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#440325 - 31st Oct 2010 2:27pm New Brighton Double Child Murder

Liverpool Mercury
Tuesday, 27th May, 1890

The New Brighton Tragedy
Spicer - Before the Magistrates.
His Demeanour.

Felix Spicer, aged 60, described as a seaman, was yesterday brought before the magistrates at the Courthouse, Liscard, charged with the wilful murder of his son, William (aged 13 year old and two months) and Henry (aged 3 years and eight months), by cutting their throats at New Brighton on Sunday morning. He was further charged with having attempted to murder Mary his wife. The magistrates were Captain A.M Molyneux, Mr James Smith, and Mr W. Heap, and Colonel Hamersley, chief constable of Cheshire, occupied a seat on the bench. It being generally known that Spicer was to be brought up, there was a large attendance of the general public. After some ordinary trivial cases had been disposed of, Spicer was placed in the dock. He is a short, thick-set man, with scanty white hair, and full moustache beard and whiskers turning from sandy to grey. Throughout the proceedings, a policeman being by his side, he stood in the dock with his left hand on the rail, the fingers nervously and incessantly beating a tattoo, whilst his right hand hung lifelessly by his side. His aspect was that of a pre-occupied man, and only occasionally he betray a keen sense of interest in what was going on. The magistrates' clerk read over the formal indictments, and when he came to the end of the first one, charging the prisoner with having "feloniously, and of malice aforethought, killed and murdered-one William Spice", the prisoner interrupted him, saying with emphasis, "I deny it, sir". The clerk went on with the reading without further interruption.

Superintendent Hindley stated the case. The prisoner, he said, had been in New Brighton something like 18 years, during which time he had known him as keeping refreshment rooms. Some short time ago he lived in Windsor Street but he was sold up, and then went to live at 18 Richmond Street. Since he had been in Richmond Street, his wife had had a refreshment room, a lock up place, near New Brighton Ferry, and there appeared to have been some dispute between them in consequences of her refusal to allow his name to be put over the door. After the dispute the wife slept at the refreshment room, the prisoner stopping at 18 Richmond Street. On Saturday night last he went to the refreshment room after it had closed, knocked at the door, and asked to be admitted. She refused him admittance and went to bed, but about three o'clock in the morning she was aroused by the smashing of the windows. She jumped up, and, seeing the prisoner, she slipped her skirts on and made a rush to get out through the broken window. The prisoner attempted to prevent her, slashing at her with a knife, and inflicting several severe wounds. She ultimately succeeded in getting into the street, and finding shelter in a neighbouring house. Her nose was cut nearly through, her throat was cut across, and her hands were badly wounded in trying to ward off the blows. She was now in the hospital, doing as well as could be expected. The police went to the house in Richmond Street, where they apprehended the prisoner, and they afterwards found that two of the children who slept there had been murdered in bed. A doctor was called, and he would state that, to the best of his knowledge, the children had been dead about three hours. It was only proposed to offer such evidence as would justify the bench in granting a remand for eight days. A woman named Fraser, who lived at 18 Richmond Street, would be called and would prove that the prisoner was in the house on Saturday night. It would also be proved that the prisoner's bed, was not occupied that night, and Mrs Fraser would tell the court that she heard the children screaming and the prisoner going about in the house. He thought this would satisfy their worships that his request for remand was a reasonable one.

Annie Fraser, wife of Archibald Fraser, 17 Greetham Street, Liverpool, was then called. She said she did not live with her husband, but had for some time been living with Mrs. Spicer as waitress, at 18 Richmond Street, New Brighton. Mrs. Spicer also kept a Refreshment Room at 3 Bickley Parade. Witness had been at the refreshment room on Saturday last, and left shortly after eleven o'clock at night to go to Richmond Street, where she slept. She arrived at the house about quarter to twelve, and saw the prisoner and the nurse girl, Mary, in the kitchen. The prisoner asked her where she had been, she replied that she had just come from the refreshment room. She saw he was in a very bad temper, so took no further notice of him, but said simply "Good night" and went upstairs to bed. She slept in a little room at the top of the stairs on the first landing, just opposite the front door. The nurse girl, who slept in the same room, went upstairs five minutes before her, and was undressing when she went up. Witness had commenced to undress when the prisoner called "Annie, I want you. Will you come and rub my shoulders?" She replied "Yes, certainly", and went downstairs and rubbed his shoulders. After which she bade him goodnight and went to bed. He bade her good night, and said he was going to sit up for the lodger, referring to a stranger who had engaged a bed at the refreshment room that day. Witness was suffering from indigestion, and passed a restless night, but was not disturbed by any noise. About break of day she got up and partly dressed herself and sat down on the side of the bed, and immediately after she sat down she heard the voice of the youngest deceased, Harry, cry out as though troubled in his sleep, and then a shuffling noise, as though his father, who had been in the habit of looking after the children since their mother had stayed away, was going to him. She could not say which room the person whose footsteps she heard went into. She afterwards lay down on the bed in her clothes and fell asleep, but had not slept long when she was awakened by the opening of the scullery back door, and heard some one, apparently with slippers on, run swiftly upstairs and down again, as though he had run up to fetch something. The person, whoever it was, was not upstairs as much as a minute. About three minutes or so after that she heard a loud knocking at the front door, and then some one outside her bedroom door said "we want you". She opened the door and saw Mr.Storey and Dr.Ross, Dr.Bride's assistant, coming upstairs, and one or two policemen in the lobby. She never saw the prisoner from the time she went to bed. Mrs.Spicer had not been in the house for a month or five weeks. Witness left her that night at the refreshment room. Mr.Spicer usually slept in the front bedroom. Witness went into that room on the Sunday morning and saw that the bed had not been used. Mr.Spicer was expecting a lodger, and the lodger had not turned up, and she did not think that Mr.Spicer had been to bed at all. He had told her that he was going to sleep on the sofa.
Supt Hindley --: Can you give the bench any ideas, from your own knowledge, why Mrs.Spicer did not go to 18 Richmond Street to sleep? Yes; when Spicer came home from sea he wanted to take possession, and Mrs.Spicer naturally objected. --: When did he come back from sea? In September I think, and Mrs. Spicer has kept him ever since. --: Was there any unpleasantness about this? Not then. He was right enough until last Easter. He and his wife were quite friendly until two or three days after Easter, when they had words about the refreshment room being put in Mr.Spicer's name, but they did not have a real quarrel until the following Monday. On that day Mrs.Spicer went to town, and whilst she was in town he took the money. When she returned she saw the money on the shelf where he had placed it, and she took it up and put it in her pocket. Mr.Spicer said, "leave that there" and she said "no, it doesn't require two to take money here." Then they had some words, and Mrs.Spicer asked witness quietly, without Mr.Spicer hearing, if she would go up to the house and send her bed down, saying she did not wish to go home with him. She sent a girl down with the bed, and Mrs.Spicer had slept at the refreshment room ever since. The bed was kept in the daytime in the kitchen under the dresser, and made up at night in the refreshment room. The slippers produced were Mrs.Spicer's

The prisoner, on being asked, if he wished to put any questions to the witness, replied quietly, "no, sir".

Alfred Short, a clerk, was the next witness. He said he occupied a front room on the ground floor at 18 Richmond Street, as a sitting and bed room. On Saturday evening he went to bed at a quarter-past eleven o'clock, leaving the prisoner in the kitchen sitting on the sofa, and William, the elder of the two deceased children, sitting on a chair beside the sofa. Witness bade him good night and went to bed, leaving with him at his request, as he generally did, his watch, so that he might know the time in the morning. Witness soon went to sleep, but he was awakened shortly afterwards by a little alteration between Mr.Spicer and Mrs.Fraser. He heard Spicer speak very loudly to her about being late, but he did not hear her reply. He went to sleep again, and heard nothing more until he was awakened by two policemen coming into his bedroom in the morning. He got up and dressed himself, and heard Mr.Storey say - "he has murdered his two children". He went upstairs with Police-constable Potts (204), and, going into the back bedroom where the children slept, saw them lying, one at the foot and the other at the head of the bed, with their throats cut. They were both dead, and there was a great quantity of blood about - in fact, the place was like a slaughter house.

F.Potts (P.C 204) stated that he was on duty in Rowson Street, New Brighton, about five minutes to four o'clock on Sunday morning in company with Police-constable A.Jones (301), when a young man came up to them, and, in consequence of information he gave them, they went to the refreshment room, Bickley-parade. Finding no one there they went to 18 Richmond Street, accompanied by Mr.Storey, whom they saw coming from the doctor's. Mr.Storey and he stayed at the front of the house whilst Constable Jones went to the back. Having obtained an entrance, Jones opened the front door and let them in. Jones arrested the prisoner, and Storey and witness went upstairs and found the two deceased boys in the back bedroom on the second landing. They were both dead. Witness remained there until the arrival of Dr.Rose and Police-sergeant Cooper. Mrs.Fraser gave him two letters (produced) in the lobby of the house about six o'clock that morning. One was in an envelope, unopened.

Sergeant Samuel George Cooper said he called at the police station, New Brighton, at 25 minutes past four o'clock on Sunday morning, and saw the prisoner there in custody of Police-constable 301, and from what the Constable said to him he went to 18 Richmond Street. On his return, about six o'clock, he examined the prisoner, and found blood stains on both his shirt wristbands and partly up the sleeves. There were also blood stains on the knee of his trousers and down each trouser leg - mostly on the right knee and leg - on the breast of his coat, and on the back and front of a pair of sand shoes which he was wearing.

The articles were produced, and caused a sickening sensation.

On the usual question -- "Have you anything to ask this witness"? being put to the prisoner, he replied -- "They are not bloodstains, sir, it is red paint on the shoes".
The Clerk to the Magistrates -- You will, of course, have an opportunity of speaking for yourself later.
The Prisoner -- Yes sir; very good.
The Chairman -- Your case will be remanded until the 2nd June at ten o'clock in the morning.
The Prisoner -- I would like to have a little assistance to defend me. I have no means at present.
The Clerk -- You get assistance on the trial.
The Prisoner -- I would like to have it now if I could get it. I could explain lots of things to you. There are some letters there which would explain the whole of it.
The Clerk -- You had better not say much now. Have you no money?
The Prisoner -- No
After a consultation with the clerk, the magistrates, through the chairman, said -- We have no power to meet you in any way at this stage.
The prisoner was then removed.

Liverpool Mercury
Thursday, 29th May, 1890

The New Brighton Tragedy
Funeral of The Victims.

The funeral of the two victims of the murder at New Brighton on Sunday last, William and Henry Spicer, took place yesterday at Wallasey Cemetery, Rake Lane, Liscard. The interest naturally taken by the inhabitants of the district in the shocking event was the cause of a large assemblage of spectators at the house in Richmond Street and at the cemetery. Steps had been taken by a number of gentlemen, including Mr. Henry Spencer (the foreman of the coroner's jury). Mr. James Boughhey, Mr. John Bailey, and Mr. Berriman, to raise by public subscription to buy a grave in the cemetery, defray the expense of the burial, and temporarily maintain the remaining children. The funeral procession, consisting of a hearse and three mourning coaches. left the house about half- past three. The coffins were covered with wreaths and crosses sent by sympathising neighbours and friends, and each bore an inscription recording the names, date of death, and ages of the boys. The chief mourners were the sisters and brother of the deceased - namely Gertrude, Annie, Ethel, and Thomas Spicer. Mrs. Fraser, the waitress at Mrs. Spicer's refreshment room, occupied the one of the carriages with two of the children, and the attendance included most of the members of the coroner's jury and several New Brighton tradesmen. The burial service was conducted by the Rev. John H. Gwyther, pastor of the Congregational Church, Rice Lane, Liscard.

The Dundee Courier & Argus
Monday, 2nd June, 1890

The New Brighton Tragedy
Interview With The Prisoner

On Saturday. Alfred Short, who lodged in the house of Felix Spicer, the man charged with murdering his children at New Brighton, had an interview with Spicer in Walton Gaol. When asked about the crime, prisoner said, "I know nothing about it, so help me God. I washed little Harry, and kissed him and put him to bed, and bade him good night, bless his little heart". Here the prisoner wept bitterly. "Willie", he continued amid his sobs, "went to bed about about half-past eleven. I wished him good night, and know no more of either of them. I am as innocent as you are". Again his sobs interrupted his statement and when he became calm he continued -- "I am remained in the kitchen until three o'clock in the morning, when I went down to the refreshment rooms of my wife. The knife I used to the woman was my clasp knife, which was taken possession of by the police. In further conversation, the prisoner said he would not tell a lie to hurt any soul breathing. He referred to his love for the children, and said the woman had brought it all upon herself by refusing to forgive him. At parting he he told his visitor to tell his wife that he forgave her. He sent his love to her, although she had been very cruel to him.

[excerpts only]
Liverpool Mercury
Tuesday, 10 June, 1890

The New Brighton Murder
Committal of The Accused

Yesterday, at the Wallasey Police Court, Felix Spicer was brought up on remand charged with having murdered his two sons, William and Henry Spicer, and also with having attempted to murder Mary Anne Palin, at New Brighton, on the morning of Whit Sunday, the 25th of May.

Mr A.T Wright, a member of the firm of Messrs. Wright, Becket & Co., solicitors, Liverpool, under whom the tenancy of the premises Bickley Parade was held. He said that on the 2nd May the prisoner called at his office and asked that he might have the tenancy of the premises, 3 Bickley Parade, which were at one time let to Mrs. Spicer. The prisoner had been a tenant of the shop until about Christmas 1888, and at that time had asked to have the premises taken off his hands, and as he could not pay all the rent he authorised witness to take the fixtures for the amount due. Spicer, at his last interview with witness, about Easter, urged that he should be allowed to resume the tenancy. He mentioned that Mrs. Spicer was not his wife, but displayed no ill-feeling against her. Witness told him that he was quite satisfied with Mrs. Spicer's tenancy, but if it was more satisfactory to him he would tell Mrs. Spicer to call at the office. Witness wrote to Mrs. Spicer, who called on the following Monday, and the result of the interview, together with other inquiries, was that witness wrote to the prisoner stating that he had heard Mrs. Spicer's story, and did not propose to make any change to the tenancy. He advised Spicer to seek employment elsewhere, and not to interfere in the business in any way.

Walter Edward Banning, a lamplighter [said] on Whit Sunday morning, about 2.15, he had heard the crying of the Baby at the house in Richmond Street. On going to the front door he heard a light shuffle, as of feet, in the lobby, and that he heard a voice, but did not hear what was said. He again heard the child's voice, but, thinking it was a Baby crying, went away.

Mrs. Fraser, the witness at the refreshment room, was recalled, and repeated a portion of her evidence, already published. In cross examination by Superintendent Hindley, witness said that about a week or a fortnight before the murder the prisoner asked her how she got into the refreshment rooms in the mornings - if she had a key. She replied that Mrs. Spicer let her in, and that she had no key.

Joel Fitton, iron turner, 82, Wild Street, Derby, said that on the night of the murder he was staying at 5 Victoria Road, New Brighton, which is nearly opposite 3 Bickley Parade. About half past three in the morning he was awakened by his boys knocking at his door. In consequence of what they said he ran downstairs to the sitting room window. From there he saw the prisoner and Mrs. Spicer struggling. Witness noticed a knife on the floor, which Spicer was trying to reach. Mrs. Spicer got away and went across the road to Mr. Bailey's and Spicer went towards the rooms. The knife witness saw on the floor looked something like a shoemaker's knife, and would be four or five inches long. He could not swear that the knife produced was the one he saw, but the knife had a dark handle. After the struggle Spicer went inside the refreshment room through the front window and witness heard the sound of running water, which gave him the impression that the prisoner was washing his hands. He then came out and went towards the shore, and turned along the lower parade.

Mary Ann Palin, known as Mrs. Spicer was recalled [and] was shown the knife produced by the analyst, which she recognised as the one with which the prisoner had attacked her on the night of the murder.

Charlotte Myers, wife of John Myers, 6 Richmond Street, New Brighton, said she kept a lodging house. On the night of the murder she saw the prisoner in Richmond Street about 20 minutes to eleven. After some conversation, the prisoner told her that his house was full of lodgers, and asked her to accommodate anyone who might turn up. She went home, and about eleven 'o clock Spicer, accompanied by a gentleman, called, and Spicer told her that he had brought a gentleman for the night. The lodger stayed in the house all night, and got up about seven o'clock. He paid for his bed, and left without having breakfast. She had not seen him since, and did not know his name. -- By Superintendent Hindley : She would of known if any one had left the house during the night because she had put second lock on the door, and it could not have be shut from the outside.

Thomas Frederick Cooke, a plumber, 3 Belmont Road, New Brighton, stated that on the 31st May, he was assisting to search the premises of 3 Bickley Parade. In the cooking range, between the upper plate and the oven flue, he found the knife produced, and handed it to Constable Jones. The knife must of been put there through the manhole.

[In relation to Alfred Short interview with Mr F. Spicer at Walton Jail, see Monday 2nd June: Sheffield & Rotherham News article]
Mr Moore to Mr. Short : This interview occurred on the 31st May at Walton Jail?
Witness : It did sir
Mr Moore : Was there any warders present?
Witness : There was one warder present, head warder, present.
Mr Moore : Had you an order from the Prison Commissioners to see the prisoner?
Witness : No sir.
Mr. Moore : Had you on the 26th May, been examined and given evidence along with other witnesses?
Witness : I had sir
By the Bench : My interview took place in consequence of a letter received from the prisoner. I had not previously written to him.

This concluded the evidence., and the formula of charging the prisoner was then gone through. In reply to the magisterial caution on the first charge, that of the murder of William Spicer, the prisoner, acting on the advice of his solicitor, replied that he was not guilty, and that he did not want to call any witnesses. He made the same reply to the second charge, that of the murder of Henry Spicer, adding that he would reserve his defence. In reply to attempting to murder Mary Ann Palin, he said he was guilty of the assault on her. He was then committed to the assizes at Chester on three charges.

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#440326 - 31st Oct 2010 2:29pm Re: New Brighton Double Child Murder [Re: ]

Liverpool Mercury
Saturday, 2 August, 1890

The New Brighton Tragedy
Trial And Sentence

Yesterday, before Mr Justice Stephen, at the Chester Azzises. Felix Spicer appeared again the dock charged with the murder, at Liscard, on the 25th May, of his illiegimate sons, William and Henry, and the attempted murder of Mary Ann Palin, their mother. Mr D.A.V Colt Williams and Mr Malcolm Douglas, in continuing their case for the Crown, called Police Sergeant Cooper, who gave lengthy evidence as to the examination of the Richmond Street and Victoria houses, the bloodstains and other inculpating traces he found there and on prisoner's clothes and hands. He said that when charged with the offence prisoner said "I know nothing about it. I have done no murder".

Mr William F Lowe, county analyst, was next called, and gave lengthy evidence as to the nature and position bloodstains upon the piece of timber used by prisoner to batter the windows of the Bickley Parade restaurant, upon his clothes, shoes, knife, and in various parts of the house.

Dr Theodore Fendell, medical officer at Knutsford Jail, was next called, and stated that the prisoner had been under his care since his admission to Knutsford Jail on the 11th June. During prisoner's incarceration witness had had constant opportunity of observing him, and had found that his health had been good, there being nothing at all wrong with him mentally.
Cross examined by Mr Burke Wood : Witness had heard that prisoner's sister had been in Colony Hatch, and prisoner had told him that he had had a sunstroke.
That would not modify his statement at all as to the mental condition of prisoner; he could only form an opinion from what he had noticed himself. the prisoner showed no sign of insanity, or even of mental aberration.

This was the case for the prosecution. Mr D.A.V Colt Williams, in summoning up for the Crown, gave a lengthy review of the incriminating evidence. He said he understood that Mr Burke Wood intended to call no witness on behalf of the prisoner, so it became his duty to address the jury in as few words as possible. As he had intimated in his opening address, that case was one of such great gravity that he was sure they would pardon him if he detained them for more then a few minutes in doing so. On that occasion he had also told them that it was a case of completely of circumstantial evidence, and that they would require at his hands a strict proof of every step in the case; he submitted to them with some confidence now that he had so proved the case that there could be no reasonable doubt in their minds that the prisoner at the bar was guilty of the terrible crime with which he is charged. It might be that some attempt should be set up to show that because a sister of prisoner's was said to have been at one time insane, and because it was suggested that prisoner himself had once had a sunstroke, that he was insane at the time he committed that act. On the other hand they had the evidence of Dr Fendell, who had observed prisoner since June the 11th, that he was not a man of unsound mind. Therefore his submission on behalf of the Crown was that this case was made out without any shadow of a doubt, and that he was justified in asking them, after weighing his friend's and his lordship's remarks, to find the man guilty of the offence with which he was now charged.

Mr Burke Wood then rose to address the jury for the defence. He said that in this case a great burden had been laid upon the shoulders of all connected with the trial, and upon no one in a greater degree than upon himself. He was bound to say that Mr Colt Williams had conducted the case for the Crown most fairly, and had not exaggerated in the least degree the importance and solemnity of the inquiry. A great responsibility rested on them, the jury had by their verdict, and he, perhaps, by his conduct of the case, the life of the prisoner at the bar upon their hands. He did not say this with a view to asking them to take a merciful view of the case, but simply to give their verdict according to their oaths and the evidence laid before them. He dared say they noticed that on the previous morning when they came into the box he took the precaution, and used the right he possessed, of challenging several gentlemen, and they went out of the box. He did so not from any doubt that they would not have displayed as great an amount of intelligence and fairness as any in the box, but simply because he thought it better to have twelve strangers than any who came from the neighbourhood where the tragedy occurred. It was hard for any person to divest his mind of impressions that he had formed. Perhaps the result of conversation - perhaps the result of reading newspaper reports, and there was no doubt that the press of Birkenhead and its more important neighbour, Liverpool, spread far and wide an account of the tragedy at New Brighton and it was impossible pretty nearly that people should talk about a thing of that kind without forming some impression on their minds as to the guilt or innocency of the prisoner. Therefore, he earnestly asked the jury to try to come with a clean sheet, as it were, of mind to consider the evidence of that day and the day before. His friend, Mr Colt Williams, in opening the case, had told them that the case he had to submit was one entirely of circumstantial evidence, and that he had no direct evidence at all, and that if they did not think this evidence sufficient to satisfy them, they should say so by their verdict. That was just what he should have expected them to do. He was sorry to have to go into particulars of the married life of the prisoner and Palin, but there was no doubt that he had wronged her, and had not done what he owed to her by marrying her. It was possible that he was not in a position to marry her at the time, because he had a wife already. However, they had lived together for a number of years, quarrels frequently occurring, but not with any serious result till in April last, when they finally separated. He must call their attention to the dreadful state of misery under which the prisoner laboured in consequences of this quarrel with his wife, who refused to live in the same house with him any longer. He wrote imploring letters requesting a reconciliation; but they were received with scorn. With regard to prisoner's statement that he could not receive a lodger on the night of the 24th because he had four men, and was full up, it had been stated that these four men were all a myth, and that this statement was only a part of his scheme to kill the children. Was it not possible that these men, whom prisoner said he had seen with women on the same night, had gone to some less respectable haunt for the night? At all events it seemed as likely as that the whole story was a myth invented by prisoner. Having pointed out that there was nothing peculiar in prisoner not retiring on the night in question, when he had a sofa prepared downstairs, he said that the testimony as to the prisoner being kind to his children was unanimous. Fearon appeared to have been a new arrival at prisoner's house, but even she had had time to how tenderly he brought them to be washed by her, and afterwards carried them upstairs and put them to bed. There appeared to have been the bright spot in that man's life - that was his love and affection for his children, and whatever Mary Ann Palin might have to say about his treatment of her, she had no occasion to make a single complaint of his treatment of her children. Annie Fraser said he was extremely kind to them; Maria Fearon described the way in which he performed those many little functions which a careless man might have relegated to the nursemaid, with the tenderness and kindness of a mother rather than the qualities of a father. The lodger also said he never saw anyone so kind in his life, and confirmed the opinion that he was like a mother rather than a father. He then referred to the evidence as to the discovery of blood stains in the house, and empahised the fact that though prisoner was said to have done downstairs with the clothes reeking with blood, only one small stain was found on the banister. It would be an insult to deny that prisoner went down to Bickley Parade - the evidence was too strong and unanimous on that point - but if an assault of the nature described was committed upon Palin by prisoner, it would be a fair and reasonable conclusion to draw that the blood found on his clothing had flowed from her hands as she was on the ground by prisoner. Again, evidence had been given to this effect that the blood stains on the handle of the piece of wood used by prisoner to batter in the windows in Bickley Parade were wet when it was examined after the assault. He contended that if the stains were imprinted at Richmond Street, by the time he had walked to Bickley Parade and assaulted Palin the stains would have had time to dry. At all events this was not improbable solution of the case. He strongly urged upon the jury the fact that the lodger, who came in at seven o'clock on the morning of the crime, had not been examined by the counsel for the prosecution, and said that in view of the widespread newspaper reports he could not have failed to hear about the occurrence. In reference to the interview in Walton Jail he said that sometimes when prisoners made statements there was something or other held out, or it might be supposed that there was something held out; but in that case it was entirely a voluntary statement to a man whom he had sent for, and therefore entitled to more respect at the hands of the jury than many communications of a similar character. He said, "I know nothing, so help me God. I washed little Harry; I put him to bed. I bid him 'Good night', and kissed him - bless his little heart. Willie went to bed afterwards; I wished him 'good night' and I didn't go upstairs afterwards. I am as innocent as you are". That was a statement made to an independent man, and he would ask them to attach some importance to it. These children appeared to have been the idols of his life almost - these children whom he was charged with killing. A great lawyer, Lord Cope, described murder as being when a man of sound memory and discretion killed a human being. Did they believe for one instant that that man "murdered" his children? He was obliged to say he dared not leave any stone unturned in the duty that he had to perform on behalf of the prisoner; and therefore, though he submitted that the evidence for the prosecution consisted of a chain of evidence that was faulty and undefendable, he must omit no point that told in prisoner's favour. He could not help saying that if that man - he said this under his lordship's direction - if this man went into the room where those children were sleeping, very likely when he had the intention of going down and attacking the mother, and breaking into her premises, knowing that he was going to do the mother grievous bodily harm or to murder her, and that it would be impossible to escape - if he went into their room to take a last look at them, he submitted that if he went back into the room with merely the innocent intention of seeing his children, they would say he was not guilty of the murder of those children if, when his mind was so clouded with the trouble he had been in and the contemptuous replies to his appeals by his wife, this man, maddened with the thought of it, had his mental faculties so obliterated that he put an end to the children by cutting their throats. He asked the jury to ask themselves whether he was at that time a man of sound memory and reasonable sense, and said that if they thought not, he would ask them to say that a verdict of manslaughter would be all that could revert against that man. He was under his lordship's direction when he summed up the case to them, and he had no more to add on behalf of the prisoner. He had done what he thought was his duty, and according to his advice what he could do, and he only asked them to remember one thing - that they were not trying prisoner for the attack on Mary Ann Palin, and the savage assault he made on her, but simply for the crime of murder.

His Lordship said it was now his duty to sum up the evidence in the case to which they had listened so long and so patiently, and, before he got to the evidence he would make one or two remarks upon some general topics which had been alluded to by the learned counsel. Mr Colt Williams had told them, and Mr Wood repeated, that that was entirely a case of circumstantial evidence. He (the Judge) totally denied that anything popularly called circumstantial evidence was evidence at all, or should be given in evidence, and he should be right at the proper time, and place to show, by going through the various rules of evidence established in that country, that what was generally called circumstantial evidence with no evidence according to the distinctive rules of the country. That, however, was not the place to deliver a lecture upon legal topics, and he would pass over the expression with this single remark that, whether they liked to call the evidence circumstantial or not, the question was simply whether it satisfied them beyond all reasonable doubt that the man was guilty of the crime charged against him or not. He had also one other general remark to make upon the suggestion with which Mr Wood concluded his evidence - for it was possible there might be a conviction for manslaughter in that case if they thought that at the time he entered the children's room he had not the intention of cutting their throats. He told them that they could not consistently with law give any such verdict - the whole of the evidence in the case either proved that the man voluntarily and wilfully put his children to death by cutting their throats - which was murder - or that he was not guilty of any crime at all. They would, however. observe that something was said about the phrase "malice aforethought". It was undoubtedly true that to constitute murder there must be malice aforethought; but those were most unlucky words and were almost always misunderstood. Unless one knew how they should be technically interpreted one could not know what they meant. It was generally said that there most be premeditation - that was not so; if a man decided upon a sudden temptation to kill a person and did kill that person without provocation, if he did that, it was as much murder as if he had meditated it for a year and made every preparation for it. With regard to the words "malice aforethought" they had been better defined by Lord Chief Justice Holt than any he had ever read, and he had read a great quantity - "he that doth a cruel act voluntarily doth it of malice prepense". If the act was a cruel one and it was done voluntarily, that was what was meant by malice aforethought. So the whole matter really came to this - whether they thought that this mean voluntarily did the cruel act of cutting the throats of those children. That was the one subject which they had to inquire into, and he should address his summing up entirely to matters which threw light upon it. They had heard the evidence of a day and a half, and he did not think anytime had been wasted upon it. It seemed to have been very fairly given and very properly put before them, and now he would consider how the matter stood. There was no doubt at all that the prisoner and his wife did lead a most unhappy life, and that unhappiness seemed to have lasted for a considerable time. Mr Wood went back as far as 1873, when he said that the prisoner led Palin astray. Mr Wood suggested that he might have been married before and that that was the reason why he did not marry Palin. That might be so, but he could not ask the jury to pay attention to such suggestion. It was entirely strange to the matter they were now trying, and it never could be that a man could excuse, or justify, or extenuate one crime because another hung upon it. He might just make this one remark, though it was more in the nature of a moral observation than anything else, that was, that if prisoner had done that justice to the woman which he certainly owed her, if he had married, she could not have testified against him, and the fact that he did not think proper to marry her had been strangely avenged, and he was there on his trial for his life because he did not do that justice to the woman which he certainly ought to have done. Referring to the evidence as to prisoner's general affection for his children, he said that love for children was in a great measure the reflection for love of wife, and that a loss of affection for the wife would naturally cause a loss of affection for the children. That kind of kindness was quite consistent with something entirely different if a violent passion interfered. The counsel for the defence had impressed very strongly upon the jury that it was a suspicious fact that the lodger who came to the house in Richmond Street early on the morning of the day on which the crime was committed, must have known all about the occurrence from the newspaper. That was quite possible : but, strange as it might appear to lawyers, people hated to be called as witnesses, and he was not quite sure that he should not himself. (A laugh). People would get in their own houses, and say it was the place of the police to find them out, which made it very difficult to procure them as witnesses. Alluding to the evidence with respect to the blood stains, his lordship said that with the exception of the wounds on the woman's arm there was absolutely no accords whatever to be given of the blood which stained every single garment worn by the prisoner. He was speaking in reference to the suggestion with regard to prisoner's insanity, and remarking that the evidence went directly in opposition to the theory that he was of unsound mind.

Mr Burke Wood said it was very late in the case, but he had just learned from Dr Ross that prisoner was a sufferer from insomnia. His Lordship said it was indeed very late in the day, but directed that Dr Ross should be recalled. Dr Ross then stated that Mrs Palin had mentioned to him on one occasion that prisoner could never go to sleep, and bitterly complained of it in the same night. Insomnia, he continued, was sometimes a form of melancholia.
His Lordship : Have you ever observed any signs of melancholia about prisoner?
Dr Ross : No; but I thought it only fair to mention this.
His Lordship, remarking that the evidence did not very materially bear on the prisoner's state of mind, concluded his summing up, and the jury retired at exactly a quarter to two.

At ten minutes to two they returned into court.
The Clerk of Arraigns - Gentlemen of the jury, do you find the prisoner, Felix Spicer, guilty or not guilty?
The Foreman (in a low voice) - Guilty.
The Clerk - You say that he is guilty of murder, and that is the verdict of you all?
The Foreman - It is.
The Clerk - Felix Spicer, you stand convicted of willful murder. What have you to say why the court should not give you judgment to die according to law?
Prisoner - I am not guilty of the murder of the children, my lord. If I had worked on my own evidence I could prove that. I gave Mr Wood some papers as you suggested. He has them now, and if you read them you would exonerate me. There is proof where lodgers have been to the house, and paid an amount on deposit, and every action I have done during the week. If you were to read these papers it would prove you, my lord.
The Judge, assuming the black cap, said - Felix Spicer
Prisoner - Yes, my lord
The Judge - You stand convicted of wilful murder, and that under circumstances as horrible as I ever knew a murder to be accompanied with. As to what you say about Mr Wood. I can only tell you this, that Mr Wood, at very great labour to himself and at the sacrifice of much valuable time, has defended you with admirable skill and judgment.
Prisoner - Yes, my lord, I will admit that; but if you had read these papers, or if I had defended myself, I think you would have given me a better verdict.
The Judge - I cannot believe that Mr Wood has not read your papers.
Prisoner - There is marks of blood on the stones where I cut my hand with the glass.
The Judge - That is exactly what Mr Wood tried to persuade the jury, but they did not agree.
Prisoner - There is the money the lodgers gave me on deposit to come into the house where I stopped after half-past twelve to let them in. When I went out in the morning, all the doors were open, and I did not wake until 20 minutes past three.
The Judge - You have had the opportunity of saying all that, and you have had a very careful counsel to say it for you. The jury have come to the conclusion that you are guilty of wilful murder, and for my part I entirely share the same opinion. The matter is no longer in my hands in any way. All that remains to me is to pass upon you the sentence of the law.

Sentence of death was then pronounced in the usual way.

The prisoner, who displayed some agitation, was removed from the dock.

The North-Eastern Daily Gazette
Friday, 22 August, 1890

The New Brighton Murderer
Execution Of Spicer

The final preparation for the execution of Felix Spicer (60), a rigger by trade, for the murder of his two children at New Brighton, were effected last night. Spicer, since he received sentence of death, had been confined in Knutsford Prison, the county gaol of Cheshire. Berry, the executioner, arrived at Knutsford from Bradford shortly after four o'clock yesterday afternoon, and immediately proceeded to the prison for the purpose of inspecting the necessary apparatus. The scaffold, which is the one used on the two previous occasions, was erected in a small building especially set apart for execution. Mr J. Cullimore, Under Sheriff, arrived at the prison last night in order to see that perfect arrangements had been carried out, and the executioner, in accordance with his instructions, took up his quarters for the night within the precincts of the prison, where he was supplied with sleeping accommodation. A last effort had been made to restrain the last dread sentence of the law from being carried into effect, but with no result. A telegram was received yesterday by the authorities of the gaol from the Home Office, stating that the Home Secretary, after carefully perusing the evidence, and consulting with the Learned Judge who heard the case, saw no reason for interfering in Spicer's case with the due execution of the sentence of the law. Spicer himself has not denied committing the crime, but asserted at the same time that if he had so he was mad at the time. Up to the last he was exceedingly penitent, and paid marked attention to the ministrations of the prison chaplain, the Rev. W.N Truss, who paid him a visit late last night. Spicer has hardly varied in weight during his incarceration.

On The Scaffold
The chaplain entered the condemned cell shortly after six this morning and administered the Holy Sacrament. Spicer appeared very penitent, though when breakfast was brought Spicer did not touch it, and as the hour of his execution approached he seemed in danger of collapsing altogether. Berry, the executioner, entered the cell shortly before eight, and completed the pinioning process, which was undergone by the doomed man in a somewhat mechanical manner. On the way to the scaffold, which was the same as that which Richard Davies, the Crewe parricide, was executed, Spicer appeared rather faltering, but when he got out of the cell he revived considerably. When he had taken his place on the scaffold and the cap was adjusted on him he said "Good morning" to those present, and added in feeble tones, "I was mad if I perpetrated the crime. My poor dear children, May God bless and keep me, a miserable sinner". The bolt was then pulled, the body disappeared, and death seemed instantaneous. Spicer was 11 stone, 11 lbs, in weight, and 5 feet 4 inches in height, and he received a drop of 5 feet 2 inches. Representatives of the Press were admitted to witness the execution. Instructions were issued for the destruction of the rope with which Spicer was hanged immediately after the execution. The mode in which the rope is now supplied is that the High Sheriff, who is responsible for the carrying out of the execution, purchases the necessary length from the governor of Newgate Prison, who is authorised by the Home Office to sell it. This relieves the hangman of any responsibility as to the rope being unsuited for the purpose.

In accordance with the wish expressed by Spicer during an interview with some of his relatives, Mary Ann Palin, otherwise known as Mrs Spicer. declared her attention to close her refreshment rooms at New Brighton today to show her respect for Spicer, even though he had so cruelly wronged her.

#440330 - 31st Oct 2010 2:39pm Re: New Brighton Double Child Murder [Re: ]

Anyone wanting to know the full story of the New Brighton Tragedy then please visit 'Headlines' on my History of Wallasey site.


Also includes other 19th Century news from Wallasey.

Edited by PaulWirral (31st Oct 2010 2:41pm)

#440340 - 31st Oct 2010 3:17pm Re: New Brighton Double Child Murder [Re: ]
jabber_Ish Offline
Forum Master

Registered: 7th Jan 2010
Posts: 2942
Loc: Black Rock
absolutely fantastic read

><((((*> <*))))><

#440382 - 31st Oct 2010 6:50pm Re: New Brighton Double Child Murder [Re: jabber_Ish]
Kev30x Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 1st Mar 2010
Posts: 394
Loc: Tranmere
Brilliant, more of these please. Thanks

#440384 - 31st Oct 2010 6:55pm Re: New Brighton Double Child Murder [Re: Kev30x]

Green Meanie
Wiki Master

Registered: 10th Apr 2008
Posts: 13454
Loc: Underground
fantastic read mate thumbsup
Please do not adjust your mind, there is a slight problem with reality. #backscovered

#440390 - 31st Oct 2010 7:08pm Re: New Brighton Double Child Murder [Re: TRANCENTRAL]
_Ste_ Offline

Wiki Master

Registered: 7th Aug 2005
Posts: 15986
Loc: New Brighton
These are brilliant paul, hope you dont mind, i`ve copied them to my notebook in the iphone for reading later and showing the lads in work.

#440394 - 31st Oct 2010 7:19pm Re: New Brighton Double Child Murder [Re: _Ste_]
buddy Online   content
Forum Veteran

Registered: 18th Sep 2008
Posts: 5010
Loc: South Wirral
Great reading Paul - keep 'em coming - thanks

#440419 - 31st Oct 2010 8:06pm Re: New Brighton Double Child Murder [Re: buddy]
Capt_America Online   content
Forum Addict

Registered: 26th Jul 2008
Posts: 1499
Loc: Wallasey
See you in cyberspace!

#440446 - 31st Oct 2010 9:29pm Re: New Brighton Double Child Murder [Re: Capt_America]
Bezzymate Offline
Forum Veteran

Registered: 24th Apr 2010
Posts: 5551
Loc: New New Brighton
Great as always Paul,thankyou.

#440481 - 1st Nov 2010 2:21am Re: New Brighton Double Child Murder [Re: Bezzymate]

...if you have read the entire story on my site then you will of seen that one of the reasons why Spicer did not marry Mary Anne was that he was already married. What he did not know was that his wife had died some years earlier leaving him free to marry Mary.

The last record i have of Mary Anne was up to 1894 when she left he district.

#440541 - 1st Nov 2010 4:46pm Re: New Brighton Double Child Murder [Re: ]
LisaW Offline

Registered: 31st Aug 2010
Posts: 163
Loc: Somewhere south of Watford
Thanks for posting this. Such an interesting read.

I wonder if the current occupiers of 18 Richmond St know of it's past. I keep looking at the house on Google that odd

Edited by LisaW (1st Nov 2010 4:50pm)

#440561 - 1st Nov 2010 6:26pm Re: New Brighton Double Child Murder [Re: LisaW]

Originally Posted By: LisaW
Thanks for posting this. Such an interesting read.

I wonder if the current occupiers of 18 Richmond St know of it's past. I keep looking at the house on Google that odd

I would love to knock on the door and see the rooms where they were murdered but I doubt the present owners would want someone at the door saying "mind if I see the room where 2 boys had their throat cut"? Especially round Halloween!

#440576 - 1st Nov 2010 7:34pm Re: New Brighton Double Child Murder [Re: ]
LisaW Offline

Registered: 31st Aug 2010
Posts: 163
Loc: Somewhere south of Watford
Originally Posted By: PaulWirral
Originally Posted By: LisaW
Thanks for posting this. Such an interesting read.

I wonder if the current occupiers of 18 Richmond St know of it's past. I keep looking at the house on Google that odd

I would love to knock on the door and see the rooms where they were murdered but I doubt the present owners would want someone at the door saying "mind if I see the room where 2 boys had their throat cut"? Especially round Halloween!

Have a look at the house on Google Streetview, the front door is open which makes it a little spookier for me.

p.s the current owners seem to like gnomes smile

#440577 - 1st Nov 2010 7:34pm Re: New Brighton Double Child Murder [Re: ]
Kev30x Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 1st Mar 2010
Posts: 394
Loc: Tranmere
Paul perhaps you and Lisa can knock together? just remember to wear crash helmets and Gum shields!! grin

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