British Executions

Daniel Sullivan

Age: 38

Sex: male

Crime: murder

Date Of Execution: 6 Sep 1916

Crime Location: 20 Cwm Canol Street, Dowlais, Merthyr Tydfil

Execution Place: Swansea

Method: hanging

Executioner: John Ellis


Daniel Sullivan murdered his wife Catherine Sullivan 35 who he battered to death on 8 July 1916.

Daniel Sullivan had been a coke ovens labourer at Dowlais and had married Catherine Sullivan a few years earlier. She had been a widow with two children and he had two children by her.

Before their marriage Catherine Sullivan had had a comfortable furnished home, however, following their marriage they both began to drink heavily and the furniture was sold and the police and the NSPCC Inspector called on several occasions and called attention to the state of the home and the children.

Daniel Sullivan was described as a good workman and earned on average £3.5.0 a week but he was violent when in drink and there were constant quarrels. Catherine Sullivan's sister said that Daniel Sullivan had frequently beaten Catherine Sullivan and had said that he would swing for her and do what Crippin did.

Daniel Sullivan had come home on Saturday 8 July 1916 at about 5pm and had had tea with Catherine Sullivan and another woman at which time he and Catherine Sullivan were described as quite friendly and sober.

Daniel Sullivan then went out at about 5.30pm and returned about 9pm by which time Catherine Sullivan had gone to bed with her two youngest children. Daniel Sullivan then asked his 9-year-old step-daughter where Catherine Sullivan was and when he was told that she was in bed he said, 'There will be a corpse leaving this house tonight'.

He was said to have been in drink but it was submitted that his remark showed that he knew what he was about.

He then went into the bedroom and hit Catherine Sullivan on the face and said, 'Get up and get my supper'.

It was said that she didn't seem to reply and it was thought that she might have been stunned. Daniel Sullivan then pulled her out of bed and literally kicked her to death upon the floor whilst wearing a heavy pair of boots.

There were cuts on her head to the bone and bruises and abrasions all over her body. Five ribs on the right side were broken, two of them in two places and her private parts had been lacerated, the tissues between the passages being torn away.

During the assault the little girl ran out at once for help and her 13-year-old brother came in and saw Daniel Sullivan kicking Catherine Sullivan on the floor. He then ran off for help and when he returned Daniel Sullivan was still kicking her. The 13-year-old boy then told him to stop as 'she had had enough' and went out again and when he returned again Daniel Sullivan was still kicking her.

When a police sergeant that the boy had called arrived Daniel Sullivan was sitting with his eldest daughter on his knees and when cautioned and asked to account for Catherine Sullivan's condition, it being noted that she was still alive at the time, he replied, 'My wife is always drunk'.

Catherine Sullivan was then put to bed and Daniel Sullivan retired up some steps to a fowl house in which he was lying when arrested at 9.45pm.

Catherine Sullivan died at 5am the following morning.

When Daniel Sullivan was charged he said, 'I would not have done it if I was not in drink'.

It was noted that Daniel Sullivan had certainly been drinking and shown that he had bought a pint and a half bottle of rum between 8pm and 9pm which was later found half full by the police. However, it was added that it was not unlikely that Daniel Sullivan had drunk some of it after his attack on Catherine Sullivan.

It was said that his remarks both before and after the murder showed that he knew what he was about.

He was convicted of murder and sentenced to death with no recommendation to mercy and his appeal was dismissed.

A petition was set up for his reprieve, but it merely relied on his intoxicated condition and a police report to the Home Secretary stated that they saw no reason for interference upon that or any other grounds.

He was executed at Swansea Gaol on Wednesday 6 September 1916.

see National Archives - HO 144/1461/317792, ASSI 72/42/2

see Aberdeen Press and Journal - Thursday 07 September 1916