BRIAN Cordiner told fellow members of Stonehaven Rotary Club last week of the controversial circumstances that led to a 19th century housewife narrowly escaping the gallows for killing her arsenic-addicted husband.
Mr Cordiner said the trial of Florence Elizabeth Maybrick at Liverpool in 1889 was presided over by a judge who suffered from senile dementia and a jury who seemed more interested in salacious aspects of the accused woman’s marital circumstances than the flimsy evidence against her.
Despite trial aspects which should never have passed muster, including the lack of evidence against the young wife and members of the jury fraternising with witnesses, Mrs Maybrick who had been accused of poisoning her husband James, was eventually found guilty of murder in only 35 minutes by the jury and sentenced to death.
However before the sentence was carried out, she was reprieved and instead served 15 years of a penal servitude sentence. She was released in 1904, leaving England for America soon afterwards.
Vote of thanks was by rotarian Derek Sedge.