4th March 1913
Reference Numbert19130304-67
VerdictGuilty > unknown

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STEVENSON, Ella, otherwise Ethel Slade (53) , unlawfully sending for transmission by post a postal packet containing a dangerous substance likely to injure other postal packets, and placing in a Post Office letter box a dangerous substance likely to injure the said letter box and contents.

Mr. Forster Boulton prosecuted.

EDWARD HUGH OVERINGTON , cleaner, Post Office, Richmond. I know prisoner; for some months past I have seen her standing outside the post office at Richmond selling suffrage papers. On February 22 at about 10.40 a.m. I was standing in the passage of the post office when I saw prisoner drop into the postbox attached to the front of the post office a package contained in a plain white envelope, about six inches long. I at once spoke to Police-constable Thompson, who then watched the letter box while I went into the post office and made a communication to a Mr. Winter, who came out and cleared the box. In the box were a few letters, on top of which was a packet (produced) which I identified as being the one posted by prisoner. A dark fluid was oozing from it.

Cross-examined by prisoner. I had heard a report that the Suffragettes were expected to be on the warpath; when I saw you, a wellknown Suffragette, I was naturally suspicious. I was seven yards from you when you posted this packet. You had a waterproof hanging over your left arm. If you had posted two letters their combined length would have been about the same as the packet you did post. I do not think anybody could have put the packet in the box while I was speaking to the police-constable.

Police-constable EDWARD THOMPSON , 413 V. On February 22 at about 10.40 a.m. at Richmond, Overington spoke to me and I stood outside the letter box while Overington went inside. No letter was posted until the box was opened by Winter.

To prisoner. I was not looking at the box when Overington spoke to me.

HENRY WILLIAM MARTIN WINTER corroborated as to opening the box. The packet was saturated with a strong smelling liquid. I handed it to Gilbey.

WILLIAM CHARLES GILBEY , assistant superintendent, Richmond Post Office. On February 22 at 10.45 Winter handed me packet, remains of which are produced. It contained two thin glass test-tubes about four inches long, from which was oozing a liquid which gave off suffocating fumes of phosphorus. I handed to it Gooding.

LOUIS GOODING , acting postmaster, Richmond Post Office, corroborated the last witness. When I took the packet into the warm air inside it burst into flames.

Detective-sergeant THOMAS COCK , V Division. For the last four or five months prisoner has been selling Suffragette papers in the streets off and on. On February 22 at about 2.40 p.m. I saw her outside the Richmond Post Office. I said to her, "Miss Stevenson, I believe?" She said "Yes." I said, "I am a police officer, and I must ask you to accompany me to the police station." She said, "Oh! What is the charge?" I said, "I am making no charge, I am only asking you to accompany me to the police station." She prepared to do so. Inspector Pride then came up.

Detective-inspector GEORGE PRIDE . On February 22 I saw prisoner with Detective Cock. I said to prisoner, "I am a detective-inspector." Prisoner said, "What is the charge?" I said, "I shall arrest you for placing inflammable matter in a letter box." She said, "I did post two letters there this morning." I conveyed her to the police station. She gave her name as "Ethel Slade," but refused to give her address.

Prisoner's statement before the Magistrate. "I admit that I did post two letters; I can give the names and addresses of those two letters if you wish. The only witness who says he saw me place something in the letter box was at such a distance he could not really clearly see what I was putting in; he admits my back was turned towards him."

ELLA STEVENSON (prisoner, not on oath). I do not deny that I am a Suffragette. I did not cast any aspersion upon the evidence given by Overington. On the occasion when Overington says I posted this packet I posted two letter-cards, one of which I produce. It has been given back to me by the person I sent it to. Those two letters may easily have been mistaken for the packet. I possibly used two hands in putting it in as I had a waterproof over my arm. I had my back to Overington.

LOUIS GOODING , recalled. (To the Judge.) Letter-card (produced by the prisoner) bears post-mark "11 a.m." It is addressed to "Miss E. Chashin, 23, Churchfield Road, Ealing West. According to the post-mark it must have been posted at Richmond between 9.46 and 11 a.m.

Verdict, Guilty.

Prisoner was convicted in November, 1912, London Sessions, receiving four months' imprisonment, for wilful damage to plate-glass windows. She then adopted the "hunger strike," and was liberated after a fortnight's imprisonment.

Sentence: Nine months' imprisonment, second division.


(Thursday, March 6.)

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