The Times (London).
1 April 1903
(Before Mr. Justice Kennedy)
Timothy Donovan, 40, labourer, was indicted for the wilful murder of Mary Donovan, his wife.
Mr. R.D. Muir and Mr. Bodkin prosecuted; Dr. E.P.S. Counsel defended.
The prisoner and his wife lodged in Shadwell. He was of intemperate habits, but his wife was a sober woman. On the evening of Saturday, March 7, the prisoner returned home at 9 o'clock. Soon afterwards he went to the landlady, who was in the kitchen, and said, "I think I have done something; I think I have done it." The landlady asked him what he had done, and he replied, "Go upstairs and see." The landlady went to the room occupied by the prisoner and his wife, and saw his wife lying on the floor with a wound in the neck. A doctor was fetched by the prisoner, and he found that she was dead. The prisoner, who was under the influence of drink, was arrested the same night in Shadwell, and made statements to the effect that on his return home his wife threw something at him, and he in a moment of passion picked up a knife from the table and stabbed her. He added that he did not mean to do it, and that it was all done in a moment. It was stated that the prisoner always appeared to be on very affectionate terms with his wife, and it was only when he was drunk that quarrels took place.
For the defence, it was contended that there was a drunken brawl, in the course of which the prisoner struck his wife, forgetting that he had a knife in his hand.
The jury found the prisoner Not Guilty of murder, but Guilty of manslaughter. It was stated that there were 20 summary convictions against the prisoner for assaults on the police, drunkenness, &c.
Mr. Justice Kennedy, in passing sentence, said that the jury had found themselves enabled to take a less severe view of the case. He assumed from their finding that they were of opinion that there was, in fact, not merely drunkenness on the prisoner's part, but that there was a drunken brawl, in which he used the knife on his wife. In any view the prisoner had taken the life of the woman with a knife, and it was a very serious crime that he had committed. He sentenced him to 12 years' penal servitude.