Manslaughter at Mexborough – Sentence at Leeds Assizes

December 1911

Mexborough & Swinton Times – Saturday 09 December 1911

Manslaughter at Mexborough

A Fatal “Straight Jab”

Sentence at Leeds Assizes

At Leeds Assizes on Monday, James Cairns (22), a powerfully built miner was indicted for the manslaughter of John Henry Stanton, at Mexborough, on October 28. Mr Waddy and Mr Yarborough were for the prosecution, and Mr Fleming for the defence.

It was stated by Mr Waddy that shortly after 10 o’clock on the night of Saturday, October 28, a man named William O’Brien was in the singing room of the Albion in Mexborough, when Keynes entered. They conversation led to boxing, and Cairns said he could beat him. O’Brien denied it, and the move was made outside, as some said to settle the matter. Stanton, who had been in the Inn also came out. O’Brien, however, appear to be taken away, or went away. Stanton seem to have attempted to act as peacemaker, whereupon Cairns struck him and knocked his pipe out of his mouth. Cairns followed with another blow with such violence as to fell Stanton to the ground. As soon as Stanton struggled to his feet he was struck again on the left side of the jaw with such violence as to fracture his skull. Stanton’s fall resulted in a further fracture of the scull, and he died some three or four hours after being struck.

William O’Brien stated that after leaving the inn he walked away with Stanton, when Cairns came up and wanted to fight. Stainton got between them and put his hands against Cairns, telling him not to be foolish. Cairns struck Stanton on the side of the face with his fist. The witness was then pulled away. The blow did not seem to be a hard one.

Mr Fleming: you have done a bit of boxing? – Not since I was married. He

Do you swear you were not training Stanton’s boy to fight about the time of this affair? – I have boxed that lad once in my life.

You have been on bad terms with the prisoner for several years? – There has been a grievance between us.

Did you not say you want fight with the gloves in the ring? – Yes

And did not say he was not a glove man, but would fight with his fist, and you said you would not? – Yes, I said I would not.

The witness denied that any conversation took place in the public house about money. Evidence was given by eyewitnesses of the affair that they did not see Stanton strike Cairns.

Police Inspector Fairbairn stated that the prisoner, when charged, said that Stanton struck in first. There was a small scratch on Cairns’ lip which corresponded with the position of a broken tooth.

The prisoner, James Cairns, went into the box and stated that he lived at New Conisbrough. On several occasions he had had differences with O’Brien and his friends. On the night in question he saw Brian for the first time for some months. O’Brien asked if he had any money, and the argument led to O’Brien to challenge him to fight. Outside, he could not see O’Brien, but Stanton, who was near the door, struck him in the mouth. He returned the blow, hitting Stanton in the face with his left fist, and then with his right. Stanton fell down. Only two blows were struck by him (the prisoner).

His Lordship: It is quite wrong to say you struck him again after he had risen to his feet?

Yes, sir, it is wrong.

It was not true that Stanton made an attempt to pacify him and O’Brien.

By Mr Waddy: He was not a fighter.

Do you really mean me to understand that? – Yes.

How many fights have you had in your life, that is since you grew up? – Five or six.

Have any of them being with pugilists?

Only one. I won a competition in the skating rink. That is what they were mad about, because I won it.

Have you thought was a man called Lang, a well-known pugilist? – Yes.

Was that it Street “scrap” or a prize fight? – It was a Street “scrap”.

At any rate you did not hesitate to take on a professional pugilist – He’s not a professional pugilist.

You beat him easily? – No, it was not finished.

His Lordship: How long had you been at it – only five or six minutes.

You know how to use your fists a little?

When I’m forced to it. I work for a living, and fighting doesn’t bother me.

What is your idea of a fighting man?

If I was one I should not expect to work for any living.

A fighting man then, in your opinion, is a man who does not work for his living, but only fights; is that so? – Yes.

If you fought for a living you would say you are a fighting man? – Yes, my Lord.

Mr Waddy: Was your broken tooth got with fighting? – The prisoner: No, with chewing ‘bacca in the pit. (Laughter).

What sort of a blow was it that Stanton struck you? – A straight jab, sir.

Some witnesses deposed to having seen Stanton first strike Cairns.

Mr Fleming, for the prisoner, ask the jury to all that Cairns struck Stanton in self defence.

The prisoner was found guilty, and was sentenced to 9 months imprisonment with hard labour.

Addressing, the judge said that his wicked passion and then caused him to take the life of a fellow creature. He hoped it would be a lesson to him to be more careful with the use of his face. He passed a light sentence because he had no doubt that no one was more sorry now than he was that he had taken someone’s life.