Unsolved Murders

Jas Oneil

Age: unknown

Sex: male

Date: 13 Oct 1900

Place: 19 Portrack Street, Stockton

Jas Oneil died following a fight at a lodging house.

A 44-year-old boilersmith was tried for his manslaughter but acquitted.

He had been sent for trial on a charge of murder by the Coroner's jury but the Grand Jury, by the advice of the judge, found a true bill for manslaughter.

They had been fellow lodgers occupying the same bed in a small lodging house at 19 Portrack Street, Stockton.

The landlady at the house had been a widow and was helped to manage the house by her daughter.

She said that Jas Oneil had lodged with her for seven years.

On the day in question the landlady's daughter had been out most of the day but later returned home about 4pm, at which time she found Jas Oneil sitting by the fire apparently dozing.

She said that she then went out again for a few minutes and that when she came back the boilersmith and Jas Oneil were wrestling together in the kitchen and they fell together to the ground.

It was stated that the reason for the scuffle was not very clear and that there was no satisfactory evidence on the point.

The landlady's daughter said that she then told them that if they wanted to fight that they had better go outside and that they then both rose and the boilersmith went upstairs towards his bedroom, which was reached by a steep set of stairs from the kitchen where they had been wrestling.

The landlady's daughter said that Jas Oneil then went up the stairs but that by about the eighth step the boilersmith turned round and gave him a push, causing Jas Oneil to fall backwards, headlong down the stairs against the front door of the kitchen.

She said that Jas Oneil fell into a heap, but got up, but that as he was getting up that the boilersmith threw a heavy earthenware tube that had been used as a door stopper at him that knocked him unconscious. It was noted that the door stopper had been  a moulder's plug used in the smelting of iron at the ironworks.

However, he was also said to have thrown a stone chopper at him.

A doctor was then summoned and an operation was performed, but Jas Oneil never rallied.

His post mortem showed that he had a fractured skull and that that was his cause of death.

However a doctor said that his injury was more likely to have been caused by the stone chopper thrown from the top of the stairs, provided it struck his head and then glanced off, noting that had the stone struck him a solid square blow on the head that he would have expected his injury to have been much greater.

The landlady said that both Jas Oneil and the boilersmith had been under the influence of drink.

When the boilersmith was questioned he said that he had struck Jas Oneil because he had chastised a child in the house.

However, the boilersmith, who was tried at the Durham Assizes, was discharged.

*map pointers are rough estimates based on known location details as per Place field above.

see www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

see Northern Echo - Saturday 24 November 1900

see Dundee Evening Post - Monday 15 October 1900

see Newcastle Chronicle - Saturday 27 October 1900

see Northern Echo - Tuesday 23 October 1900