OLIVE HOCKIN.
1st April 1913
Reference Numbert19130401-19
VerdictsGuilty > unknown; Not Guilty > unknown
SentencesImprisonment

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HOCKIN, Olive (32) , conspiring with others unknown to feloniously set fire to a building and certain matters and things therein, the property of the Roehampton Club, Limited, and to commit certain other offences against the Malicious Damage Act, 1861, and placing in a post office letter-box a certain fluid.

Mr. Bodkin and Mr. Travers Humphreys prosecuted; Mr. Muir defended.

Mrs. MARIAN A. HALL. I am caretaker at 28, Campden Hill Gardens, W.; prisoner, with another lady, occupied a studio there. On February 25 in the afternoon I noticed a piece of green cord with a flat piece of iron being swung from prisoner's window. About 7.30 p.m. a motor-car drove up and waited outside for some time. Some wraps were taken inside and some wooden poles were strapped on to the outside. About 10.30 the car left with some ladies; I think prisoner was one. In the early morning about four o'clock I heard the front door bang and someone went upstairs. That morning I went to prisoner's flat at my usual time, quarter to seven; prisoner came to the door and told me her fire was already alight; that was not usual. I told her I thought I had heard someone come in during the night; she said, "She was sorry if she disturbed me, but the lady did not understand the door." That morning there were two pairs of ladies' boots to clean; that was not usual; one was not prisoner's. The boots had mud and grass on them. I remember reading a newspaper report of a fire at the Roehampton pavilion. On February 26 about 7.30 a young woman called on prisoner; she had with her a gentleman's dressing-case similar to Exhibit 41; shortly afterwards another woman called with a similar bag. About ten o'clock prisoner asked me for a little milk "because a young lady might be staying there that evening, she was not quite sure"; she said that she herself was going to sleep at her mother's. I think the two women left about ten. Prisoner went out alone. I saw her next day at lunch time. I gave her the front-door key, which my husband had found on the top of the area steps; she said most likely the young lady had left it there for her. I am certain that nobody stayed in prisoner's flat that night. Just previously to this I had seen in the flat a small bundle of shavings; some cotton wool; some candles similar to Exhibit 24; the little electric torch (Exhibit 42); the bottle (Exhibit 43); and the tin oil cans (Exhibits 4 and 44). Prisoner's flat was heated and lit by gas. I have also seen there some pails similar to Exhibit 22, some wooden poles; a bag containing flints (Exhibit 11); some bottles containing a dark fluid (Exhibits 15, 16, 17, and 19); the motor-car number plates (Exhibit 21); and a basket with various tools. In the floor of prisoner's studio there was a board loose. (Cross-examination postponed.)

WILLIAM HENRY WILLCOX , Senior Scientific Analyst to the Home Office. I have examined the envelopes (Exhibits 53, 54, and 55), a bottle (Exhibit 52), and some paper (Exhibit 52a). Exhibit 52 contained some dark red fluid, which on analysis I found to be a solution of permanganate of potash; this is an oxidising agent, and if poured upon anything will turn it to a brown colour; Exhibits 53, 54, 55, and 52a are apparently stained with this fluid. I examined Exhibits 15, 16, 17, and 18; they had contained similar fluid, that in the latter two being strengthened with Indian ink.

Cross-examined. From the remains of the labels on the bottles they may have been purchased from Maw and Sons, chemists.

Sir DAVID PRAIN, K.C.I.E., M.B., F.R.S., Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, said that the Gardens were the property of His Majesty, the public being admitted under certain regulations.

ALFRED ERNEST WOOD , of the Local Government Board, produced the official list of index motor marks up to date; there was no mark "L.R."

(Friday, April 4.)

Mrs. MARIAN A. HALL, recalled, cross-examined. Prisoner followed her occupation as an artist quite seriously; she has exhibited at the Royal Academy.

(Mr. Muir stated that he could prove that the night of the 26th prisoner spent at her mother's place. Mr. Bodkin said that he would not dispute that prisoner was not herself at Roehampton on this night.)

OLIVER PARMENTER , Priory Lodge, Upper Richmond Road, Roehampton, said that about 9.35 p.m. on February 26, he was in the grounds of Priory Lodge, when he saw two ladies coming from the direction of Richmond towards Priory Lane, each carrying a bag similar to a gentleman's suit-case. They turned up in the direction of the Roehampton grounds, and about ten minutes afterwards he heard a whistle blown from the direction of the pavilion.

Inspector GEORGE RILEY, New Scotland Yard, proved a plan of the ground of the Roehampton Club with the croquet pavilion.

GEORGE SLAYMAKER , cowman, said he occupied a small house on the east side of Priory Lane. About 9.40 on February 26, while sitting indoors, he heard a police-whistle blown. He went out and heard a man's voice calling out, "Stop them." He then heard someone clambering over the fence which separated his garden from the Roehampton Club. He saw two ladies running down Priory Lane in the Richmond direction. They were going at the pace of a lady running to catch a bus; that is, at a decent trot. He went into the road to look; one of the ladies he lost sight of and the other entered a motor-bus.

THOMAS COHAIN , night watchman, employed at the Roehampton Club, said that in patrolling the grounds of the club on the night of February 26, at about 9.45 he was near the pavilion and heard some one running up to it from underneath the verandah. He turned

his lantern up and saw two dark objects, but he could not see whether they were men or women. They turned to the right of the pavilion towards Priory Lane and disappeared in the darkness. He could not see which way they turned. He blew his whistle and he next heard a sound as of someone trying to get over the fence into Priory Lane. He heard no sound which would indicate to which sex they belonged. He met the head groundsman about 200 yards from his cottage and informed him.

FREDERICK WORLD , head groundsman at Roehampton Club, said that on this night he heard a whistle blown and went out and met Cohain. He, with Cohain, found the two brown suit cases (produced) under a tree.

Police-constable JOSEPH ALLEN, 514 V, said that he was called on this night by World to go to his cottage. He opened the smaller bag (Exhibit 41) and found in it two full bottles of paraffin (Exhibits 45 and 46), some old newspapers (Exhibit 47), a bundle of cottonwool, and also three newspapers (Exhibits 35, 36, and 37). He took the bag, which he opened, and the one which he did not open to the police station. There the larger one was forced open and in it he found a hammer (Exhibit 48), a gallon tin of paraffin (Exhibit 44), a bottle of paraffin (Exhibit 49), a small tin of rape oil (Exhibit 50), some fire-lighters, a quantity of firewood, a quantity of lamp wick, five pieces of candle (Exhibit 24), cotton wool, a celluloid box (all produced and identified).

HARRY GEORGE ARNOLD , secretary, Roehampton Club. The croquet pavilion was the property of the club and of the value of about £1,000; the furniture was of the value of about £400.

ALFRED H. ASHTON , newsagent, said that he supplied newspapers to prisoner. On Exhibit 35 he found written "Miss Hocking, 28, Campden Hill Gardens," and it was in the writing of witness, as also the writing on Exhibits 36 and 37. The bill produced was his bill to prisoner, who was a customer of his.

PERCY SLATER , newsvendor, said that he had delivered newspapers to prisoner, and he delivered the three papers (Exhibits 35, 36, and 37), the writing on which he recognised.

FREDERICK RAYMENT , stoker at Kew Gardens, said that on this night he was on duty and had to attend to some orchid houses. He visited the houses for the last time about 12.45 in the early morning of February 8 and he found everything then correct. He visited them again at four o'clock in the morning, and he found that some 38 squares of glass had been broken in each of the houses. They had been entered by somebody, and inside he found a number of orchids which had been pulled out of their pots, and with regard to which some of the blooms had been torn off. In No. 13a he found a small bag and a number of pieces of iron (Exhibit No. 58). In one of the houses he saw a lady's handkerchief.

Cross-examined. The glass, which had been broken with a hammer or stick, was within reach of a person standing up.

Evidence was given by the Curator of the Royal Botanic Gardens as to the damage done to the plants, which he put at about £150.

WILFRED SOUTH , inspector of the engineering department, General Post Office, stationed at Birmingham, said that in consequence of some information which he received, he went on February 8 to Shirley, about eight miles from Birmingham, and there found that five telegraph wires had been cut. On the ground underneath the place where the wires had been cut he found the cutter (Exhibit 40), and at the West London Police Court he unscrewed it from a pole, which was handed to him for the purpose. This description of cutter was not used in the Post Office service.

Police-sergeant ERNEST MOLE, New Scotland Yard, said that on March 12 he kept observation on No. 28, Campden Hill Gardens, where prisoner lived. About 10.55 a.m. he saw her in Campden Hill Gardens walking with her bicycle. She went into High Street, Notting Hill Gate. He followed her on foot and lost sight of her as she turned into Ladbroke Grove, when she was riding her bicycle. He went into Ladbroke Grove, but she had disappeared. He then went back in the direction from which he had come to Holland Park Avenue. About 40 yards from the corner, outside the sub-post office, No. 6, Ladbroke Grove, he noticed some brownish fluid trickling from the pillar-box on the pavement there. A postman named Davis cleared the box at 11.30 and took from it the bottle (Exhibit 52), enclosed in the envelope (Exhibit 52a). The bottle had the cork out and the contents had run over some of the letters and stained them. The bottle had been identified as identical with Exhibits 15 and 16 found in the studio.

Cross-examined. He only lost sight of prisoner for half a second as she turned into High Street, Notting Hill Gate. She was 60 yards from Ladbroke Grove when he first saw her mounted on her bicycle. After he finally lost sight of her it would be a quarter of an hour when he noticed the liquid coming out of the pillar box.

AARON SAMPSON DAVIS , postman, attached to Notting Hill Post Office, said that he cleared the pillar-box outside No. 6, Ladbroke Grove, at 11.30 a.m. on March 12 and while doing so found inside of it a bottle in an envelope together with eight letters and one newspaper, all of which had upon them a brown stain.

GEORGE WILLIAM HUME , overseer of Notting Hill Gate sorting box, said that Davis handed him the bottle, letters, and newspaper, and the letters and newspaper had been duly forwarded to the persons whose names appeared on them, three of the envelopes being sent back again; these he identified as Exhibits 53, 54, and 55.

Inspector JAMES MCBRIEN, New Scotland Yard, said that on March 4 he went with a search warrant and entered the studio, 28, Campden Hill Gardens. He found there five cutters similar to the pair produced (Exhibit No. 1), and each had a cord attached to it. He also found a green silk ribbon (Exhibit No. 2), and on it the words "No security by post or wire till justice be done to women." He also found a coloured sash in the colours of the W.S.P.U., namely, green, violet, and white.

It bore the inscription "Votes for Women." He also found a tin of paraffin (Exhibit No. 4), a bundle of fire-lighters, and a number of tools (identified). He also found a quantity of cords, a green one and two white ones, and attached to each they had screw-nuts, which were identical with the screw-nuts on the top of the wooden pole produced. He also found a number of bottles; Exhibits 12, 13, and 14 were specimens of them. He found four with a dark fluid in them. He also found a bundle of suffrage flags (Exhibit 19), a motor-car license (Exhibit 20) issued to "Miss Hocking," and the motor-car numbers (produced). He also found two bundles of iron rods and wooden rods from 6 to 7 ft. long, the iron ones being adapted to screwing into one another; also a piece of candle (Exhibit 24), a quantity of literature connected with the W.S.P.U., a letter (Exhibit No. 26) signed "E. Pankhurst," a scientific instrument for measuring articles at a height from the ground, a piece of card with some writing upon it and with some rust marks on it as if it had been rubbing against iron; a violet card, called "Workers' member's card of the W.S.P.U." He also found in a brown rush bag some pole climbers (Exhibit 38). When he had completed his search he said to prisoner, "How do you account for these articles?" She said, "They do not belong to me; they have been left here by friends." On March 12 he received a warrant to arrest prisoner. When he read it to her she said, "I think I will be able to prove that I was not at Roehampton on that particular evening." At the police station, when charged, she said, "My mother will be able to prove that I was not there." Having executed the warrant, the same evening he went to the studio and there found all the things produced in court except those found in the two bags at Roehampton and the cutter, which was brought by the witness from Birmingham. On March 12 he found beneath the floor of the studio three cutting implements with string attached to one (Exhibit 1).

(Defence.)

DONALD GILMORE , assistant picture frame-maker, 159, High Street, Notting Hill Gate, produced a bill for work done for prisoner, which was paid by her to him on March 12 between 11 and 11.15 a.m.

WINIFRED COOKSLEY , manageress to Eastman and Son, dyers and cleaners, High Street, Notting Hill Gate, identified prisoner as the lady who left a coat and a table cover to be cleaned on March 12 about 11 a.m.

FREDERICK BATTERSBY , cycle agent, 3, Ladbroke Grove, said that he remembered prisoner bringing her bicycle to his shop to be repaired on March 12 just after 11 a.m. She was in the shop five or ten minutes.

RICHMOND KENNETH , head master of West Heath School, Hampstead, said that he dined with prisoner at her studio on February 7 at seven o'clock and left about 10.30. No other person beside himself and prisoner was in the studio between those hours.

Cross-examined. He did not recognise any of the articles which had been produced in court as having been in the studio on the evening he was there.

Verdict, Guilty of conspiracy to set fire to property of Roehampton Club, Limited, Not guilty of other offences.

Sentence: Four months' imprisonment, second division; ordered to pay half the whole costs of the prosecution.


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