25th November 1861
Reference Numbert18611125-36
VerdictGuilty > with recommendation

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36. RICHARD REEVES (18), was indicted for the wilful murder of Mary Ann Reeves; he was also charged on the coroner's inquisition with the like offence.

MESSRS. CLERK and BEASLEY conducted the Prosecution.

MARY REEVES . I am the wife of Thomas Reeves, a basket-maker of 10, Drury-court—I had a daughter called Mary Ann Reeves—I last saw her alive on 15th November, between 9 and 10 o'clock in the morning—I did not see her again that day—when I last saw her she was in the first-floor back room—I left her along with her poor brother (the prisoner)—the prisoner is the son of my husband by a former wife—I have had the care of him ever since he was seven years of age—I went out about half-past 9 that morning with my husband; he wanted to get shaved, and I went out with him—I came back just about 10 o'clock—I was not away more than a quarter of an hour—I enquired for her, but could not find her or hear of her—I asked the prisoner if he knew where she was, and he said no, he did not—I saw him again a little after 1 o'clock—he came running upstairs and said, "Mother have you found her yet"—I said, "No my boy, where am I to go to find her—it was about 2 o'clock that I last saw him—I did not see the body of the deceased till late in the evening.

Cross-examined by MR. SLEIGH. Q. I believe he was always a very mild kindly disposed boy? A. Oh yes! he was always a good boy—his father has been twice under restraint for being insane—his uncle I believe died at Hanwell—his father has been twice out of his mind; once he was in St. Bartholomew's Hospital, in the lunatic ward—I am not aware that there was any other relation of the prisoner that was insane—I do not know that his aunt was—I know nothing about his grandfather; I do not know that it wan the cane with him.

MR. CLERK. Q. How long have you been married to Reeves? A. I was married in 1852—it is since my marriage that he has been in the hospital—it was two years last September he was in St. Bartholomew's—it was for delirium tremens—unfortunately he has been in the habit of drinking a good deal—the other time that he was under restraint was twelve months last August—he had the same thing the matter with him then, delirium trmens—he was then taken to the Strand union—he was only there from the Monday to the Thursday—I knew the uncle that died at Hanwell—I have seen him, but I did not see him when he was out of his mind—he was subject to fits, and I believe he died quite out of his mind at Hanwell—I never saw him at Hanwell—my husband told me he was at Hanwell—I do not know how long it is since he died; it was since my marriage—I knew him before he was taken to Hanwell—I used to see him when he came out—he was allowed out—I do not know whether he had been a sober man; he must have been, because he was in the Union for years on account of having fits—he had fits, and had been in the union for years, and then he was taken to Hanwell.

ELLEN JAMES . I live at 10, Drury-court, in the same house as the Reeves's—my husband is a stage carpenter at Govent-garden theatre—on Fridays the 15th of this month, I was at home about 9 o'clock—I came down about three or four minutes to 9 to go and get some milk, and the deceased child ran out to me and said, "Mrs. James, shall I go and get your milk?"—I said, "No Polly, I am halfway down the stairs, and I will go and get it myself dear"—I did not see her again after that—sometime after that I heard that poor boy (the prisoner) calling to her—he was in the passage at the foot of the stairs—he called, "Polly, Polly"—she replied in a rough way that she had in speakings "What is it you want Dick?"—he said, "Polly, bring me the key of the back place—she spoke again, "I do not know where it is Dick—he said, "It is on the table against the window, "perhaps a minute elapsed before she answered again—she then said, "All right Dick," and I heard her go down stairs, and I never beard any more of her un till she was put into my arms—it was about twenty-five minutes past 9 when I heard her go down stairs—a lad named Lynes afterwards came to the house—I went with him to the cellar—I saw the trap-door of the cellar opened—that was about five or ten minutes after 2, as nigh as possible—it is in a back place where they generally worked, in the same yard where the back place is, where they generally worked at the basket-making.

COURT. Q. Is it an open yard or a covered shed? A. A covered shed, and enclosed—they had had coals in a few weeks ago, and where the lodgers used to go down, they had some wood-work, so that they could not go down to it that way, they were obliged to go through the back place—there are no steps to go down to it, only a slide—it was not the coal-cellar of all the lodgers as well as the Reeves's; the Reeves's had it entirely to themselves, but we had to go into the cellar for water—it was blocked up from the lodgers, so that they could not get in that way to it—they were obliged to go in through the back place where they worked.

MR. CLERK. Q. Is there a door to the coal-cellar besides the entrance to it by the trap door? A. Yes, there used to be, but it vas blocked and nailed up—the only entrance was through the trap-door, at that time—in order to get to the cellar, you have to open the trap-door and slide down—there are no steps to go down—the coals are a few feet below the trap-door, immediately under it—when the trap-door was opened, I did not see the body of the child lying there, Mrs. Griffith did—she had a candle in her hand and she exclaimed, "Oh my God! it is Polly—she was taken out

and laid on the sofa—full twenty minutes elapsed before the doctor and the policeman came.

JOHN LYNES . I live at 7, Drury-court—I knew the little girl Mary Ann Reeves—I last saw her alive on the morning of the 15th, about 9 o'clock—I saw the prisoner in the course of the day, about ten minutes to 2—a lad named William Corney was with me—the prisoner came up to us in Drury-court—he said, "Jack, do you mind taking a walk with me to find my sister Polly?"—I said, "I do not mind"—I and Corney and the prisoner went down the Strand, and when we got to Folgate opposite St. Clements' church, he turned round and said to me, "It is no use you looking after my sister Polly, go back and tell my father if he wants my sister Polly, he Will find her in the coal-cellar; I have strangled her"—I and Corney ran back—we left the prisoner there; be went on towards the city.

COURT. Q. Did you not say anything to him when he told you this? A. No.

MR. BEASLEY. Q. When you went back did you see the father? A. Yes; he was tipsy at the time, going past—I asked him to come with me—he went with me to the passage, And then I told him what the prisoner had said—he and I went together—we saw Mrs. Griffiths on the stairs, with a candle and pail in her hand—I went to the cellar and got in—I jumped down through the trap-door—I could not get in through the door, only through the trap—nobody went in with me—Corney stood at the top with Mrs. Griffith and Mrs. James—when I got down into the cellar I found the body about two yards from the trapdoor—it was all on a heap, on the side, with some coals lying on her cheek—the body was lying on the coals—I took it up, and handed it to Mrs. Griffith and Mrs. James through the trap—I noticed a rope or clothes' line tied round the neck—it was round it at the time—the first part of it was tight—I did not notice it.

COURT. Q. Do you mean the front part? A. Yes; that was tight—this is the line (produced)—I did not notice how it was tied—after handing up the body I and Corney went off to King's College Hospital for a surgeon.

JOHH GRIFFITHS . I live at 10, Drury-court, in the first floor front-room—I was at home about 2 o'clock in the day—I heard of the body of the deceased being found—I went to the room where it was lying; it was on the sofa in the shop—I saw there was a rope round her neck—I undid it—I gave it tip to the doctor—it was drawn taut on first, and then put round again—it was very tout—I could not at first get my finger in between the rope and the neck, until I had worked it in a little way first, and then I got it loose and got it off in that way—my wife went up stairs to get a knife to cut it, but I undid it without.

COURT. Q. How was it tied? A. You may call it a slip knot, tied over, and then drawn taut—the tie was under the right ear.

CHARLES HENRY ALLFREY . I am house physician at King's College Hospital—I was called to the house 10, Drury-court, on the 15th November, about five minutes past 2—I found the dead body of a female child—it had been dead probably not many hours—there was still a little warmth about the trunk—I observed a deep mark or furrow round the neck—it was in a horizontal position—from the examinations I made, then and Afterwards, I found it had died of strangulation from the ligature of the cord,—from the position of the mark I should say she had not died from suspension—I examined the hands—there were no marks whatever on them of the rope, as if she had pulled it tight herself.

COURT. Q. Was it possible that she could have strangled herself in the

way you saw? A. I think not; the mark was as if the rope had been drawn very much tighter than she could have drawn it without making marks on the fingers—I think it is possible that a person might fasten a rope round her own neck in such a way as to take away life.

JEMIMA KADGE . I know the prisoner—I remember seeing him on the morning of 15th November—he came up to me as I was standing with my sister—he told me he had strangled his sister—I said, "Dick; I can't believe you"—he said, "I have done it;" and with that he asked me where Elizabeth Rogers was—I said she was upstairs, I believed—he asked me if 1 would go up and call her—I went up and she came down, and he called her three or four yards from the door—he said, "Has Jemima told you anything?"—she said "No"—he then said to her, "Liz, I have strangled my sister;" with that I was going to take some washing to a person in Endelf-street, and he said, "I am going up that way—I asked Rogers to go with me, and she did—I left her and the prisoner outside while I went in—the prisoner said to me, "I will see you about 6 o'clock in the evening—I saw him again about five minutes past 2, at the top of Ship-yard—he said, "I have sent two young chaps down to my mother's to tell them where Polly is;" with that I left him—I do not know where he went to—I went indoors to my work.

Cross-examined. Q. When he said this to you, how did he appear; the Mime as he does now, or in what state? A. He was in a very good temper when be spoke to me about it—he bad a smile on his countenance—I do not know whether he and the deceased used to play in the coal-cellar.

CHARLES GERMANUS VENUS (Policeman, F 96). On 15th November I had instructions to apprehend the prisoner—about a quarter to 5 I found him in Carey-street, reclining on a post at the corner of Serle's-place—I went up to him and said, "I want you—he stepped forward from the gutter on to the kerb, and said, "I know what for; I did it"—I Immediately said, "You are charged with the murder of your sister; be cautious what you say; what you say I shall use in evidence—he directly said, "I did it; she aggravated me to it"—I then took him to the station.

Cross-examined. Q. In what state did he appear to be when he made this statement to you? A. Perfectly calm; he had the same indifferent look that he has now, quite cool and collected.

GUILTY .—Strongly recommended to mercy by the Jury on account of his youth, and the bad example set him at home.— DEATH .

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