whatever suspicion they might have against those three young men, that there was hardly evidence upon which they could arrive at so serious a verdict as murder, or even manslaughter. In the case of the prisoners M'LEAN and DUGGAN, who might be innocent or they might be guilty, there was a body of evidence of a very different character from that against their companions. His Lordship proceeded to review the evidence, but directed the jury not to accept the statements made by the prisoners except so far as they implicated themselves.

The jury retired at 8.15pm to consider their verdict and returned a few minutes after nine, when the foreman intimated that one of the jurors wanted to put a question.

The Juror referred to addressing his Lordship said, "I wish to have it reduced to manslaughter"

The Judge, "I cannot help you. I have told you under the circumstances it can be reduced to manslaughter"

The Juror asked whether if the Spaniard brandished a knife and one of the prisoners, thinking he was himself in danger, stabbed him in self-defence, would that be murder ?

The Judge said if they thought the fatal blow was struck in self-defence the prisoners ought to be acquitted altogether.

After several minutes further deliberation in court the jury again retired, and returned to their box at 9.15pm with a verdict of "Wilful murder" against M'LEAN and DUGGAN, with a strong recommendation to mercy on account of their youth.

DEMPSEY, CAMPBELL and BALLANTYNE were found "Not guilty" and were accordingly acquitted. In answer to the usual question why sentence of death should not be passed upon them.

M'LEAN said, "I am innocent of the charge. The prisoner DEMPSEY, who has just been discharged is guilty, and him only, of the murder of the man. I am innocent."

DUGGAN said, "Yes sir, I am innocent of the charge DEMPSEY alone committed the murder"

The Judge having assumed the black cap proceeded to pass sentence. He said, "You have been found guilty of the wilful murder of this unfortunate man, a murder of a very savage character. It would indeed be a scandal if ever it could be said that foreigners visiting our shores, passing inoffensively along the streets of our towns might be hunted to death with impunity. The jury have strongly recommended you to mercy on account of your youth. It will be my duty to forward that recommendation to those who have to consider it, and it may be in her Majesty's gracious pleasure to give effect to that recommendation. There is only one course it is possible for me to pursue, and that is to pass upon you the dreadful sentence of the law.

His Lordship then passed the sentence of death.

The condemned youths walked jauntily from the bar of the dock, and disappeared with a callous smile upon their faces.

Liverpool Mercury, Feb 25th 1884

The condemned criminals in Kirkdale Jail

We are officially informed that Monday the 10th March, is the date fixed for the execution of the condemned criminals Michael M'LEAN, Patrick DUGGAN, Sarah MALLINSON and William SMART, now lying under sentence of death in her Majesty's prison Kirkdale.

We understand that Mr H. F. NEALE who acted as solicitor for the prisoner DEMPSEY one of the men charged with the Blackstone St murder, and acquitted has placed himself in communication with the Home Office with the view of obtaining a remission of the sentence passed upon the convict DUGGAN, on the ground that the latter was mistaken by the witnesses for another person who has admitted to Mr NEALE that he was the man to whom the evidence given against DUGGAN applied.

Liverpool Mercury, March 1st, 1884

The condemned criminals in Kirkdale Jail

Mr F. QUELCH, solicitor, Hatton Garden Liverpool, has received the following communication from the Home Office :-

Whitehall, Feb 26th 1884

Sir, I am directed by the Secretary of State to acknowledge the receipt of your application on behalf of Michael M'LEAN and with regard to your request for an interview I am to acquaint you that it is contrary to the practise of the department for the Secretary of State to grant interviews in criminal cases, but full inquiry is being made into the circumstances of the case, which will receive the most careful consideration - I am sir, you obedient servant


Mr QUELCH has been instructed by the friends of the condemned man DUGGAN to prepare a memorial to submit to the Home Secretary, praying for a reprieve

Murdoch BALLANTYNE one of the prisoners accused of the murder of the seaman Exequiel Rodriquez NUNEZ, has made an affidavit, in which, while admitting that he was present when the affair rook place, he declares that neither M'LEAN nor DUGGAN caused the death of the deceased. DEMPSEY and CAMPBELL first chased the sailor along Regent Rd and afterwards into Fulton St. He saw DEMPSEY knock the deceased down, and DEMPSEY afterwards came running to him and said, "Mooney, Mooney, I have done for him" [Mooney being BALLANTYNE'S nickname] BALLANTYNE further declares in his affidavit that DEMPSEY was the last man arrested, and when he was placed in the cell with the other four prisoners he said, "Sit down and I will tell you what I have done to him. I stabbed him twice in the back and once in the shoulder, but the steel only just touched the skin" This affidavit was forwarded to the Home Secretary yesterday.

Liverpool Mercury, March 8th, 1884


Mr QUELCH solicitor in this city, yesterday received the following letter from the Home Office :-

To Francis QUELCH Esq, 33 Hatton Garden, Liverpool

Whitehall, March 6. 1884

Sir, With reference to your recent application in the case of Patrick DUGGAN and Michael M'LEAN. I am directed by the Secretary of State to acquaint you that he has, after thorough inquiry into the case and most careful consideration, felt warranted in advising her Majesty to respite the capital sentence passed on Patrick DUGGAN, with a view to it being commuted to penal servitude for life, but he regrets that in the case of Michael M'LEAN he can find no grounds for advising interference with the due course of the law.

I am, sir, your obedient servant,


A similar communication has been received by Mr H. F. NEALE who has been in correspondence with the Home Secretary on behalf of DUGGAN in consequence of a statement made to him by DEMPSEY.

The following communication has been received by the governor of the jail Major LEGGETT :-

The High Sheriff of Lancashire

Whitehall, March 6. 1884

Sir, I am to signify to you the Queen's command that the execution of the sentence of death passed upon Patrick DUGGAN, now in Kirkdale Jail be respited until further signification of her Majesty's pleasure.

I am, sir, your obedient servant W. V. HARCOURT

M'LEAN will be executed at Kirkdale on Monday.

Liverpool Mercury March 1884

The Hangman at work

The execution

Michael M'LEAN, aged 18, was executed on Monday morning at Kirkdale Jail, he had been resigned to his fate for several days, but has all along protested that he did not inflict the fatal wound, and on the scaffold though he appeared penitent, protested his innocence of the crime, on reaching the scaffold he turned to where the reporters were standing and said in a clear voice.

" Gentlemen, I consider it a disgrace to the police force of Liverpool, and the laws of the country, that I am going to suffer death, and another boy is going to suffer imprisonment for life, for a crime of which we are both innocent, as, God is my judge."

The culprit then took his place in the centre of the drop, when BINNS strapped his legs and adjusted the white cap. The executioner then stepped back, drew the bolt, and the body disappeared in the cavity beneath the scaffold.

BINNS the executioner arrived at the gaol on Saturday and subsequently HEATH, who assisted at the previous execution, was telegraphed for by the Under-Sheriff and arrived on Sunday. HEATH did not take part in the execution BINNS doing the work himself, and displaying much expedition in getting the culprit ready. He gave M'LEAN who was sort and light, a drop of over 10ft, death apparently instantaneous. A slight fall of snow took place shortly before 8am.

The inquest was held soon after 9am by Mr BRIGHOUSE, coroner. Evidence was given that BINNS the executioner, came to the gaol drunk on Saturday and gave a drop of 10ft 8inch, whereas he had said it would be 9ft 6inches. BINNS volunteered to give evidence and denied that he had, had more than one glass of beer and a bottle of horehound on Saturday. He was drowsy and fell asleep because he had been up during the week with his wife who was ill. The jury censured BINNS for the inefficient manner in which he had conducted the execution.


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