10th January 1911
Reference Numbert19110110-51
VerdictsGuilty > pleaded part guilty; Guilty > unknown
SentencesImprisonment > penal servitude

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ARTHUR, Charles (31, labourer), was indicted for (1) feloniously shooting at George Haytread with intent to murder him or to do him some grievous bodily harm; (2) feloniously attempting to discharge a loaded revolver at Haytread, with intent to murder him or to do him some grievous bodily harm, or with intent to disable him, or with intent to prevent lawful apprehension; (3) attempting to burglariously break and enter the dwelling house of William Sumpton and to steal his goods in the same dwelling house; (4) similar offence, "being armed with a dangerous offensive weapon"; (5) being found by night having in his possession without lawful excuse certain implements of housebreaking; (6) assaulting George Haytread.

Prisoner pleaded guilty to (3) and (5), not guilty on the other charges. He was tried on the first indictment.

Mr. Bodkin, Mr. Leycester, and Mr. Montague Shearman, junior, prosecuted.

Police-constable ALBERT TROTTER, 186 M, and Detective-sergeant JOHN BOUSTEAD proved certain plans and photographs for use in the case.

WILLIAM SUMPTON . I am licensee of the "Virginia Plant" public-house at the corner of Great Dover Street and Lawson Street, Borough. At the back of the house is a one-storey building used as a billiard saloon, covered with a lead flat; below is a urinal without a roof; from the top of the flat to the floor of the urinal is 16 ft. 8 in. On December 25 I saw the house closed and locked up at the proper hour, eleven o'clock. I sat up for some time in the private bar. About one in the morning I heard footsteps upstairs. I called out, and getting no answer went upstairs. Through a window on the landing looking to the lead flat I saw prisoner; I asked him what he was there for and

he turned and ran away. I could not open the window, as it was bolted. I went downstairs, opened the front door, and blew a police whistle. While a policeman (Haytread) was coming towards me from the opposite corner prisoner came out from the urinal. When he saw me speak to Haytread he started running and Haytread followed. As they turned into Bland Street prisoner deliberately put up his hand and pointed a revolver at Haytread and fired; they were then about three or four yards apart. I heard another report just afterwards, but did not see the shot fired. I returned to my house and roused the servants and then went back to where prisoner was being captured.

Cross-examined by prisoner. I was about 30 or 35 yards away when you fired the first shot. At the police court I said you were two or three yards from Haytread when you fired; I now say three or four.

Police-constable GEORGE HAYTBEAD, M Division. On the early morning of Boxing Day I was on duty, in uniform, in the Borough, when I heard a police whistle. I ran till I saw Sumpton at the door of his house; prisoner ran out of the urinal and I ran after him. At the corner of Bland Street he stopped, turned round, pulled a revolver from his pocket and fired towards me; I was about 12 yards from him. He again ran on and I followed; when I was about seven yards from him he turned round and fired again. I was nearly close upon him when he fired a third shot. I then grappled with him and got hold of his right hand, which held the revolver; it was pointed directly towards me as he went to fire again, but I forced his hand up and the shot went over my head. While we were struggling, prisoner still holding the revolver, Mrs. Wright came to my assistance; she struck him in the face several times; she tugged at my whistle till the chain broke, and then she blew the whistle. I had got prisoner on to the ground and in the struggle he got the pistol pressed against my left temple and pulled the trigger, but it only clicked. Then a sailor (Barber) came to my assistance; we overpowered prisoner and he was taken to the station.

Cross-examined. It was after you fired the fourth shot that Mrs. Wright came to my assistance. For the fifth shot you were pressing the pistol to my forehead for half a minute.

FRANCES WRIGHT , wife of Harry Wright, 51, Great Bland Street. In the early morning of Boxing Day I left my house to go to some friends. I saw prisoner double round from Great Dover Street, running swiftly towards me, Haytread following him. They were separated by 11 or 12 yards when prisoner deliberately turned round and fired at Haytread; after another six yards or so prisoner again turned round and fired. When Haytread was close upon him prisoner fired a third shot. Then Haytread closed with him. There was a terrible struggle. Haytread asked me to blow his whistle and I tried to get at it. Prisoner was about to fire again when I let out at him with my hand and the shot went off in the air. Then the two men were struggling on the ground; I broke the chain and got the whistle and blew it. I saw prisoner holding the pistol close to Haytread's forehead and heard it click; it was then that I realised the danger I

was in and asked God to spare me for my children's sake. I let go with my fist at prisoner and must have hit his tooth, because my hand was poisoned and had to be cauterised. I was screaming "Help, Murder!"; the sailor Barber came up and prisoner was secured.

To prisoner. I was struggling to get the whistle when the fourth shot was fired; you and Haytread were on the ground then. I did say at the police court that "I thought" I saw you hold the pistol to Haytread's head, but I immediately corrected myself and said I was sure; I am quite certain of it.

HENRY WILLIAM BARBER . I am an A.B. on H.M.S. Hampshire. During my Christmas leave I was at 31, Lower Bland Street. In the early morning of Boxing Day I heard a revolver shot. I went to the door and saw Haytread struggling with prisoner. There were three shots in quick succession; I saw the flashes of two of them. Haytread cried out, "Help me, Jack," and I went and seized prisoner by the right hand; he had not got the pistol then. After a severe struggle, and other assistance coming, prisoner was secured. Prisoner said to me, referring to the pistol, "It was only a toy."

To prisoner. I was three yards from you when you fired the last shot. I heard four shots in all.

ERNEST COLLINS , oilman, 83, Great Dover Street, who assisted in taking prisoner to the police station, said that, feeling something in prisoner's jacket pocket, he searched and found it was the jemmy produced, which he handed to Inspector Gadd.

HENRY PURTON , printer, 7, Lower Bland Street. I assisted to take prisoner to the station. On the way he said, "I meant it this time; it was either neck or nothing."

To prisoner. I was three yards from you when you fired the last shot. Detective Cronk gave evidence on December 26. I had read the newspaper reports, but had not particularly noticed his evidence. I was at the back of you, holding your right arm, when you said this; I am positive you said it. I heard you say the same thing to Cronk at the station.

Re-examined. I made a written statement (produced) before Cronk gave his evidence, and this remark of prisoner's is given in that statement.

Detective ROBERT CRONK, M Division. I was at the station when prisoner was brought in. I asked him his name; he said "Find out "; he went on, "I think I have gone through enough; I had to jump a wall 15 ft. high to get away from the pub.; they know all about it, but I did not get anything; isn't that enough for you?" I asked, "Where is the revolver?" He said, "Someone took it away from me. It's very near time something was done; wait till the 1st of January; then things will be different; Mr. Churchill is going to alter things, and we shall have a better chance, instead of being worried by you people." When the charges were read over to him he said (referring to the charge of shooting with intent to murder), "If I had intended to murder him I should have done it, instead of firing at random, but when I was trying to get away I fired anyway; what

would you do if you was in such a fix?" Later on he said, "I meant to do it this time; it was either me or them; it was either neck or nothing; I meant to do it this time." At the police court while in the waiting-room he said, "Give me the pistol and one bullet and I will put it there" (putting his finger to his forehead) "then I shan't cause the country any more expense; I wish I could go to my last long sleep."

To Prisoner. When I questioned you it was in pursuance of my duty. I am sure I have omitted nothing and added nothing in my account of what you said. You did not say, "We shall have a better chance instead of being hounded down by you people while we are trying to get a honest living."

Police-constable PERCY CLARKE, 167 M, proved the finding of the revolver in Great Bland Street.

Inspector RICHARD GADD, M Division. I searched prisoner at the station; I found on him seven loaded cartridges, which would fit the revolver produced. On examining the revolver handed me by Clarke I found it contained four empty and two live cartridges; the hammer had jammed between the fourth and fifth chambers.

REGINALD LARKIN , divisional surgeon. At 2.10 a.m. on December 26 I saw Haytread at the station; he was suffering from collapse and shock owing to the severe struggle. On his left temple was a deep red mark, consistent with the pressure of the muzzle of the revolver (produced). Haytread is still on the sick list. I examined prisoner; he had a sprained ankle, which he said was caused by a kick during the struggle; it might have been caused in jumping a 15 ft. wall. He was quite sober.

ROBERT CHURCHILL , gunmaker, 8, Agar Street, Strand. I have had 14 years' experience of firearms of all kinds. The weapon (produced) is a 6-chambered Bulldog pattern revolver, Belgian make, 3.20 calibre; it is a common weapon, usually sold at 5s. 6d. I experimented with it, standing at six yards, at a piece of board 1 1/4 in. thick; it clean penetrated the board and smashed itself against an iron plate a yard away. Fired at a range of ten yards at a man in police uniform the bullet would penetrate the body unless it struck a bone; fired with the muzzle touching the skin of the temple, it would certainly kill. The reason of the fifth cartridge missed fire was because of the commonness of the mechanism; probably the centre-pin of the chamber is not right. Prisoner, called upon for his defence, addressed the jury from the dock. He went through the evidence, and pointed out various discrepancies as to distances, etc. The words he used to Cronk in the police court waiting-room were, "I have tried to get an honest living, and you people have hounded me down and stopped me from getting one; give me that shooter, and I will soon get out of my misery, and I won't give you the trouble of going on with this case." It was an absolute lie that he said "I meant to do it this time; it is neck or nothing." He admitted that he fired the revolver, but he never intended to strike the constable; has object in firing the first three shots was to put him off his guard and delay him for a minute or so, so that he (prisoner) might get away. As to the fourth shot, he remembered

perfectly well what happened; as they were struggling he realised that he was bound to be captured; the pistol was pointing directly at Haytread's forehead, and it would have been easy to fire and kill him; but he (prisoner) tried to lean back and point the revolver at his own head and put an end to his own miserable existence. He remembered nothing about the fifth shot.

Verdict, Guilty.

Prisoner confessed to a previous conviction.

Besides a number of convictions for minor offences prisoner was. sentenced in November, 1894, to 12 months' hard labour; in November, 1897 to five year's penal servitude; in June, 1902, to ten years' penal servitude; his offences including burglaries, wounding, and shooting at police; he had been in prison the greater art of his life.

Prisoner now stated that he had made every effort to get back from the course of crime and to earn an honest living, but had always been prevented because the police took care to inform people wherever he went that he was a convict on ticketofleave. He asked the court, if he must be sentenced again to penal servitude, to make the period a comparatively short one, and subject him at intervals to punishment with the cat; he would not mind the corporal punishment, provided that he had a short term, so that he might when he came out endeavour to earn an honest living; and he would promise, whatever happened, never again to carry a weapon of any kind.

Sentence, Penal servitude for life.


(Saturday, January 14.)

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