17th August 1840
Reference Numbert18400817-1997
VerdictGuilty > with recommendation

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1997. HENRY WOMBILL was indicted for killing and slaying Esthere Hoe, the younger.

WILLIAM HOE . I live in Pelham-street, Brick-lane. On the 6th of July, I was at Highbury with my wife and two children—my daughter Esther was one of them—she would have been six years old next November—we were returning home from the Woodbine Cottage, about half-past eight o'clock—it was light—my wife had Esther in her hand, and I had another child behind her—I heard a cab coming along on this side of Highbury Barn Tavern—the road there is wide enough for two carriages—my wife and child were walking in the pathway, at the edge—the cab came close by the side of me as I was walking on the footpath—it was driving very fast indeed—the wheel caught the child's clothes and threw her down, and I saw both wheels pass over her—there was no other carriage in the way at the time—there was plenty of room for him to have gone without coming near the child—on the child being run over, I looked at it and said, "The child is dead"—I did not try to stop the cab—I called to it, but the driver drove on—I cannot tell whether he heard me—I called loud—he did not look back—I ran after him, and called out, "Stop, you have killed the child"—after calling repeatedly, "You have killed the child," he looked back—I was then running with my umbrella in my hand—he did not stop at all—he went out of my sight—I am not able to say the prisoner was the person—the child died in two or three minutes—the wheel went over the head as well as the body.

Cross-examined by MR. CLARKSON. Q. Did you observe whether the cab had any of the windows down? A. No—I should think the man was about a hundred yards from me when he turned round on my calling out—the footpath is about the height of the breadth of my hand from the road—my child was walking close to the edge of the footpath.

ESTHER HOE . I was walking with my husband and children—my little girl was on the path close to the edge—it is a widish path—I heard the cab come—I think the wheel caught her clothes—that threw her down, and the wheels passed over her—my husband pursued the cab—the child died directly afterwards—I saw the driver's face, and believe the prisoner is the man—I did not see him again till above a week afterwards—there was no other carriage in the way at all—he had the whole road to drive in—when I saw him at Hatton Garden I recognised him—the Coroner sat before he was apprehended.

WILLIAM RAPER . I am a cab-driver. On the evening of the 6th of July, I was at Highbury, and saw the prisoner coming down Highbury Grove, driving a four-wheel chariot, coming at about eight miles an hour—that is not quick for a cab, it was going at a sort of canter—I saw the hind

wheel just come off the child's head—there was room in the road for two carriages to pass—there was no other carriage near—I had passed with mine going to Highbury—I looked round on hearing the scream—there was nothing to prevent his going in any part of the road he pleased that I saw.

Cross-examined. Q. He was on his proper side of the road? A. Yes, I had passed him about fifty yards—I was going at a middling pace, not above six miles an hour—the path is not particularly wide there—it is not well marked out—it is nearly on a level with the road.

JOHN THOMAS . I was at Highbury that day, and heard the screams of the parents—I saw the cab—I was considerably before it—it had to come towards me—it was between me and Mr. Hoe at the time I heard the screams—I was about a hundred and fifty yards from the accident, and the cab was twenty or thirty yards nearer to me—I should think the driver must have heard the screams—I heard Hoe call to the driver—I should think the driver must have heard him—he did not stop, but drove on—I could not recognise the driver.

Cross-examined. Q. Did you observe whether the windows of the cab were down? A. I did not—I do not think the sound would be heard so well by a person inside, the rattling of the wheels would distract the sound—I think the driver could not help hearing him—it was running on gravel, and at the rate of eight or nine miles an hour.

WILLIAM BURROWS . I am a surgeon. The child was brought to my house—it was quite dead—the skull was fractured sufficiently to cause instant death.

ALEXANDER BUTTERS . I am a policeman. I apprehended the prisoner on Wednesday night, the 8th of July—I told him I apprehended him on suspicion of killing a child in Highbury-grove, on Monday night, the 6th of July—he admitted having been there, but said he was not aware of any accident occurring.

Cross-examined. Q. At that time had you got any evidence to identify him as the man who had been there? A. I had information that he was the man—Raper had stated before the Coroner that he was the man.

SAMUEL SCAREY . I was in the cab the prisoner was the driver—I came from Highbury College—I was not aware of any accident happening in the way—at the time I got out I did not know that any mischief had happened to any body—I had not heard any call to the driver to stop—the near side window was down—I drove home to Catherine-street, Strand; and, from the man having waited for me a long while at the College, and being steady, I gave him a pint of beer, and told him I would employ him again—he asked, when I got out, if that was my house, if I lived there—I said, "Yes"—he had driven me to Highbury.

Cross-examined. Q. Was he perfectly sober all the way? A. Yes, and drove in a steady and proper manner, as I thought—I did not see any thing to the contrary—I think if the horse had been galloping or cantering I must have observed it—there is a jerk when a horse canters or trots—I thought it went at one regular pace all the time—I did not perceive any thing to the contrary—I did not hear any one call to him—I think I must have heard it if they had—I started from home at a quarter after five o'clock—he took me to Highbury College—I left there about a quarter after eight o'clock—he had waited all that time for me—I do not think he

was driving at any thing like the pace of eight or nine miles an hour—it was a very indifferent horse indeed—I was not in the least conscious that we had passed over the body of a child—I said that I would employ him again, after I got home, in consequence of his civility and attention, and asked for his address.

(The prisoner received a good character.)

GUILTY.—Strongly recommended to mercy.

One Week Solitary Confinement.

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