30th October 1805
Reference Numbert18051030-64
VerdictNot Guilty

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722. JOHN-LEONARD WHITE and JOHN RICHARDSON were indicted for that they, being ill-disposed persons and reputed thieves , on the 24th of September, in the 45th year of His Majesty's reign , being found in the King's highway, in a certain street called Lamb's Conduit-street, in the parish of St. Andrew, Holborn , with intent to commit a felony on the persons and property of His Majesty's subjects, each of them being then and there for their said offence liable to be apprehended and detained by any watchman; and that they the said John-Leonard White and John Richardson , on William Randall , a subject of our Lord the King, then and there being a watchman , and in the due execution of his duty, then and there laid hands upon the said John-Leonard White to apprehend and detain him, and that he the said John-Leonard White feloniously and maliciously did make an assault upon the said William Randall , then and there being such watchman, and in the due execution of his duty, so endeavouring then and there to apprehend him, feloniously and maliciously did make an assault with a sharp instrument, to wit, an iron crow, then and there feloniously did strike, stab, and cut the said William Randall , giving him thereby a wound in and upon the left side of his head, with intent, in so doing and by means thereof, to obstruct the lawful apprehension of him the said John- Leonard White and each of them, they being each of them the accomplice of each other, to the great damage of the said William Randall , against the statute, and against the King's peace .

And several other Counts, For like offence, only varying the manner of charging them.

JOHN JACOB sworn. - Examined by Mr. Gurney. Q. I believe you are a watchman? - A. I am.

Q. Were you stationed on the morning of Tuesday, the 24th of September, in Lamb's Conduit-street? - A. Yes.

Q. At about two o'clock on that morning did you hear any thing in the area of No. 36? - A. I did; I went to the rails, and looked down the area, I saw the kitchen shutters wrenched.

Court. Q. Were they outside shutters? - A. Yes, they were outside shutters that were wrenched, and upon hearing footsteps below, I called out, who is there below.

Mr. Gurney. Q. Was any answer given you? - A. No, there was no answer given me; upon that account I sprang the rattle instantly.

Q. What took place upon your springing the rattle? - A. He endeavoured to get out of the area.

Q. Did you see one person, or more than one? - A. I saw two.

Q. Where did those two persons come from? - A. I saw two persons in the area.

Q. What did those two persons do? - A. They attempted to get over the rails; I struck at one of them with my stick.

Q. Did that one that you attempted to strike get away from you? - A. Yes.

Q. Before they came out of the area, did either of them speak? - A. Yes, he said, shoot him.

Q. Give me the words? - A. The words were, shoot him.

Q. Were they both of the same size, or different sizes? - A. One was taller than the other.

Q. Can you tell whether it was the tall one or the short one that said it? - A. I cannot tell; I made a strike at the first man that attempted to get out of the area, but the stick slipped out of my hand at first, and by that means he got round the corner into New Ormond-street.

Q. Did you call to any other watchman? - A. Yes, I did, to stop him.

Q. How soon did you see that man taken? - A. I saw him after he was taken.

Q. How soon did you see any body in custody? - A. It may be four or five minutes, I found him in Morris's custody.

Q. Are you able to say that the man that was found in Morris's custody, was the same man that you struck at? - A. I cannot.

Q. Did you see the other man get out of the area? - A. No, I did not.

Court. Q. This man that got out of the area first, you do not state whether you pursued him or no? - A. I pursued him, and lost sight of him.

Q. Did you see him get into New Ormond-street? - A. I saw him turn the corner of New Ormond-street; I called to another watchman in New Ormond-street to stop him, and I looked to see if no person passed.

Court. Q. Was it a tall man or a short man? - A. A short man.

Q. Did you observe the colour of his clothes? - A. No; he got over, and I made a strike at him.

JOHN LOVETT sworn. - Examined by Mr. Gurney. Q. I believe you are a bill-sticker? - A. Yes.

Q. On the morning of September 24, were you in Lamb's Conduit-street? - A. I was.

Q. Did you see the last witness spring his rattle? - A. I saw it and heard it both; I immediately ran to the watchman's assistance, I saw him run, and Richardson was before the watchman.

Q. How far? - A. Two or three yards.

Q. Two or three yards only? - A. It might be more, I cannot say.

Court. Q. Where did they run to? - A. Towards New Ormond-street.

Mr. Gurney. Q. How near was Richardson from the spot where you first saw the watchman spring the rattle? - A. Between there and New Ormond-street.

Q. How near was he to that area? - A. About four or five yards.

Q. And about three yards from the watchman? - A. He might be more.

Q. Did you pursue him? - A. I pursued him, and the watchman running after him; he turned round New Ormond-street out of Lamb's Conduit-street.

Q. You still pursuing him? - A. Yes, I was following the watchman, and the watchman was following the prisoner.

Q. Did you outrun the watchman? - A. No; the prisoner stopped short at the right hand side of New Ormond-street, two or three doors down; he turned round to come into Lamb's Conduit-street again; the watchman there lost sight of him, I did not lose sight of him.

Q. Did you see him stopped? - A. I saw a watchman coming running at a distance; I halloaed out to the watchman to stop that man, and I told him there had been a house broke open.

Q. That was Morris? - A. It was.

Court. Q. You saw him stop him? - A. Yes; I immediately ran to his assistance, and I laid hold of him likewise.

Mr. Gurney. Q. Had he never been out of your sight till then? - A. No, I never lost sight of him till he was laid hold of by the watchman.

Q. Who laid hold of him first? - A. Morris, the watchman, laid hold of him first; we brought him back to the door of the house which they had been attempting to break open; there I searched him, and found this knife, a bit of tobacco, and a bit of bread and cheese.

Court. It is a common knife.

Mr. Gurney. It is.

Richardson. (To the Witness.) Q. Did you ever see me in the company of Leonard White ? - A. Not till I saw you at the Magistrate's.

JOHN MORRIS sworn. - Examined by Mr. Gurney. Q. I believe you are a watchman? - A. Yes, at the corner of Lamb's Conduit-street, Theobald's-road.

Q. At the time of which the witnesses have been speaking of, did you hear the springing of the rattle? - A. I heard the rattle when I was on my beat, at half after two o'clock in the morning; I listened to the rattle to hear which way it was, and then I ran immediately to my brother watchman's assistance.

Q. Was any person pointed out to you in New Ormond-street by the last witness, Lovett? - A. As I was running down New Ormond-street from Lamb's Conduit-street, I saw a man running, and a man said, watchman, stop that man, he is a thief; by that means I collared him; Richardson is the man, who is now one of the prisoners at the bar. When I had collared him, Lovett called and asked if I wanted any assistance; I told him if he thought proper; he came over and assisted me immediately.

Q. Did you, after you had taken him, find any thing near the spot where you took him? - A. When I took him, Lovett said there was a house attempted to be robbed, No. 36, Lamb's Conduit-street.

Q. Before you got there, did you find any thing? - A. Yes, a little green baize bag, within about three yards of the spot where I took Richardson; it was an empty bag.

Q. Where did you find that iron crow? - (the witness holding an iron crow in his hand.) - A. About eight doors from No. 36, towards the Foundling-hospital, it laid in a puddle of water.

Q. Were there any marks on the crow? - A. I did not look at it till I was at the Justice's, and then there was some blood upon it, and the marks of blood is on it now; when I picked it up, I lodged it in our watch-house.

Court. Q. Then you did not observe the marks of blood on it when you had it at the watch-house? - A. I did not observe it till I got to the Justice's.

Richardson. (To the Witness.) Q. Whether that crow was found in the way that I run? - A. No.

Q. Did you ever see me in the way which Leonard White run? - A. I did not.

Jury. Q. Was the crow covered with water when you took it out of the puddle? - A. The bent part was not covered with water, and it was the bent part that was marked with blood.

Court. It was dropped by somebody or other.

Mr. Gurney. That is all that it amounts to.

Q. Is there any blood on it now? - (the crow handed to the Court and Jury.) - A. No.

White. He said before the Magistrate there was no blood on it whatever.

Witness. I never said any such a word.

Mr. Gurney. Q. Where did you find it? - A. About eight doors from the house which was attempted to be broke open.

Q. Near the Foundling? - A. Two yards from where I was told Leonard White made a stop.

Mr. Gurney. Do not tell us what you were told.

White. He said it was very wet, that he had wiped it with his coat, and that he did not observe any blood on it at all.

Court. Q. Did you say any thing about any blood being on it, or not? - A. I did not, I delivered it up to Mr. Spraggs at the watch-house, and he produced it before the Magistrate.

Q. You might not observe blood on it before it was produced before the Magistrate? - A. No.

Q. That blood might be on before, or it might not? - A. Justly so.

WILLIAM RANDALL sworn. - Examined by Mr. Gurney. Q. You are a watchman? - A. Yes.

Q. On the morning of Tuesday, the 24th of September, between two and three o'clock, did you hear the rattle spring in Lamb's Conduit-street? - A. Yes.

Q. On hearing that, did you repair towards No. 36? - A. Yes.

Q. Did you find any person coming out of the area - coming over the iron-rails? - A. I saw Leonard White coming out of the area over the iron-rails.

Q. Did you speak to him? - A. Yes, I said, halloa, friend, what are you after there.

Q. What answer did he give you? - A. He said he was going to take a walk in the morning before the family were up, and as he jumped off the rails I laid hold of his coat, and he gave me a knock on the left side of my head.

Q. Was that knock, as you describe it, with his hand or with any instrument? - A. I cannot tell, it was with something very heavy.

Q. What was the effect of it? - A. It fetched me down to the ground.

Q. Describe what effect it had on your head? - A. It cut a very large place, there is the mark there now.

Q. Turn towards the Jury, and see whether they can see it? - Jury. Yes, we see it.

Q. Had you your hat on? - A. Yes, (shewing the hat,) that is the hat, it is cut through there, and the blood is in the hat now.

Q. Did it produce an effusion of blood? - A. A great quantity; this is the shirt (shewing it) I had on at the time, it contains the blood from my head.

Q. Did the blow deprive you of your senses? - A. No, it did not, I got up almost directly.

Q. Did you then see the person by whom you were cut? - A. He was never out of my sight till he was taken, he ran down towards the Foundling-hospital, he crossed over the street, and then he crossed back again, and leaned against a post.

Court. Q. Who crossed over? - A. The man that cut me.

Mr. Gurney. Q. Was he out of your sight at all till he was taken by Abbot? - A. Not at all.

Q. Was any other person near at the time you were struck? - A. No other person at all.

Q. Was the person who was so taken never out of your sight, and the person so taken was the prisoner White? - A. Yes.

Court. Q. Who took him? - A. Abbott.

Q. You have heard of a person taking up this crow, was that the way the prisoner White ran? - A. It was.

Q. Did you direct Morris to look to the spot? - A. No.

Q. Did you observe any thing at the time that the prisoner passed that spot? - A. He went by that spot.

Q. You were attended by a surgeon on account of this cut? - A. I was.

Q. When you were knocked down, did the person leave you immediately? - A. He ran away from me directly.

Q. Was it a light night or dark? - A. Rather darkish, not moon light.

Q. How long do you think you were falling and getting up? - A. A couple of minutes.

Q. Do you mean to say you did not loose sight of him when your face was to the ground? - A. My face was not to the ground.

Q. How far distance from you was the man when you got up? - A. About the length of eight houses.

Q. Do not you suppose that a man could run further than the length of eight houses in two minutes? - A. He might if he liked.

Q. You say you saw a man that leaned against the post, was that the man that knocked you down? - A. Yes.

Prisoner. Q. Is it likely that if I knocked you down, I should lean against a post.

Court. That is a matter of observation.

DANIEL ABBOTT sworn. - Examined by Mr. Gurney. Q. I believe you are likewise a watchman? - A. Yes.

Court. From the best consideration that I can give of this case, however heinious the offence is, the prisoners cannot be convicted upon this indictment as it is at present framed. We must all feel that persons of this description should be brought to justice, still the law must not be strained to affect that purpose. This indictment states the prisoners

as being ill disposed persons, and reputed thieves in the King's highway, in a certain street called Lamb's Conduit-street, with intent to commit a felony, and liable to be apprehended and detained by any watchman in the due execution of his duty, namely, to apprehend and convey them before some one or other of His Majesty's Justices of Peace. William Randall being there described a watchman in the due execution of his duty, they feloniously did assault, and with a sharp instrument did strike, cut, and stab him with an instrument, namely, an iron crow, thereby giving him a wound in and upon the left side of his head, with intent in so doing to obstruct or resist the lawful apprehension and detainer of them; the indictment is founded upon a very wholesome act passed two years ago, it has made it felony without benefit of Clergy, unlawfully to stab or cut any of His Majesty's subjects; among other things it mentions with intention to obstruct, or resist the lawful apprehension of the person that struck, or his accomplices. Upon this branch of the act, the present indictment is found, it charges the offence in different counts, only varying the manner of charging the prisoners; there was an act passed the 23d of George III . made for the protection of house-keepers, and within which act the prisoners at the bar seem more properly to fall, that is, if any person being apprehended with any pick-lock key or crow, do break and enter into any dwelling-house, warehouse, &c. with intent to assault any person; on this clause, it seems to me, the evidence applies; or shall be found in or out of any dwelling-house, or in any inclosed yard or area belonging to any house, with intent to steal any goods or chattels, he shall be deemed a rogue or vagabond; from the face of this indictment, it turns out not proved that these prisoners were in any street in the King's highway, with intent to commit a felony on His Majesty's subjects, there is no evidence; they are found in the area, and we must say there is enough to warrant a conclusion that they were there with an intent to steal, it seems to me, the evidence does not support it; we will be open to those who have prosecuted, if they wish to prefer another bill from this charge; it seems to me, the prisoners must be acquitted.


First Middlesex Jury, before Mr. Baron Thompson .

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