22nd October 1888
Reference Numbert18881022-965
VerdictNot Guilty > unknown

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965. WILLIAM MARTIN, Unlawfully assaulting Winifred Brown Second Count, maliciously pouring sulphuric acid on her clothing, and damaging it to an amount exceeding 5l.



WINIFRED BROWN . I am a governess—I live at 6, Anson Road, Tufnell Road—about a quarter to 11 a.m. on 16th September I was walking in Torriano Avenue—the prisoner was walking in front of me on the same side of the street—there was no one else immediately in front of me—I passed him and directly felt something warm on my back—I put my left gloved hand to feel what it was, drew my hand forth, and saw red stuff on my glove; it was a sticky, jammy substance; I tried to Tub it off with my handkerchief, and as I did so the whole of the back of my glove went into a big hole—I then turned round and looked; the prisoner had crossed over and was on the other side going back—I turned back too, keeping on my side of the road—five minutes must have covered all the time—I turned up Leighton Road, he also turning up Leighton Road, only on the other side, still in front of me—I met a con stable in Leighton Road, spoke to him, and he crossed the road with me after the prisoner—I had never seen the prisoner before; he was a perfect stranger to me—I examined my clothing at the station—my dress was a present, so that I don't know its exact value, but I should have to look everywhere to get it for 5l. or 5 guineas, and my handkerchief, and a new pair of gloves were damaged—I estimate the entire damage at over 5l.

Cross-examined. My aunt said at the police station in my presence that my clothes were worth three guineas—as she gave me the dress I let her put the value on, and she put it at three guineas, as it had been worn—I was first informed that the damage must come up to 5l. to support the charge when I attended here this week, that was not the first time it occurred to me that, putting this and that together, it would reach perhaps

to over 5l.—the prisoner said at the station it was a mistake, he did not say then he wished to pay for the damage; next day it was stated openly in Court that he was very sorry for the accident—he described in his way how it occurred, and he said he was perfectly willing to pay for any damage—I know nothing of him; he had no spite against me as far as 1 know of any kind—I was going to church and was going down Torriano Avenue towards Busby Place—just after this had been thrown upon me the prisoner crossed over the road from my side to the other—I did not observe that as he crossed the road he was looking up at an empty house—I did not see him in the act of crossing the road—I saw him on my side and then on the other—I did not notice an empty house, No 15 on the other side, the side to which he crossed—I should not have thought there was one empty, because I think all the houses on that side are occupied, I would not be certain about every one, I have not noticed—he did not come back on to my side again; but turned and walked back on the other side—I had crossed Leighton Road before this, and was going towards Busby Place—he afterwards turned up Leighton Road, and he had gone some short distance when the policeman took him—I was asked before the Magristrate "Did the prisoner attempt to run away?" and I answered "No"—I was asked "Did he quicken his pace at all?" and I answered, "He was walking at an ordinary pace"—I did not see his face, so that ofter this was over, and while I was following him, he never turned round to look—I cannot tell where with regard to myself the prisoner was at the moment I felt it on my dress; I did not see him at the moment—I was just a second past him—I was asked before the Magistrate "Then you did not see who it was when you felt it? A. No, because I thought it was an accident I passed him as he was going slowly along"—he was at the time on the inside of the pavement between me and the wall—the gloves were worth 2s., the handkerchief I cannot replace except by getting half a dozen; they are 5s. the half-dozen (MR. PURCELL here said that he should not trouble the Jury with the Second Count at to the value of the clothes, but that the case would only go to them as one of assault.)

GEORGE BLAND (Policeman Y 179) On Sunday, 16th September, about 10 45 a m., I was on duty in Leighton Road—Miss Brown spoke to me and pointed out the prisoner about 150 yards off going at a fast walking pace—I ran after and stopped him—I told him I should take him in custody for throwing something on the lady's back—he said "It must, be a great mistake, I am a respectable man, how dare you put your hands on me? "I took him to the station, where he produced a small empty bottle, and said "Here is the bottle, I did it"—I searched and found in his right hand trousers pocket another bottle containing liquid; that has been shown to the doctor—I found no marks or stains of any kind on the prisoner's hands or clothing—he gave a false address at first, 592, Holloway Road—I did not go there—when I say it was false somebody else told me—at the station the prisoner was charged with throwing corrosive fluid on Winifred Brown with the intention of causing grievous bodily harm—he said "I admit throwing the stuff, but I must deny the intent to do grievous bodily harm "

Cross-examined. The number he gave of the house was 592—I don't know that the policeman who went to look, looked at 492, came back and said that was not the right one, was told then by the prisoner

that he believed the number was 592, that it was next door to the Great Northern Hospital, and that he went there and found it was the right address, and that the inspector in open Court said there was nothing in the question of a false address—the inspector went to the house and said it was a false address first—592 is the right number I know—I said before the Magistrate that the prisoner was going away as fast as he could—he was going as fast as he could walk, faster than an ordinary walking pace—I saw no stains on his waistcoat at the station—I looked; I did not shut my eyes—I was at the police-court the whole time—I heard Mr. Geoghegan ask the Magistrate "Will you allow the doctor to examine my client's waistcoat pocket to see if he can discover any stains on the lining?"—the Magistrate said "I have no objection to his doing so, but I can make no order for it to be done"—Dr Downes then examined the pocket, and Mr. Geoghegan said "Do you see the stains, doctor?" and Dr Downes said "Yes, it is stained by some acid"——when charged the prisoner said something similar to "I admit that I threw it, but I did not intend to do her grievous bodily harm"—I said in answer to Mr. Geoghegan at the police-court that he said "' I did not intend to do any harm whatever,' or something to that effect"—I was in uniform; it was half-past 10 and a fine day, good broad daylight—I was walking up Leighton Road from the direction of Torriano Avenue, which leads across—the prisoner came down Torriano Avenue and then up Leighton Road—he was behind me—I was in Leighton Road just opposite the end of Torriano Avenue—I was behind the prisoner as he came down Torriano Avenue—in walking down Leighton Road you pass the end of Torriano Avenue—the prisoner came from Torriano Avenue into Leighton Road before I crossed the end of Torriano Avenue, and I was behind him—I did not see him turn round the corner—the words the prisoner used at the station were "This is the bottle I did it with"—but after he was charged he said "I admit I threw the stuff"—I said that before the Magistrate—Inspector Miller was examined after me—I heard his evidence.

CHARLES MILLER (Inspector Y) I was present at Kentish Town Police-station on Sunday, 16th September, at 12 o'clock, when the prisoner was charged—he said in reply "I admit throwing the acid, but I deny the intent to do grievous bodily harm"—he gave his address on the charge sheet as 492, Holloway Road—I went to 492 with Taylor, another officer, and made inquiries there—I returned and said to the prisoner "The address you have given me is false; 492 is a Bank; you are not known there"—he said "If it is not 492 it is 592; you will easily find it; it is next door to the Great Northern Hospital"—I went there, and found that was the correct address—I searched the place—among some photographic apparatus, in an outhouse attached to 592, Holloway Road, I found this bottle of sulphuric acid—I found other acids there such as are used by photographers—I afterwards saw the prisoner, and told him what I had found—he said "I could tell you that was there if you had asked me"

Cross-examined. I found where this acid was a lot more bottles and camera and lens, and other acids and chemicals, and photographic apparatus, and a dark room—I made inquiries about him in the neighbourhood; he has been living in the neighbourhood on and off for some years—I did not search him—I think a document was found on him—as I understood it was an order for some different acids, but nothing was

said about sulphuric acid on it—it was on a billhead of some chemist in the Holloway Road—there was something else on it; I should call it merely a tradesman's billhead with charges for acids.

DENNIS SIDNEY DOWKES . I am divisional surgeon to the Y police at Kentish Town—on this Sunday morning I was at the station—I examined Miss Brown's left glove, and found the back had been destroyed by strong corrosive acid—I examined her dress, and found the back of it and he jacket thoroughly destroyed—the silk lining and the petticoat bodice she wore under it were also stained with acid—two small bottles, one empty and the other containing sulphuric acid, have been shown me—the marks were such as would have been occasioned by sulphuric acid—I examined the prisoner's waistcoat pocket at the time; I found a small red stain on the lining—that might have been caused by putting the bottle into the pocket; the empty bottle put in the pocket would do it.

Cross-examined. It was the stain of an acid in the same sense as I used it with regard to the stain on the lady's dress, but not so strong as the acid thrown on the dress—if it had been that thrown on the dress it would have destroyed the lining of the pocket; it would burn, not only stain it—this bottle has sulphuric acid in it still; the cork is charred by the acid By the JURY. The lady's hand was stained.

FLORENCE SMITH . I live at 23, Pemberton Gardens—on the 2nd September I went to St. John's Church, Holloway, at 25 minutes past 6 p.m. (MR. WADDY objected to the evidence as being the subject of a separate charge MR. PURCELL contended that the defence being that of an accident, he was entitled to give this evidence to show intent. MR. WADDY urged that could only be done when there was no dispute as to the person; in this case he could prove an alibi The RECORDER said he could not exclude it.) I returned from church a few minutes before 8—afterwards during the week I examined my clothes, and found the back of my dress and my mantle were burnt—my father went to the police-station—I afterwards went to the police-court—I saw the prisoner with three or four others outside the Court, and I recognised that I had seen him outside St. John's Church on the night my dress was burnt—there were not many hundreds outside the church (MR. PURCELL said he attached no importance to this witness's evidence)

The Prisoner's Statement before the Magistrate. "It was a pure accident I was walking along the street quietly, looking occasionally at the houses on my left as I went along I wished to take down the number of one house I saw, an empty house At that time I was close to the railings of the house with my back to the footway I put my finger into my waistcoat pocket to feel for a pencil, and found that the cork of a small bottle of sulphuric acid that I had in my pocket had been forced out, probably by the heat of my body I looked in my pocket and found that the lining had been destroyed by the acid that escaped from the bottle At this time I was not conscious of any one approaching me on either side I took the bottle hastily out of my pocket and flung the contents, as I thought, into the road I then, having emptied the bottle, replaced it in my pocket and walked quietly along the street I continued my walk along the street until I came to the end of the street and then I turned up Leighton Road When I got about ten yards from the corner of the street I had been walking in a policeman came up to me, and I was taken to Kentish Town Police-station I said, 'The entire thing is a

mistake,' or that there must be a mistake, I cannot remember which, that I had not the slightest intention to do the lady any bodily injury I was not aware that I had injured the lady's dress till I was stopped by the police"

The prisoner received an excellent character


The RECORDER said that he quite concurred in this verdict.

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