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Rex v. McKenna


Patrick McKenna, 53, joiner, was indicted for the murder of his wife. The accused seems to have been jealous of his wife, without cause, as he subsequently admitted. He was drunk on the day of the murder, was refused money by his wife, and then accused her of unfaithfulness and threatened her. Twice he went away, and twice he returned. On the second occasion he took her by the shoulders, and taking a carving knife off the table said, “I will cut your throat.” She took the knife from him, but a second time he seized it, and plunged it into her neck. She died soon afterwards. On the way to the police station he said, “I went to the house without premeditation and without malice. It is horrible. She threw the knife on the table and said, ‘If you want to do it, do it.rsquo; It was done in a minute. She was launched into eternity unprepared. She has gone to hell if there is such a place.” Mr. Sutton, for the prosecution, said that he purposed to call two medical witnesses to give evidence as to the state of the prisoner's mind, in view of a possible defence on the ground of insanity in the prisoner's family. The judge said he did not see that this evidence could be heard. Everybody was presumed to be sane until they were found out to be otherwise. He did not know of any other circuit in which it was the custom to take the course proposed by Mr. Sutton. Mr. Sutton said that his reason for proposing to call the evidence was that on one occasion Mr. Justice Hawkins made some very severe comments because that course had not been adopted after allegations of insanity had been made before the magistrate. The judge said it was not a question of custom, but one of evidence, and what a learned judge might have thought right to be done in one particular case was no reason for doing anything contrary to the rules of evidence. The plea of insanity was not raised in defence, and the efforts of counsel were limited to an endeavour, which was not successful, to reduce the crime to manslaughter. Guilty, sentenced to death.— Manchester Assizes, November 13th, Mr. Justice Bucknill.—Manchester Guardian, November 14th.

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The British Journal of Psychiatry
  • ISSN: -
  • EISSN: 2514-9946
  • URL: /core/journals/the-british-journal-of-psychiatry
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Rex v. McKenna

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