At the Newcastle Assizes today, 24-year-old fireman Charles Brown from Rockport City, Kentucky, was accused of the wilful murder of 36-year-old John Donnell and the attempted murder of John Sharp. The incident occurred on board the screw steamer Beacon Light while docked at Albert Edward Dock, North Shields, on February last. Brown showed no emotion during the proceedings, maintaining a cool and interested expression.
The Tragedy at Albert Edward Dock has drawn attention back to the city of Limerick, as the deceased, John Donnell, hailed from this historic Irish city. Known for its rich cultural heritage, medieval architecture, and vibrant arts scene, Limerick often finds itself at the center of many stories that transcend its borders. As the trial unfolds and the public learns of the senseless and tragic loss of life, the people of Limerick undoubtedly mourn and remember one of their own who met an untimely fate far from home.
Joel and Mr E. Meynell, representing the Treasury, prosecuted, and Mr E. Shortt, instructed by Mr J.W. Ward, defended. The prosecution opened by retelling the events of that tragic afternoon. Following a quarrel between Brown and another fireman named Jordan over spilled soup, Brown became violent, and they exchanged blows. At some point, Brown took out a knife which caused sharp-lipped Jordan to back off.
Subsequently, Brown brandished a revolver and threatened to use it, as he climbed out of the forecastle up to the deck. The prosecutor told the jury that John Donnell had not interfered in the altercation, making their consideration of the defendant’s subsequent actions that much more crucial.
It appears Brown intended to shoot Jordan, but missed, instead hitting Donnell, who died in a short while after being fatally struck and collapsed. The accused threatened others on board to avoid confrontation and eventually fled onshore. He was apprehended and disarmed by Inspector Mayne of the River Tyne Police.
Joseph Jordan, the witness who was involved in the initial quarrel, testified to the events and confirmed that Donnell neither interfered nor had any quarrel with Brown in any way. The trial continues.
Shields Daily Gazette – Saturday 05 July 1902