8th April 1889
Reference Numbert18890408-359
VerdictNot Guilty > unknown

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359. MICHAEL CULLEN (20) , Feloniously setting fire to certain bed-clothes in the dwelling-house of John Charlton, and so attempting to set fire to the dwelling-house.

MR. RIBTON Prosecuted.

WALTER STRATFORD (Policeman K 376). On 23rd March, at 1. 40 midnight, I was called to Nesbit's Rents, which is a court leading off Three Colt Street, Limehouse, by a girl in her nightdress—in consequence of what she said, I went to No. 10, and to the first floor back—it is a house occupied by three families—in the back room I found a bed on the floor in flames; it was a flock bed, with sheets and bed-clothes—the clothes were burning, and the flock was smouldering;—with assistance I put it out—the prisoner was sitting on a chair in front of the fire smoking a pipe, while the burning was going on—he said he had set the bed on fire to bum his brother out, because he had all the bed-clothes—he repeated that two or three times—there was room enough in the bed for the two—a sister of theirs was sleeping on a bed in the same room, close to the other bed—if we had not been there, that bed would also have caught fire—the sister was screaming—the bed was burnt in the centre—all the bed-clothes that were there were burnt.

WILLIAM BUCKINGHAM (Policeman K 315). On 23rd March I heard cries of "Fire" and "Police" from 10, Nesbit's Rents—I went there and found the prisoner there, his brother, sister, and Stratford, and Mrs. Charlton, the landlady—some of them were in their nightdresses—there was a bed lying on the floor burning—we trampled out the fire, and carried the bed into the yard—the prisoner was sitting on a chair smoking his pipe.

JOHN CULLEN . I am the prisoner's brother—I live at 10, Nesbit's Rents—he and I occupied the back room first floor, and the same bed—on the morning of the 23rd he and I and my sister were in the room—he came in half an hour after me—I did not see him set fire to the bed; he sat by the fire smoking—my sister said, "The bed is on fire"—it was only a spark; nothing more—I struck him in the eye, and said, "Have you done this?"—he seemed excited—I can't say whether he said he had done it or not, I was so excited—he was under the influence of drink when he came in.

MARY CHARLTON . My husband is the landlord of this house—we live there—the prisoner's mother was tenant of the back room—on the night of the 23rd of March I was awoke by the sister calling out several times—I went and asked what was the matter—I saw the bed all in flames—I rolled up a piece of carpet, I am helped to put it out—the prisoner was in the room—I asked him what it meant—he said, "I did it."

ELIZABETH CULLEN . I am the prisoner's sister—I was in bed in the back room on the morning this happened—I noticed some smoke—I did not see that the bed was alight—I called out to Mrs. Charlton—the brother got up and said to the prisoner, "Look at what you are after doing"—I can't say what the prisoner said, I was so confused for the moment—he said, "Yes, I see."

WILLIAM DENNY (Police Inspector). The prisoner was brought to the station and charged with feloniously and maliciously setting fire to the bed—he said, "It is true I did it"—previous to being charged he made this statement (read),"He had all the bed-clothes, and if he did not give them to me I said I would burn him out, and I set fire to them; he said that

was not a sensible trick I had played; I said no. I am quiet tempered. The reason I set fire to the clothes was to make him move over to give me room; it was not a very bad fire."

Witnesses for the Defence.

EMILY KERNEY . The prisoner is my brother—I was not at home on the occasion of the fire—I did not see him afterwards until I saw him in Holloway Prison the following Saturday week—he is excited when he gets anything to drink, and is not responsible for his actions; he is a very heavy drinker—when not in drink he is very quiet and inoffensive.

MARY JANE CULLEN . I am sister-in-law to the prisoner—he is excited when he gets drink—I went to see him in Holloway—he did not seem to know what he had done, or that he was committed for trial—he is a very heavy drinker.

Prisoner's Defence. All I have got to say is a very little drop of drink upsets me. I don't recollect what happened, or what I said to the inspector. I am very sorry for what I have done, I had no intention of going any harm. It is the first time I have been in trouble.


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