Murder at a New Year’s Eve party

As with so many of the cases I research that involve a male perpetrator, this story involves domestic violence – in this case, a jealous husband who didn’t like his wife being able to cope without him, and who tried to take the ultimate revenge.

For it was on this day in 1922, Daniel Cassidy, a 59-year-old blacksmith broke into his daughter’s house intent on violence.

Daniel was married, but had been living apart from his wife for some time, working in various places, including Dublin and Manchester.

What prompted him to suddenly return home to Sunderland and to his family was not reported in the press; but what was known was that he turned up armed with two revolvers.

His son-in-law, 30-year-old Bernard Quinn, was shot as he opened the door, and was killed. Daniel then shot at his wife and daughter – both named Elizabeth – giving them serious injuries. They were lucky not to have also been killed; however, the younger Elizabeth, who had been married less than three years, was left a widow.

A neighbour heard the shots, and, at substantial risk to him or herself, managed to disarm Cassidy, before handing him over to the local police.

What was something of a miracle was that two children who were present in the room where the others were shot – presumably Daniel’s grandchildren – escaped injury altogether.

Daniel gave his motive of jealousy of his wife; apparently, she was a woman who was capable of managing her life perfectly well in the absence of her husband, and he seems unable to have coped with this.

Believing she was holding a New Year’s Eve party at home without him, he had returned to ensure her evening was not successful.

Daniel was duly found guilty of murder at the Durham Assizes, and was subsequently refused a reprieve by the Home Secretary. He was executed at Durham Gaol on 3 April 1923.