22nd June 1896
Reference Numbert18960622-535a
VerdictGuilty > unknown
SentenceImprisonment > penal servitude

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535. JAMES PRICE (38) , Unlawfully committing wilful and corrupt perjury at the Lambeth County Court.


JAMES THOMAS COLLIER . I am clerk to Messrs. Hickling, Washington and Pasmore, solicitors, of 1, Trinity Square, Southwark—they are solicitors to the South Metropolitan Gas Company—on May 2nd, 1895, the prisoner commenced an action against that Gas Company in the Lambeth County Court—I produce the summons and the particulars of the claim, showing that he claims damages for personal injuries alleged to have been sustained by him on February 1st, 1895, in consequence of an explosion on Southwark Bridge—on June 18th, 1895, I was present at the trial of the action before his Honour Judge Emden—I took a short-hand note of the evidence given by the prisoner—I produce this correct transcript of my notes—after he had given evidence, a witness was called for him, who gave the name of George Beard, and began to give evidence—Mr. Washington, who appeared for the Gas Company, then admitted that the explosion had taken place, and, in consequence, it was not necessary to proceed further with George Beard's evidence, the only question being as to liability and damages—in the result the Judge found a verdict of £12 for the prisoner—I produce a certified copy of the entry in the minute book of the County Court, containing a record of the judgment—the Gas Company appealed to the High Court on the ground that they were not legally liable—the appeal was heard on November 9th, 1895, and decided against the company, dismissing the appeal, and the damages and costs were paid to Mr. Roland Ward, who acted as the prisoner's solicitor—the prisoner was duly sworn in the County Court before he gave evidence—on April 17th, 1896, our firm received information which led to this prosecution—a warrant was applied for and granted about May 3rd. (The transcript of the shorthand notes of the prisoner's evidence was read. In effect he stated that he was proceeding over Southwark Bridge on February 1st, when he was injured by the explosion; that he was taken to the Mansion House Station, and then went home, and that owing to the explosion he was prevented from working for about five weeks.) I took down his questions and answers—he said he had been working for the City Sewers, with a man in the court, and that he had been helping Mr. Duncan in that way.

GEORGE EDWIN DUNCAN . I am a lighterman, of Ness Street, Spa Road, Bermondsey—I have known the prisoner for some time—I was at the County Court when his action was heard against the Gas Company in June last year—I saw the man, who gave evidence for him, who gave the name of George Beard; he was a man named Munro, who is now dead—I know he is dead through his friends and acquaintances—I did not hear the prisoner say at the County Court that he had been with me on the morning of February 1st to the City Sewers to draw 30s. for labour done, or I should have contradicted him—I was in Court—he had not been with me that morning to the City Sewers—I went on that morning to the City Sewers with Munro—I had written them a letter complaining of snow being shovelled from the Tower Bridge on to my head, in consequence of which I had to go to Guy's Hospital, and I received 30s. as compensation, and signed this receipt—the prisoner was not with me on that day.

Cross-examined by the Prisoner. We did not have some rum before you went over the bridge on February 1st—I did not put you on your feet and rub you down—I believe I was taken to the solicitor one day when I was in drink, and I signed something, but I do not know what the statement was—I made a bother with Mr. Ward or his clerk outside, because I could not get my day's pay—I wanted my day's pay for seeing you up there with Munroe—I only had a drink for being there—I had a subpoena to appear for you—I don't know where I got it—I was at the solicitor's office—I don't know whether I signed a document, or what it was; I was drunk at the time—I was not with you on the day of the explosion—I had two sums of 30s. and one of 15s. from Mr. Washington or his firm—Sinnett and Sullivan came to me and asked me to give evidence, and say you were with me on the day of the explosion, and I went with them, and said you were with me on there day—it was not true, and at Lambeth Court I corrected it, and spoke the truth, and said it was Munroe who was with me on that day, and not you—Sinnett and Sullivan came and told me there was plenty of money in the job, and convinced me you were with me on that day, and not Munro, but since then, looking back, I remember perfectly well it is Munroe, and not you—I do not know who was with me when I made the statement; I was made pretty well drunk; I had rum and cigars given to me by Sinnett—I was not in a condition to give a statement; anything they wrote down I signed—Sinnett and Morrissy told me I should have plenty of ooftish from Pasmore and 'Washington it I could get a conviction—I was not employed to get evidence—I was not with you on February 1st.

Re-examined. I am sober now—I remember going to draw this money on February 1st from the Commissioners of Sewers—I was not on the bridge when the explosion took place; I should remember it if I had been—I was sober when I went to the Commissioners of Sewers; about four o'clock I was drinking rum, it was snowing very hard—I did not see the prisoner blown up, nor did I help to pick him up—I was not with him that day at all.

WILLIAM KEILER . I am superintendent of the cleansing department, City Commissioners of Sewers—their office is at 82, Upper Thames Street—on February 1st, 1895, between ten and eleven a.m., Duncan came to our

office, and I paid him 30s., and got from him this receipt; he signed it in my presence—he was apparently sober—the prisoner was not there at all—he was not paid 30s. for labour done—no one was paid 30s. on that day except Duncan.

THOMAS CHARLES COLE . I am manager of the American Wringer Company, of 132, Southwafk Street, Borough—in January, 1895, the prisoner called—he carried his right arm in a sling—he said he had stumbled over an iron coal cover which was slightly above the surface of the pavement, and which had thrown him heavily and broken his arm; that it would in-capacitate him for working, and as he depended on his work, it would be a serious loss to him; and he wanted to know what I was going to do—I said I did not recognise my liability—he went on to say he was a poor working man, and it was a bad job for him—I said, "What do you want?"—he said, "£2"—I said I would consider the matter if he would call later on—she called again on February 1st, and still asked for £2—it was between two and three when he called on February 1st; I fix the time because it was soon after my return from luncheon; I go to luncheon usually about 12.30, and am away for about an hour, or a little longer—to the best of my recollection, his arm was in a sling on February 1st—after some discussion I paid him 30s. as compensation, and he signed this receipt, which I made out—he did not say a word about having just met with an accident on Southwark Bridge, or having been in the explosion, or anything of that sort—there was not the slightest appearance of his having been blown up—my office in Southwark Street is quite a short distance from Southwark Bridge.

Cross-examined. I did not say the first time you came that I should have to write to the head office in America.

JOHN DAVIS . I am a Carman, living at St. Olave's Chambers, Sylvester Street, Borough—I work for Mr. Jeffreys, a carrier, in the Borough—in 1893 I met the prisoner at one or two places; I have been on casual jobs with him at the docks and Hull—I did not see him between 1893 and 1895—in April or May I saw him outside the Monument public-house, and we talked about how we were getting on—at the time the explosion happened I was between Park Street steps and Southwark Bridge, not exactly on the bridge—I told him I had been working on the bridge at the time of the explosion—he said I was just the man he wanted, as he was going to nut up a job about the explosion for damages done to him, and he asked me to be a witness for him, to swear that I saw the explosion, and that he had been injured—I said I would have nothing to do with it—he said it was all a bunkum affair, and he would get some other witnesses—I Was working on the bridge for the St. Saviour's District Board of Works at the time, and he thought I would be a good witness—from where I was working I could see the people on the bridge at the time of the explosion—we were shoving snow off the pavement as far as Park Street, and I was about eighteen to twenty yards from where the explosion took place—after it took place I saw two people taken away—one was taken away in a cart, and one was taken into a picture-shop—I dropped my scraper, and ran up and had a look at it; I did not stay there very long, because our foreman ordered us off the bridge—I did not see the prisoner there at all.

GEORGE WILLIAM BEARD . I am a lighterman—I live at 8, Lee Street, Burdett Road—in February, March, and April, 1895, I lived at 56, Blackthorn Street, Bow—I have known the prisoner for a number of years as a lighterman—I met him on the Saturday following the explosion in Fenchurch Street—he asked me whether I had heard of the explosion—I said, "Yes"—I had read of it in the evening papers—he said, "I was there at the explosion, and I was injured; have you got time on your hands to come over with me and have a look at it?"—I said I had about an hour to spare, and I went with him, and he showed me the place where the explosion took place on Southwark Bridge—the paving-stones were all up, and there was a barrier round them—he told me he was crossing over the bridge from the Surrey side on the day before, and got injured there, and he asked me if I would be a witness for him, to prove that he was injured—I had not been there the day before—I had not seen him the day before—I told him I would consider it—I thought he meant me to give false evidence in the Court—when he was showing me the place he did not appear to have anything the matter with him; he was not bound up in any way, or injured, or anything of the kind—he told me he had broken his leg, and had been to a doctor the night before—I next saw him about a fortnight afterwards, and then I went with him to the South Metropolitan Gas Works in the Old Kent Road, I believe—he said he was going to see the proprietors or manager, Mr. Livesey, to see whether he could get some payment for the injuries he stated he had received—when he came out he told me they would not entertain his case, because there was something pending between the Gas Company and the Electric Light Company; they could not come to a settlement, and could not entertain the case—I went with him soon after to Mr. Ward's, the solicitor's office in Walbrook—I saw a clerk there—the prisoner gave him my full name and address as a witness—for the time being I had consented to go as a witness—two or three weeks before the case came on in the County Court I met the prisoner in the City, and he said he had been to my house to try and find me, and that he had a subpoena for me from the County Court—I said I thought better over it, and had entirely made up my mind that I would have nothing more to do with it, because I had never given a statement or anything—he was rather out of temper with me at the time; he said, "I can do without you," or something like that; he said something to the effect that he could get someone else to do the job—I did not go to the County Court when the case was heard—after it was tried I saw a report of it in the newspaper, and saw my name as a witness who had appeared there—about a few weeks after I was in the City on business, and I called at Mr. Ward's office, and spoke to Mr. Ward; the prisoner was not there—I never received a farthing from him.

Cross-examined. I know it snowed on the morning of the accident—I was at Black wall at 11.30—I was not with you at Southwark Street, and you did not give me 10s. to get a pair of boots—I was a witness in the St. George's in the East election petition, and a witness against Mr. Tillett for the Morning newspaper in a libel action—I was president of the Cambridge Club, within 100 yards of where Mr. Tillett made the speech—I was not in the City on the day of the explosion.

Re-examined. I did not have a farthing from the prisoner on that day.

THOMAS SAUNDERS . I am manager of Lett's Wharf, one of the City Commissioners of Sewers' wharves—on February 1st, 1895, I was in charge of men clearing away the snow at the foot of Southwark Bridge—the explosion took place between 1.30 and 1.45, as near as I can tell—one of the men who worked there was slightly hurt by it—I saw him attended to, and I also saw that a woman was hurt—not many people were passing over the bridge at the time; it was the quiet time of the day—I saw no man with his arm in a sling, injured—no man was blown up and thrown down by the explosion—I did not see the prisoner.

WILLIAM O'SHEA . I am a porter in the Borough—I live at 2, Brewer's Road—I remember the explosion on February 1st, 1895—I was fifty yards or a little more from it, going from the Surrey side towards it—it happened in two places; I could not see that on the right, but I saw that on the left-hand side—when I went up to the place I saw it was on both sides of the arch—I ran with others to the place, and stayed ten or fifteen minutes—I saw two women taken away who had been hurt—I looked at the place—I knew the prisoner before by sight as a lighterman; I did not see him there—I saw no man there with his arm in a sling.

ROBERT LANDER . I am a lighterman, in the employ of the London and Tilbury Lighterage Company at Hambro Wharf, Upper Thames Street—I have known the prisoner for some years by sight and to speak to—on February 1st, 1895, I was passing over Southwark Bridge when the explosion took place—I was going to the Surrey side—the explosion happened about three yards from—me, I should think immediately in front of me—I should have been in it if I had been two or three minutes ahead—I stayed a little while; I saw a woman fall in the hole, and helped out—I did not see anything of the prisoner there, or at all that day—there is no truth in his statement that he met me coming over the bridge just after the accident.

Cross-examined. I did not. see you; you did not point to your shoulder covered with dirt; I did not see it.

ALSAGER VIAN . I am secretary to the French Asphalte Company, of Lawrence Pountney Hill—on March 31st, 1895, I received from the Clerk, to the Commissioners of Sewers some letters which had passed between them and James Price, and on April 2nd, 1895, the prisoner called on me—he told me he had had an accident; that, as he said in his letter, he passed through Philpot Lane, I think on, March 1st, and tripped up in a hole and injured himself, and had been laid up for several weeks—after conversation with him I paid him £2 to settle his claim—he signed this receipt in my presence; I should say his signature and that to the letter of March 19th appear to be the same—he said the accident had happened to him on March 1st, 1895, and I understood he had not been able to get to work then; it was a month later—he said he had been sent to me by the Commissioners of Sewers, who had sent the correspondence to me—I was surprised that he was so ready to settle for £2 for four weeks' injury—I paid him the money.

JOHN THORLEY (Sergeant P). On May 12th I went to Vine Cottage, Gunnersbury Lane, Acton, where I found the prisoner was living—his wife has a laundry business there—I read to him the warrant charging him with perjury—he said, "A man named Lander saw me coming over the bridge just after the accident; he works at Hambro's Wharf, Upper

Thames Street; also a man named Crusty Walsh, who was throwing snow into the river; he was working for the Vestry; I also met Shannon at the foot of Southwark Bridge; he said, 'Jim, I saw that accident; why don't you go to the hospital? you look bad '; I said, * No, I am not hurt,' and when I got home I went to Dr. Thornton, of Uxbridge Road; I saw Shannon last Friday, and he treated me, and told me he had received some money from Mr. Washington, a solicitor, and he said, 'Three of us went away with him in a cab, me, Beard, and Duncan; what matters it to us so long as we can get some money?' I said, 'You are trying to mix it up for me all right'; he said, 'What matters as long as Washington gives us some money?' I said, 'You are a dirty dog'; he said, 'We are doing it, so that you can get some money out of them for false imprisonment; you can stand on me for that'; I said, 'I want no more to do with you' and I went home, and have not seen them since. The day I received the money they came to my house at Acton, and received, £2 5s. between the three; George Beard had £1 10s. out of it, and he said, 'Is that all? You are a beauty, you are'; one of them said to the wife, 'This is all right; it has come off all right,' and went and got half-a-pint of stout for her"—the prisoner said he had seen Shannon, who had told him there was a warrant out for him, and advised him to go away, and he said he would not go.

The Prisoner called

WILLIAM JOSEPH SHANNON . I live at 107, St. George's Street, East—I used to live at 26, Red Lion Street, Poplar—I am a waterman and lighter-man—in the winter time, last year, I saw you in a street leading off Cannon Street, in the afternoon—I was reading the newspaper—you told me you had been hurt on Southwark Bridge; you did not say how it happened—Sennett and Sullivan came to my house on several occasions for about three weeks in succession, in my absence, my people told me—on a Saturday night Sennett came again, and saw my sister, and I walked in at the time—he said, "Mr. Washington wishes to see you"—I said, "What does he want to see me about?"—he said, "You recollect meeting Price on Southwark Bridge"—I said, "No, I did not meet him on Southwark Bridge; I met him coming in that direction"—he said, "If you come along with me, and find George Beard, I shall be over at your house to-morrow morning, at seven o'clock"—he came on the Sunday morning, and asked me to go to the Club, to try and find Beard, which I did, but I did not find Beard—some few days after that I went reluctantly to Mr. Washington's, with Sennett and Hayter, and I saw Mr. Collier, Mr. Washington's clerk—he said, "Is your name Shannon?"—I said, "I believe so"—he said, "Do you recollect February last year?"—I said, "Yes, I recollect the very severe winter we had"—he said, "Did you see Price walking over Southwark Bridge?"—I said, "No; I met Price coming from that direction"—he put down that statement—I had been three or four nights with a float on the river, and had a little drop more than I ought to have had on the day I went to Mr. Washington's; it was cold weather—Mr. Collier wanted me to say you were not on the bridge; I would not do it—I could not recollect what he said—he wrote something on a sheet of blue paper, and I signed it—the Magistrate at Lambeth asked me, "Have not you read it?"—I told him I did not know what was down there—he said, "Is this your signature?"—I said, "That is partly

my signature"—Sennett and Morrissy said I would get a ton of money—Sennett and Hayter were haunting my house; I was glad to get rid of them, because it is a respectable neighbourhood.

Cross-examined. When I met the prisoner I was going towards Thames Street, down Cannon Street, and down the turning leading to Southwark Bridge; I don't know the name of the street—he was coming up from the Surrey side of the river, and I was going towards it; he was coming from the bridge—I did not see the explosion—I did not say I did—I told him, if he was hurt, to go to the hospital—I did not tell him, "Jim, I saw that accident; why don't you go to the hospital?"—I did not tell him I saw the explosion—he had not got his arm in a sling when I met him—it was about four p.m., perhaps, when I met him; I could not swear to the time—I think I said to him, "It is a good job no one was blowed overboard," or something like that—I don't recollect what the prisoner said—I don't think he said, "I will have a go for it"; if he did, I don't remember it—I met the prisoner a day or two afterwards in the City—he did not say he should want me as a witness to say he had been blown up; I do not remember his ever saying that; he looked to me too ill—he did speak—I went by the County Court when the case was heard by accident—I did not go inside—I knew nothing of the action, or anything, when it was coming off—I saw the prisoner outside, and asked him to come and have something to drink, and I partly helped to carry him across the road to a public-house; when I saw the prisoner outside with two others, I knew the case was going on—I believe Jack Munro was one of the two, and I think Duncan was the other—I don't know that Munro gave his name in the witness-box as Beard—I signed every page of this statement when I was drunk; Mr. Washington, might have read it over first—I did not take any notice of what he read—I could not tell you how long that bout of drunkenness lasted, but I have been so, on and off, for some time, on account of a death in the family—I signed my deposition at the Lambeth Police-court, say, on May 5th; I was not then exactly in my proper senses; I was muddled like; I have a little drop extra now and again; I was not drunk—the account I gave to the Magistrate was true; as far as I can say, it was very nearly true—T saw the prisoner coming away from Southwark Bridge. (The witness's deposition was to the effect that on February 1st he met Price at ten in the morning in Fenchurch Street, and again about four p.m. at the Skinner's Anns, Cannon Street; that he read an account of the explosion from the newspaper to Price, who said he would have a go for it, but did not say that he had been there, or was hurt.)

The Prisoner, in his defence, stated that he was coming over the bridge with Beard and Duncan when the explosion happened; that Seard picked him up, and brushed the mud off him; that lie afterwards met Shannon and Lander, and that some of the witnesses desired to get him convicted because he had taken a great part in the Free Labour Association.

GUILTY .**—Sergeant Thorley stated that the prisoner had made other claims for alleged injuries, and that he belonged to a gang who made a living by bogus claims for injuries, and had obtained, £1,000 in the City alone during the last four years.— Three Years' Penal Servitude.

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