Deplorable Occurrence Near Lurgan.
Attempt To Murder Wife.
The Belfast News-Letter,
Monday, November 28,
LURGAN, SUNDAY – At an early hour this morning information was received in Lurgan to the effect that between twelve and one o’clock last night a man named Patrick McStravick, a small farmer residing in the townland of Kilmore, situate in the County Down, and distant about four miles from this town, had made a determined attempt to murder his wife, Isabella McStravick, by stabbing her with a bayonet. The circumstances of the case are of a singularly painful character, and go to show that the terrible crime was committed at a time when the husband had been driven into a kind of temporary frenzy by the feeling that his wife had been guilty of misconduct.
The first intimation of the affair was received at about one o’clock this morning, when the man Patrick McStravick, who is aged about sixty years, knocked at the door of the police barracks in the townland of Aghalee, and, on the door being opened, informed Sergeant Dominick Leydon, the sergeant in charge, that he had come there “for the purpose of giving up himself as a murderer; that he had, or believed he had, a short time ago murdered his wife by stabbing her with a bayonet.” When he came to the barrack, McStravick was accompanied by a man named Clarke, a small farmer who resides in the townland of Tisgallon. As McStravick appeared to have some drink taken, Sergeant Leydon did not attach any serious import to the extraordinary statement the man had made, but on the latter reiterating his assertion, Sergeant Leydon and Constable McCusker decided upon at once proceeding to McStravick’s house to make inquiries.
On entering the house the truth of the charge made against himself by Patrick McStravick was at once painfully proved. Sergeant Leydon found Mrs. McStravick lying on the bed in the sleeping apartment in a half-conscious or semi-lifeless condition. Her body was literally covered over with deep gashes, no less than sixteen of these wounds being counted by Dr. Agnew, who afterwards came to render such assistance to the woman as lay in his power. One of the wounds on the right side is of a very shocking character, the weapon with which it was inflicted having evidently travelled in an upward direction, and causing a very large displacement of the flesh. Seeing what a very serious state the woman was in, Sergeant Leydon instantly despatched a message to Lurgan to procure medical assistance.
Dr. S. Agnew soon after arrived on the scene, and, after examining and dressing Mrs. McStravick’s wounds, pronounced her life in danger. The sergeant thereupon arrested the husband, Patrick McStravick, who, it may be stated, made no attempt whatever to deny that it was he who had made such a terrible attack on his wife. After having received the usual caution from Sergeant Leydon, the prisoner voluntarily made a statement as to the circumstances under which the affair had taken place. From this statement, which is set forth in Sergeant Leydon’s evidence at the magisterial inquiry reported below, it will be seen that the crime was committed under the impetus of provocation, either real or imagined, of an exceptionally grave character; and it may be added that reports are in circulation to the effect that McStravick has, on various antecedent occasions, made accusations of serious misconduct against his wife. As to the nature of the bayonet with which the wounds were inflicted it is certainly a very formidable character. Made of steel, and sharply pointed at the end, it is about a foot and a half in length, and is strongly fixed in a heavy wooden handle. Weapons of a similar character are often kept in farmers’ houses in lieu of guns for purposes of self defence.
The Magisterial Inquiry – The Prisoner’s Statement.
Shortly after eleven o’clock this (Sunday) morning Dr. J. G. Adamson, J.P., Lurgan, and Mr. Frederick W. Magahan, clerk of petty sessions for Lurgan district, proceeded by car to the townland of Kilmore, for the purpose of holding a preliminary inquiry into the circumstances under which Isabella McStravick was severely wounded by being stabbed in several parts of the body last (Saturday) night or at an early hour this morning. The prisoner, Patrick McStravick, was present in custody, and District-Inspector McArdle, Banbridge, in whose district Kilmore is situate, was present to watch the proceedings on behalf of the Crown. The inquiry was held in the prisoner’s house. The injured woman, Mrs. McStravick, was lying in bed, and seemed to be in a very precarious state.
Sergeant Dominick Leydon, who is in charge of the police barracks at Aghalee (which is in the County Antrim), deposed that, shortly after twelve o’clock on last (Saturday) night, the prisoner, along with whom was a man named Clarke, belonging to Tisgallon, came to the barracks and said he wanted to give himself up as a murderer, for that he believed he had that night murdered his wife, Isabella McStravick, by stabbing her with a bayonet. The prisoner had some drink taken, and at first witness did not take his statement in a serious light. However as he repeated it, witness and Constable McCusker went to prisoner’s house in Kilmore, where they found the prisoner’s wife, Isabella, lying in bed, and suffering from wounds all over her body. After arresting the prisoner, he made a statement to witness to the effect that he had been in Lurgan that day, Saturday, that he and his wife came home on a car with a man named Pat Kelly, a mechanic in Mr. McCorry’s factory, in Kilmore, and that when they arrived at the cross-roads, near Kilmore, his wife and Kelly left him there while they went away to get some whisky at Miss Bunting’s; that, after Mrs. McStravick and Kelly had gone away to get the whisky, prisoner got suspicious and following them discovered them at the rear of Miss Bunting’s place – that he first of all kicked both his wife and Kelly and then ran to his own house and got a bayonet which he “used on” his wife, Kelly by this time having gone away. After this statement had been made witness sent for Dr. Agnew, of Lurgan.
Isabella McStravick, the injured woman, was next sworn and her deposition taken. She deposed that they had five children living with them and five children away from home. Her husband (the prisoner) went to Lurgan on Saturday to get a tooth drawn and she went into town later on, and on finding her husband he had some drink taken. After buying some groceries they started for home along with Patrick Kelly. They took a car, her husband paying half the fare and Kelly the other half. When driving home witness was on the same side of the car with Kelly, and her husband was on the other side with the driver. Nothing happened until they got to the cross-roads at the foot of Bunting’s Hill, near Kilmore. They got off the car there. Kelly had a bottle of whisky which he wanted them to go to his house to drink. Witness refused to go, though prisoner wanted her to go. The prisoner got cross, and cursed her and called her names. He also knocked her down and kicked her, and then left her. When she go up she went towards home, but meeting prisoner he again knocked her down and kicked her and struck her with something – she could not say what – on the side, arms, and shoulders. While down on the ground she looked up and saw her husband standing over her and striking her with the weapon. After that she recollected no more until McCorry’s car was brought to take her home. The prisoner has on various occasions charged her with improper conduct, but until this affair he had not struck her for eleven years past.
The witness was then minutely cross-examined by the prisoner.
The prisoner was remanded in custody for eight days. The occurrence has caused much excitement in the district.
This Newspaper Article has been reproduced by the kind permission of the British Newspaper Archive Limited, (www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk).