Stolen cash was in­sur­ance pay­out af­ter child’s death

The Courier & Advertiser (Angus and The Mearns Edition) - - NEWS - Chris Fer­gu­son

Pos­sessed by un­bri­dled avarice and wicked in­dif­fer­ence, John Kirk­caldy and Alexan­der Hay prowled Dundee hunt­ing for easy prey and money. They found both when they en­coun­tered Ge­orge Arthur, a sailor with a pocket full of cash – the in­sur­ance pay­out fol­low­ing his child’s death. He got the money that Au­gust morn­ing in 1896 and stuffed it in a purse be­fore go­ing to work at the docks.

This seems a reck­less act and we can only sus­pect temp­ta­tion was al­ready at work in Arthur’s heart.

At 1pm he was head­ing home for lunch when two old school friends – Kirk­caldy and Hay – chanced upon him.

They in­vited him for a drink and Arthur fol­lowed like a lamb to the slaugh­ter.

The trio landed in Todd’s pub in North Tay Street where Arthur let slip about the in­sur­ance money, al­though it is likely the other men knew about it al­ready.

Arthur paid for two rounds of beer. He left his drink briefly and when he re­turned to fin­ish it he be­came “in­sen­si­ble”, ac­cord­ing to his ev­i­dence at the later trial of Kirk­caldy and Hay.

The sec­ond glass “did” for him, he told the court. Arthur said he could stand his fair share of liquor but had no rec­ol­lec­tion of get­ting be­yond West Port.

He told the court all he had to drink that day was a dram at 8am, a half in the forenoon fol­lowed by the two beers in Todd’s.

Al­though Arthur had no mem­ory of what had hap­pened af­ter Todd’s, plenty wit­nesses came for­ward to fill in the gaps.

A Mrs Miller said she heard a scuf­fle and saw the ac­cused drag­ging the sailor roughly.

Next they were seen in Bal­four Street, push­ing Arthur through a crowd of fac­tory work­ers.

His trousers had been ripped and pock­ets turned out. Kirk­caldy and Hay were chal­lenged and fled.

Peter Kennedy, a kindly con­fec­tioner, took Arthur home to his wife, where he was found to be pen­ni­less and in­ca­pable.

As Kirk­caldy and Hay were jailed for 60 days, they put on a show of or­ray bravado, cat­er­waul­ing to rel­a­tives and cel­e­brat­ing their shame.

He was found to be pen­ni­less and in­ca­pable

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