The Life & Crimes of a Habitual Offender !!!

case studIEs

Using the many sources at our disposal we can build a comprehensive story of a particular person’s life.

We use a combination of Birth Marriage and Death Records, Parish Records, Street Indexes, Voters Lists, Census and many other record sources and can obtain the relevant certificates for confirmation and to be given to the clients.

Often, we can find out something additional about their life if they served in the military, as what or where they served, if they won any awards or commendations and many other interesting facts like that.

Below are just a few excerpts of some of the fascinating and funny facts we have discovered while researching various people or their family trees.

Case Study 5: The Life & Crimes of a Habitual Offender !!!

A couple of years ago we were asked to try and find out more about the father of a lady who had recently discovered through DNA testing that she had a half-brother who had lived near her for most of her life but they had no idea they were connected to each other.

Although they both had different mothers it turned out they both shared the same unknown father and that they lived a few doors from each other all their lives, attended the same school and their siblings were best friends with each other.

One of the key requests for our search was to try and find a photograph of their unknown father for them to see as well as discovering a little more of his past.

With very little to go on other than the fact that James Edward Tierney had died in H.M. Prison Hull in 1973 we initially tried to get some answers by contacting the Prison, The Probation Service and the Police, unfortunately none of these service’s could give us much information and none knew how or where we might obtain a photo of James that his children were so desperately searching for.

In an attempt to gain a little more insight into James we started to build a family tree based on the minimal information we currently possessed.

As we began our research into James’ life we found some disturbing snippets of information, that lead us to discover his lifelong criminal history beginning with his first conviction at the ripe old age of 8 years old, accompanied by two other friends and his 5 year old brother John, who he was supposed to be babysitting.

Below is a resume of James life and career of crime, if you read on you will be able to find out if we were able to find a photo of him in the end.

Life & Crimes of James Edward Tierney !!!

James Edward Tierney was born on 5 July 1927 at 5 Victoria Terrace, Upper Frederick Street, Liverpool, to Margaret (Minnie) McGrath, age 24, and James Edward Tierney, age 19, he was the oldest of six brothers.

His criminal career started at a very young age and he first appeared in court on the 25 July 1935 at the tender age of 8 years old where he was charged with, the wilful damage of a quantity of Coal Tar on the property of Lines Grease, Oil & Chemical Co. Ltd. With Francis Loo, Paul Joseph Richardson & John Tierney.

John Tierney was his 5 year old brother who he was supposed to be babysitting at the time.

James Edward Tierney City Juvenile Court

Crime spree continues !

He was back in front of the City Juvenile Courts, again 2 years later on the 25 July 1937 for, breaking & entering a storehouse, stealing 2 packs of cards & a knife. Value 1/-. Property of Lines Grease, Oil & Chemical Co. Ltd. Together with his gang of friends, Francis Loo, Paul Joseph Richardson & John Tierney.

He was returned to court on the 4 August 1937 for sentencing on the offences he had been charged with on 25 Jul 1937 and put on Probation for 12 months. Offences were carried out with Francis Loos (10) & John Tierney (8). Offence included Paul Joseph Richardson (9) who did not appear as he was in Hospital. 

At school but his life of crime continues !

James appears on the 1939 Register which was taken on the 29 September 1939, living with his mother, father and younger brothers John, WIlliam, Terence, and Daniel at 3C St James Gardens, Liverpool, he is listed as being at school, however we are not sure how much time he spent there between his crimes.

Between the 21 November 1939, aged 12 and 6 August 1941 he appeared before the courts multiple times, charged with an array of offences, from stealing toys to breaking and entering and larceny. On the 7 August 1941 he appeared before the courts in Ludlow, where he was sent away to approved school also in Ludlow.

Following his release at the age of 17, it was not long before he was back before the courts, this time facing 3 different charges of breaking and entering into 3 different properties and stealing goods, money and other items. The first of these three offences, was breaking and entering the dwelling house and stealing 14/- 3d and a wallet. Total value 16/- 3d, the property belonged to Florence Donohue, who it turns out was the grandmother of one of our colleagues brother in law.

Between the 1 November 1944 and the 30 July 1945, James appeared before the courts on numerous occasions in relation to these and other offences, where he pleaded guilty to his crimes and was sentenced to 3 years in a Borstal Training Institute.

James Edward Tierney

We’re in the Army now !

In December 1946 James was released on licence into the care and supervision of the Toxteth Park, Liverpool, probation service.

Probably due to National Service, James joined the Army and served in Cyprus with the Kings Regiment, (Liverpool), however his time on the straight and narrow was short lived.

Having deserted from the Army whilst in Cyprus and using stolen documentation to return to England, he was again back before the courts in Liverpool on the 1 August 1947 and bound over for 2 years and fined £2.

On the 1 August 1948 James was living at 30 St James Gardens, Toxteth Park, Liverpool. The following day James travelled by ferry to Douglas, Isle of Man to visit a former colleague who was also an army deserter and currently working on the Isle of Man.

Prior to his intended return to Liverpool, James and his colleague,  “cased out” a local Souvenir shop at the ferry terminal on Edward Pier, Douglas while booking his return ferry ticket.

Early on the morning of the 16 August 1948, prior to his scheduled departure he and his colleague broke in and robbed the souvenir shop, but were spotted and followed back to their hotel where they went to split up the loot, before James headed back to board the ferry.

Unfortunately for him the police were there ready and waiting and arrested him for the, Smash & Grab of a Souvenir Shop in Douglas, Isle of Man and he was  remanded in custody.

On the 17 of August 1948 he was brought before the Isle of Man criminal court and charged with the Smash & Grab of a Souvenir Shop in Douglas, Isle of Man and once again remanded in custody.

James appeared before the Isle of Man Court on 15 September 1948, where he was sentenced to 2 years Imprisonment with Hard Labour, for Shop-breaking and Larceny.

In November 1948 whilst in prison, James was still “officially” a serving soldier with the Kings Regiment (Liverpool).

Following a court martial in his absence, he was “Dishonorably Discharged” for desertion while serving in Cyprus. His army character was assessed as “BAD”.

Isle of Man Location

Returned home & back to his old ways !

Following his release from prison on the Isle of Man, James returned to Liverpool and it’s no surprise to hear that not long after James was released from prison, on the 13 February 1951 he was back before the courts yet again.

Over the next 5 years James spent more time in and out of prison and back before the courts charged with even more offences.

He was incarcerated for 3 more years at HM Prison Liverpool, Hornby Road, Liverpool for a wide number of petty and more serious crimes.

During a short spell he was actually gainfully employed as a barman, but his life on the straight and narrow was yet again short lived, with yet more offences and regular appearances before the courts.

Upon his release he took up residence at 3 Sussex Gardens, Toxteth Park, Liverpool and worked as a part time barman, but just days later on the 7 January 1956 he was arrested yet again, remanded in custody before being brought before the courts yet again.

Between the 7 January and 6 March 1956 he was charged with 9 further offences and finally sentenced to to new prison terms, one of 2 years and the other of two and a half years, to run concurrently.


Children came easy but fatherhood didn’t !

Not knowing how he found the time between his criminal activities, court appearances and jail time, between January 1945 and May 1959 James was in relationships with several women and we found that he had fathered at least 5 illegitimate children from 4 of these relationships.

Following his release this time, it finally looked like James might be going on the straight and narrow.

On the 12 May 1960 James married Margaret Crane in Liverpool, Lancashire, on 12 March 1960 when he was 32 years old. They were Married in the Liverpool Register Office by licence before, H E Titchmarsh, Superintendent Registrar. D C Leyland, Registrar. Witnessed by D M Tierney and K Schofield. 

He even took gainful employment as a Liverpool Corporation Baths Attendant over the next couple of years and continued to live, 3  Sussex Gardens, Toxteth Park, Liverpool.

He and Margaret moved to 22 Princes Road, Liverpool and on the 7 February their first daughter was born.

Revealing a more sinister side of his personality ?

Not unexpectedly on the 7 April 1964 James was back in court, this time charged with a more serious charge of the “Unlawful & Malicious Wounding” of Katherine Byrne on 4 Apr 1964. Surprisingly based on his previous record, for this more serious offence he was given a Conditional Discharge of 12 months & Bound Over on a bond of £20.

Between April 1964 and June 1968 James continued to work a number of different jobs from the baths attendant to a labourer, he still lived at 22 Princes Road and fathered a further 2 daughters with his wife Margaret.

During this period he appeared in front of the courts a number of times charged with a range of offences.

Before the birth of his third daughter his wife Margaret had left him and returned to live with her mother, no doubt due to his ongoing affairs and relationships.

His final conviction !

With his marriage in tatters and continuous affairs, James life finally took a serious twist, when he commited his last offence.

On the 25 June 1968 while working as a hotel porter, James was arrested and charged with the murder of his then mistress Mrs Joan Edwards who had a 2 year old child with her husband , who was also carrying another of his children at the time of her death.

Following a number of court appearances he was Jailed for 12 years for the Manslaughter of 20-year-old Mrs Joan Edwards on the 25 October and sent to Hull prison to serve his sentence.

On the 7 July 1969 James appealed his sentence, but his application was refused by the Royal Courts of Justice, Strand London.

Peace at last for all ?

Sadly following months of tedious paperwork, to get permission for a visit to meet her unknown father, one of our clients the then 14 year old with her mothers blessing finally got permission to go, only to discover that he passed away 2 weeks before she was allowed to visit him.

James Edward Tierney died of a heart attack on 25 February 1973 whilst serving his sentence at Hull Gaol, he was 45 years old.

Following his death, his body was returned to his brother Daniel’s house at 25b Sussex Gardens, Toxteth Park, Liverpool, where he was laying at rest prior to his family holding a Requiem Mass on 2 March 1973 

The service was performed by Vincent Doyle at 1pm. The Undertakers were Leadbetter and Murphy Funeral Directors, 274A Smithdown Road, Liverpool. The cost of the Service was £10 for the Internment and £1.50 for the Minister.

His funeral took place on the 2 March 1973 at St Patrick RC Church, Park Place, Toxteth Park, Liverpool, followed by his burial at Allerton Cemetery, 192 Woolton Road, Liverpool.

The burial service was performed by Vincent Doyle. Buried in a Public Grave Section 20. Grave No. 999.

J E Tierney

Having searched high an low and contacted every conceivable authority from the prison service, the police, the courts and the news papers, we were finally able to find a photo of James on his Isle of Man arrest card.

James Edward Tierney

So yes, not only did we discover all about the life and crimes of James Edward Tierney, we were able to fulfill our clients request of finding a photograph of their father, good or bad, they finally knew who he was and what he looked like.

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