13th January 1873
Reference Numbert18730113-136
VerdictNot Guilty > unknown

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136. JOHN SARGENT WALL (28), was indicted for unlawfully publishing a certain false and defamatory libel concerning Annie Bebb.

MR. MONTAGU WILLIAMS conducted the Prosecution; and MR. STRAIGHT and MR. BULLEY the Defence.

JAMBS POWBLL . I am a wine merchant, carrying on business at Manor Place, Upper Holloway—on Friday, the 4th October, a paragraph appeared

in the "Islington Gazette"—I produce the paper—this is the paragraph—(Read: "Sisterly Affection.—On Wednesday last Mary, wife of Mr. James Powell, of Upper Holloway, and Sarah Baylis, of the same place, spinster, were summoned before the magistrates; at Abergavenny, for an assault upon Annie Bebb, a sister of the defendants, and for committing damages on her premises, Quarella Farm, near Abergavenny. It was stated that the complainant is the sole executrix of the will of Thomas Baylis, the deceased father of the parties, and in connection with this fact the offences charged were alleged to have been committed. Mr. Farquhar, of Abergavenny, instructed by Messrs. Buckler, Millard, and Cayley, of London, appeared for the complainant, and the defendants were also represented by a solicitor. The evidence went to show that the defendants broke fifteen panes of glass in the windows of complainant's house, thus effecting an entry, and then committed the assault complained of, which resulted in the complainant having a black eye, scratched face, and broken tooth. Attempts were made on the part of the defendants to settle the matter privately, but these were positively declined by the complainant, and the Magistrates convicted the defendants and levied a fine, which was paid by Mr. Powell, the husband of one of the defendants, who was present in court during the trial.")—I was present at Abergavenny when my wife and Sarah Baylis were charged before the Magistrates—the Magistrates ordered 15s. damages to be paid for breaking the window, and he fined Sarah Baylis 20s.; at the same time he said he regretted very much that such a case was brought before them—there is not a word of truth in saying my wife was ever summoned for assault—there was no charge of assault against my wife, and no evidence given—I saw Mr. Burden, a pupil of defendant's, in court—the defendant is the brother-in-law of Mrs. Bebb, who was complainant in the summons at Abergavenny—MR. Burden was busy taking notes in Court—the defendant is a shorthand writer—I was present at the Clerkenwell Police Court when the prisoner was committed for trial—the defendant admitted that he was the author of the paragraph, and that he would take the entire responsibility of it upon himself—I withdrew the summons against Burden—MR. Baylis, my father-in-law, died in May—at that time Mrs. Bebb resided with me—my wife was living with me, and so was her sister, sarah Baylis—my attention has since been called to copies of the paper containing the paragraph directed to other persons in my immediate neighbourhood—I have seen copies with a black mark surrounding the paragraph.

Cross-examined by MR. BULLET. The two summonses were heard separately, and on the same day.

MARY POWELL . It is not true that I was charged, at Abergavenny with an assault—it is not true that I was convicted of assault.

Cross-examined. Mrs. Bebb had not a black eye.

SARAH BAYLIS . I am sister of Mrs. Powell, and I have also a sister at Abergavenny, named Mrs. Bebb—I was charged with wilful damage and assault—it is not true that my sister was charged with assault or convicted.

Cross-examined. She was not tried for wilful damage; it could not be so; I broke the glass.

Re-examined. I have admitted all along that whatever was done I was the delinquent.

JAMES BURDEN . I am an articled pupil to the defendant—I was charged with this libel at the Police Court—I heard defendant say that he was the author of it, and would take every responsibility, and then the charge was

withdrawn against me—the paragraph was dictated to me by defendant, and this letter (produced) was sent to the editor of the "Islington Gazette "with it—(Read: "6, Marlborough Road, Upper Holloway, N.—To the Editor of the 'Islington Gazette.'—Sir,—As I was present on the hearing of a case in which some people in Holloway were the defendants, I send you a short report of the same from my notes, for insertion in your paper tomorrow. If you do insert it, please send me four dozen copies of the paper, for which the bearer will hand to you the amount.—I remain, yours faithfully, James A. Burden.")—MR. Rastrick took the letter—I did not see how many papers came back—I have seen copies of this newspaper at defendant's house; about twenty.

Cross-examined. I was sent to Abergavenny by Mr. Wall to act for Messrs. Buckler, solicitors—I went there to help Mrs. Bebb—this letter is not in my handwriting; it is in Rastrick's—I saw Mrs. Bebb, and she gave me an account of what had taken place previously, and also instructions to insert anything in the London paper, as her sisters had threatened to ruin her—I saw the paragraph before it was printed—it was not headed "Sisterly Affection;" it was headed "Assault"—the words "Sisterly affection" were put in by the newspaper proprietors—that is not the defendant's handwriting.

Re-examined. This letter was read over to me in defendant's and Mr. Rastrick's presence, and it was revised by Mr. Rastrick—Rastrick is a clerk—a copy of the newspaper was sent by me to Mr. Powell—I was instructed to send it by defendant—I did not draw the black mark round it; it had the black mark round it when I addressed it—I addressed three besides; four in all to people in the immediate-neighbourhood.

GEORGB RASTRICK . I am a clerk and shorthand writer, and have had some experience in reporting—the defendant is a friend of mine—the paragraph was submitted to me for revision—I did not direct any papers, or send them away.

COURT. Q. Did you write "assault" or "sisterly affection?" A. I wrote assault.

Cross-examined. I read the paragraph over to Mr. Burden, and asked him if it was accurate in every particular in accordance with the notes he had taken, and I got an affirmative reply—I went with the letter to the editor.

Re-examined. The editor did not give me the papers; he said they had better be obtained in the neighbourhood—the paper is published by Mr. William Trounce, opposite the Angel, Islington.


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