13th August 1866
Reference Numbert18660813-715
VerdictNot Guilty > unknown

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715. THOMAS BURGIN (35) and WILLIAM GADSDEN (19) , Feloniously killing and slaying John Fisher.

MR. MONTAGU WILLIAMS conducted the Prosecution, MR. RIBTON defended Burgin, and MR. DALY Gadsden.

ELIAS OVENDEN . I am a brickmaker, and live at No. 2, Latimer Road, ammersmith—on Wednesday, 25th July, I was at a public-house in Latimer Road—Burgin was there—two men went out to fight—I heard Burgin say that he had fought, and who he had fought, and he could show them how to fight—he was talking more to himself than anybody else—he was drunk and excited—about half-past five o'clock John Fisher came in—Burgin was then sitting on a form talking about who he had fought, and Fisher said, "You had better let that alone; you are getting too old for it"—Burgin then got up and struck Fisher in the chest—Fisher said, "What is that for? I don't want to fight"—Burgin was going wrangle again, and got up in an attitude of fighting—they closed and got entangled—they fought one round and were parted by two men—I then went away—I returned some few minutes after seven, and Fisher was then on the green senseless, with blood all over his face.

GEORGE WATKINS . I am a blacksmith, and live at Notting Hill—on 25th July I was at the "Britannia" public-house, asleep in the parlour—I was awoke by a noise—I went into the bar and saw Burgin in a scuffle with Fisher—the landlord separated them—Burgin put ten shillings on the bar, and said he would fight Fisher and give him sixpence a round to fight—he threw his cap on my feet, and I kicked it back to him—he said, "What did you do that for?"—I said, "What did you throw it on my feet for? If you throw it there again I shall kick it again"—he deliberately picked it up and threw it with full force at my feet again—I kicked it back again—he then got up and was going to strike me—he said he had fought bigger men than me, and he could fight me—the landlord put him down and told him he had better not fight me, he would get in the wrong—he pulled his things off and went out to fight—his wife came to prevent

him, and I said, "Take him away, I do not want to fight him"—he pushed his wife on one side of me, and rushed at me and struck me on the forehead, and then I knocked him down—after we had had three rounds he said he would give me in the best man, but he said, "I will go in and leather the old b—"—he went inside and began telling Fisher that it was him that set me on to him—Fisher said that he had nothing to do with it, he would fight his own battles if he wanted to fight—Burgin challenged him again, and at last Fisher said, "You will let me leave off when I have had enough "—and they went out and fought, I should think for upwards of half an hour—I saw Fisher fall several times, and ultimately he fell and was not able to get up again—he was picked up, and I heard it hallowed out that it was all over—Gadsden said he would spend a shilling apiece if they would leave off—Fisher had not put me on to Burgin in any way.

Cross-examined. Q. Burgin did not want to fight ultimately, did he? A. He was wanting to fight all the afternoon with some one—Fisher's wife came in after the scuffle had taken place in the bar—I did not hear her wish her husband to fight—it was a fair fight, as far as I could see—it was on a piece of ground about fifty yards from the house—it was not exactly level—there were little holes and lumps in it—I did not see Fisher make a rush at Burgin just before he fell—I think he was too weak to make a rush at any one by what I could see of him—the people said Burgin had been drinking a good deal—I did see him drink—he had sense enough to know when I hit him hard—he shook hands with me when I had done with him.

SARA CAVE . I live at 1, Charlotte Terrace, Latimer Road, and am the daughter of the deceased—I am married—on 25th July I saw my father on the green fighting Burgin—I saw Burgin knock him down—he was quite insensible, and was taken to the hospital, and died there—Gadsden did all he could to stop the fight—Burgin said he would fight, he had begun and he would end it—they fought two rounds after he said that—he struck my father on the nose when he fell, and he never got up again.

Cross-examined. Q. Are you sure that it was when Burgin struck him that he fell? A. Yes, quite sure—the blood fell from his nose as he was fighting—he fell on his back—he was not walking backwards—he knocked my father down, and likewise trampled over him, but I think that was by accident, by the force of the hit—my father had not been drinking—he was at work all day—Burgin was in drink.

MARTHA FISHER . I am the daughter of the deceased—I was on the green when Burgin and my father were fighting—I saw the last round—Burgin struck my father on the nose, and he fell directly on the back of his head—as he was falling the blood fell from his nose, and when he fell it gushed both from the nose and the mouth—he never got up again—he was quite insensible.

The names of several witnesses appearing on the back of the bill who were stated to have been examined before the magistrate on behalf of the prisoners, MR. RIBTON requested that they might be called by the Counsel for the Prosecution. MR. WILLIAMS declined to call them, but MR. JUSTICE KEATING was of opinion that, as their names appeared on the back of the bill, and as they were bound over by the magistrate for the Prosecution, they must be called if the Counsel for the prisoner desired it. At the same time, he remarked that such a course of proceeding showed

great carelessness on the part of the clerk to the magistrate, and might result in great injustice.

GEORGE BEECH (examined by MR. RIBTON). I saw Fisher standing by the public-house bleeding—his wife came up and asked who had struck him—he said Burgin, and she said to Burgin, "If my husband don't fight you I will"—she also said to her husband, "You can fight at home, fight now"—she urged him to fight—she said, "Go and have it out"—he then said, "I will go and have a round or two, and when I have had enough I will leave off"—she gave him some brandy and water, I believe, while he was fighting—I saw the fight—as he was stepping back he caught his heel in a lump of earth and fell—he did not fall from the effect of a blow—he fell on the back of his head—it was hard ground and very rough.

MR. WILLIAMS. Q. Did you see the blood come from his nose and mouth? A. Not then—he had blood before that—it is not true that he fell from a blow inflicted by Burgin—I was examined at the police-court as a witness for Burgin—I am a witness for the defence.

RICHARDS EDWARDS (Police Sergeant X 24). On 26th July I took Burgin into custody—I told him it was for causing the death of Fisher in a fight the previous night—he said he was very sorry—it was all through liquor, and he was in liquor at the time it happened.

MARATHA FISHER (examined by MR. RIBTON). I am the wife of the deceased—I did not see the beginning of the fight—it is not true that I said to my husband, "You can fight at home, fight now"—I did not see my husband fall—I heard Gadsden offer a shilling for Burgin to leave off, and Burgin said he would, and my husband stepped up to shake hands with him, and Burgin then stepped forward and hit out his fist and hit my husband, saying, "No; I have begun it, and I will end it."

MR. WILLIAMS. Q. There was a good deal of fighting going on, was there not? A. Very little—I did not see Gadsden strike any one—they were not all sober—my husband was sober—I saw Watkins—he fought with Burgin, and got the better of him—it was not Burgin who offered to shake hands—Beech was not there—he is a very false witness.

RICHARD SAMUEL GRIFFITHS . I am house surgeon at St. Mary's Hospital—on the evening of 25th July Fisher was brought there—he was quite insensible—the pupils of his eyes were dilated, his pulse was full and slow, there was a bruise round the right eye and cheek—I examined his scalp—I could find no injury of the chest, or arms, or pelvis—he remained unconscious until he died, at five o'clock next morning.

Cross-examined. Q. To what do you attribute his death? A. to coma I should think, caused by compression—the striking of the head against a hard substance would be very likely to cause that—the skull was fractured—I have heard the witnesses describe how he fell—the fall would account for it.

MR. WILLIAMS. Q. Would a heavy blow cause it? A. I should think that would be hardly possible.

JOHN HOLDEN WEBB . I am house surgeon at St. Mary's Hospital—on 27th July I made a post-mortem examination of the body of Fisher—there was a blow over the right eye, a blow over the right mala bone, with an excoriation, and a blow on the left leg—I opened the head, and underneath the dura mater I found a great deal of venous extravasation—on removing the brain I found a fracture through the base of the skull dividing one of the sinuses—the other organs were healthy—the fracture was the cause of death—I think a heavy fall would cause that, not

necessarily on the head—it is the weight of the body that caused the fracture, not the fall itself.

RICHARD EDWARDS (re-examined). I was present when these depositions were taken—the prisoners were remanded twice—at the first time the witness Beech was not there—the second time he was, and his deposition was taken—he was called as a witness by the prisoner.

JOHN BURGIN (examined by MR. RIBTON). I am the prisoner's brother—on 25th July I was fetched to the public-house by my little girl as I was having my tea—when I got there I found a ring was formed, and my brother was fighting with Fisher—I do not know that there was any difference in size between my brother and Fisher—I caught hold of my brother's two arms, and said, "Tom, you are too tipsy; you shan't fight"—he was very tipsy—Gadsden turned round and hit me in the mouth, and made my nose and mouth bleed—I was obliged to let them continue the fight—I stood by and saw several rounds, but not to look at them, because I dare not go nearer than I was—I heard Mrs. Fisher say her husband was to show his temper out of doors the same as he did at home—I was examined before the magistrate.

MR. WILLIAMS. Q. You were called as a witness for your brother? A. Yes; I am quite sure Mrs. Fisher used those very words—I saw one of Fisher's daughters there, the youngest one—Gadsden was seconding Fisher—he did not try to part them while I was there.

JAMES WILLIAMS (examined by MR. RIBTON). I was at the public-house when this happened—I did not see the beginning of it—when I went in I saw Burgin with a black eye, and Fisher also—I heard Burgin say to Fisher, "Fisher, it was a very unmanly trick of you to put a big sober man on to a drunken man," that was alluding to Watkins—Fisher said, "I did not"—Burgin said, "I am man enough to fight you, I will fight you if you like"—Mrs. Fisher said, "You show your temper at home, go out and fight him;" she said that, I believe, once or twice—Fisher then said, "Well, Tom, I will go out and fight you; you will let me leave off when I have had enough, will you?"—they then went out to fight—Fisher went out first—they pulled off their clothes, and fought on the green—there was no particular ring, only a crowd of people—I did not see Gadsden do anything—they fought about twenty minutes—I saw Fisher knock Burgin down five or six rounds with his left hand—I heard Gadsden say that each man should stand three pots of beer and turn it up—Burgin then went up to Fisher, and said, "Fisher, how is this to be?" holding out his hand—Fisher said, "No, Tom, we will finish it"—I think that it was three rounds after that that I saw Fisher fall—he fell backwards against the wall—he afterwards fell on his back—that was about two rounds before his death—as he was going back his heels caught against a piece of loose wall, and he fell—he did not fall on his head that time—the last round Burgin was coming up to fight him, and he said, "Get away from me, I know my game," meaning to hit him with his left hand—he ran back as fast as he could, and his heels caught against the ground and he fell—he was no particular fighter—he was a better man than Burgin at the first starting—I saw him fall—he never spoke afterwards.

MR. WILLIAMS. Q. You were called as a witness for the defence, were you not? A. Yes—I have known the parties fourteen years, and I respected Fisher more than I do Burgin, though I come here to speak the truth.


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