25th October 1841
Reference Numbert18411025-2608
VerdictNot Guilty > non compos mentis

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2608. CHARLES FORESTER was indicted for feloniously assaulting John Pincombe, on the 9th of October, and with a certain loaded pistol, feloniously shooting at him, with intent to murder him.—2nd COUNT, stating his intent to be to maim and disable him.—3rd COUNT, stating his intent to be to do him some grievous bodily harm.

JOHN PINCOMBE . I am a policeman. On the 9th of October, I was in the Chalk-road, Battle-bridge, Islington, between five and six o'clock in the evening—I saw the prisoner standing within a few yards of the Sutton Arms public-house, having hold of a man by the collar, shaking him—the prisoner appeared to be intoxicated—I went up and told him to leave go of the man, which he did—I said he had better go home, or I must take him to the watch-house, and lock him up—he said he would not go home, nor yet to the watch-house either—I then talked to him quietly, telling him to go home, and got let a mob get round him, laughing at him—there were persons assembled around him—I then took him by the collar, and dragged him towards his home, as they told me it was not far off, just

above—after I dragged him a few yards, I let go, and talked to him quietly—he walked a few yards by himself, and then said he would not go any further—I took hold of his collar again, and dragged him towards his home, as they told me, and a man came down, a neighbour of his, and accused me of ill-using him—I said I had not, and it was no business of his—the prisoner at this time got from me, pulled a pistol out of his right-band pocket, cocked it, and presented it at me—as he was going to pull the trigger, I struck him in the breast, and he fell, and as he fell, he pulled the trigger, and it went off, but before he pulled the trigger, he said, "D—n you, I will give it to you"—he was felling down as it went off, and after he fell, and got up again, he said, "Yon would have had it safe enough, if you bad not knocked me down"—I then sprang at him—the witness said I had better search his pocket to see if he had any more—he said, "I have not got any more about me," but I found another pistol in his left-hand coat-pocket, loaded with two balls—I took him to the station, and drew the charge from the pistol.

Cross-examined by MR. CLARKSON. Q. Is there a high wall surrounding the place you understood to be his home? A. Yes—I afterwards found he lived there—a person came up and said, "Don't ill use the man, for we know him"—he pulled the pistol from his right-hand coat pocket, I believe, but I can't say whether it was his coat or trowsers' pocket; I was in front of him—I believe they have stop-locks, but I am not a judge of pistols—the one I found on him is a percussion-pistol—I saw the balls afterwards produced—I do not know whether there was a cap on the pistol—I believe there was.

JEREMIAH SHEEN . I saw the prisoner in the Sutton Arms public-house, fighting with a man outside the bar—the landlord turned him out—the policeman came up to him outside the house, and took hold of him, and was trying to get him towards his home—he got him about twenty-four or twenty-five yards from the public-house, and by a wall like a carriage-way—the policeman let him go a short space, by the gateway, and he made a sudden start out from him—I pushed back among some more people—he said something to the policeman, which I did not hear, and the policeman either hit him, or shoved him—he went backwards, and as he went down the pistol went off—I bad not seen it before it went off, nor did I know he had any about him.

(Witnesses for the Defence.)

JOHN CLAYTON . I am landlord of the Button's Arms public-house in William-street, Islington, next door to where the prisoner lives—I have known him fifteen months—during that time I have had opportunities of observing his conduct—I considered it rather different to other people's conduct—there was something a little eccentric in his character on one or two occasions—I supply him with beer—about a month before this occurred he had had a pint of porter sent him, and he came to find fault with me—he said it had made him very ill, and asked what I had been doing to it, and what was the cause of its making him so ill—he did not know what would be the consequence of it, and he should never have any more out of the house—I said I was very sorry, but there was nothing the matter with the beer—he said something had been put into it which made him very ill; in fact, he thought he was poisoned—on the Friday before this occurred, he came to my house from six to seven o'clock in the evening

for a screw of tobacco—he looked wild and rather strange, a little curious—I cannot say he was tipsy—he got the tobacco, and went away—about five minutes after he went out there was a disturbance outside—I went out, and a man named Lowe was lying on the ground bleeding at the nose and mouth—Lowe said the vagabond, meaning the prisoner, had knocked him down—the prisoner was endeavouring to get at him again, and Lowe's wife was interfering to keep him back—the prisoner's conduct was quite the reverse of being quiet—I got between them to prevent his striking him, but he broke away from me—he met a man named Bent, who came out of my house, and he knocked Bent down—I picked him up, and found him in a very bad state—on the Saturday evening he was at my house from three to four—Bent was there—the prisoner said he had come to beg Mr. Bent's pardon, and would treat him with anything he liked to have to drink—they went into the parlour together, and had three or four sixpenny worth's of nun-and-water—Cooper, a bricklayer, came to the tap-room that day—the prisoner was standing at the bar, and he commenced striking Cooper—I do not know of any reason for that—there was no reason given—I prevented any further blows by getting between them, and the prisoner said if I did not stand out of the way, he would knock me down—I took him out of my house with assistance, and he was afterwards given in charge.

RICHARD COOPER . I was at the public-house on the Saturday—I had had no quarrel with the prisoner that day—I came to the bar, and asked for half-a-pint of beer, and as I stood drinking it he ran against me by the way of insulting me—he then ran against me on the other side—I had given him no provocation at the moment—he stood in an attitude to fight, and struck at me—the landlord interfered, and in about ten minutes he struck at me again.

JOSEPH M'CREA . I am a surgeon, in partnership with John Gouldsmith, of Qloudesley-terrace, Islington. I know the prisoner, and have visited him professionally—I remember, among other occasions, seeing him, on the 24th of April, in consequence of what had been represented as a severe fall—I went to visit him since, but had great difficulty in seeing him—I have considered him in an unsound state of mind from the 8th of July last; indeed, from the 24th of April I did not think his mind sound—on the 24th of April he was living in William-street, Chalk-road—I found him at that time flushed; he appeared to have been drinking; we entered into conversation; he was hurried; he appeared to have a great number of projects in his mind, and told me boastfully of the money he had made and could make from his secrets—I mentioned to him that there was a Frenchman in London who said he had the power of producing a blue dye without the use of indigo—he appeared to catch at that circumstance, and in a moment he said, "Oh, I have got it, I have it; that is worth a thousand pounds to me; thank you; I will make you a handsome present"—he appeared in an excited and hurried state—I should say it was inconsistent with the liquor he had had, but arose from something more—by the request of his relatives I saw him, on the 8th of July, in the place where he resided, within a door or two of his mother's—it was a coach-house and stable, surrounded by a wall—his sister accompanied me to the place—she knocked at the door—he asked who was there—she said, "It is me Charles"—he then cautiously opened the door, and she said, "Mr. M'Crea has come to speak to you about my mother, who is very ill"—he replied, "I don't want to see him, I shan't see him," shutting the door in

my face, which I prevented by putting my foot between the door and the cill—he then became very violent, took up a post or piece of timber, and said he would knock my brains out if I did not leave instantly, and I left—I had given him no reason for conducting himself in that way to me—he would not let me in—I saw his relatives afterwards, and expressed my opinion of his state of mind, and recommended that he should be put under confinement—I was prepared to certify that that was necessary—on Saturday, the 9th of this month, I saw him at the police-station, Islington-green—he was lying on the floor in a state of hysterical insensibility, and partly drunk—I could form no judgment of him then—I left, and returned in about an hour and a half—he was then sitting on a bench, and the moment he recognised me he got up in a violent rage, struck at me and kicked at me—if it had not been for the police he would probably have injured me—next morning, about nine o'clock, I visited him again, accompanied by Barlow—for caution's sake, Barlow was first sent in to him—I placed myself in a position out of sight of him, but where I could hear what passed—Barlow said that his mother and sister were greatly distressed, and had mentioned something to him about a conspiracy—he replied quickly, "They are at the bottom of it; I know all about that, but I have tricked them"—he said, as soon as he got out he would settle matters with that brother of his—I then advanced towards the door, spoke to him through the grating of the door, and asked him about the conspiracy—I said, "Your mother and sister appear greatly distressed that you should have such an idea"—he said, "I know all about it, and know what you are come for, and you may take your leave"—I then asked him what had become of the bottle of prussic acid which he had had in his pocket—he said, "What do you know about the bottle of prussic acid?"—I said, "Because you asked for it last night"—he then very cunningly said, "Oh, oh, might I not have something else in my pocket in a bottle besides prussic acid?"—he was agitated and irritable, and I took my leave—I observe a twitching and irritation about the nerves of his face now—I have not had opportunities of observing it before, I have had so few opportunities of seeing him—I have been in practice thirty years, and have had several cases of unsound mind—in my judgment he is not accountable for his acts, because he is labouring under a state of unsound mind.

COURT. Q. In your judgment is he capable of distinguishing right from wrong? A. In my judgment he is.

MR. CIARKSON. Q. Have you heard the details of the circumstances which occurred on the 9th of October? A. I have heard them mentioned—I have not heard the evidence to-day—at the police-station he either said to Barlow or myself that they had drugged his beer—I asked how much he had drank on the Saturday—he said he had drank two pints of ale, two pints of porter, and a glass of brandy-and-water, it was not the quantity he drank that made him drunk, but they had put drugs in it.

JOHN GOULDSMITH . I am a surgeon, in partnership with Mr. M'Cres I was called in, on the 6th of April, to see the prisoner—I attended him at that time, and for some time after, till the 15th of April—I observed his manner and appearance, it was singular—I had occasion to send him medicine, he did not take it as directed, he took three doses at a time—I was called in on the 23rd of April to see him, at ten o'clock at night—I found him excited, and labouring under an hysterical affection, screaming and sobbing—I remained with him, endeavouring to induce him to take medicine—from my observation of him, I should say he is not in a sound state

of mind—I am not prepared to swear whether he is capable of judging right from wrong—I saw him on the 25th of April, but not professionally since—I think there is a perversion of the moral feeling, disposed to delusion.

COURT. Q. On the 25th of April was his mind predisposed to delusion? A. Yes—I do not know how he has been since that.

FREDERICK BARLOW . I am a surveyor, and live in Foundling-terrace, Gray's-inn-road—I am agent to Mr. Sutton, who owns the house the prisoner has been living in—when he took it it was a coach-house and stable, with a wall surrounding it—I have seen it a few days ago—I should think it was not in a fit state for the habitation of a person in his senses—the door on the outside has very large patent locks to it—I believe there is no bolt to the outer door, but an excellent lock—the principal inner door has a very large iron bar, which passes from the inside, and fastens inside by a kind of feather. On Sunday, the 10th of October, I saw him at the police-station, Islington-green—I asked him how he was, and said I was sorry to see him there, and for the circumstance which occasioned his being there—he said he was much obliged to me—he said somebody had put a deleterious drug into his liquor the preceding evening, which so stupified him that he did not know what he was about—he said his mother and sister had sent the drug to put into his drink—I said his mother and sister were in a state of great distress about him—he said that was all stuff and nonsense, they were the cause of his being put there—I said, "I am sure that is not so; I do not see how it is possible"—he said, "They are"—I said, "They are in great distress about you, and they have told me you have an idea that a conspiracy is formed against you"—he said, "Yes, and they are at the bottom of it"—I said I felt certain they could not be at the bottom of it, on account of their having expressed so much sorrow at what had taken place, and the grief they appeared to be in—he said, "Pshaw, they are not in grief about me, they are at the bottom of it"—I said, "If any body formed a conspiracy against you, they would have had the opportunity of carrying it into effect long since"—he said, "I have been too deep for them"—a policeman came in, and I was obliged to leave—the same morning Mr. M'Crea went to see him, and the moment he saw him he said, "I say, that is Mr. M'Crea, I don't wish to have any thing to say to you; I know what you are come about"—Mr. M'Crea observed, that he came there as a friend, and wished to talk with him for his good, and told him it was a serious matter his having fired a pistol—he said, "Me fired a pistol! I have fired no pistol"—Mr. M'Crea asked what he had done with the bottle of prussic acid he had in his pocket—he said, "What is that to you?"—I should most certainly think him of unsound mind.

DANIEL HALEY . I am a policeman. I was stationed at Islington-green—I have known the prisoner twelve months—my beat was near his premises—I remember seeing him one night in April, between twelve and one o'clock—he was at his own door, making a great noise trying to get into his door, and after that he got on his own wall—I pulled him off the wall, as I saw there was danger—he then got fighting at me—I went away, and left him—he got on the wall again, and fell off like a lump of lead—I conceived his brains were dashed out—he was quite insensible—the height of the wall was about six feet, from the outside—he fell outside—he remained there a very short time in that state, then recovered, and again got on the

wall, and dropped down on the other side, which was higher—Mr. Gouldsmith was sent for, by his sister, I believe—I heard him afterwards, on the other side of the wall—he seemed like a person in great pain, or bysterical fits—he was shrieking very much indeed.

ALEXANDER BUTTERSHURST (police-constable N 280.) I have been stationed at Islington. In July last, between nine and ten o'clock, I saw the prisoner at William-street, standing at a gate in front of his house—as I passed by, he said he expected there was a quantity of fellows coming down from a part where there are a lot of cottages in the field, he called it the island, that they were coming to attack him, and pull down his house, and he expected they were going to abuse him, and duck him in a pond—he said they were coming in a body, and he expected them that night—he asked me to send for assistance to the station, that it would require five or six men, because he expected they would overpower one or two—I endeavoured to calm him—his brother came out in the course of the conversation—a brother policeman came up—I remained some time to see if anybody came—there was no appearance of anybody coming, and never such a thing projected, I believe—I communicated to my brother constable what I thought—I remained on the beat till six o'clock in the morning—I was on the same beat till the end of August—there was never any appearance of anybody going to hurt his house—I have talked to him several times—he seemed to me to be labouring under the delusion of somebody going to attack him—he talked about a man named Lowe, a law-writer, and a respectable person named Crouch, and about a law-suit, and when I reasoned with him about his suspicions, he said I was as bad as them—he asked me to go a little way from home with him the following morning, to see him safe from home—I said I would—I went more out of curiosity than anything—he called a cab, and I rode half-way to Smithfield with him—he said he was going on different business—as we went along, he talked about the combination against him, and said he would purchase a remedy while in town to-day, that he should not require the assistance of the police any more—I asked him if a man attacked him, should he consider himself justified in shooting him, and he seemed to think not in that case, but said he should have some remedy which would end the dispute—I could not make out what it was—I got out of the cab before he made any purchase—he told me once that he had lost a spaniel dog, and he expected it was in the island where the people were combined against him—he has several times stopped me, and mentioned the conspiracy to me—one night in August he said he would have a law-suit against the parties combined against him, that he would get an action against them, that he had plenty of money, and he could soon settle them—I consider it was a delusion, as I knew the people he referred to, and I had spoken to them—I reasoned with him about it, that they had no idea of doing him harm, and then he said I was as bad as them, and he thought I knew something about it, he thought I was in the conspiracy, and had been bribed or something—I should say he was labouring under a delusion—I considered so from the first time he wished me to send for a constable.

GEORGE WADDINGTON . I am gaoler at the Police Court, Hatton-garden—the prisoner was in my custody on the 11th of October, he conducted himself in a very strange manner—he said he was sure his beer had been drugged, and something put in, but he was sure the witness Winslow had

done it on the 26th of March, and since the 26th of March he had on many occasions thoughts and fits come into his mind, as if be had committed murder.

EDWARD THOMAS MUNBOE , M.D. I live in Harley-street. I have been called on professionally to visit the prisoner, with a view to form a judgment of the state of his mind—I saw him twice in Clerkenwell-prison—the first time was on the 19th of this month—I was with him about twenty minutes, endeavouring to detect whether he was of sound or unsound state of mind—I was quite satisfied he was of unsound mind—he conversed with me very irrationally—I have no doubt it was his genuine conduct.

COURT. Q. Your experience enables you to decide whether such things are put on or not? A. I have not a doubt of it.

MR. CLARKSON. Q. Were his delusions of a particular sort? A. Yes—he said he was afraid of a conspiracy, of persons annoying him, two parties especially, named Dodd and Winslow—that he had heard them speaking of him under his window, and they were determined to have him out of his bed, and he had barricaded his house against them—that he heard them speaking up the chimney, and heard them repeatedly on the roof of his house, and he had had henbane and hemlock put into his beer by his mother—he was full of delusions and fears—on the second occasion, he told me that at times he thought himself the murderer of Mr. Zachary Turner, of Exeter, and that at times he thought his head was on the wrong way, his forehead behind.

NOT GUILTY , being of Unsound Mind.

Second Jury, before Lord Chief Baron Abinger.

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