16th May 1898
Reference Numbert18980516-392
VerdictNot Guilty > unknown

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392. JOHN PHEASANT (32), Feloniously setting fire to the dwelling-house of Edward George Tyler, persons then being therein Second count—With intent to injure.

MR. SYMMONDS Prosecuted.

ARTHUR PHEASANT . I live at 42, Exmouth Street, Clerken well—I am a packer—the prisoner is my brother—my wife and I occupy two rooms on the second floor—the prisoner lives with my mother at 16, King's Head Court—on Saturday, April 30th, I was charged at the Mansion House with assaulting ray mother—on Monday, May 2nd, I was discharged—on that day I, my wife, and the prisoner had two glasses of beer together, and we apparently parted on friendly terms—I saw no more of him till the evening—at 8.20 p.m. on May 2nd I and my wife went out and came back at 11 or 11.10 pm., when we found our rooms completely burnt out—when I went out a lamp was hanging in the front room on the wall, where it always was; it was not alight—there was another lamp hanging in the bed-room, the back room; that was not alight.

Cross-examined by the Prisoner. You came to my place at 8.30 a.m. on Monday, May 2nd, to go as a witness for me, you said, and we and my wife went; but mother did not appear to press the charge, and it was dismissed—then we went to St. Martin's Lane and drank, and met the lodger—I occupy three rooms, only two were burnt—I was only asked about one lamp at the Police-court—the lamp found under the bed was the one in the front room—my wife found it—it is a tin lamp—I heard that you were supposed to have set the place on fire at 8.30 or 9 on Tuesday morning, May 3rd, when Rose Gillard told

me—I lived in Laystall Street previously in the name of Lewis—I did not live with my wife as widow and son—I did not pull down gas brackets there—a woman there had a fit, but not in consequence of my pulling down gas brackets—I did not have to leave because of that.

CHARLOTTK PHEASANT . I am the wife of Arthur Pheasant, and live with him at 42, Exmouth Street—between 8 and 8.30 p.m. on May 2nd, I went out with him—we returned about eleven, or it might be 11.10, we found our rooms all burnt out—there were no lights alight when we went out—the next afternoon, about four or five, I found this lamp at the foot of the bed, as if it had been shoved there—I did not think to look for it before—we did not sleep in that room on the Monday night—this lamp had been hangingon the nail near the door between the two rooms.

Cross-examined by the Prisoner. There was only one tin lamp down-stairs; the other was in the room up-stairs—my husband does not know anything about the lamps—this was in the front room—this lamp is just as they took it away—I have not seen it since—I heard from Rose Gillard about 9 a.m. on Tuesday morning—that was after I saw you and your husband—I did not know you had done it then—I lived with my husband at Laystall Street previous to this—not as widow and son, but as man and wife—we got turned out of there through you—it was not through my husband tampering with the gas-brackets—I had to have you ejected from my house two or three times.

By the COURT. I found this lamp at the foot of the bed, just as you go in from the front door—the bedstead was iron—it is bent all manner of shapes with the heat—the lamp was not under the bedstead—you could see it directly you went into the room.

Re-examined. There was another little lamp on the second floor.

EDWARD GEORGE TYLER . I am a jeweller, of 42, Exmouth Street—Arthur and Charlotte Pheasant lived on the second floor there—on Monday, May 2nd, I was at home—about 9.20 or 9.30 p.m. I opened the street-door to the prisoner—I knew him before—he just passed me at the door and said "Good evening" and went in—I cannot say if he went upstairs—my sister was in the house, and that was all I knew at the time—I went out at the time I let the prisoner in, and did not know what happened till I returned.

Cross-examined. You were in the habit of going up and down stair: to your brother's place—it was nothing unusual to let you in.

By the COURT. When I went out I left him in the house—he did not ask for anybody—I had been in the habit of seeing him come in and out—he was partially drunk.

ROSE GILLARD . I live at 16, King's Head Court, Shoe Line—the prisoner lives with his mother in the same house—on Monday evening, May 2nd. about 9.15 or 9.20 he called out, "I am going to set a place alight"—he was then going down the stairs—I was indoors—he went out then—he came back about 9.50—I was outside in the court by myself—he was up at the window, and he called out, "I have been round to 42, Exmouth Street, and set the place alight by putting a lamp under the bed."

ANNIE GILLARD . I am the last witness's sister, and live at 16, Kings Head Court with my father—on Monday night, May 2nd, I was sitting at the window on the first floor about ten o'clock, when the prisoner, who

lived on the second floor, called out at his window, "Do you want to see a fire"—I was looking out at the window, and a good many others were looking out at the same time—he could see me—he called out generally—he then said, "I have been round to my brother Arthur's place at Exmouth Street, and set it alight by putting a poraffin lamp under the bed."

Cross-examined. I went to see the burnt rooms about 8 p.m. on the Tuesday—my sister was not looking out at the window—she was down-stairs—she came up about 9.20, and told me you said you were going to set a place alight—we don't know the exact time.

By the JURY. Neither I nor my sister have had a quarrel with the prisoner, nor have we been on bad terms with him, nothing to speak of—the prisoner was drunk at the time—I threatened to summon him once for insults—we were on good terms, only, when the prisoner was drunk, he was such a vile man it was not safe to stay in the house with him—he uses such vile and offensive language.

ALBERT WARNER . I live at 37, Sedgmore Place, Clerkenwell, and am a printer—on Monday evening, May 2nd, I was standing in the passage of 16, King's Head Court, when the prisoner, whom I knew before, said, "Do you want to see a fire?"—I said, "No"—he said, "I have been round to my brother Arthur's place and set it on fire"—I thought he was only joking; he then went up-stairs.

Cross-examined. It was about ten o'clock the prisoner said this—I was not with those gathered there, but by myself.

ALICE KATE TYLER . I live at 42, Exmouth Street with my brother—on Monday, May 2nd, I was at home all the evening—I did not see the prisoner—about 9.15 or 9.30 I heard some one going along the passage up-stairs—some one knocked at the door and told me of the fire—there were in the house, besides myself, three children in bed in the room underneath where the fire was—they were there until the fire broke out.

By the COURT. I did not see the person who went along the passage—it was the passage by the side of the shop, as you enter from the street—the part of the house that was burnt was up-stairs.

By the JURY. I heard no one else enter the house—the children sleeping down-stairs were aged four, three, and eighteen months—I heard my brother go along the passage, and then I heard this man come in—it is about twenty yards along the passage to the stairs—I did not hear anyone on the stairs—I was in the shop at the time.

EVAN WILLIAMS . I am in charge of the Fire-station in the Farringdon Road—at 10.29 p.m., on May 2nd, we received a call to a fire in Exmouth Street—a fire engine and escape were sent, and I went, and found the second floor over the jeweller's well alight—we put the fire out—the back room was most seriously damaged—the fire had evidently originated at the foot of the bed, and had got through the partition into the front room—I did not notice this lamp there at the time—I doubt if it caused the fire—its condition would not be as it is now if it had been in the room at the time—it would have been more damaged—I looked about to see whether I could find anything, and everything in the room was turned over—I am certain this lamp was not there that night—I looked carefully, and I never saw it—it must have been a great oversight if it was there, and I did not see it—I subsequently found the remains of this other lamp in

the back room, near the window, on the floor—I cannot say whether this lamp caused it, but it is quite possible it was in the room at the time—I first saw it after I had given evidence at the Police-court—I did not see it when I first went—it may have been there, although I did not see it—it was five or six feet from the bed—it was not under the bed—it may have been removed by our turning over the abbris—material gets moved about from one end of the room to the other very often, and the water might have shifted it—I should think this second lamp has been subjected to the action of a great deal of fire—it was lying down—the room had been played on by the hydrant, and the water might have moved it—I was the first one to enter the room after the fire—I did not see either Jampthen—I made another examination on Wednesday, between one and two, after I had been to the Police-court—the first lamp might have been knocked off the nail where it was by the jets cf water.

GEORGE GODLEY (Serjeant, G). On Tuesday, May 3rd, I saw the prisoner in custody at King's Cross Police-station at 8.80 p.m.—I said, "You will be detained here on suspicion of setting fire to 42, Exmouth Street"—he said, "I own I went there, but I was drunk at the time"—I charged him at nine o'clock the same night, after making some inquiries and getting witnesses—as the inspector read over the charge to him he said, "Yes, yes, yes" to each sentence—the charge sheet is at the Commissioner's office—the charge was read from the paper.

EVAN WILLIAMS (re-examined.) When I went to the room on the Wednesday the things had been turned over by my men—I never saw the tin one—it may have got to where Mrs. Pheasant found it by the shifting about—I do not think it was in the room where the fire took place—the engine left about 11.10 en the Monday night, leaving two men on duty, who left at 1.30 a.m.—after that anybody could have had access, I think—I had nothing more to do with it.

E. G. TYLER (re-examined). When the Pheasants came home that night I would not allow them to go upstairs—I can explain about the first lamp—I asked the fireman when I came home if I could have a look round, and I went up with him and found the tin lamp in the front room, and the fireman picked it up and showed me the fire, and I threw the lamp down again out of the way—where it went to I don't know.

CHARLOTTE PHEASANT . (re-examined.) My husband has had no quarrel with the prisoner lately that I know of—we left home between 8 and 8.30—the person down-stairs went out with us—we were in St. Martin's Lane at nine—we were not insured—Mr. Tyler has lent us a bed, bed-stead, table, and two chairs.

The Prisoner, in his defence, asserted his innocence, and contended that there was no evidence to show that he had set the place on fire.


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