8th March 1910
Reference Numbert19100308-44
VerdictsGuilty > unknown
SentencesImprisonment > hard labour; Imprisonment > hard labour

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AUSTIN, Frederick (32, shoemaker) , feloniously assaulting William Abraham Hale with intent to rob him; assaulting Frank Herbert Bell; assaulting Samuel Thomas Toy .

Mr. Purcell prosecuted.

Prisoner pleaded guilty of the assaults on Bell and Toy, not guilty of the assault on Hale with intent to rob.

WILLIAM ABRAHAM HALE , Hale's Stores, Drury Lane House. On Saturday, February 5, at 10.40, I was taking £300 in gold in a bag to the Temple branch of the London County and Westminster Bank. Just before I got to Melbourne Place, Aldwych, prisoner came up to me. He had something in his hand which I saw when he was in the act of striking me. He struck me eight or nine blows, several on the top of the head. I did not hear him say anything. I defended myself, but, finding I was getting the worst of it, I called for help. I saw someone near the skating rink entrance and got over towards there. As I got a little in the roadway he gave me two or three blows on the head. I think someone else can tell you what happened after that. I was bleeding very much. I then went to the bank, where the man is generally waiting for me. On coming back I met prisoner being brought back up Aldwych. I immediately recognised him; I said to the policeman, "That is him." I went then to King's College Hospital and remained there till 11 next day. Prisoner was wearing the moustache that was picked up. I have seen him before; our people know him well as being about the neighbourhood.

Cross-examined by prisoner. You tried all you could to get hold of the bag; you hit me with one hand and grabbed it with the other. I was on the left-hand side as I came down Aldwych. You did not say, "Why don't you look where you are going?" You said nothing. I defended myself all I could. After it was all over I was sorry I did not think of striking out more. I did not shout "Help" until you

struck me. I did not say in the police court when I first saw you you had something in your right hand but I could not say what it was. I could see it was a life-preserver. You were not carrying your gloves in your hand. You did not strike me in self-defence. (To the Judge.) Prisoner is a friend of a man who left me two or three months ago. He has been seen in his company very much.

WILLIAM JOHN WHALEY , railway parcels porter. On Saturday night, February 5, I was on my van in Aldwych. I heard cries of "Help. "I saw what I thought was two men fighting. I jumped out of the van as we were passing them. I saw that Mr. Hale's head was smothered in blood and ran after prisoner in the direction of the Strand, through a narrow courtway, Melbourne Place. There was a taxi-cab waiting, and just as prisoner was jumping into the cab he struck at me. I noticed he had an instrument in his hand. I rushed at him and got between him and the taxi-door, and as I put my hands up he attempted to strike me on the arm and head. I dodged it. He merely knocked my cap off. He struggled out of the grip I had on his wrist. He ran across the Strand. I followed as far as Surrey Street. I was rather afraid of losing my job and was going back to my van. When I got to Aldwych I saw prisoner being brought back by the police. I recognised him.

To prisoner. I did not see you take hold of prosecutor's bag. It was nightlight, and when I got near enough you ran away. I heard someone say in Surrey Street, "Look out, he has got a knife. "I tried to trip you in Melbourne Place, but did not. It was a slip when I said I heard someone say, "You had a knife in your hand." It may have been, "He has got something in his hand" It was something to that effect. That was not when we were at the cab. There was only me and another witness there when you tried to get into the cab.

THOMAS HANSCOMBE . About 10.40 this Saturday night I was in the doorway of the skating rink in Aldwych. I heard cries of "Police!" and "Help!" I looked across the road and saw prisoner attacking prosecutor, who was trying to protect himself and holding something back which he held in one of his hands; it looked like a bag. When he called for help I rushed across the road to his assistance. He then turned round with his back to prisoner, who took a stride forward and struck him on the back of the head. I thought he was using a knife. He struck him two or three times previous to the blow from behind. Then the railway man came up who jumped off a van. Prisoner then ran down Melbourne Place. I did not stop to look at prosecutor. His face was smothered in blood as I passed him. I followed prisoner. At the bottom of Melbourne Place, which is a sort of cul de sac, there was a motor-cab with the engine facing the cab rank, and its back to the court. It has no business to have been there at all. Prisoner ran round the back of we cab and endeavoured to get inside. The porter ran round the back and I ran round the front to stop him getting into the Strand, He struck at the porter and made off across the Strand into Surrey Street. I do not know if anybody was in charge of the cab. I

followed him through Surrey Street. He turned by a public-house at the corner of Howard Street and went along the Embankment to Temple Station. A constable came down from the top part of Howard Street and cut me off from prisoner at the top of the road. There were two men standing at the top of Norfolk Street. I heard the constable shout out, "Stop that man." One of the men attempted to hold prisoner; prisoner struck at him; the other held him by the coat. The constable came up at the time and all three held him. I did not know prisoner had anything in his hand until I found the life preserver. I handed it to the police in Aldwych. I only lost sight of prisoner once when he turned a corner.

To Prisoner. It was fairly light by the skating rink. It is rather dark at Melbourne Place where you made the attack on Hale. I could see you attacking him. You were on the pavement, not close to the kerb. You were striking with one hand and grabbing with the other. Prosecutor did not hit you. He simply protected himself. The magistrate asked me whether the blows were swinging blows. I said if they had been you would have killed the man. You were simply making a grab at something in his hand. I did not take particular notice of what anybody shouted. My mind was centred on not letting you get away. I did not shout, "Look out, he has got a knife."

Police-constable MICHAEL SHEARMAN, 430 E. I was in the Strand this night and heard cries of "Stop thief" in Aldwych. I ran into Aldwych and saw a crowd of people disappear into Melbourne Place. I ran into the Strand and saw a man cross the road, chased by a crowd of people shouting "Stop thief." He ran into Surrey Street. I ran down Norfolk Street and at the corner of Howard Street, which connects the two, I saw prisoner run through Howard Street towards the approach to the Embankment. I was five to 10 yards away. I called out to two men, "Stop that man." One named Bell caught hold of prisoner by the coat. Prisoner hit him with an instrument across the left arm. The other man, Toye, got hold of prisoner, who struck him two severe blows on the head. I then seized prisoner, who threw from his right hand that life preserver. Prisoner said nothing then. Last witness came up and said in prisoner's hearing, "This man has nearly killed a man in Aldwych, opposite the skating rink." Prisoner said nothing. Then Whaley came up and said, "That is the man; I tried to get hold of him in Melbourne Place, but he got away." I then took prisoner towards Aldwych, where we met prosecutor. I said to him, "You are the man who has been assaulted?" He said, "Yes, but he has not got the money." He was bleeding from wounds on head and face. He looked at prisoner and said, "You scoundrel" or "villain." I took prisoner to Bow Street, where he was detained, and when Mr. Hale come back from the hospital prisoner was charged with wounding with intent to rob. He said, in reply, "That is all right."

To Prisoner. When I saw the crowd in Aldwych I was standing opposite the Gladstone memorial. I could see the crowd down Melbourne Place, and when it crossed the Strand.

FRANK HERBERT BELL , engine fitter. I was in Surrey Street this night. I saw a crowd at the top of the street. I saw prisoner running. I heard them shout, "Stop that man; he has killed a man." Prisoner was running towards the Embankment. I stopped to see whether he turned up Howard Street or not. He did. He had something in his hand and struck me on the left wrist. The blow was aimed at my head. I twisted him round and he went towards another man, Mr. Toye, who was coming up on the right-hand side. I saw prisoner throw something away, which Hanscombe picked up.

To Prisoner. I caught hold of you by your coat. I was anxious to try and get you down.

SAMUEL THOMAS TOYE , porter, Norfolk Hotel, Surrey Street. I was in Surrey Street this night and heard cries of "Stop him." I saw a man running, followed by a crowd of people. When I got to the bottom of Norfolk Street prisoner came round the corner. Bell was in front of me. Prisoner struck at him. Bell twisted him round and caught him by his coat. Then I caught prisoner by the right arm. He struck me two blows on the head; what with I did not know at the time. It rather dazed me for the moment, but I did not loose my hold After a few minutes a policeman came up. I saw prisoner throw something away, which someone picked up.

Detective GEORGE GRACE, E Division. I was at Bow Street when prisoner was brought in. I saw him drop a squid of liquid cement. It was picked up and handed to me. Moustaches can be stuck on with that. Prisoner was detained until prosecutor arrived. He said, "I know this means ten years for me." In reply to the charge he said, "All right." I afterwards went to Aldwych and found this moustache. I showed it to prisoner, and told him where I found it. He said, "All right; it's a nice one, isn't it?"

DR. HENRY WEST gave evidence as to prosecutor's injuries.


FREDERICK AUSTIN (prisoner, on oath). I rent a bootmaker's shop under the County Council. On this Saturday night I had made an appointment with a girl outside the skating rink in Aldwych at 10.30. As it was likely her friend whom I also knew would be coming out at the same time, it was arranged so that her friend should not recognise me that I should wear a moustache. I was about ten minutes late. Not seeing her I concluded she had gone away, and was walking away myself. When I got to the corner of Melbourne Place prosecutor struck into me. I said, "Why don't you look where you are going?" He made no reply, but deliberately struck at my face. I put my hand up to guard the blow off, and drew back a pace, seeing he held a weapon in his hand. I was carrying gloves in my hand. I put them in my pocket and drew a life preserver from my back pocket. As I did so he struck me across the face with something he held in his hand. I retreated as he swung another blow at me. In doing so he overbalanced" and before he could recover I gave him two or three taps on the head with the life preserver. He said nothing, but looked

at me in a dazed sort of way. I said to him, "What is the matter? You have made a mistake." He shouted "Help," and again attacked me. Although he kept swinging the bag at my head it was easy for me to avoid it, and I was tapping him with the life-preserver to beat him off, protecting myself from his attack. Other people, then joined in the attack on me, but I do not think I struck anyone then. Someone in the crowd shouted, "Look out, he has got a knife." I turned round and saw prosecutor had what I thought was a long-bladed butcher's knife, and what now I think must have been a handkerchief. I thought they were warning me. I then ran down Melbourne Place. The crowd followed. I saw a gentleman get out of the cab us I was running. As he advanced I hesitated, and was pounced on by the crowd, and fell against the cab. Again someone shouted "He has got a knife," and again I broke away from the people who had hold of me. I ran across the Strand down the street opposite. My purse fell out of my pocket, containing about £8 10s. I half stopped to pick it up, but seeing the crowd was so near me I ran on. I did not hear any cries of "Stop him." I saw a policeman, and stopped with the idea of going to him for protection, when I was seized by the witnesses who have been in the box. I was violently butted in the testicles, which almost put me in a state of collapse, and I could not say whether I hit them or not. I was under the impression I was attacked by a gang that previously attacked me and left me insensible in a street off Seven Dials a fortnight before Christmas. That is why I carried the life-preserver.

Cross-examined. Mr. Hale's premises are just round the corner from my shop. I have been there about four years. I have no opportunity of knowing his movements. I had never seen him before. I have been in Mr. Hale's shop lots of times. I know one of his men who was discharged recently. I could not tell you his name. It never occurred to me that Mr. Hale intended to rob me. I did not call out "Police," because I had the life-preserver to protect myself. I did not say at the station that prosecutor was the aggressor; I was bordering on a state of collapse and in such pain. I said nothing to the magistrate or anyone, as I was going to obtain counsel. I did not say I had lost my money.

Verdict, Guilty.

Sentence, Two years' hard labour for the assault to rob; Three months' hard labour for the other assaults, to run concurrently.


(Monday, March 14.)

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