7th March 1898
Reference Numbert18980307-231
VerdictNot Guilty > unknown

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231. ALFRED JOSEPH REED was indicted for and charged on the Coroner's Inquisition with, the murder of William Browning.

MR. DAVIES Prosecuted, and MR. GEOGHEGAN Defended.

JOSEPH BARBER . I am a hawker, at 198, Westley Street—about five on February 5th I was outside the George public-house—the deceased man came out, and then the prisoner's gang came along—there are generally eight or nine together—it is a stevedore's gang—when they had settled their business they all went into the public-house—I was in the public-house several times between five and seven for change; once to get a drink—Browning pulled his coat off and challenged the prisoner to fight—I did not hear anything which would cause him to do that—I heard him swear at him—they were quarrelling over half-a-quartern of gin—after some time the manager asked the prisoner to go out, and he said he would walk out; he would not be put out—he walked out—two constables came up and advised him to go away, and he went up towards the urinal—I think he was waiting for the foreman (Shannon) to come out—I saw the

deceassed come out—the prisoner walked up to him, and said, "You are the man who has made all the trouble, and got me showed up in this manner," and he struck him on the left temple—he fell on the pavement where there was a place where they turn on the water—a crowd of people came round, and asked who did it, and Read said, "I did it, and I am sorry for it"—two constables came up, and one said, "Don't go away, I might want you"—they tried to get the man to, and a doctor came and they carried him away—the policeman said, "You will have to come along with me," and he (the prisoner) went quite quiet.

Cross-examined. When the two men came out they were chaffing each other—one of them took up a bowl of cockles and began to laugh at it—they went to have a drink together—in the public-house I heard the deceased call the prisoner a b—liar, and he threatened to punch the prisoner's head—a man got between them to separate them—Browning certainly wanted to fight—he said so—that was several minutes before the prisoner went out—I don't know if Shannon was in the public-house then—as a rule they go away together—the George is near the Mill wall Decks—the deceased then left the public-house—the blow was an overarm blow—Browning was the worse for drink—I think he was about six feet high—when Read came out of the public-house he made no fuss—I was looking after one of the costermonger's stalls—he appeared very much upset—I said before the Coroner that Read walked a little way up the road alone, and I saw tears on the side of his face—he did not like having a row with his old friend—afterwards Read said, "I am exceedingly sorry; I did not mean to hurt him."

ALBERT HAINES (196 K). I was outside the George public-house on February 5th—I was on point duty from five till 6.45—I did not see the prisoner ejected from the house—I saw him outside—I advised him to go away and not get into trouble, he was having a discussion with the manager of the public-house—I subsequently saw the deceased come out—the prisoner said "That is the man who has caused the trouble," and with that struck him in the left eye with his fist—the deceased fell on the pavement—there was a hydrant near where he fell—the deceased was insensible and I took him home, and Dr. Macmorran attended him—the prisoner was charged and bailed at the Court because the deceased was too ill to attend—the deceased did not wish to press the charge and he was subsequently discharged.

Cross-examined. He said he was exceedingly sorry he had struck the deceased—I had known the prisoner about seven years, he was always quiet and peaceable—the deceased was employed at the George sometimes to wipe out pewters—the prisoner is a labourer—on Saturday afternoons after the men are paid and have settled up outside the George 200 or 300 men go in there—when the deceased appeared before the Magistrate he said they had worked together for 14 or 15 years and had never quarrelled—he said that the quarrel was over 2 1/2d. worth of gin.

JAMES CRISP (293 K). I was in company with the last witness outside the George on the 5th of last month—I saw the prisoner having an altercation with the manager of the public-house—I went up and advised him to go away, and he went a short distance—he came back

again—Browning came out of the public-house, and the prisoner struck him in the face with his fist—it was a heavy blow from the shoulder, and failed him to the ground—the prisoner fell himself on to the deceased—I picked the prisoner up, and he said, "The man has been on me all the night"—I said, "I shall detain you," and the doctor came and said it was very serious, and I said I should take him to the station, and he went with me—he said, "I am very sorry for what I have done, and what I did; I did it in the impulse of the moment."

Cross-examined. He said the deceased had been getting on to him all the night—it was not a cowardly blow that he struck.

ADAM MACMORRAN . I am Assistant Divisional Surgeon, and live at 41, Glengall Road—I attended the deceased man on February 5th—I saw him about seven—he was lying on the pavement insensible, and bleeding profusely from a wound on the left side of the head—he was almost pulseless—on his recovering a little I asked him where he lived, and found it was only across the road—I superintended his removal there, and washed and dressed his wounds—the left eye was quite closed and rapidly becoming discoloured—there was another small wound on the most prominent part of the back of the head—he also had concussion of the brain—in my opinion he died of compression of the brain, due to a fracture of the skull, dividing an artery on the left side, and to laceration on the right side, and rupture of a vessel on the right side—he died on February 23rd—I subsequently made a post-mortem examination, and found that the wound for which I had treated him had quite healed—I found a fracture extending for about four inches on the left side, running backwards and forwards—afterwards I found a fracture from a point on the top of the head to the ear, and I found it again inside the skull, in the middle fossa at the base—that was probably caused by the fall on the pavement—I found three small clots on the right side of the brain, but no laceration of the brain substance—I found a clot on the left side of the brain, and another on the right side of the brain, between the membranes of the brain and the brain itself—in my opinion the cause of death was compression of the brain from the rupture of arteries.

Cross-examined. I did not attend before the Coroner—I did not hear a man named Shannon examined—the brain was in a diseased condition—there were three clots of blood in the brain substance, and one outside the brain—that would have something to do with the cause of death, I mean that the large clot is what I should call the counter-stroke—that clot might have been caused otherwise than by a fracture—if the brain is in a diseased condition the blood vessels are much more likely to be ruptured—excitement will sometimes cause the blood vessels to rupture—sometimes in a prize-fight the fighting may cause the rupture of a blood vessel—if a man be over 40 years of age and not of temperate habits, excitement by itself will produce profusion of blood on the brain—when I picked the deceased up he had a smell of alcohol—I examined his heart—the liver was normal—the right lung was very much congested—he was a strong, well-built man—in a fight I should think the deceased would be the better man—he was not so fat—the statement I heard Mrs. Browning make was, "My poor husband got up during the night and fell down and struck the bad"—I did not hear her say that he had fallen out of bed.

Re-examined. In my opinion he died from compression of the brain and rupture of the arteries, which was probably the result of falling on the pavement—that is what I suppose—the hydrant is level with the pavement, it is not raised at all—I don't think he could have fractured his skull by falling in the night.

JOSEPH HOLT . I reside at 24, Lannich Street, Poplar—I am a stevedore—I went into the George public-house with the prisoner and the deceased—in the afternoon we had been to a football match—when we went into the public-house Browning said to Read "You own me half a quartern of gin" and Read said "I owe you nothing at all," the deceased kept on getting at the prisoner till the tears ran down his face—the deceased did not take off his coat to fight—he said to the prisoner "If you like to come outside I will be round you like a flash of lightning"—the mud shoot is about 300 yards away, he asked the prisoner to come up to the Form Road—Read was doing all he knew to keep his passion under control, he did not want to have a turn-up with him.

JOHN SHANNON , examined by MR. GEOGHEGAN. I am the foreman of the gang in which the prisoner and the deceased have worked—their employer is Mr. Multby—they have worked in the same gang for about 16 years—they were always good friends together—the deceased used to be troubled with gout and pains in his head, and during the last 10 or 12 years he has knocked off work about 50 or 60 times on account of those pains—the deceased man and I were in the habit of going home together every night—the deceased was lying on the pavement when I came out—I went up to him to carry him home—I went home with him and stopped with him till be became sensible—he asked me who had done this, and I said "Read who is in the station, shall I go and bail him out," and the deceased saying "Yes," I went and offered bail but the police would not accept it.

The prisoner received an excellent character.


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