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behalf of the Crown; and Mr. Huddlestone, Q.C., with Mr. Harington, Mr. Beasley, and Mr. Straight, defended.
The Solicitor-General, in opening the case, described the particulars of the murder, and the grounds for the charge against the accused. He pointed out that on the 27th of April a hammer, with marks of blood on it and some hair, was found on the grounds of Morden College, near where the girl was murdered, and it was an important fact that going by these grounds from the place of the murder would be the shortest way to the prisoner's house. A hammer of a sort similar to that found was purchased at the shop of a person named Thomas on the previous Monday. He observed that the prisoner was a young man given to flirtation (innocent flirtation, it might be) with young ladies in the neighbourhood of Greenwich. On the Sunday previous, the 23rd of April, he had been taking a walk with two young ladies, and, in so doing, had walked over the very ground which it was suggested was passed over by himself and Jane Clousen on the night of the murder. He had also sent a message to another young lady to meet him on the Thursday night following, giving as a reason that on Monday and Tuesday night he was engaged to sing at some place of amusement-St. Alban's Hall-in London. On Monday and Tuesday night he was not in London, which was a circumstance of considerable suspicion. Among other young ladies with whom the prisoner was intimate was Miss Alice Durnford, of Lewisham. He was keeping company with her without the knowledge of her parents, and used to make appointments with her in various ways. It was not an unfrequent thing for him to give a signal to her from a shrill metal whistle. On the 26th April, after Jane Clousen had been discovered, a whistle was found sticking in the mud about fourteen or fifteen yards from the place where the crime was committed. No doubt there were hundreds of thousands of whistles of the kind about London, but when the prisoner was searched no such thing was found. If it was true that the prisoner had it, and now had it not, it was for the jury to say what weight they would attach to such a circumstance. He called attention to the circumstance that blood had been found on the wristband of the prisoner's shirt, and that upon one of the knees of the prisoner's trousers there was found a human hair about six inches long. The learned counsel then drew the attention of the jury to the position in which the prisoner and the murdered girl stood to each other. She was seventeen years of age, and a pretty girl, had lived in Mr. Pook's service, and was two months advanced in pregnancy. At this time he was carrying on an intimacy with two young women. To one of these, Alice Durnford, he wrote a letter after his apprehension, informing her that he had been taken in custody for the murder of that Eltham girl, but that the charge was almost too ridiculous to mention. On this account he could not keep his appointment with her, but hoped to be out on Tuesday to do so.
He considered the expression an extraordinary one under the terrible circumstances of the case.
Evidence was given by Police Constable Gunn of his finding a respectablydressed young woman lying, as before described, in Kidbrooke-lane, between four and five in the morning of the 26th. He had passed through the lane the same night between one and two o'clock, and had noticed nothing particular. Deceased only ejaculated, “ Oh, my poor head!” and afterwards, when he offered to help her, “Let me die!” and never spoke again. He
saw a little blood on the ground, and marks of footsteps on the grass around. Police Constable Hayne had found a locket among the deceased's clothes, which, accompanied by a man called Humphreys, he took to Mr. Randall, a silversmith, in Greenwich.
Dr. Harris, of Guy's Hospital, deposed to having attended the deceased in the hospital, and described the nature of her wounds; he had ascertained that she was pregnant. He thought that the hammer which was found near the spot, and which was produced in Court, would be a likely instrument to inflict the wounds of which the deceased died.
Fanny Hamilton said the deceased had come to lodge with her about ten days before her death. She was frequently low spirited. They walked together into Deptford on the evening of the murder, and parted in the Highstreet, about a quarter before seven o'clock.
Police Inspector Mulvaney was examined and cross-examined at length concerning a visit which he had paid, accompanied by Superintendent Griffin, at Mr. Pook's house, to arrest the son, on the 1st of May. He mentioned the object of his visit to the father, who denied having any suspicion of intimacy between his son and the deceased. Edmund Pook, when asked to produce the shirt he had on that night, at first said he believed it had gone to the wash, but, on being pressed, he went to look, and returned with it. There were marks of blood on the right wristband, for which he accounted by certain scratches on his arm. pointed out to him that the scratches were on the left arm; he said he supposed the blood must have dropped from one arm to the other when he was washing his hands.
Police Superintendent Wills had received a metal whistle, which had been picked up in the neighbourhood of the murder on the 26th.
Evidence was given by several persons of the prisoner, or some one like the prisoner, having been seen buying a plasterer's hammer at the shop of a Mrs. Thomas on the evening of the 24th. The testimony of one of these witnesses, Perrin, a comic singer, was very much shaken on cross-examination. The man who bought the hammer seems to have worn a dark coat and light trousers.
Other respectable witnesses, one of whom identified the prisoner, swore to seeing a man and woman walking together through Kidbrooke-lane, about half-past eight on the evening of the 25th. Screams and scuffling, as' of people in play, had been heard soon after, and a man came running by dressed in a dark coat. One witness heard, the woman say, “Let me go he thought she added, “ Charley.” He saw the man, who had a dark coat and billeycock hat, take the woman by the shoulder, and push her in the direction of Morden College.
Alice Durnford was accustomed to 'walk' with the prisoner, and knew he used a bright metal whistle.
Ellen Plane, a confectioner, said he came into her shop on the evening of the 25th, between eight and nine, to get his clothes brushed.
Louisa Billington confirmed this, and added the prisoner said he could not brush off all the mud, but would sponge off the rest. She saw no mud on his clothes--it was a dry night.
Other witnesses saw him that night, about nine o'clock, looking hot and excited, returning to Greenwich.
Thomas Layell, a gardener, saw the prisoner at ten minutes before seven, on the evening of the 25th, near Morden College, with a young woman. He told a serjeant of police that a man had picked up a handkerchief on the following morning and shown it to him: it had blood on it. Correcting himself, witness said it was a kind of duster, not a handkerchief.
Police Serjeant Wills corroborated his statement; he had the duster at the station, but thought the stains were not blood.
The Lord Chief Justice said that this had come out for the first time, and commented severely on the conduct of the police in not having called attention to the circumstance before.
Superintendent Griffin said the rag was more like part of the lining of a woman's dress.
Dr. Letheby examined the prisoner's clothes, and found a human hair on one of the trousers, which corresponded in colour and texture with a lock of hair he had received from Mulvaney, and with the hair which was sticking to the hammer. He saw seven small spots of blood on the trousers, and a little on the hat and wristbands, but could not date them.
Other facts that came out in the case for the prosecution were that Pook had alleged an engagement to sing on the 25th (he often performed in public), and that he accounted for having lost his moustache on the 30th by saying it had been cut off to act a comic part; that he had said he was going to London on the 24th and 25th, and on the morning of the latter day had made an appointment with Miss Durnford-to whom he was known to be paying his addresses—for the 27th; while in his defence he said he had gone into Lewisham, on the evening of the 25th, to meet her.
For the defence, testimony was given by Ebenezer Pook, the father, to the girl's general good character. He said his son was subject to fits, when the blood would come from his tongue by his teeth biting it. His elder brother, being on a visit at home, had slept in the same room with him for the last three weeks. On Tuesday evening he had gone into Lewisham to see a lady. He never wore dark clothes. He said that Inspector Mulvaney, on his visit to witness's house to arrest the prisoner, had stated that his son had been on terms of intimacy with the deceased, and had given her a locket, and that there was a note in his handwriting to the girl: all which his son had denied.
T. Burch Pook, the brother, swore to having been with the prisoner nearly the whole evening of the 24th, and that he never entered Mr. Thomas's shop that evening.
Harriet Chaplin, a cousin staying in the house, said the prisoner was at home at seven, and again at a quarter to nine, on the 25th.
Edward Mackenzie, a fireman, noticed the spots on the wristband on the morning of the 25th.
A printer named Collier, in the employ of Mr. Pook, spoke to prisoner's having tied up the hand of a boy who had cut himself some time in the month of April.
Several witnesses spoke to the excellent character of the prisoner.
Mr. Huddlestone argued, on behalf of the prisoner, that the evidence of some of the witnesses for the prosecution was unworthy of belief. It could not have been the deceased that Layell saw in the lane, for he fixed the time at ten minutes to seven o'clock, and it was proved beyond a doubt that she
was at Deptford at a quarter to seven that evening, and it was a distance of three miles from Deptford to the place where the body was found. The learned counsel, after accounting for the blood-stains on the shirt, severely blamed the police, who, he said, had evidently left no stone unturned to convict the prisoner. They had ransacked the very dregs of Greenwich for evidence, and to find such a man as Perrin. It appeared to him that while doing this they had neglected to follow the real clue that might have led to the detection of the actual murderer. He referred at considerable length to the evidence as to the alibi, and he urged that it went conclusively to show that the prisoner was at Lewisham at the time the murder was alleged to have been committed, and that he could not have been the murderer.
After the Solicitor-General had replied on behalf of the Crown, the Lord Chief Justice, in summing up, also commented on the misconduct of the police in bringing forward some worthless witnesses, as well as in concealing at first the discovery of the bloody rag, which his lordship considered a most important ingredient in the inquiry. In his opinion the police had also gone much beyond their duty in not only questioning the prisoner, but in making false statements to him; and this had clearly been done by Inspector Mulvaney. That a most barbarous and cruel murder had been committed there could be no doubt, and the police appeared to have acted under the impression that the murder was committed by some one by whom the poor girl was in the family-way, and who, on that account, wished to destroy her; but he felt bound to say he could not discover a tittle of evidence to show that any familiarity had existed between the prisoner and the deceased, and that this alleged motive on his part for the commission of the crime had entirely failed. The police, however, had chosen to assume that there had been an intimacy between the parties, that there had been a correspondence between them, and that the prisoner had given her a locket; and although there was nothing to support either of these suggestions, the police had gone on acting upon the supposition that they had actually existed, and this erroneous opinion appeared to have formed the foundation of their proceedings. A very important question for their consideration was at what time the murder was committed; the evidence being that at two o'clock in the morning the Police Constable, Gunn, had passed the place, and at that time nothing was seen of the deceased, and nothing was seen of her till four o'clock. If the murder was in point of fact committed between two and four o'clock, the prisoner could not have been the murderer, because it was shown that he was at home at nine o'clock, and that he remained in his father's house until the following morning. The learned Judge then proceeded to read over the whole of the evidence, and, with reference to that portion of it relating to the finding of the blood upon the prisoner's clothes, he said he certainly could not help thinking that the murderer of the deceased must have received a much more considerable quantity of blood, and he said it was for the jury to consider whether the prisoner had not given a reasonable account of the mode by which he received this blood.
The Judge concluded his summing-up at a quarter to nine, and the jury then retired to consider their verdict. They returned at five minutes past nine, and gave a verdict of “Not Guilty.” The announcement was received with loud cheers, which were immediately taken up by a large crowd outside the Court.
At Greenwich a strong party feeling arose both for and against the prisoner and his family. Mr. H. Pook, the solicitor for the defence (who, though of the same name, was not related to the prisoner), applied for a summons against Superintendent Griffin and Inspector Mulvaney for perjury, but it was not granted. Some of the leading gentlemen of the place formed a committee to provide for the expenses of the defence, and offered a reward of 2001. for the discovery of the murderer; but no further clue was found. The solicitor for the defence took legal proceedings against Mr. Newton Crosland and Mr. Frederick Farrah, on charges of libel for certain pamphlets published on the case; but the grand jury in October threw out the bills.
THE TRIAL OF FLORA DAVY.
The trial of Hannah Newington, otherwise called Flora Davy, for the manslaughter of Frederick Graves Moon, was commenced at the Central Criminal Court before Mr. Baron Channell on the 13th of July. Mr. Giffard prosecuted; Mr. Serjeant Parry and Mr. Henry James, Q.C., defended. The prisoner, who was described as a married woman, had been living for some years past under the protection of Mr. Moon at No. 23, Newton-road, Westbourne-grove. On the evening of the 24th of May last they dined together; after the dinner was removed, a basket of clean knives was left in the room. About ten o'clock an alarm was raised, and upon persons going into the room it was discovered that Mr. Moon had received a wound of which he died shortly afterwards. The prisoner gave one or two different explanations at the time as to how the affair happened, and said that "she was afraid she had done it.” She afterwards gave a more detailed statement, and said that the deceased had made use of some insulting expressions to her, of which she complained, and told him not to repeat them; but he did so, and attempted to throw a bottle at her. She struggled with him, and having a knife in her hand at the time, the stab was inflicted by accident. The prisoner appeared to have all along asserted that she had no intention to hurt the deceased, and she also stated that she was unable to say how the affair had actually happened. It was proved in evidence that very shortly before the fatal occurrence took place, the prisoner and the deceased had quarrelled, and the prisoner had threatened that she would one day or other stab him; to which he appeared to have replied that it was not her fault that she had not done what she threatened before, as she had attempted to do so. Mr. Serjeant Parry, who defended the prisoner, read some letters addressed to her by the deceased, in proof of the affectionate terms they were on together, and, arguing that the agonized state of the prisoner after the death of Mr. Moon was incompatible with the theory of the prosecution, he asked the jury to accept the occurrence as accidental. After Mr. Giffard had spoken in reply, the learned Judge proceeded to sum up. He said no fair or sound view would warrant them in coming to the conclusion that the wound was caused by the premeditated act of the prisoner, but if it was the consequence of an infirmity of temper, she must bear the consequences of the act she had committed. His lordship then referred at length to the position of the rooms in the Newton.