10th April 1899
Reference Numbert18990410-315
VerdictGuilty > insane
SentenceImprisonment > penal servitude

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315. REUBEN DUNHAM (59) , Feloniously wounding Eliza Williams, with intent to murder her. Second Count: Feloniously wounding Herbert Benjamin Williams, with intent to murder him.

DR. O'CONNOR Prosecuted.

ELIZA WILLIAMS . I live at 30, Shepperton Road—I am the wife of Herbert Benjamin Williams, and the daughter of the prisoner—about 8.40 a.m on February 22nd I was in bed with my husband; he is the occupier of the house, and we have three rooms there—we sleep in the back room, and there are folding-doors—I heard someone turn the handle of the bedroom door—I called out, "Who is there?"—I received no answer—I called out again, and immediately the door was broken open, and my father entered the room—he took hold of my right hand, then commenced swearing—he said I was like my dirty——mother—then he took this large knife (Produced) from his pocket and plunged it into my side, and then pushed it in further—as I was getting over the bed I received

another stab in my left breast—my husband rushed round the bed to get hold of my father, but my father pushed him under the mantel-piece, and I saw him try to rip my husband's stomach open—I caught hold of the knife and pulled it on one side, and was holding it, when my father pulled it through my hand, which was cut; he then pulled us out of the room into the passage—he is a very powerful man, and my husband had only just got up from a bed of sickness—I saw Mrs. Charlton, and said, "My father has stabbed mo in the side"; she opened the street-door and called for help—our room is on the level with the street—we all fell down in the passage, and I do not remember anything else—after a time I recovered, and was attended by a medical man—I never had any reason to complain against my father, but he had not been a kind father to me—he has threatened me before. On February 14th my mother came to me for protection from my father, and I let her stay a little while—she asked me to go to her home to get some of her things—my father came home while I was there; he told me to leave the things alone, and he insulted me, calling me dreadful names, and he threatened to take my life—I had to get protection; I went to the Police-court and took out a summons against him—he lives at Wheathampstead, East Lane.

HERBERT BENJAMIN WILLIAMS . I am an American organ maker, of 37, Shepperton Road, and the last witness is my wife—on February 22nd the first thing I remember was the door being burst open, and the prisoner came into the room and commenced swearing at my wife, when, suddenly he pulled a knife from his pocket and plunged it into her stomach—I tackled the prisoner, and tried to get the knife away from him, and he tried to rip my stomach open—he got me against the mantelpiece, and plunged the knife at me, my wife caught hold of it; the prisoner forced me by my shoulder—I got the knife away from him, and we struggled cut into the passage, where I fell down exhausted—the prisoner had not been stopping at the house.

Cross-examined by the Prisoner. You did not knock at the door and ask if your wife was there; you burst open the door—your wife was not there; I knew where she was.

ADELAIDE CHARLTON . I live at 37, Shepperton Road—on the morning of February 22nd I heard the side door into the house open, and then I heard a noise—I went upstairs to see what it was, and I saw Mr. and Mrs. Williams struggling with the prisoner—I had seen him at the house before that day—Mrs. Williams said that he had stabbed, her—I went and opened the door, and called for assistance—Mr. Schmidt on the opposite side came across and 2 other men, whom I did not know—I saw the knife; I picked it up in the passage—I went with Mrs. Williams into-the bedroom.

FREDERICK SCHMIDT . I am a baker, of 32, Shepperton Road—on the morning of February 22nd I saw some people stop on the opposite side of the road, and ran across—the door was open, and I saw Mr. Williams lying on the floor, with a knife in his hand—I took hold of his hands and said, "Take the knife from him"—the prisoner took it away—then one of the ladies said, "Oh, he has got the knife again"—I saw that the prisoner had the knife:—then I realised how matters stood and said, "Bring him

out"—there were one or two men there—we brought the prisoner out, and he went away—a little while after, two policemen brought him back.

RICHARD SARGENT (Sergeant, 52 N), About 8a.m. on February 22nd I was in Shepperton Road—I went to No. 37, and when I got within 30 yards of the house the prisoner shouted out, "I am the man you are looking for; I have been twenty minutes waiting for you"—not knowing what had occurred, I took him back to the house, where I Saw Mrs. Williams had been stabbed—I sent for a doctor, and the prisoner was detained in the passage—I asked the doctor if he wanted assistance, and he said, "Yes," so I sent for another doctor—I took the prisoner to the station—on the way he said, "I am sorry it is as it is; I wish I had killed her; she has broken up my home. They cannot say t did it in drink; I did it in cold blood; I have walked 8 miles, the other side of Hatfield, to do it; I could not do it there."

WILLIAM HENRY KERSHAW . I am a registered medical practitioner, of 6, Southgate Road, Hackney—I was called about 8.55 on February 22nd—I found a female patient on the bed at the house, in a semi-collapsed state—the bed-clothes were very much disarranged, and there was a good deal of blood on them, and also on her nightdress—I found a wound in the upper part of her left breast, and another just below the foreast bone; each of them was 1 1/2 in. long—the upper one was about half an finch deep—it was a gaping wound—the lower one had penetrated the abdominal wall—it was by far the more serious of the two—the omentum was cut.—it was dangerous because of the liability of hemorrhage and peritonitis—on the right hand there was a wound running from the lower part of the thumb to the first finger—on the left hand the middle and third fingers were cut across—I think they were cut by her grasping the knife in the struggle—the cut on the third finger of the right hand would not heal on account of the dirt on the knife, and she has lost a considerable a mount of power in the joint of the thumb.

By the JURY. More force was used in the wound in the stomach than in the breast—if she had not been a stout woman it might have been serious—I also attended to the husband—he had a deep wound, 1 1/2 in. long, on his left hand, another small wound on the tip of his third finger, and 2 other wounds on the middle and third fingers of his right hand—it looked as if they were caused by the grasping of the knife—Mrs. Williams was confined to her bed till March 17th.

CHARLES COLLETT (Police Inspector, M). I was at the Police-station on February 22nd, when the prisoner was charged—Frederick Williams was present—the prisoner said,." If a man is a man, he will look at a man; if he is a scoundrel, he will turn his head away. This job has been going on for 18 months; there is only one thing, I wish I had finished the pair of you, you b——scoundrel. You are a lucky man to be alive"—after the charge was read over he said, "I wish I could have another smack at them"—the prisoner was admitted as an inmate to the Three Counties Asylum on December 19th, 1893—he remained there a few months, and then got away without leave—he did not go back, and if he is not apprehended within a certain time, he has to go through the formality of being certified again—he was found wandering at Luton by the police.

J AMES SCOTT . I am a medical officer at Holloway Prison—I have had

the prisoner under my observation since February 28th—I have no reason to suppose that he is a lunatic.

The Prisoner's statement before the Magistrate: "I have nothing to say, only to deny what Inspector Collett has just said."

(The Prisoner in his defence said that he thought his daughter was going to take all his things away, that he had been drinking for 9 or 10 days, and that he was very sorry for what he had done.)

GUILTY.—Recommended to mercy by the JURY, he having been confined in a lunatic asylum . He then Pleaded Guilty to a conviction of felony on October 18th, I887, and other convictions were proved against him.— Seven Years' Penal Servitude.

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