15th May 1848
Reference Numbert18480515-1251
VerdictGuilty > with recommendation

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1251. WILLIAM TOMKINS was indicted for the wilful murder of Maria Eddons:—he was also charged on the Coroner's Inquisition with the like murder.

MESSRS. BODKIN and BALLANTINE conducted the Prosecution.

ARTHUR KEENE. I live at 11, Page-street, Westminster, and am employed in the Royal Engineering department. On Sunday morning, 16th April, between twelve and one o'clock, I was in Regent-street, westminster, which is to the west of the Abbey—I had just got to the corner of Vincent-street when I heard a slight cry, like a female screeching—I went down Vincent-street, in the direction of the scream—I passed down on the right hand side, with my right hand to the houses—when I arrived at the centre of the street I saw a figure at the further end, which was very dark—I proceeded towards it—when I crossed to the other side I lost the figure—it turned out to be the prisoner—the first I saw was the figure of a female lying on the ground—I could not tell whether the other figure I saw was a male or female, but I judge it to be the figure of the prisoner—it was standing at the farthest end of the street—I went on towards that figure, and on going towards it I found the woman on the way—she was lying near the kerb, on the horse-road, with her feet towards the foot-path—she was lying on her front, with her face buried in the ground—her bonnet was on the ground, and her face under it—the prisoner was standing about two or three yards from her—he was standing between a gateway leading to a court and a post—there was no one there but him—I asked him what he had been doing to her—he made no answer—the woman was lying on the ground at that time—I asked the prisoner whether she was his wife, and why he did not go and assist her, or something to that effect—after a little while he want over towards her, then turned round and said to me, "I have stabbed her; I have killed her with this knife;"at the same time exhibiting a knife to me—before he said that to me, as he passed over to go towards her, I heard him say, "Maria!"—I am not certain whether he said" Get up," but he mentioned her name distinctly; and while I was speaking to him previous to that, she raised herself on her arms a few inches, and dropped again instantly into the same position—I looked round for assistance, but could not see any one—I did mot go to the woman at all—my first impression was to go to her assistance, and my next was to take care of myself—I wished to keep myself from being implicated in it, as there was nobody there but the prisoner and I—there was but one lamp in the street—I got the prisoner towards that—it was on the opposite side—I moved towards it, and he came with me—I then saw his face—I did not take hold of him—I asked him again what he had done to her, and he again said he had killed her, he had stabbed her with that knife—I then went to the corner of Regent-street, gave as alarm, and returned with the police and others to the place where I had left the female lying—she was still lying there—she never moved afterwards—I cannot tell whether she was alive or not—the prisoner was gone.

Cross-examined by MR. SERJEANT WILKINS. Q. What distance could you see, so as to distinguish any object by the light that there was there? A. The distance from where I saw the figure might be perhaps 100 feet—I could not then discern what it was—I saw it move—there was no noise whatever—I did not see the woman's face at all—I did not go near her, so as to smell her breath.

ALEXANDER HOBSON (policeman, B 170.) on Sunday morning, 16th

April, I was on duty in Regent-street, Westminster, and heard a cry of "Police!" in consequence of which I went to Vincent-street, and saw Keene there—in consequence of what he said, I went down the street to where a female was lying—the prisoner was not there, or anybody—I lifted the female up—she was then not quite dead—I observed a wound under her collar-bone in the left breast—I carried her to Mr. Pearce, the surgeon of the division, and by the time we got there she was quite dead.

Cross-examined. Q. Had you known her before? A. No.

WILLIAM SKATE (policeman, B)157. on the morning of 16th April about twenty-five minutes past twelve o'clock, I was going down Page-street leading into Regent-street, Westminster—when I got into Regent-street I saw the prisoner and deceased—I knew them both before—I bid them good night, and the prisoner said, "Good night"—I said, "Then you are getting towards home?"—he said, "Yes"—they went on together towards Vincent-row, where the prisoner lived—he worked at Messrs. Thorne's, the brewers—I passed on on my beat in another direction—about twenty minutes to one I had a communication made to me, and went to Mr. Pearce's, the surgeon, and found the same woman there that I had seen with the prisoner—she was lying on her back, dead—I afterwards went with Inspector Cumming towards Vincent-row, and met the prisoner in the custody of another constable.

Cross-examined. Q. Had you known the woman for same time? A. Yes—she was a prostitute—about 24th or 25th March she and the prisoner were in custody, charged by another constable with being drunk and disorderly—I was gaoler at that time—she was not violent when under the influence of liquor—I never heard either of them have an angry word with any one—she was drunk this night, but not to say reeling drunk—they appeared to be in a very good humour when I saw them on the 16th—they were walking side by side, not arm-in-arm—I did not notice that the prisoner's coat was torn when I saw him in custody.

MR. BALLANTINE. Q. When the deceased was charged with being drunk was the prisoner also charged? A. Yes—I helped to take her body to the dead-house—it was afterwards seen by her father.

ABRAHAM WRIGHT (policeman, B 10.) I heard of the death of this woman early on Sunday morning, and saw her body carried to Mr. Pearce's, and afterwards to the dead-house—in consequence of what was told me I went to 8, Vincent-row, where the prisoner lived with his father—I got there about two o'clock, and his father showed me the room in which his son was—I found him asleep in bed—I awoke him, and he asked what we wanted—he did nit know me, but he knew the constable who was with me, and he said to him, "What did you want, Harry?"—the constable said, "You have been ill-using Maria"—he said he had not—he was told a second time that he had, and that he must get out of bed—he got up and sat on the side of the bed, and then asked, "Is she dead?"—I said she was dead—he asked a second time, "is she dead?" and I said she was—he then asked where she was—I said she was in the dead-house at St. Margaret's workhouse—he then put up his hands, as he sat on the side of the bed, and exclaimed, "Oh my God! I have done for her"—he appeared very much excited, and I took the precaution to search his clothes before he put them on and in the right hand jacket pocket I found this knife (producing it)—it is marked with blood, as I took it from him—he then dressed himself, and we took him into custody, and took him to the station—in going there we passed the spot where the body had been lying, and when we got within a few yards of the spot be stopped and exclaimed, "Oh God! I cannot go by here, for she stands looking

at me"—we persuaded him to go on; and as soon as we got by the spot he said, "There, now I will go with you anywhere"—before we got to the station he sad, "The knife has done it for her, and the rope will do it for me."

COURT. Q. Did he appear to have been drinking? A. Yes I think he had.

HENRY WRIGHT (policeman, B 133.) I was in company with the last witness when the prisoner was taken into custody—just as we got to the place where the female was found, he said, "Oh, my God, I cannot go by there!"—we persuaded him to go along, and when we got round the corner he sad, "I can go now;" and he said, "The knife has done it for her, and the rope will do it for me;"—he said, "Oh, that soldier! perhaps he will he sorry for it now."

Cross-examined. Q. Did you go to his father's house? A. Yes—I told him he had been quarreling with Maria—I concluded from finding her dead that they had been quarreling, it was nothing more.

COURT. Q. When was it that he said, "Oh, that soldier! perhaps he will be sorry for it now?" A. After we had passed the spot where the body had been found—the station is in Rochester-row, Vincent-square.

WILLIAM CUMMING (police-inspector B.) I met Sergeant Wright, with the prisoner in custody, in Vincent-row—the prisoner exclaimed, "Oh, Sir, I have done it; you did not know what I have suffered for some time!"—I accompanied them to the station, and entered the charge against him—I read it to him—he made no answer, but shook violently—I then took him into my own room, and searched his person and dress—on the palm of his left hand and two fingers I found marks of blood, and on the fingers of the right hand—while I was searching him, the prisoner put a lump of tobacco out of his mouth into his left hand—I said to Mr. Keene, who stood by, "This is blood," alluding go the marks on his right hand, and the prisoner said, "No, it is tobacco juice."

Cross-examined. Q. Did you notice his coat at all? A. I did not

HARRIET DOWLING. I am the wife of Daniel Dowling, of Dacre-street, Westminster. On Sunday evening, 16th April, I was shown the body of a female in St. Margaret's workhouse—it was the body of a person whom I had known before, by the name of Maria Eddons—she had occupied one of my rooms nine weeks before, and the prisoner was in the habit of sleeping with her—he cohabited with her there—he slept there the first night and the last night, which was the 14th April, the Friday before the murder—he only came there of an evening—he took no meals there that I am aware of—the deceased was a very sober person—I never saw her tipsy—they seemed to live very happily indeed—on the Friday evening they had a few words, but very trifling—they did not seem to be in any anger—I remember his saying something concerning Newgate, but I did not recollect the words—I did not hear any more threats, nor any threats indeed—I merely passed through the yard and in again—they lived in the back apartment—I have been examined before—I cannot say any more than I have said—I heard him say something about Newgate, and she only laughed—that was all I heard—I took no particular notice of it.

COURT. Q. Did the prisoner visit her at times? A. Often of an evening, and went away again—I cannot say how many nights he slept there—they lived there as man and wife—the young woman took the place, and told me she had a husband, and that he was a brewer—he came the same evening, and they seemed to be very comfortable together.

MARTHA EDWARDS. I live at 5, Cottage-court, Orchard-street, Westminster. I knew the deceased Maria Eddons, and also know the prisoner—I have seen them together several times—I recollect being at the New Star and Crown public-house, in the Broadway, Westminster, on the Friday evening before Maria's death—the prisoner was there, and a soldier named William Brown, and Maria—I have heard the prisoner say that he would make Maria his wife as soon as it laid in his power, if she would give the soldier up; and I have heard her say that she would not give the soldier up, that she would be with the soldier until the prisoner did make her his wife—nothing of that sort was said on the Friday evening, it was previous to that that I heard it—on that Friday evening I saw Maria go out of the public-house about twenty minutes to ten o'clock, with the soldier, leaving the prisoner there—I heard the prisoner ask her where she was going, and she said she was only going down to the bar, she would not be many minutes—she then went out with the soldier—she was gone about three quarters of an hour—when she returned the prisoner had left—she went away, came back, and asked me if the prisoner was up stairs—I told her no—she crossed the road to the other public-house, and came back, and told me he was there—she appeared to have been searching for him—the prisoner afterwards came to the Star with her, and I saw them go home together—they then seemed on very good terms—I saw them there again on the Saturday evening, from nine till about ten minutes to twelve, at the same public-house—the soldier was not there that evening—I saw them quit the house together about ten minutes to twelve—they then appeared to be on the beat of terms—I did not hear any quarreling or difference at all that night—I did not see Eddons alive again after that.

Cross-examined. Q. Did you notice what they drank on Saturday evening? A. Chiefly porter—they had some gin and cloves.

COURT. Q. Were they forward in liquor when they went away? A. They had both been drinking freely—I cannot say that the drink had made any impression on them—they did not appear to be drunk—by drunk, I mean not capable of taking care of themselves.

GEORGE PEARCE. I live at 5, Regent-street, Westminster, and am surgeon to the B division of police. On 16th April, at one o'clock in the morning, the body of the deceased was brought to my surgery—she was quite dead—I found she had a wound on the left side of her breast, just below the collar-bone—I afterwards found it had penetrated the pericardium, and wounded the pulmonary artery—that must have produced immediate death—the wound might have been inflicted with this knife—it was nearly four inches deep, and must have been inflicted with considerable force—on making a post-mortem examination, I discovered an aperture in the chemise corresponding with the wound in the body.

RICHARD EDDONS. I work at Kensal-lodge, and live at Rifle-cottage, Hammersmith. I had a daughter named Maria—I had not seen her for twelve months last Dec.—she was twenty-seven years old last Christmas.

(Stephen Bell, principal brewer in the employment of Messrs. Thorne, of Horseferry-road, with whom the prisoner had lived five years; and John Comley and Walter Scott, also on the same employment, deposed to the prisoner's character for humanity, kindness of disposition, and general good conduct.)

GUILTY. Aged 25.—Strongly recommended to mercy by the jury on account of his character. — DEATH .

Before Mr. Baron Alderson.

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