16th June 1856
Reference Numbert18560616-649
VerdictNot Guilty > unknown

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649. WILLIAM ROBINSON was indicted for feloniously throwing over Jessie Brett, a quantity of sulphuric acid, with intent to burn her.

MR. HORRY conducted the Prosecution.

JESSIE BRETT . I am the daughter of John Brett, a carpenter and broker, of Church-street, St. Pancras. The prisoner lives right opposite—his father keeps a broker's shop—I have had no quarrel with him lately—he has called me names, but I have not called him any—we did not have a quarrel on the night this happened—on 12th June, between 9 and 10 o'clock, I was cleaning out the shop and saw the prisoner standing at his own doorway—he stood in the doorway, and threw something over me out of a cup which he had in his hand, which I thought at first was water—it burnt my face and the crown of my head very much—it marked my dress; I have it here—I saw a medical gentleman about half-past 10 o'clock—as soon as it was thrown over me I went up and complained to my father.

Cross-examined by MR. PAYNE. Q. Have you ever had quarrels with him, or called him names? A. Never; he has called me names several times—I have never quarrelled with him lately—I have lived near him about seven years—I never threw anything at him—I did not throw any broken glass on the night before this happened—he threw some glass off the window sill, and said that I had thrown it at him—that was outside of his shop—he was reaching out of his window, and threw something down, and told his father that I had done it—that was the night before this happened—I did not throw a basket of fire over his sister before that—it was my father who did that—he was brought up before a Magistrate for it, and fined 5s.—my father has not been summoned, before the Magistrate several times, that I know of—by a basket of fire I mean one of those things made like a basket, which are used in grates in the summer—the coals were hot—(The witness a deposition being read, stated: "The prisoner lives opposite; we have had quarrels lately, and have been calling each other names every night")—that which you have read is not true—I was only a few yards off when he threw it at me; I was in my shop, and he was in the door of his shop—I was about half a yard from my door, and he was some way from his—the street is about three yards wide—we were about as far from each other as from the front of the jury box to the opposite partition of this Court (about four or five yards)—I did not move back, because I thought it was water.

COURT. Q. Are there any marks on you? A. Yes; here is a small one (on the left temple)—the hair on the crown of my head is gone off a little.

JOHN BRETT . I am the father of the last witness. On the evening of 12th June I was at my first floor window, and saw the prisoner come out whistling from his father's door, with a cup in his hand—he threw the contents of it over into my shop door—my daughter came up, and said, "I am burning"—I put my tongue to her head, and the taste was disagreeable, it was acid.

Cross-examined. Q. Have not you and this lad's father been uncomfortable neighbours for some time past? A. Yes, we have—I have not been

bound over to keep the peace towards him—there is nothing but contention between us—I was fined 5s. or 7s. for throwing the basket of fire over the prisoner's sister—I have been summoned three times by the prisoner's father, and I have summoned him a good many times—I have summoned him more times than he has summoned me—I have been tried and have been sentenced to be transported, but after I had served some time in prison I was let off.

COURT. Q. Are you and the prisoner's father both in the brokery line? A. Yes.

MR. PAYNE. Q. Have you ever said you would make some b—y money out of this business? A. No; I could not see where my daughter was standing—the prisoner was inside his doorway, and my daughter was inside our shop.

JAMES SMELLIE . I am a surgeon, at No. 4, Judd-place East, New-road. I saw the prosecutrix at the police station on the evening of 12th June—her cheek was slightly excoriated; not very much—there was a small sore produced by some excoriating substance which I tasted; it had a taste like diluted sulphuric acid—I am of opinion it was diluted acid which is used for domestic purposes—it would be diluted in the proportion of seven parts of water to one of acid—I examined her clothes; she had them on then—they were stained with the drops of the diluted acid—there was one hole through the cloth—the colour was gone, but I could restore it with ammonia.

COURT. Q. That would show that the colour was not destroyed, but only damaged, would it not? A. It would—the hole was in the front of the dress—I am of opinion that it was made by burning, because there was more acid where the hole was burnt—it was about the size of a fourpenny piece.

JURY. Q. Did you apply ammonia to that part of the dress where the hole is? A. Yes; to the edges of the hole.

JESSIE BRETT re-examined. These are the clothes I had on that night (produced).

HENRY DONKIN (policeman, S 233). I took the prisoner into custody one day last week, between 9 and 10 o'clock in the evening. I told him what I took him into custody for, and he denied the charge—I said, "You are the boy we want, your name is Robinson"—he said, "Yes, what do you want?"—I said, "You have been throwing something over Jessie Brett"—he said, "No; I never did it"—I produce a stick which was standing near where the prosecutrix was on that evening, and there are some stains on it—I took it to the doctor.

JAMES SMELLIE re-examined. I examined this piece of wood—there are one or two acid stains on it—they were on it when I had it.

COURT to HENRY DONKIN. Q. Where was it standing? A. Close by the door—the street is about four yards wide—they could shake hands across it.

MR. PAYNE. Q. Did you search the house? A. Yes; I found no acid in it—I inquired of the mother, and then the father came out—he did not point out anything to me—I could not find anything relating to this affair.

(The prisoner received a good character.)


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