4th March 1889
Reference Numbert18890304-316
VerdictNot Guilty > unknown

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316. CHARLES MANZI (28) , Maliciously setting fire to the dwelling house of Joseph Manzi, with intent to injure.

MR. BEARD Prosecuted.

ALFRED BROWN . I live at 25, Butcher's Row, Ratcliff—on February 7th, about one a.m., I noticed smoke issuing from the fanlight of Mr. Manzi's door, a picture-frame maker's, opposite—I ran downstairs and rapped at his door several times—the prisoner came, and I said, "There is a fire here"—he said, "No, there is nothing"—I said, "Yes there is; look at the fire at the end of the counter; it is burning"—he said, "Come inside"—I said, "No"—I did not go in—my mistress kept halloaing—the neighbours came, and the prisoner went inside and shut the door, but opened it again directly—the police were called, and I assisted them with buckets of water, and the fire was put out—the police brought a mattress from the end of the counter under the staircase, into the street all alight.

JOHN CHARLES TIMPKI . I am a labourer, and live next door to the prisoner—on February 7th, between one and two a.m., I heard a knocking at the prisoner's door—I put my head out of the window and saw smoke issuing from the door—I ran down and said to the prisoner, who was agin

his door—"I say, old chap, you have got a fire here"—he said, "Oh, no; take no notice"—I went indoors and called the neighbours up—I went down again, and the prisoner was standing with the door closed—I shoved him against it, and said, "Oh, you scoundrel! I can see there is fire there through the fanlight at the top," and with that the police came up—the door was closed then—the door was burst open, and the police went in and caught hold of the mattress and threw it into the road—I believe the prisoner's father and mother lived on the premises, but moved out the same night—the engines came, and the fire was put out.

Cross-examined. I never knew you to work in the shop; I have been in to see your father, but I never saw you.

JOHN MINAN . I live at 24, Butcher's Row, Ratcliff—on February 7th, about 2 a.m., Timpki, one of my lodgers, called me out of bed—I got up, and saw the prisoner standing with his back to his door, keeping it closed with his left hand—I asked him if there was a fire, and I think he muttered, "No"—Brown came across, and said something about the fire—the prisoner denied it, and said, "Go in and see" or "Come in and see"—Timpki then came out of my house, and said, "There is a fire in the place"—he said, "No," and Timpki put his hand over the prisoner's shoulder, and drove the door in, and I saw a blaze under the staircase, and the place full of smoke—I called the police, and they came in two or three minutes, and one of them drove the door in, which was then closed, and pulled out a blazing mattress, and stamped on it, and we got pails of water and spilt on it.

Cross-examined. I never saw you working in the shop, but I have seen you in and out.

ALFRED SHOTT (Policeman H 315). I heard cries of "Police," went to 22, Butcher's Row, and saw flames—I pushed the door in with my fist, rushed into the shop, pulled out a mattress which was burning, and threw it into the road and stamped on it, and Ambrose brought some water, and threw on it—there were flames in the house, and Ambrose threw water on them; a cupboard under the staircase was flaring away.

By the COURT. This was not a sleeping-place under the stairs; the house was empty—there was no sleeping-place where I saw the mattress, only a cupboard—the mattress was under the stairs, on a level as you go into the shop; I saw it alight, and pulled it out.

JAMES AMBROSE (Policeman H 348). I was called to this house, and saw a large quantity of smoke issuing from the shutters and above the door—Shott pushed the door in with his fist, entered and brought out half of a paliasse in flames—I got some water from one of the neighbours, and flung it over a shelf which was burning; the lath work under the stairs was alight—the fire was put out—no one was on the premises—the other half of the paliasse was all right.

ONSLOW WATERFORD (Police Inspector H). I met the prisoner being taken to the station by a constable; I examined the premises; the boards forming the roof of the cupboard had been alight, and were very much scorched, the flames had crawled up in front and set light to them; the plaster was broken away and the laths had just caught light—the end of the cupboard was wood, the staircase formed part of it—in a back room upstairs were two old iron bedsteads, on one of which I found a half paliasse corresponding to the part downstairs—the house appeared

to have been not long vacated, because the kitchen fire was still in embers, and the leg of a chair had been used to light it—I found a stone jar in the kitchen containing paraffin oil, but there was no smell—I charged the prisoner at the station with setting fire to the paliasse under the house; he demanded who prosecuted him—I said that I did; he made no answer.

Cross-examined. There would have been no benefit to you from setting fire to the house—the owner has insured it.

CHARLES BUDWING . I am an auctioneer's clerk—my employer, the Rev. George Massey, of Anchor Road, Brixton, let this house to the prisoner's father—the tenancy had not expired.

Cross-examined. You had no bad feeling against the landlord to my knowledge.

FRANCIS CLEMENT DREE . I am a clerk in the Imperial Fire Office, Old Broad Street; these premises are insured there in the name of the Rev. George Eastman and two others, not in the prisoner's name.

Prisoner's Defence.—I knocked at the door and noticed smoke coming between the cracks of the shutters. I knocked two or three times and received no answer, and as the smoke came through I forced the door open and found it was burning. I rushed upstairs, but could not make anybody hear, and came down and saw what I thought was a quantity of straw burning in the shop. I stamped on it, and heard a knocking at the door, and went there and saw the first witness. It would be no benefit to me to set fire to the place, nor was there any bad feeling existing between me and the landlord, but because I was the first to discover the fire I was charged with the offence. If it had been burned down I should have had no place to go to and no place to work.


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