Offence: Breaking Peace > wounding
Verdict: Not Guilty > non compos mentis
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2396. WILLIAM ROSS TUCHET was indicted for feloniously shooting off and discharging a certain pistol, loaded with gunpowder and a leaden bullet, at Thomas Smith, and wounding him in and upon his back, with intent to murder him.—2nd COUNT, for wounding only, with a like intent.—3rd COUNT, stating his intent to he to maim and disable.—4th COUNT, to do him some grievous bodily harm.
MR. CHARNOCK conducted the Prosecution.
THOMAS SMITH . I am a gunmaker, and reside at No. 288, High Holborn. I keep a shooting-gallery there. On the 6th of July last the prisoner came to my premises—I had never seen him before that I recollect—I was in the gallery when he came in—my son Alfred was at work in the gallery, which is at the end of the shop, at the back—it is a place where people practise pistol and rifle-shooting—it was between twelve and one o'clock when the prisoner came in—he spoke to me first—he asked me if he could be accommodated with a brace of duelling pistols—I said, "Yes, sir, you can"—I gave him them, and took him to the pistol length of practice, which is fifteen yards, where gentlemen generally stand, when they fire at the figure which I keep—I loaded both the pistols—I handed him one—it was regularly loaded with ball—he fired that off; and said, "This pistol pulls of too hard, I should like one to go easier "—I told him I would in the next set the air-trigger, and that would go easier for him—I did so—the second pistol was loaded the same as the first—he fired that, and complained of that going too easy—he was a very good shot—he marked the figure every time—he said, "I will not have the air-trigger set now, let me have it as I had the first"—I loaded him a third, and after that he came back to the loading-place, and said, "I will stand the long distance now"—that was about thirty yards in length—the third was loaded in like manner—he hit the mark then—our longest distance is fifty yards—the third pistol he fired off at thirty yards—after he fired the third I gave him a fourth—that was loaded exactly the same—I did it myself—I then proceeded to load another, which would be the fifth—he was about two yards from me when I gave him the fourth, and my back was towards him—I had the other pistol, and was beginning to load it, and his pistol went off and shot me—it pushed me against the bench—I leant over and seized the rail, and said, "Good God, I am shot!"—my son said, "That gentleman has shot you"—my son was at the end of the loading-place—I fell forward towards the wall—I was not sufficiently sensible to speak a word—I heard the report of the pistol—there was no person in the gallery at the time but the prisoner and my son—a medical man was sent for, and I was afterwards taken to the hospital—I remained there nine weeks before I went before the Magistrate, and I was taken ill again, and obliged to go for a fortnight or three weeks—I am labouring now under very severe pain—the ball was extracted five weeks after I was in the hospital—they made several attempts before they could venture to get it.
ALFRED SMITH . I am the son of last witness. On the 6th of July I was in the shooting-gallery—I saw the different pistols that were fired by the prisoner at the mark—my father was standing at the loading-bench—I
saw the prisoner turn round and deliberately shoot my father—I saw him take a deliberate aim—my father fell towards the bench, and said, "My God, I am shot in the back"—I was about a yard from my father—I said nothing to the prisoner—my father said, "You rascal, why did you shoot me?"—he said, "I have done it on purpose, as I wish to be hung"—I fetched a policeman, and he was given into custody.
ADOLPHUS LONSDALE (police-constable F 110.) On Saturday, the 6th of July, about a quarter before one o'clock, I was called into Mr. Smith's shooting-gallery—I saw the prisoner standing in the shooting—gallery, alone, with his umbrella under his arm, standing against the bench—I asked him why he shot Mr. Smith—he said he did it on purpose, he was tired of his life, he wished to get hung—those are the words he made use of, I am sure of that—Mr. Smith was up stairs then—I took the prisoner into custody.
Cross-examined by MR. CLARKSON. Q. He did not appear at all to regret what he had done, did he? A. No—he stood with his arms folded—nobody else was in the place with him.
GEORGE ROYDE . I was house-surgeon at St. Bartholomew's Hospital at the time this occurred. On Saturday, the 6th of July, the prosecutor was admitted into the hospital as an in-door patient—I examined the wound—it was just on the right of the spine, and immediately above the loin—I probed it, and found a resisting body, but it was impossible at the time to say whether it was bone or the bullet—from time to time I endeavoured to find what the hard substance was; and ultimately I found it, on the 16th of Aug.—I first extracted a small piece of bone, and then a bullet, which I produce; a piece of cloth with a seam in it also came away—it appeared like the cloth of a coat—the prosecutor remained under my care a considerable time—he went out on the 24th of Aug., and was re-admitted—he is now labouring severely under the effect of the wound—at first we considered the wound dangerous, and even now, with portions of the bone coming away, we do not consider him out of ultimate danger—he is out of immediate danger—he is not very likely to be fit for active business again.
MR. CLARKSON called the following witnesses.
RIGHT HON. LORD AUDLEY . The prisoner is my brother. He will be twenty-three years of age next Nov.—he is the third and youngest son of the late Lord Audley, who died on the 14th of January, 1837—shortly before his death a very protracted litigation commenced respecting his property, which has gone on ever since—it has practically been adverse to our family, and has left us in very embarrassed circumstances in point of pecuniary matters—I consider that the prisoner has from his youth been very sensitive and reserved generally—I remember the loss of an associate of his, of the name of Weston—he was about sixteen then—Weston died at sea; his death seemed to make a very great impression on the mind of my brother, I think stronger than on persons generally under such circumstances—he was not educated for any profession—he became from time to time acquainted with the embarrassed situation of the family—those circumstances seemed to make a very great impression on his mind, and I think it depressed his mind to notice things which persons generally would not—we were not a very great deal together during the year 1842—we saw each other oftener than we had done some time previous—I was in Ireland in the latter end of 1842—I had gone over in March, 1842, and, I believe, a third time—I was a good deal backwards and forwards—he was in Ireland at that time, and I saw him frequently, particularly towards the latter part of the year we were more together—he left Ireland, to come to London, in Jan., 1843, leaving me in Ireland—I did not see him during the whole of the year 1843, after he left in Jan.—I did not see him till last April, when I came over to England; and from that time down to this
unfortunate occurrence we were living together constantly in the same apartments—as he became acquainted with the circumstances of difficulty in the family, he made them the subject of observation to me, and I thought he took a very depressed view of things; he showed great depression of spirits, more so than perhaps I felt myself; and I attribute this view entirely to the circumstances in which we were placed acting on his peculiar temperament—I have sat with him in the same room for many hours together—on those occasions he was very reserved; occasionally he would be not so much so, but rather cheerful—generally speaking he was very reserved—during the time I have been living with him, from April down to last July, he has very seldom spoken to me—when we have been sitting together in the same room, he has been doing nothing but sitting in a pensive manner—when I addressed him he very seldom did more than answer, "Yes" or "No," and sometimes he would not answer me at all—he generally seemed to avoid conversation—when he sat in this way without speaking I have observed that the expression of his countenance would sometimes alter, but generally it was a very settled expression of countenance—I remarked his countenance particularly, because I did not consider at that time that his bodily health was good—generally speaking, when he was sitting in this pensive way, his look was downcast—sometimes he had, I thought, a very fixed, severe expression, very great austerity of countenance, and sometimes rather the reverse—these changes were not produced by conversation but by what was passing in his own mind—his eyes were very suffused at times, he had a very dreamy expression of countenance, very melancholy and dejected—he was very sensitive of public observation, and complained that he was constantly the subject of observation—the house we lived in was in a street with houses facing us—he said he thought the people in the houses opposite watched him, or us rather—I remember on one particular occasion his stating that they were then watching us—I did not consider that that was the fact—I was near the window at the time, but not before the window—I was between two windows—I think I was rather nearer the window than he was, and on his mentioning that there were people watching, I looked, and saw no one—I think the neighbours might have watched, just as neighbours will do, but I do not think we were the subject of any particular observation—I do not consider we were watched by them—he was not in the habit of dining at an eating-house while he was with me—we generally dined at home, except on Sunday—lie did not dine at any one particular place when he dined out—he was in the habit of frequenting certain places—mostly two, I believe—he said he was known by the people there, that they made observations respecting him—that struck me as very improbable at the time, and I went afterwards to take means to satisfy myself of the fact—I found no foundation for it—they did not know him—he did not show any disinclination to go out into the public streets, but he had a great disinclination to be observed in the neighbourhood—the first thing that struck me when he walked in the streets was the heedless manner in which lie walked along—his head was generally raised—he appeared to be looking up and not heeding the passers-by—he seemed to feel his way by my shoulder, so much so that it was rather a subject of annoyance to me—he did not make way for people he met in the street—he walked with his face, generally speaking, upwards—although he walked generally wherever I chose to take him, he would show hesitation to go in particular directions—he would yield to me, but would rather that I would not go that way—he gave no reason for that except that he evidently did not like to go that way—I think it was in the direction of High-street that he disliked—when we used to take a walk we generally walked in the Park, or Regent-street, and sometimes I would go to Hyde-park—the nearest way was by High-street,
Marylebone—he appeared always to evince a disinclination to go by that particular way—I know no reason for that except that it was a more public direction, and he was very sensitive of observation by anybody—he did not wish that I should stop for a moment to look at anything, and objected passing any shops—he was very restless, indeed, very impatient if I stopped to look into any shops—he would not look in himself, he would stand with his face down on the pavement, evidently wishing I should leave as soon as possible—I thought he did not like anybody to come into the room suddenly—he did not appear to wish any one—he was very reserved—I could not exactly understand what his feeling was, but he did not like anything to disturb him—my mother was a daughter of Sir Ross Donelly—Sir Ross Donelly became insane before his death—I know the fact of my own knowledge—it did not occur so long ago—I am aware that there were proceedings taken by Admiral Sir Ross Donelly's family, and the result of the commission of lunacy which was issued was, that he was not of sound mind—he was a very old man—my brother often alluded to this circumstance when he was speaking to me in these times of depression—he alluded to it during the time that I was so much in England, 1841 and 1842—he was left very much alone, in 1841 particularly, and I have no doubt that at that time, from the observations he made to me, when I saw him after a long interval, his mind then first began to suffer, and in order to divert his attention from his affairs he said he used to walk about Dublin, and at those times he very often went into Mr. Sharp's literary rooms, there looking over books, and I have every reason to believe, from what he stated, he found matters there which fixed his attention and caused him to make them matters of reflection—he said he was very much annoyed indeed in taking up an old publication to see some allusion to an ancestor of his, a member of his family, and he expressed himself to the effect that he con-sidered he had unfortunate blood in his veins, and that there was unfortunate blood in the family—he spoke it generally—my impression is that he communicated to me to the effect that he felt it himself—he said he considered there was unfortunate blood in the family, and that he sometimes felt it himself—he has several times complained of pains in the head, a long time back—he first complained of head-ache on the last occasion of my coming over to England—observing that his health appeared to be not good, I questioned him on the subject, and he stated to me that it was not very good—I said I hoped his last visit to England and seeing his family would have improved his health—he replied that was not the case, for nearly the last year, in fact ever since he came over, he was getting worse, particularly for the last four months—he said he had a constant noise in his head—he has occasionally complained of giddiness—he said that he passed many sleepless nights, and complained very much of his head, and of agony of mind at night—he said he could not turn his attention to anything apart from the subject of our affairs—I advised him to consult a physician—seeing that this feeling was increasing latterly, I spoke to him rather strongly—he seemed indifferent about it—he said to me one day, with I thought a peculiar air, that these things might go on sometimes too long—since this unfortunate event I have looked into a box of his which was at the same lodging where we lived together—it was locked up—I found in it a tin letter-box, and on opening that I found a bottle containing a few drops of laudanum, also a bottle nearly full of acetate of morphia, and a small paper containing a few grains, marked "A few grains of acetate of morphia "—it was not very long before this event that I spoke to him on the subject of consulting sulting a physician—I do not think he did consult any physician, but I prevaded on him to have a little prescription made up, which I furnished him with—from what he stated I believe he did have it made up, and took
some of it—it appeared to me that his health was declining down to the day on which this occurred—I saw him on the morning this happened—he left home between eleven and twelve o'clock—he did not tell me for what purpose he was going out—I thought he might be going to my agents—I consider that he was formerly neat in his dress, and cleanly in his person—I have noticed an alteration in that respect latterly—he became indifferent—sometimes he did not shave, and allowed his hair to grow.
MR. CHARNOCK. Q. Is Sir Ross Donelly dead? A. He has been dead between two and three years—he was a very aged gentleman—the proceedings were taken against him about a year before his death—his age was not exactly known—some supposed he might have been seventy-five, and some thought he was near eighty-three—I believe he stood very high in his profession—I had been on sociable terms with him for many years before, but I saw him very seldom—Lady Audley is about forty-five or forty-six years of age, I believe—I have been speaking principally from the period between April and July this year—the Ladies Audley did not visit him during that time—they were at Sandgate, in Kent—the prisoner and I lived together at this lodging—we had separate bed-rooms—he went out when he pleased, and I went out when I pleased—no restraint was put upon him—he has neglected to shave himself latterly—I have observed that he allowed his beard to grow—he had shaving materials—nothing was taken from him.
MR. BODKIN. Q. I suppose until this event occurred you never had any thought that he was of unsound mind, so as to be dangerous to himself? A. No—I thought him highly eccentric—if he had been of another disposition I perhaps might have taken some proceedings, but he was very gentle, and I thought there was nothing to precipitate his mind—I observed that his health appeared to be declining as far back as 1841.
CHARLOTTE LAWLEDGE . My husband keeps an upholsterer's shop, in Weymouth-street, Portland-place. The prisoner lodged at my house from January, 1843, till the 6th of July, when he was taken on this charge—he occupied two rooms on the second floor—Lord Audley came on a visit to him about four months since—I think it was in April—he had a bed-room in my house—he sat in the same sitting-room with his brother—the prisoner was a very regular, quiet person—I have thought that he looked very ill lately—he used to complain of a sensation of boiling on the top of the head—he appeared very much disconcerted if any persons came where he was—he appeared to desire to keep by himself—his demeanor was very unhappy, very gloomy—I have noticed that, I think, since Christmas last—I noticed it since the latter end of last year—this unhappiness appeared to increase very much since then—the week before he was apprehended he appeared to be worse—his habits were originally inally very cleanly—he was in the habit of changing his linen as other gentlemen would do, and on this very week, which ended on the 6th of July, he never changed it all the whole week—he used to ask me if there was anything very gloomy in the morning, for he could not read—he was obliged to get up from his book and walk the room—he wanted to know if there was anything miserable in the morning, for it seemed to have a great effect—I told him I thought his stomach was out of order—he was a gentleman of particularly gentle and mild habits—he used to sit in the elbow chair, in a very strange way—he would sit himself down, and put his hand on the right elbow, put his head on his hand, and watch me about the room when I went in to him—I noticed latterly that he paid so little attention to himself, that he did not take his dressing-gown off the chair—I thought he was very uncomfortable, and he paid no attention to himself—I have observed him sit in that manner repeatedly when I have been in the room, very much so latterly—he
seemed to avoid conversing with me very much—he appeared to me to be in a very melancholy state at this time—I have frequently endeavoured to rouse him, and speak to him, and offer him kindnesses from time to time, which he has avoided latterly—I knew he was the member of a noble family, and felt for him; and when I have made little advances to relieve him from what I thought were the appearances he presented, he has avoided those advances, and seemed to decline to converse with me—he was a very good deal at home—he endeavoured to avoid public observation—I took most notice of this melancholy and wretchedness about him from about last November—I recollect his going out on the morning of the 6th of July—I saw him pass the shop window—I did not see him come down stairs—I was not aware of any object he had in going out then—I did not see him afterwards till he was in custody.
MR. CHARNOCK. Q. I suppose when the prisoner hired your lodging he made some arrangements about the rent he was to pay? A. Yes—he paid me the rent every week—he paid me the sum he agreed to pay—I used to take him up a bill once a week, and he regularly settled it with me—he sometimes gave directions about his dinner—he generally dined by himself till Lord Audley came—he never had any friends to dine with him—there was nothing in his manner which created any alarm in my mind so as to make me afraid of him—knives and dangerous instruments were in his way.
JOSEPH LAWLEDGE . I am the son of last witness—I live with her at the house where the prisoner lodged—within about a month before he committed this act, I have noticed a change in the manner and habits of the prisoner—he has been very dejected; and within about a week before this occurrence, careless—I do not know whether he was a good deal alone during that week—he appeared to shun society—I have not heard him complain of anything being the matter with his head—he did not appear to me to be out of health—I have not spoken to him at all on the subject—I was out on the 6th of July, about ten minutes to twelve in the day, at St. Giles's church, and saw the prisoner—he was going towards the City—he appeared very agitated, and was walking quicker than usual—he stared very hard at me, and passed on very quickly.
EDWARD THOMAS MONRO , M. D. I reside in Harley-street. I was called on by Lord Audley, on the 8th of July last, two days after this occurred, and visited the prisoner in Clerkenwell prison on that day—I saw him ten or twelve times in the course of July, and I have seen him since occasionally, in Newgate—I saw him yesterday—Dr. Warburton accompanied me, I think, on about five occasions, about three to Clerkenwell, and two latterly, to Newgate—I have had considerable experience in the treatment of persons of unsound mind—it has been my constant profession for more than thirty years—when I first saw the prisoner I was aware that he was the grandson of Sir Ross Donelly—I had attended Sir Ross Donelly for several weeks at his house in Harley-street, and gave evidence at the commission of lunacy which took place shortly after that, about five years ago—at that time Sir Ross Donelly was certainly in an unsound state of mind, not merely the result of old age and imbecility, but labouring under delusions—he was found of unsound mind by the Jury—I have every reason to believe that he remained so to his death—his affairs were in Chancery ever afterwards—I have heard the evidence of Lord Audley, Mrs. Lawledge, and her son, to-day, and have had submitted to me an account of the prisoner for some time past—I have made minute inquiry as to his whole history to enable me the better to ascertain the state of his mind on examining him—I first saw him on the 8th of July, at Clerkenwell—I was with him I think nearly an hour on that occasion—I–saw
him in a small cell on the first occasion, and so I did on the second occasion, and I have seen him in the infirmary, and sometimes in the court-yard of the infirmary—from my examination of him on the 8th of July, I had no doubt in my own mind that he was of unsound mind—he told me that his sole object in this transaction was to get hanged, that he had no knowledge of Mr. Smith, and did not even know his name—he also told me that he had been brooding over suicide for years, that he had purchased laudanum at Savory and Moore's, in Regent—street, that he had purchased morphia at Dinneford's, in Bond-street, that he had taken on one occasion, about a week before this transaction occurred, about an ounce of laudanum, without any fatal effect; and he had also taken some small quantity of the morphia—he told me that he had no occupation, no friends, no companions, that he had been brooding over melancholy subjects for years, not only on his own family affairs, but every event that happened of a horrible description, occupied his attention, and worried his mind constantly; that he cut out of the papers all the dreadful events that occurred, particularly one that happened at Brighton, where a policeman was killed, I think, and that this event ran in his head for weeks, and it struck him if he were to do the same, he should attain his object, which was to get hanged—he told me that he was watched, not only by his own landlord, in Weymouth-street, but by the neighbours; and that the clock in the house kept saying to him all night, for several nights before this occurred, "Don't attempt it, don't attempt it!"—he told me also, on one occasion, especially, that he had the strongest inclination to repeat this thing, and that if he had a pistol at the moment he certainly should shoot anybody that was near him; that he could not trust himself—he told me that he had sought comfort in religion, but he had found none, that he had studied metaphysics; that he could find comfort nowhere, that he had been driven to desperation; and in fact, not only in my judgment, to desperation, but to distinct mental derangement—I have not the slightest doubt that his conduct was genuine; his whole history gives the lie to any idea of simulation—he is in a state of downright melancholia, and not to be trusted for five minutes—if he were at liberty to-day, I should expect the same thing to occur—he is enveloped by strong feelings, which he is not able to resist—on one occasion, in Newgate, about a month since, when I saw him in the dining-room of the Governor, he was so extremely bewildered that he could not answer the commonest question—if I asked him where he slept, what sort of bed he had, or what he had for dinner, he said he did not know what I meant—I saw him alone in that room—he was sent for from his cell to see me—he was in extreme confusion of mind—he seemed to be much worse on that occasion than I had ever seen him—I think he had that peculiar expression of eye which denoted that his head was affected by physical pain—melancholia is some-times times attended by delusion, and sometimes not—I do not think that this representation presentation about the clock saying, "Don't attempt it," was a pure substantial delusion—I think that his extreme melancholy induced him to suppose that the clock said that—it proved that he had been brooding over some terrible affair—I believe that he perfectly understands what is going on now—I have no doubt of it, but he is in a state of apathy—lie has no compunction—he has repeatedly stated that he was without any feeling, that he felt quite indifferent, he could not understand how it all was, and he hoped the time might come when he should feel as he ought; but he had no compunction, and no feeling—he appeared to be very indifferent about the consequences—madness is notoriously hereditary—there are intervals in which there may be soundness in one member of a family direct from another member who has been
unsound, and the subsequent member may be as unsound as the first—that is not at all unusually the case—it is quite in the common order of things.
Q. Would the state of mind in which you found Sir Ross Donelly be one of the circumstances which you would take into your consideration in arriving at a conclusion as to the state of the prisoner's mind? A. By no means necessarily so—I should have come to the same conclusion had I never known Sir Ross Donelly, because the points are so strong—they tend to throw some light on the matter, but the other circumstances are ample without it—if I had heard of such an act as this, committed without any motive, the fact of an ancestor having been deranged, would assist me in coming to a conclusion as to the state of the man's mind—I should have thought it an important circumstance, but in this case I thought there was sufficient without.
MR. CHARNOCK. Q. I believe Sir Ross Donelly was very aged? A. He was, I believe, seventy-five—I had known him about a year before his death—I believe he had been labouring under this complaint only a few weeks before I saw him—he was a very hale old man—he had been an admiral, and was a strong hearty man—he was not bowed down by bodily infirmity—he was not of feeble body, but of feeble mind—as far as I remember he died of dropsy—I cannot say whether the complaint under which he laboured was hereditary—I had never seen the prisoner till the 8th of July.
DR. WARBURTON. I have been practising as a physician for about twenty years—during that period I have directed my attention chiefly to diseases of the mind—at the time of the last Sessions I was exceedingly ill, and confined to my bed at Bath—I have visited the prisoner six times altogether in company with Dr. Monro since this unhappy transaction—I have been in Court, and heard the statement of the circumstances attending the prisoner's life, and the manner in which this act was committed—my opinion is that he is most decidedly of unsound mind at this time—I believe him to have been so at the time this transaction occurred—I have made notes, which I have got with me, but I came to the conclusion from the extraordinary solitary mode of life which the unfortunate gentleman had been leading, from the strong marks of melancholy and great depression which had existed all the way through, from the attempt which he made on his own life, and from his having told me that he bought double the quantity of laudanum which he had taken, that he only took one half of it, because he had heard or read in medical books that if he took an over dose, it might not produce death, but would cause vomiting; he was, therefore, anxious to destroy himself by only taking part of the dose—he also told me he had bought morphia, both solid and liquid, for the same purpose, and from the act being committed apparently without any motive whatever, and from his telling me that he did not even know Mr. Smith's name when he went to the shooting-gallery—my opinion is that he committed the act when he had lost all self-control, and did not possess anything like moral liberty.
MR. CHARNOCK. Q. Your opinion that he is insane arises, I think you say, from what he stated to you when you were in the prison? A. From my examination of him, and what he stated to me—I first saw him on the 10th—I consider that during part of the year 1843 he was labouring under what is called melancholia—I should say there must have been a diseased mind for a considerable period—I can undertake to say that he is labouring under melancholia to such an extent as to render him incapable of distinguishing right from wrong.
NOT GUILTY, being insane.