All the nice girls love a sailor, says the old song. Kathleen Walsh, a 17-year-old mill girl, of Holland Road, Hyde, loved two. Her attentions were currently turning from Joe Barber, 26, with whom she had been going steady for several months, to Harold Schofield. Kathleen never had a chance to make a final choice, for on SEPTEMBER 11th, 1936, her body was found on Godley Golf Course just outside Hyde.
The evening before she had been out with Joe Barber and she hadnt come home. There was no doubting that she died while she was having sex with him. But how did she die? Three pathologists acting for the prosecution at Manchester Assizes on December 14th agreed that the primary cause of death was shock due to injuries sustained during a violent sexual attack. In their view Kathleen had been subjected to a brutal rape during which she died.
The couple had had sex before, but relatives had noticed a cooling-off in their relationships. Their night out on September 10th was brought about only because Barber wanted them to part in a friendly fashion.
Barber knew about his rival Schofield and had once challenged him to a fight over Kathleen. He told the court that he was jealous, but his feelings were not strong enough for him to want to murder Kathleen.
She told me she was going with Schofield because I was not paying the same attention to her as I had been. She taunted me. I remember I got hold of her and things went black. He claimed that he accidentally fell on top of her during a struggle which she started. So what happened? Did Kathleen die as a result of a violent rape, or because of a sexual accident? Dr. John Renshaw, for the defence, challenged the view of all three prosecution medical experts.
Tears in Kathleens underwear, he said, and scratches on her arms, could have been caused during a physical embrace of a sexual character. He suggested that Kathleen had been a consenting party to violent sex. After all, he argued, it was well known that there was a type of dominant male personality and a female personality which submitted to domination.
He agreed with the prosecutions doctors that Kathleens death was due to shock, but not as the result of the internal bruising she suffered during violent intercourse. He attributed it to a blow to the abdomen, a view which supported Barbers story.
And this was the view which swayed the jury. They found Barber guilty of manslaughter and he was sentenced to four years imprisonment.