JOHN BROWN, Killing > murder, 22nd October 1888.

Reference Number: t18881022-955
Offence: Killing > murder
Verdict: Guilty > insane
Punishment: Imprisonment > insanity

955. JOHN BROWN (45) was indicted for, and charged on the Coroner's Inquisition with, the wilful murder of Sarah Brown

MESSRS POLAND and CHARLES MATHEWS Prosecuted ROBERT YOUNG . I was 12 years old last birthday—the prisoner is my stepfather—up to 29th September I was living with him and my mother at 11, Regent's Gardens, Westminster—three or four months back he came from the Westminster Hospital, where he had been for some little time; he afterwards went to the Convalescent Home; he returned from there some weeks ago—after that he was very strange, he seemed to have something the matter with him; there was a great difference in him—he used to say to my mother that she let men into the house; she denied it, but he went on repeating it—he used to strike matches by day and night to look for the men; that was about 8th September—before he came from the hospital they lived happily, but after wards unhappily, by always making these accusations, that led to disagreements between them—on Saturday, 29th September, my brother fetched me about four in the afternoon—mother was there—the prisoner was going to hit me with a stick—he stopped in till he had tea, then he went upstairs to see if there were any men in the house; he came down in about ten minutes, and then seemed quite quiet; he then went out—he returned between 8 and 9, and told me to go to bed—mother was out then—he asked where she was; I said I did not know—I then went to bed, leaving him downstairs—I afterwards heard my door open and heard him moving about the house—I don't think mother had come home—the next thing I heard was a knocking at the front door I came down and saw Mrs. Redding—on my way down I looked into the sitting-room and saw mother lying on the floor; I called to her and she did not answer—I lot Mrs. Redding in and went back to the room; mother was still lying on the floor, and I saw a lot of blood round her head; she was dead—the prisoner came in and looked and then went and fetched a policeman.

CHARLES REDDING . I live next door to the prisoner—I have known him living there twelve months—about 10 minutes to 11 on Saturday night, 29th September, I heard someone walk downstairs in the next house—immediately after I heard a scuffle in the front room and heard a woman call out "Oh, don't!"—I went with my wife to the front door, and heard a thud, as from somebody falling on the floor; then all was quiet; as we got to the door I saw the prisoner leave the house by the front door; he slammed it after him and walked hurriedly away—after that I and my wife went and knocked at the front door; it was opened by the last witness; in consequence of what he said I went for a constable, returned and went into the front room ground floor, where I saw the dead body of the woman; I at once recognised her, and saw that her throat had been cut.

THOMAS BROWN (Policeman A 88) About 11 on 22th September I was on duty at Rochester Row Police-station—the prisoner came there with Constable Powell; he said, "I have stabbed my wife at No 11, Regent's Gardens"—he then sat down in the charge-room—he appeared agitated and excited—Inspector Fairy directed mo to look after him—the prisoner said "I shan't run away; I am only too glad to get here—he sat quietly at the station while inquiries were being made—shortly afterwards he handed me this knife; it was closed—he said "This is

what I have done it with; I hope she is dead; she has led me a pretty dance"—the knife had blood on it—he was told to turn out his pocket—there was another small knife in it.

LAUNCELOT ARCHER , M. R. C. S., 38, Vincent Square I was called to the house, and found the woman dead lying on her right side, her right arm extended, and her head resting on it—there was a large quantity of blood round about her head on the floor—her dress was also stained with blood—I turned her partially over, undid the upper part of her dress, and found two gashes in her neck, one merely a flesh wound; the other went nearly back to the spinal column; that was the fatal wound—I afterwards made a post-mortem examination—it was such a wound as might have been inflicted with this knife—I did not see the prisoner till at the police-court—his trousers were shown to me there; they had stains on them, which I think were blood stains.

JOHN HUNT . I am medical officer of the E district of St. George's Union—on 14th August I received a warrant from the Magistrate to examine the prisoner as to his condition of mind—I made that examination on 17th August, his wife being present—she complained that after he came from the Convalescent Hospital he had an uncontrollable desire to have constant intercourse with her when she was six months in the family way, and she believed he was not himself, and felt it necessary to apply to the relieving officer to have him examined—she said otherwise he was a kind and affectionate husband, always sober, and very regular at his work—he had just returned from his work when I examined him—I spoke to him, and remonstrated with him, and suggested his discontinuing living with his wife—after arguing the point some little time he consented to do so at once, and under those conditions I reported to the Magistrate that I thought this would answer the necessities of the case, especially at the earnest request of his wife that I would not have him locked up—I had him under examination three-quarters of an hour, but could not find any thing wrong about him, but there was a little wildness about his eyes, and his manner was rather morose—both of those are very often accompaniments of insanity—I put it to him that such was the case—he said "Well, that may or may not be; she will say anything; she can do as she pleases"—afterwards he said "Well, I will go away, and that will settle it," and I thought it would.

FREDERICK LAMBERT . I was house physician at Westminster Hospital in July last—the prisoner was there as a patient in the Burdett ward from 23rd June till July—he was suffering from pneumonia with pleurisy—he made a very fair recovery—during the time he was there I noticed there were peculiarities of his mind, consequently I directed particular attention to him—his wife visited him from time to time—she made a statement to the nurse, which was afterwards communicated to me—he was very melancholy, and judging from subsequent visits I diagnosed his condition as melancholia—that is a well-known form of insanity—I have no doubt now that he was suffering from melancholia.

PHILIP FRANCIS GILBERT . I am surgeon to Her Majesty's Gaol at Holloway, and have been so about three years—I have seen a great many cases of insanity among the prisoners—when a prisoner comes in charged with murder I pay especial attention to the state of his mind—I first saw the prisoner on 2nd October; he was admitted on the 1st—I saw him with very few exceptions every day—I have spoken to him many times with

a view of ascertaining the state of his mind—in my judgment he is insane; he suffers from delusions—he is under the delusion that he heard many voices speaking to him, neighbours and friends to his wife, saying that she ought to be ashamed of herself, that she ought to be killed, that men had been running in and out of his house all day, and that they had given her a good doing while he was away at the hospital; that seven or eight different men used to have connection with her of a night—he was also under the delusion that she drugged his beer at supper, which caused him to sleep profoundly, and then that she used to have connection with men while he was actually lying by her side; that she used to make signs at the window, and let them in on the sly—he was also under the delusion of persecution, that while he was living away from her at four different lodgings she used to cause his landlady to annoy him by putting stuff in his boots, which he described as naphtha, which caused his feet to ache and burn, and that men used to watch and follow him about—he said he slept very badly, and he complained very much of aching gripping pains in his forehead, whioh he does still—I have no doubt whatever that these are genuine delusions—this excessive desire is very often an early sign of insanity; melancholia is undoubtedly a species of insanity—he is now perfectly able to appreciate what goes on in Court—at the time he committed this act I do not think he was capable of distinguishing right from wrong, or that he knew the nature and quality of the act he did—he has always behaved well in the gaol—from the history he gave of himself this has been gradually progressing for some years, but it has been worse since his illness.

GUILTY of murder, but being insane at the time.To be detained during Her Majesty's pleasure.


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