4th February 1901
Reference Numbert19010204-156
VerdictGuilty > lesser offence
SentenceImprisonment > penal servitude

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156. BARNET ABRAHAMS (41) was indicted for, and charged on the Coroner's Inquisition, with the wilful murder of Ernest Thompson.

MR. HORACE AVORY , K.C., and MR. BODKIN Prosecuted; and

MR. CHAS. GILL , K.C., and MR. HALDENSTEIN Defended.

HARRY WOODLEY (343 H) produced and proved the plans of the Commercial Road between Union Street and Church Lane.

WILLIAM JAMES BUTCHER . I live at Silver Street, Stepney, and keep a coffee-stall in the Commercial Road, close to Church Lane—on December 1st, about 1 a.m., I saw the deceased constable; he was on duty, and in uniform—he passed my stall, going towards Aldgate—soon afterwards the prisoner came to my stall with two women, who had some refreshments—the prisoner left and walked towards Aldgate; a minute or so afterwards the women followed him—I next heard the prisoner shouting or singing, about 7 ft. or 8 ft. from my stall, and between me and Church Lane—the deceased came up and told him to go away; he went away towards Union Street, or eastwards—the women went in the opposite direction, towards Aldgate—as the prisoner moved away he asked the constable what he had done—he continued walking away, and I see them walk a little way towards Union Street, the prisoner in front of the constable—I went outside my stall, and was talking to a man named Ellis, a cab washer—I saw the constable follow the prisoner to Union Street, and saw the constable stop at Morrison's Buildings; then I saw my father coming towards my stall from the east—the prisoner went as far as the corner of Union Street—I saw him turn round and go towards the deceased, who was on the pavement—the deceased made a step or two towards the prisoner, and I saw them meet and fall—when they fell I heard a police whistle go—I then saw six or seven other constables on the other or south side of the road—they were going along in file, and taking prisoners to Arbour Square—I thought the whistle came from the deceased—the constables ran over to where the deceased had fallen—I did not go up to the place—there was nobody near the spot where the deceased and the prisoner fell—my father and myself were the nearest—there were no passengers in the road.

Cross-examined. I have had a coffee-stall there for about 10 months—I always stand about the same place—my father has a coffee-stall some where else—I know the police of this division pretty well—my stall is there from 12.30 p.m. to 7 a.m.—I know the constables on the beat; I seldom speak to them—I knew the deceased; he was a neighbour of mine—his beat extended from Church Lane to Union Street, and round White-chapel Square, and into Commercial Road—there are not very many people about where my coffee-stall stands; it is not exactly quiet—the places around are factories, and are not used at night—the deceased was a tall man; I should not say he was powerful—the first I saw of the deceased and the prisoner was about 1 o'clock—the women with the prisoner were perfectly quiet—the prisoner paid for coffee, and bread, butter, and eggs for them; he had nothing himself—I did not know him before—he was laughing and joking about my pony—he said something about its being hungry, and offered to buy bread for it—they were all laughing before the deceased came up—there was nothing to attract anybody's attention at my stall—the prisoner was not quarrelsome at my stall—Ellis came on the scene about the same time that the deceased did—I was inside my stall when

the deceased spoke to the prisoner—I did not see him speaking to the prisoner, but I heard him—I did not go out of my stall for two or three minutes after the prisoner had said, "What have I done?"—I did not go out to see what was happening, I went out for exercise—the deceased was not pushing the prisoner along the road when I came outside—the deceased, instead of going on his round, apparently turned back to go up Union Street—I did not hear the prisoner say anything, except "What have I done?"—I said before the Coroner that I was not prepared to say that the constable did not strike the prisoner, but that was on the first occasion, when I was inside my stall—when I saw the prisoner he had no marks of violence on his face—when I came out of my stall I stood close to it—Ellis was drinking coffee—afterwards he went up to the crowd, I believe—from where I was standing I could look straight along the pavement on which the deceased and the prisoner were standing—I saw the back of the deceased and the face of the prisoner—I did not hear Ellis give his evidence at the inquest—I think my father joined us while the prisoner and the deceased were walking along—when the prisoner turned round he did not go off the pavement—I could not see well enough to see if the deceased fell on top of the prisoner—I cannot say if they fell on the pavement or in the road—they were on the ground—at that time there was no one else near them—I did not notice the other constables before they ran up.

Re-examined. The prisoner and the women came up together to my stall—I did not see any more of the women that night—I have not seen them since—they were about 30 or 35 years old—I did not hear anything which would make me think that the deceased struck the prisoner; there was no altercation between them, to my knowledge—the prisoner was making a jolly noise after he left my stall; the women did not join in it—the deceased was walking some yards behind the prisoner up to Union Street—when the prisoner turned round the deceased was standing still.

WILLIAM BUTCHER . I live at 42, Silver Street, Stepney—I keep a coffeestall—my usual stand is by Whitechapel Church—on December 1st, about 1.30 am., I was walking along the right hand side of the Commercial Road, going towards Aldgate; I had to cross over the end of Union Street, when I saw the prisoner walking slowly towards Stepney—we were going in opposite directions, and we met and passed each other; going in the same direction as the prisoner, and about 10 yards behind him, I saw the deceased, whom I knew—I stopped, and had a few words with him—we were then on the pavement opposite Morrison's Buildings—I did not stop for more than half a minute at the outside—I then walked up towards my son's stall—I did not see the deceased move; after I had gone about 15 yards I heard a struggle; I turned round, and saw the deceased and the prisoner struggling on the pavement—they fell in the road—I saw that the prisoner was underneath the constable—there was no one else near at the time, only my son and the other man at the coffee-stall—the struggle took place opposite the last door of Morrison's Buildings, next to Union Street—I walked on up to my son; as I was going I heard a policeman's whistle; it came from Thompson's direction—some other constables came flying across the road from Gower's Walk, which is between the Gun Proof House and the tobacco factory—I saw

them lift the deceased from off the prisoner—I stayed at the coffee-stall with my son.

Cross-examined. I had known the deceased for some time—the first thing that attracted my attention was the struggle—the prisoner is a complete stranger to me—when I saw them struggling I could not see exactly the position in which they had got their hands—I do not know if the deceased blew his whistle as he fell or when he was on the ground—I had not reached my son when the men fell in the road.

Re-examined. I only judged by the sound that the whistle came from the deceased.

DAVID TITTLE (400 H). On December 1st, about 1.20 a.m., I was with six other constables going to Arbour Square Police-station from Leman Street Police-station—we had five prisoners with us—I had charge of a prisoner—we went up Little Aley Street into the Commercial Road, walking on the south side—we were going in single file—I was No. 2 from the front—when near Gower's Walk on the south side, I saw the deceased standing on the north side, on the footway near Union Street—I saw the prisoner in the carriage way, facing the deceased, about 30 yards away, and standing still—the deceased stepped off the footway into the carriage way, towards the prisoner, who at the same time stepped towards him—on reaching striking distance I saw the prisoner raise his right hand above his head and strike the deceased apparently on the left side of his head—the deceased immediately seized the prisoner with both hands by the collar of his coat; a struggle ensued, and the deceased threw the prisoner on his back in the carriage way, falling on top of him—I spoke to Police-constable Beckett, who had no prisoner—he an across the road, and I followed—when I got up to the deceased I saw the prisoner lying on his back in the carriage way, and the deceased lying on top of him bleeding from a wound on the left side of his neck—he was lifted off the prisoner and taken away in a cab—the prisoner was also lifted up and taken to the station—soon after the prisoner was lifted up I saw Police-constable Herding stoop down and pick up an open knife which was lying on the left side of the way, where the prisoner had been lying—I did not see what happened to the prisoner after he was put on his feet.

Cross-examined. When I was walking along with my prisoner I was outside him nearest the road—I was No. 2; the constable in front of me was about three yards in front—I was holding my prisoner by the arm—the struggle between the prisoner and the deceased lasted about a minute—I did not see the prisoner struck by one of the other constables with a truncheon—I saw no blow struck, nor heard any—I went on to Arbour Square with my prisoner—I got there about 2 a.m.—the first statement I made that I had seen this was on the Sunday afternoon, but I made a written report to my inspector at 4 a.m. on Sunday—I did not make a statement of what I had seen on the way to the station—I had no one to make a statement to—I heard of his death about an hour before I made my statement.

Re-examined. There was nobody between me and the deceased when he fell to the ground—when I went across the road I took my prisoner with me—after the prisoner was picked up, a crowd of about 20 people collected—it was a very disorderly crowd—as soon as I saw the knife

picked up I went on to Arbour Square—I left my prisoner there and went back to Leman Street; that is my station.

By the COURT. The first blow I saw was given by the prisoner—the deceased did not strike the prisoner at all.

ZEBA BECKETT (414 H). In the early morning of December 1st I was on my way from Leman Street to Arbour Square—I was acting as escort to some other constables who had some prisoners—we got to Little Aley Street, Commercial Road, going eastwards on the right hand side of the Commercial Road—we passed along the front of the Gun Proof House—when we got to Gower's Walk, Tittle spoke to me—I looked, over to Morrison's Buildings, and saw a policeman and a man struggling in the roadway—I ran towards them—they were on their feet—as I ran towards them I saw blood spurting from the left side of the deceased's neck—I was about 10 yards away then—I blew my whistle—that was the first time any whistle was blown; I heard no other—before I got to them they fell together, the deceased being uppermost—as they fell I heard the deceased say, "I am done; he has stabbed me; hold him"—he fell over on his left side—he held the prisoner by the collar of his coat, with both hands—I tried to loosen his grip—we had some difficulty in doing so—the prisoner was on the ground while we were doing so—he was put on his feet by myself and Atkinson—he struggled violently, and tried to break away—by that time more police whistles had sounded—there were about 20 persons there—the prisoner continued to struggle, and I drew my truncheon and struck him on the left shoulder—Atkinson struck the prisoner in the face with his fists—the prisoner struck me after I struck him—he became quiet, and Atkinson. and I took him to Leman Street Police-station.

Cross-examined. When I went across the road the deceased's face was towards me and the prisoner's back—the deceased was taller than the prisoner—I should say he was a powerful man—they were about ten yards from the pavement when they were struggling—I did not hear anything said while they were struggling or as they were falling; when they were on the ground and when the prisoner was underneath, the deceased had his knee on the prisoner's chest—it was then that the deceased said, "He has stabbed me"—only two of us lifted the prisoner up; when he was on his feet he struggled, before I struck him—Timms came up separately off his beat; as we came along Little Aley Street the constables would be on the inside of the prisoners, the escort would walk: on the outside, on the kerb.

Re-examined. I was walking on the kerb—when I struck the prisoner with my truncheon I did not know where the knife was, or with what the wound had been inflicted.

By the COURT. The crowd was close to us, and hostile to the police—the prisoner had no marks on his face before I struck him.

WALTER ATKINSON (231 H). I was with the other constables passing through Commercial Road on the morning of December 1st—I was acting as escort, walking on the kerb of the footway, by the side of Police-constable Herding; when I first saw the prisoner and the deceased they were struggling on their feet—they had hold of each other when I first saw them—I ran over the road; I was about two yards from them when

they fell—as they fell the deceased said, "I am done; he has stabbed me, hold him"—I saw blood spurting from the left side of his neck—I did not help to take him off the prisoner—I helped to pick the prisoner up—I saw no mark on him then—he became violent when we got him on his feet—Beckett struck him with his truncheon on his left shoulder; at the same time the prisoner struck Beckett a blow on the chest, and I immediately struck him a blow between the eyes with my fist—I did not then know where the knife was—I took the prisoner to the station—Beckett blew the first police whistle, when he was 9 or 10 yards from the deceased and the prisoner—I did not see or hear the deceased blow his whistle.

Cross-examined. When I first saw the men they both had their hands up to each other's collars—they fell with considerable force—when the deceased said he had been stabbed he had his hand on the prisoner's chest—the prisoner was only held to the ground by the deceased, who was on top of him—when he was on his feet he was not struck because of what the deceased had said; he was struck because of his violence—it would be correct to say that I hit him as hard as I could on his face twice—I said before the Coroner, "I struck the accused because I thought the accused had murdered my colleague."

Re-examined. I did not strike the prisoner out of revenge—at the inquest I was rather confused by the way the question was put to me—I did not mean that the prisoner was not violent to the other constables, I meant that he was not violent to me, and it was after he had struck Beckett that I struck him with my fist.

HARRY HERDING (51 KR). I was with the other constables on the early morning of December 1st in Commercial Road—I had a prisoner—when we were quite close to Gower's Walk I saw on the opposite side of the road, near Morrison's Buildings, a man and a constable struggling in the roadway—Beckett and Atkinson ran across the road, I went after them—I kept my prisoner with me—the struggle continued as I crossed the road, and when I got within 10 or 15 yards the two men fell—when the deceased was on the ground I saw a quantity of blood coming from the left side of his neck—I did not notice it before he was on the ground—some other constables came up, and the deceased was put into a cab—the prisoner was taken into custody by Beckett and Atkinson—they caught hold of him—he struggled while he was on the ground, and when he got up—I handed my prisoner to another constable, and caught hold of this prisoner by the back of his neck, and told him to keep quiet—it was a violent struggle—I saw Beckett strike him on his shoulder with his truncheon, and afterwards I saw Atkinson strike him on his face with his fists—he became quiet, and was taken towards the station—after he had been taken away I looked about at the spot where he had been lying, and found this clasp knife, with the blade open, and covered with blood (Produced)

Cross-examined. It is an ordinary knife, and could be purchased for about 8d. or 1s.—when the prisoner got to his feet he was held by three constables—I did not hear him say anything—the whole thing took a very few minutes—when I saw the prisoner and the deceased struggling in the road I was 70 or 80 yards away

By the COURT. I think I was No. 4 in the string of five constables.

ALBERT TIMMS (100 H). I was on duty in Batey Street, Commercial Road on the morning of December 1st—hearing some police whistles, I ran to Union Street and Commercial Road, where I found the deceased bleeding very seriously—I helped to put him in a cab and took him to the hospital—when he was placed in the cab I found a difficulty in getting him into a better position, because of his truncheon, which I found in his tail coat pocket—that is the proper place to carry it when we are wearing great-coats—I undid his great-coat on the way—I found his whistle inside, where mine is now—if it had been pulled out it had been put in again—before we got to the hospital he died.

Cross-examined. When I saw the prisoner the deceased was holding him by the collar and the arm—it is very easy to take our whistles out and use them.

FRANCIS PORTEOUS TYRELL HILLYARD . I am house-surgeon at the London Hospital—the deceased was brought in about 1.30 a.m. on December 1st—he was then dead—I saw that he had a punctured wound on the left side of the neck, about 1 in below the angle of the jaw—the same day I made a post mortem examination—the wound was between 1/2 in. and 3/4 in. long, and had been made with some sharp-edged weapon, the sharp edge being uppermost—it was nearly 2 in. deep as far as I could judge—it severed the carotid artery and jugular vein, and was the cause of death—it could have been caused by this knife.

By the COURT. There was an old scar on one of the shins, and a very old one on the angle of the left shoulder, but nothing recent.

Cross-examined. The carotid-artery was cut more than the jugular vein, but it was all done with one blow.

Re-examined. The wound was slightly downwards and towards the middle line.

WILLIAM WIDENER (Inspector H). The prisoner was brought to Leman Street Police-station by Beckett and Atkinson on the morning of December 1st.—in his presence Beckett said, "This man has stabbed Police-constable Thompson"—I said, "Where is Thompson?"—Beckett said, "Taken to the hospital in a cab"—I told the prisoner he would be detained—he said, "Inspector, if Linda Green were here I would soon get out of this"—I do not know what he meant—I think Linda Green keeps a house, but I do not know—the prisoner had a cut on his head, blood on his face, and his eyes were swollen—I sent for the divisional surgeon.

Cross-examined. The prisoner came to the station about 1.45—I left the station about 2 a.m.—the prisoner was brought before the Magistrate next morning, and then taken to Holloway—the deceased was an ordinary man for a policeman, not a large man—I do not know that he was an exceptionally athletic man, or a first-class boxer—I had known him about five years—he was about 5ft. 9in. high.

FRANK SPENCER (Inspector, H). I took charge of the Leman Street Police-station when the last witness left at 2 a.m. on December 1st—when I first saw the prisoner he said to me, "They have knocked me about cruel"—the divisional surgeon, Dr. Jones, came about 2.20—between six and seven the same morning Inspector Dival came and charged

the prisoner with feloniously killing and slaying—the prisoner said, "It is quite possible; I do not remember anything about it; I had no reason or cause to do an injury to anybody"—he gave his address as 50, Newark Street.

Cross-examined. What the prisoner, said he said all at once—I saw he was bleeding from the nose; he was still bleeding when Dival charged him.

THOMAS JONES . I am surgeon to the H Division of Police—about 2.15 a.m. on December 1st I saw the prisoner at Leman Street Police-station station—he had a lacerated wound on the right side of his head, and another on the left side; he had a small incised wound under his chin about 1in. long, not very deep, and two swollen eyes, a mark over the nasal bone, and a large bruise over his left shoulder; no bones were broken—he had a small mark on the right side of his left thigh—the mark on his nose and the condition of his eyes could have been caused by a blow from a fist; the bruise on the shoulder might have been caused by a truncheon; the wound on the left side of his head might have been caused by a fall, and the one on the right side might have been produced by a truncheon or a boot, or by coming into contact with any hard substance—the next day I examined the deceased's uniform (Produced), and found a mark on the great-coat corresponding with the wound; it is on the upper margin of the collar, on the left side, just above the number—the knife does not appear to have gone through it; it has cut the edge, but not gone through it—the prisoner's clothes were bloody.

Cross-examined. The incised wound on the prisoner's chin was clean cut, and might have been caused by a knife—I did not see a bruise on the calf of the prisoner's left leg—I saw the deceased's whistle; there was blood on it and on his coat.

THOMAS DIVAL (Detective Inspector, H). I saw the prisoner at Leman Street Police-station at 7 a.m. on December 1st—I had by then heard of the death of the deceased—I said to the prisoner, "Do you understand English?"—he said, "Well"—I said, "I am an inspector of police, and I shall charge you with feloniously killing and slaying one Ernest Thompson, Police-constable, 241 H Division, by stabbing him in the neck while on his duty, in Commercial Road, parish of Whitechapel, with this knife"—I had this knife in my hand—he nodded his head and said, "I am charged with maliciously killing"—I said, "With feloniously killing"—he said, "It is quite possible; I do not remember anything about it; I had no reason or cause to do an injury to anybody."

FREDERICK WENSLBY (Detective Sergeant, H). I was at Leman Street Police-station when the prisoner was charged by Inspector Dival—the charge was read over to him—he said, I am charged with maliciously killing"—Inspector Dival said, "You are charged with feloniously killing"—the prisoner said, "It is quite possible; I do not remember anything about it; I had no reason or cause to do any injury to anybody"—he was taken to a passage behind the charge-room, and undressed for the purposes of his description—while there he said to me, "I did do it; it was an unlucky moment for me"; there was a pause, and he said, "May his soul rest in peace'; another pause, then, "I regret it; it cannot be helped."

Cross-examined. I do not know how many police officers saw the

prisoner between 2 a.m. and 7 a.m.—I saw him at 3 a.m.—Inspector Divall saw him before he was in the passage—I was not talking to the prisoner—I had my note-book in my pocket—I took it out in his presence—Police-constable Gallier was there a portion of the time—he did not hear all the statement; all he heard was, "I did do it; it was an unlucky moment for me"; then he went away—this is my note (Produced) of what the prisoner said—I asked him about the bruise on his shoulder—he told me it was recent—I wanted to know the marks, as I was taking his description.

FREDERICK GALLIER (462 H). I was acting as gaoler at Leman Street Police-station on the morning of December 1st—after the prisoner was charged Wensley and I proceeded to take his description—he said, "I did do it; was an unlucky moment for me"—I did not hear anything more—I came away, leaving Wensley there.

Cross-examined. That was said while the prisoner was actually stripped—I left because I had other business to attend to—I made a note of what he had said in his presence.

WILLIAM R. K. WATSON . I am deputy medical officer at Holloway Prison—I saw the prisoner when he was brought to the prison on December 1st—I think it was about 2.30 p.m.

Cross-examined. I made a careful examination of him—all the injuries I found on him had been produced within 24 hours—on his left shoulder there was a very large bruise, extending from the neck, a considerable distance down the arm, and over the back as well; there was a small bruise on the right shoulder—nearly one-half the surface of the right thigh was covered with a recent bruise—I also found bruising on the inner side of his left thigh, and a bruise and an abrasion on his left leg, just below the calf, that might have been caused by a kick—there was very extensive bruising on the face—there were a large number of scratches and abrasions on his forehead and face; none of them at all serious—the inside of his lower lip was cut.

Re-examined. The bruise on the shoulder might have been caused by a truncheon—one blow could not have caused all the small wounds on the face—if the prisoner's face had come in contact with the ground while he was struggling, that might have caused them.

WILLIAM THOMAS ELLIS . (Not examined in chief.)

Cross-examined. I am employed at a cab master's in Assam Street, near Commercial Road—on the morning of Saturday, December 1st, I went to Butcher's coffee-stall to have a cup of coffee—I saw the prisoner and two women there; they were all strangers to me—the women were having something to eat, and they were all laughing and talking—I went back towards the yard—I came back in about five minutes, and saw the deceased pushing the prisoner away from the coffee-stall towards Stepney, as far as the brewery gates—he pushed him two or three times—I had not seen the prisoner doing anything except laughing and talking—outside the brewery gates the deceased stopped—the prisoner walked away across Union Street; he then turned back towards the deceased, who went towards the prisoner—until then the deceased had been standing still—I did not see them struggling much; I saw them close and fall—I cannot say if the deceased took out his whistle and blew it—I heard whistles

blown, and I went towards the spot—I do not remember saying before the Coroner, "The deceased blew his whistle while he was on the ground, kneeling over the accused"—I was on the left side of the road all the time.

Re-examined. The prisoner did not appear to have been drinking—I said before the Coroner, "The accused was not drunk, but I could see he had been drinking"—that was true—when the prisoner turned back the deceased was against the new brewery gates—the prisoner came right back along the pavement towards the constable—when they fell I went up—the other constables were there before me—I saw the prisoner's face was smothered with blood—I did not know where the blood came from—I saw the prisoner lifted up by two constables—I did not see anybody strike him.

By the COURT. The constables got to the spot first, so they must have been nearer than I was—I did not see the deceased do anything to the prisoner except push him—I saw no blows given.

The prisoner, in his defence, on oath, said that the constable struck and pushed and kicked him along the street; that he went towards home, but returned to where the deceased was standing, and said he would report him at the station; that the deceased took his truncheon out and struck him across the head; that he (the prisoner) pulled his knife out and opened it to protect himself; that the deceased caught hold of him; that they closed together, and then fell down, the prisoner underneath; that he had no idea how the deceased received the injury, except that the knife was open, and that the deceased fell right on top of him; and that he did not remember stabbing him before he fell, but that he was in a maze after the deceased struck him with his truncheon.

The prisoner received a good character.

GUILTY of manslaughter .— Twenty years' penal servitude.

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