26th June 1882
Reference Numbert18820626-724
VerdictNot Guilty > unknown

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724. THOMAS TAYLOR, Feloniously killing and slaying Mary Ann Smith. Also charged on the Coroner's Inquisition with a like offence. MESSRS. FULTON and RAVEN Prosecuted; MR. BESLEY Defended.

JOHN THOMAS EVANS . I am a cab driver, of 98, Kingsland Road—the deceased |Mary Ann Smith was my sister; she was a widow—I had not seen her for some years.

Cross-examined. She denied to me that she was living with the prisoner, and when I found out where she lived she always moved away.

DANIEL NEWELL . I am a bootmaker, of 11, Gurney Street, New Kent Road—the deceased lived in my house with the prisoner about a year and 10 months—I first saw him on 17th May about 10.30; they were indoors;

the prisoner was partially inebriated—Mrs. Smith was sober, as far as I could see—she came into my room, which is on the basement, and he went upstairs to their room, which is at the top of the house—Mrs. Fowls is my housekeeper, her room is in the basement—they went up stairs some time past 11 o'clock, and then I heard her say "For God's sake, Fowls, come upstairs, he has set me on fire!"—I went up to the landing where they lived, and saw her burning; her clothes were flaming up nearly as high as the ceiling—she was partially in the back room and on the landing—they had the front and back rooms, the landing runs between the two; the back room is' on the left, and the other room is straight on—the prisoner was standing between the two rooms in a corner, doing nothing—I wrapped some bedclothes round her, and carpets, and anything 1 could get hold of, and extinguished the flames, and she was sent to Guy's Hospital—the prisoner then went out, and came back again about 1.30 or 2 a.m., but I would not allow him to come in—their rooms used to be lighted by a lamp—I should imagine it was paraffin, but I did not see any lamp—I saw no water on the floor of either of the rooms—I did not look to see, but I will undertake to say that there was none—the prisoner did not assist in putting out the flames or in taking her to the hospital.

Cross-examined. Mrs. Fowls went up first and called for me, and I went up in a very short time—I could not tell whether Mrs. Smith was a foot inside her bedroom or on the landing when I went up; my first care was to put out the flames, and I went into the room and took off the bedclothes—I can't say whether she was in her bedroom when I wrapped them round her—I did not go into the sitting-room before I attended to her—I did not see her put on her bed after the flames were extinguished—I went into both rooms; first into the back room to get the bedclothes, and after the flames were put out into the other room—I did not take the bedclothes back, but I went into the back room again to open the window and let the smoke out—my attention was not drawn to any water spilt—I opened the windows of both rooms, but do not remember which I opened first—I had no motive for going into the front room than to open the window—there was no paraffin alight on the niece of carpet when I got upstairs; nothing was burning but what she Bad been wrapped in—the part of the lamp which contains the paraffin is white china—I did not hear the china break, because there was a floor intervening—Mrs. Fowls was in the basement, in the same room with me, when the first alarm was given; she was as far from Mr. Taylor's room as I was—Mrs. Smith took the apartment herself, when Taylor was in the hospital with a broken leg—I do not know where he was employed, but I do know that he had broken his leg at an iron place—after he came out of the hospital he came to live with Mrs. Smith at my place, and for a long time he was extremely sober—they left off lodging at my place and paying the rent for some months—I never heard Taylor complain of Mrs. Fowls leading his wife astray, and I never heard Mrs. Fowls calling him names; she did not call him an old cripple or an old hypocrite—I do not know that she was antagonistic to him—the expression was "For God's sake, Fowls, come upstairs, he has set me on fire," not "I am in flames"—I should not like to be positive. (The witness's deposition being referred to, stated, "For God's sake, Fowls, come upstairs, I am on fire")

By the COURT. No water came through the ceiling afterwards—there was some paraffin burning in the passage, but there was no carpet to

burn—the prisoner did nothing to put it out—I said before the Coroner that I heard the woman's voice say "For God's sake, Fowls, he has set me on fire "—I thought I said that at both places—I was not before the Coroner and the Magistrate on the same day.

Re-examined. I saw paraffin burning on the board of the landing, but I saw no paraffin spilt in either of the rooms, nor anything burning there, nor anything burning inside—I saw the pieces of a paraffin lamp on the landing—they are not here—I did not take them into my hand—it had a white reservoir.

CHARLOTTE FOWLS . I live at Mr. Newell's house—I was at home on the Wednesday evening—the prisoner came home to tea between 6 and 7 o'clock and went out again—Mrs. Smith was at home until 10 o'clock, when she went out to look for him, and they both came back about a quarter or half-past 11—she spoke to me before she went out; she was sober—I beard a great noise outside the house when they came in, and there was a great crowd when I opened the door—she was then persuading him to come in, and he stood on the step and abused me and everybody, and I fetched Mr. Newell—they then came in, and when she called me I was afraid to go up—their room is at the top—I heard a lot of plates and cups being thrown about and her persuading him to keep quiet—he was using disgusting language, and holloing at her as loud as ever he could, and half an hour after that she called out "For God's sake, Mrs. Fowls, come up, I am in flames "—I went up to the top, and saw her standing on the lauding all in flames about her head, and the lamp lying by her aide broken, and a lot of paraffin by her side on the landing—I called Mr. Newell, who came up directly—I stood on the stairs, and held a light while he got all the bedding he could get hold of and threw over her to extricate the flames—he got them out as well as he could—I saw a lamp broken; it had a bronze stand and a white opal reservoir—it was broken all to pieces, and the reservoir was in little pieces—the bronze stand was in one piece; the top was off—I used to go up sometimes and see her, she usually kept the lamp in the middle of the table in the front room, and the table was in the middle of the room—she was about a yard, or a yard and a half from the door of each room when I went up—the doors are opposite each other—I have known her six or seven years; I knew her before she came to live in my house—this letter is in the prisoner's writing. (This was written from Clerkenwell Prison to Mrs. Fowls, and stated: "Will you be so kind to let me know how my poor wife is? What shall I do; I will be steady the rest part of my life. Give my kind love to my dear wife, and ask her to forgive me all that I have done wrong. ")

Cross-examined. I knew her before I was Mr. Newell's housekeeper—She and I were very good friends indeed, but she had only lodged with me there—I knew that the prisoner had been living with her 13 or 14 years on and oil"—she left him six or seven years ago, and they came together again—I do not know whether he made a complaint of my influence over her—I have never called him names—I was not present when her deposition was taken—I was up in the room until she was in flames—when she spoke of the landlady she meant me—the expression she used was "For God's sake come up, Mrs. Fowls; I am in names "—I instantly went up and called Mr. Newell; and after the flames had been put out, a neighbour came in, and with assistance took her in a cab to the hospital—she was not

put into bed at all—she was got down quickly out of the smoke, in case she should be choked—there was a good deal of smoke upstairs and a stench of paraffin and of burning—all her clothes were burnt off from her boots right up to her waist—she did not tell me that her skirts had caught fire when the lamp was upset; she was too confused—we got back from the hospital about 1 or 1.30—when the prisoner came back I stood there; he said that he wanted his wife—I said," You had better go to Guy's Hospital; you will find her there."and he did not knock again.

Re-examined. I think they lived a most uncomfortable life for the last nine months; they never seemed comfortable, whether they were sober or not—when her clothes came back from the hospital there was nothing but a little bit of them up to the waist, and part of one stocking—they were burnt on one side of her body and her right sleeve—when I first saw her her petticoats were smouldering to her waist, and the prisoner was standing with his hands behind him in a corner—I did not see him do anything while she: was on fire—he went out, and when he came back she had gone to the hospital.

BEVAN LEAVE EASE . I am house surgeon at Guy's Hospital—the deceased was brought there about midnight on the Wednesday—I did not see her till she was in bed—she was burnt on the legs, and back, and buttocks, and in front, but not higher than her waist, except a little on her her right arm, where the sleeve was loose—she was superficially burnt, not severely—the remainder of her clothes had been taken off when I saw her—she died on the Saturday, from exhaustion from the effects of the burning—Mr. Ellison took down her deposition in my presence on the Thursday, nearly two days before she. died——the prisoner was present, and had the opportunity, of cross-examining her. (The deposition of Mary, Ann Smith was here read as follows: "I am now a patient in Guy's Hospital. I am a widow; I lived at 11, Gurney Street, with the prisoner as his wife. Last evening he came home to tea about 6 o'clock; he was sober then. He went out. We had no words. About half-past 10 I went out after him, and found him in a public-house near the Elephant and Castle. He was then very drunk. I asked him to come home, and he did after a time. When we got. home I poured out some tea for him. All at once he began. The first thing he did was he broke the cup and saucer. Then he broke the lamp. I had put it out of the way on the drawers, and he either threw it or knocked it over; I could not say which. It fell on the mat and blazed up, and I was close against it, and it catched to my dress in a moment. I called out that I was on fire, and the landlord and landlady came up. Before they could get up, Taylor threw a pail of water over me, and then I was brought here in a cab. He is all right when he is sober; it is only when he gets drink. My face was not towards-the drawers when the lamp was broken. The lamp fell on the mat close to me; it did not hit me first. When they came upstairs he was putting water on the fire and on the mat. There was not much bad language used; he had not illused me. No one was in the room. "

Cross-examined. "You tried all you could to extinguish it—you have done all you can to make me comfortable. "

Cross-examined. She was perfectly conscious, but as far as I remember she was questioned a good deal, because she was rather weak—the expression "catched" instead of caught was her own; that was quite voluntary—these are Very nearly the words she used—when she said "putting

water on the fire," I understood her to mean the fire of the paraffin, not that there was any fire in the grate.

MARY CULTRESS . I am the wife of George Cultress, of 7, Gurney Street—on 17th May, about 11.30, I went into this house and up to the top, and saw Mrs. Smith lying on the landing rolled up in things burning—Mrs. Fowls and Mr. Newell were with her, and he was putting out the fire—the prisoner was standing between the two doors—there was no water—I touched her clothes when the fire was put out and they were quite dry, they burnt my hands—I did not see a pail that evening, I did next day.

Cross-examined. I went up with Mrs. Fowls, she came out to fetch a policeman—the place was full of smoke—I laid hold of her shoulders and drew her downstairs—the cab was sent for and I never left her till I took her to the hospital, where they dressed my hand at the same time—they went up and opened the window when I took her down—I did not go into any of the rooms—I was agitated too.

CHARLOTTE FOWLS (Re-examined). I saw no water; there was none there, nor any pail—her clothes were dry.

By MR. BESLEY. When Newell had rolled her in the clothes, I went for a policeman, but I did not leave her for a quarter of an hour—Mr. Newell failed to put out the fire at first, and I went for assistance—I saw Mrs. Cultress come on the scene—I stood on the stairs—I did not go into either room then; I did when 1 came back and looked about, but saw no water there, nor did I notice any pail—the drawers were facing the window on the same side; as a chair which was between the drawers and the door, it was from three-quarters of a yard to a yard from the door to the side of the chest of drawers which had its back against the wall—the door did not open against the drawers, it opened back to the wall.

JOHN TILL (Police Sergeant P 11). On 18th May, shortly after 2 a.m., I went to the hospital and saw the deceased, she made a statement to me—I went in search of the prisoner, but could not find him at 11, Gurney Street—I went upstairs and minutely examined the room; Newell showed me the position in which the woman stood—I saw the remains of a paraffin lamp lying on the landing—I saw a chest of drawers in the front room, and a small round table in the centre of the room—there were no signs of water having been thrown in either of the rooms or on the landing, nor did I see any pail or large vessel in any of the rooms or landing—it was 4 o'clock when I reached the house—I made inquiries and found the prisoner at a house in Brandon Street, 300 or 400 yards off, lying on a sofa—the landlord said, "Here is some one come for you "—I was in uniform—the prisoner said, "I know what you want, you have come about the fire?"—I said, "Yes, I shall take you in custody for causing grievous bodily harm to Mary Ann Smith, by throwing a lighted paraffin lamp at her, at 11, Gurney Street"—he said, "I did not throw it"—I took him to the station—he was told the charge, and said again he did not throw it—I said, "I have seen Mary Ann Smith, and this is what she says, 'He got drunk and he threw the things at me, and he threw the paraffin lamp alight at me and it set me on fire'"—he said, "Then I must have pushed her against the table, and the lamp fell on her "—he was charged and made no reply.

Cross-examined. I did not swear before the Coroner that he said, "I know nothing about it," it was, "I know what you want"—I haveno

recollection of saying, "He then replied 'I know nothing about it' "—this is my signature; it was read over to me by the Coroner—the deceased's statement was made after he was in custody, and before he was charged at the station—I first swore that he said, "I know what you hare come about, you have come about the fire," when I gave evidence before the Magistrate—the same day: and to the best of my recollection, that is what I said to the Coroner; it was my intention to say so—to the best of my recollection I told the Magistrate that he said "I did not throw it"—I don't recollect whether I told the Coroner that ha denied throwing the lamp—I saw the deceased at 3.30 or 3. 45 on the morning following the injuries; the nurse was present; she is not here—the deceased did not say "He got drunk and threw the things at me, and threw over the paraffin lamp, and it catched me on fire "—I am positive of that, much more so than before—I had seen the woman when I searched the room—she had told me nothing about any water—there was no special reason for my searching for a pail; there was not a pail there next morning when I was there—the carpet was singed; and when I took the prisoner his hands were blistered at the back—I saw some burnt clothing and fragments of a lamp within seven feet of the chest of drawers.

By the JURY. I said to the deceased "Are you burnt?"—she said "Yea"—I said "How did this happen? you and Taylor were in the room together;" and then she said that he got drunk, and went on—she was not asleep when I went in—she did not appear to be in any great pain—I wrote her statement down as she gave it, in the nurse's presence—this is it.

The prisoner, in hit statement before the Magistrate, said that he broke hit leg, and while in the hospital the deceased removed to Mr. Newells house contrary to kit wishes, as Newell and Mrs. Fowls were living together; and that because they were drunken and he was steady and sober, jealousy arose, and this was the consequence.

The prisoner received a good character, and hit matter, at whose expense he was defended, promised to take him back into hit service.



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