10th September 1907
Reference Numbert19070910-22
VerdictGuilty > with recommendation

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DEARMAN, Mary Ann (37, costermonger), was indicted for and charged, on coroner's inquisition, with the manslaughter of Alfred Dearman.

Sir Charles Mathews and Mr. Arthur Gill prosecuted; Mr. Purcell and Mr. G. W. H. Jones defended.

Police-constable ALFRED GROSSE proved a plan to scale of 21, Burlington road, Enfield.

JAMES REDSHAW . I live at 16, Burlington Road, which is nearly opposite No. 21. On July 27, about 11 p.m., I was at the "Little Wonder" beershop, Laurel Bank. Prisoner and her husband were outside that house; they had a barrow, and were struggling at to which should wheel it home; I saw him knock her down with his fist. Afterwards she wheeled the barrow in the direction of Barlington Road, the man following; I heard her say that he should not enter the house that night. When I got to my own house I looked out of the front window and saw that there was a bit of a skirmish going on; there was a small crowd round. I heard a report, and saw a flash, from between the door and the gateway of No. 21. I ran downstairs and saw Alfred Dearman lying on the ground, bleeding from the left temple and also from the nose. Four of us carried him into the front room. I heard prisoner say, "You are not hit?"

Cross-examined. Deceased was the worse for drink; her was using very foul language during the quarrel; he called his wife a whore and kept up a stream of abuse. I have known the couple for some months. Prisoner was always a very sober, hard-working, well-behaved woman, an excellent wife and a good mother. Deceased never appeared to do any work. When prisoner said, "You are not hit?" she seemed very distressed, and upset and horrified at what had occurred.

SARAH PINK , 19, Burlington Road (next door to No. 21). On July 27, just after 11 p.m., I saw prisoner and her husband with a barrow; I heard him say to her, "I'll show you what I will do with you when I get you home"; she said, "And I'll show you who is master over my barrow what I worked hard and paid for." I went on an errand, and returning in 10 minutes saw Dearman lying in the road; prisoner was standing at her door crying; I asked her what was the matter; she said, "I did not mean to do it; I fired wide; I never intended to hurt my husband; I only did it to frighten him; he has drove me mad."

Cross-examined. When I saw the two quarrelling together, decoased was using very foul language to his wife; he was frequently very violent and abusive to her; she was a respectable, sober, well-behaved and hard-working woman. When Dearman was being carried indoors I heard him say, "She did not mean to do it, it was my fault."

ELIZABETH BAKER . I occupy a room on the first floor of No. 21. On this night I noticed the altercation about the barrow outside the house. I heard prisoner say, "You are not coming in here to-night,

Alfred Dearman; if you do I will put this through you"; I was at the back then, and could not see her. It was an expression commonly used by the deceased himself, and I did not take much notice of it. Just afterwards I heard a report like the crack of a whip-Looking out of the window I saw Dearman lying on the ground.

Cross-examined. Deceased was using very filthy language to prisoner. What prisoner said sounded to me lime, "I will put this through you." not "I will put you through it." I have frequently heard deceased use vile language to his wife, and he has struck her many times; he did no work, and was a lazy drunkard.

ELLEN DEEBANK , of 23, Burlington Road, another witness of the occurrence, stated that the prisoner said to her, "I did not mean to do it at all; I am sorry; I did not think (or 'know') it was loaded; I only did it to frighten him"; she seemed very excited, and hardly to know what she was doing. Deceased said; "She did not mean to do it; it was my fault; she did not know it was loaded; I drove her to it."

THOMAS PINK , another eye-witness, generally corroborated the previous witnesses.

Police-constable LEONARD GUNN , 140 Y. I got to 21, Burlington Road, about 20 past 11. Dearman was lying on his back in the front room. He said to me (prisoner being present), "I have been shot." Prisoner said, "I have shot him, but I did not mean to do it; I fired wide of him; I only wanted to frighten him; I do not think the bullet struck him." I asked prisoner what she did it with; she said, "With that patent horse-killer." The instrument was lying on the sideboard, with a mallet and box of cartridges.

Inspector THOMAS TWIGG . The deceased man was a house cropper. Shortly before 12 on this night I went to 21, Burlington Road; he was lying on a bed; prisoner was also present. I said to him, "Dearman, what has happened?" He replied, "We had a little quarrel, and she fired the patent horse-killer at my back; I saw her strike the killer with the mallet; I did not know it was coming to this; I think it is my fault; I am sorry it has happened." Prisoner was about to speak, and I gave her the usual caution. She said, "You drove me to it; look at the beastly names you called me; you struck me several times"; turning to me she said, "We had a row; he cut my mouth, as you see it, and struck me in the mouth; you know what a life I have had with him; and this week it has been something terrible; what he said to me drove me nearly mad." I had known the couple for some time; prisoner is a most respectable, hard-working woman; she has had a shocking time with her husband; he was a thorough blackguard, the most filthy-tongued man I ever heard; he had been on the drink, with money that she had earned, all this week. Pointing to the horse-pistol, she said, "That is it; I only intended to frighten him, but did not know whether it was loaded or not." In reply to the formal charge of attempted murder, she said, "I am sorry; I shall have to leave him; it is

shocking what I have to put up with; I wonder something has not happened before." Dearman smelt very strongly of drink.

Cross-examined. Prisoner has six children, and is now pregnant. she has more that once come to me and complained of her husband's violence, and I have advised her to take him before the magistrate. I have also spoken to the man, and he has admitted that the fault was always his, and promised to give up the drink and turn over a new leaf. I should say that, standing in the doorway as she was, is would be impossible for prisoner to have taken aim with the pistol; it was 999 chances in a 1,000 against her hitting the man; it is a wonder that she did not hit somebody else; a very slight tap of the mallet would explode the cartridge.

Detective ALBERT SUMMERS . On July 29 I was conveying prisoner to the police court. She said, "Have you heard how he is?" I said, "Yes; as well as can be expected"; she said, "Oh, dear, I have been trying to think all night how the thing came loaded; he had it out and oiled I on Friday, as he was going to kill a horse, but whether he put the bullet in or whether I done it in a temper I cannot remember; I was mad at the time; he had been calling me such fulthy names all night."

Detective-inspector ARTHUR NEILL said that on August 6 prisoner was charged with wilful murder; she replied, "Yes, I understand."

Dr. ROBERT LESLIE RIDGE . I saw the deceased man at 21, Burlington Road, about 11.30 p.m. on July 27; he had a bullet wound in the left throat; I felt the bullet lying under the skin. Next day I and my brother Edwin performed an operation on him; we followed the track of the bullet, and discovered that he was paralysed from the chest downwards, and that the bullet, had fractured a rib. He improved considerably up to August 2, when he sank suddenly and died. The post-mortem examination showed that the bullet had bruised the right lung, which had collapsed, causing a strain on the heart which it was unable to bear.

Verdict, Guilty under extenuating circumstances and under great provocation, and the jury wish to very strongly recommend her to mercy.

Prisoner, who had been six weeks in prison, was sentenced to three days' imprisonment, entitling her to immediate release.

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