RICHARD COE, THOMAS HENRY OVERTON, WILLIAM FITZ.
10th June 1872
Reference Numbert18720610-499
VerdictGuilty > unknown; Not Guilty > unknown
SentenceImprisonment

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499. RICHARD COE (41), THOMAS HENRY OVERTON (37), and WILLIAM FITZ (47) , Feloniously wounding Alfred Bacon, with intent to do him grievous bodily harm.

MR. WARNER SLEIGH conducted the Prosecution; MR. GRIFFITHS defended Coe,

and MR. MATHEWS defended Overton.

ALFRED BACON . I live at 121, Southwark Bridge Road—on 4th May, about 12.30, I was outside the One Bell, Rotherhithe, talking to a friend, who I met by chance—three men came out of the public-house—they followed me out—one of them knocked me on the ear, and sent me spinning, and I was brutally kicked on the head and my right loin—I am suffering from my left breast at the present time—when I cough something catches me—I cannot say what was done to me when I was down, except that I was kicked on the nose—I know I staggered and fell—I cannot say who struck me, because they came up behind me out of the public-house—I had had no quarrel, with any of them or given them any provocation—the only thing I imagine this to be about is that one day while I was on duty down there I stopped a wagon that was loaded with grain, and found in it five sacks of maize, two bushels, and a nose-bag full—whether the prisoners were concerned in it I do not know.

Cross-examined by MR. MATTHEWS. I cannot say how many people were present at the assault—I was just about saying good night to my friend when the men rushed at me—I cannot say how they rushed at me—whether it was a man, a woman, a boy, or a girl that knocked me down, I do not know—I had never seen these men before, that I am aware of, and I had had no conversation with them—I will swear I never spoke to any woman on the occasion—I will swear I did not hit Overton, and that I was not the original aggressor—I cannot say what happened—I was sent spinning and knocked senseless from the kick on the nose—I never challenged any of them to fight—we did employ at one time 200 to 230 men, and discharged them at night.

Cross-examined by MR. GRIFFITHS. It was somewhere about midnight when I went into the One Bell—I am no drinker—I do not remember my coat being pulled off my back—I do not know a man named Lawrence—I went up the wharf for fish for the men's supper, more than anything else; they had been loading a barge—I did not offer to fight anyone on that day; I think too much about my position.

Fitz. Q. You say it was about 12.30 when you came out of the Bell; did not the landlord say "It is 1 o'clock, let's clear out"? A. He never said anything to mo about it—when I came out I was not speaking to a female—I did not pull my coat off and say "If no one will take her bleeding part I will"—I did not knock Overton down—I did not fight three or four rounds with him and knock him down twice—I was as sober as I am now—I was about three quarters of a mile from where I was on duty—a man who bad been working out, was with me.

Re-examined. I had been on duty at the King and Queen Granary, Rotherhithe—there had been a large fire there—I went on duty at 6 o'clock in the evening.

HORATIO BALLS . I live in Princess Street, Rotherhithe—I was outside the Bell public-house, about midnight on 3rd May, when this transaction took place—I know Mr. Bacon—I and he went into the Bell public-house that night—we had a pint of ale between us—we came out about 12.55—I wished Mr. Bacon good night—before I got to the corner of the street I saw a man strike him, but which of the prisoners it was I could not swear to—it was one of the three men—there were three men—I went round the corner to look for a policeman, and I then ran up the first court, afterwards, for one—I had been in the company of the prosecutor about a quarter of an hour before the assault took place—there had been no altercation between him and anybody—I brought back two policemen and a third came afterwards—the prosecutor was lying on his back on the ground, bleeding, and the three men were standing round him.

Cross-examined by MR. GRIFFITHS. There were not ten people in the Bell, but there were more than three—I believe Bacon's coat was lying on the ground when I came back—I had not the coat in my hand—I saw a woman outside.

Cross-examined by MR. MATTHEWS. I believe the woman was talking to the three prisoners; she was not talking to us—the first I saw of the three prisoners was outside the Bell; they were standing talking—when I came back with the policeman some one was attending to the prosecutor, supporting his head, but I do not know who it was—I know Thomas Gibbins, but I did not see him there at any time.

THOMAS CORFMATT . I am a labourer, and live at 36, Black Horse Square,

Deptford—on the morning of this transaction? was standing near the One Bell—I saw the prosecutor there, and the prisoners—I saw Overton laying on Mr. Bacon, and he was punching him in the face with his fists—Coe kicked him in the ribs twice and said "Kill the b—"—I assisted the man up, and told them he was helpless—Fitz said "We ain't going to hurt him any more"—the prosecutor's coat was off.

Cross-examined by MR. GRIFFITHS. I said, before the Magistrates at Greenwich, "I saw a party kick him in the ribs; I think it was Coe, but I am not certain"—I will swear Coe said "Kill the b—"—I told the clerk at Greenwich that I believed Coe kicked him in the ribs.

Cross-examined by MR. MATTHEWS. I was talking to two of my friends, Thomas Gibbins and Alfred Moore—there might have been a woman present.

THOMAS LLOYD GIBBINS . I am a lighterman, and live at 66, Black Horse Villas, Rotherhithe—on this Saturday morning I was at the One Bell—I had a pennyworth of fish there; I had to go across the road for it—I saw Mr. Bacon outside the Bell, and also the three prisoners—Bacon was talking to Balls—they were standing about twelve yards from the three prisoners—I saw Overton and Coe rush at the prosecutor and tear the coat off his back—Overton pashed him on the face several times—all three of them afterwards kicked him in the ribs—my friend said "He is helpless, don't hit him any more"—the tall man rushed at him again, and the other two rushed at Balls—Coe said to Overton "Kill the b—"—I saw Fitz kick the man in the side—Coe said also "We will settle the three before we have done"—I came up again just as the policemen got there—Corfmatt was supporting the prosecutor when they came.

Cross-examined by MR. GRIFFITHS. I and Balls had had a glass of ale each at the Bell—directly Overton rushed at Balls the policemen came up—the prosecutor was then laying senseless on the ground—I saw all three kick him.

Cross-examined by MR. MATTHEWS. I was standing about ten or twelve yards from them when it happened—I heard all that was said, but I was too much confused then to state what I heard, now—I heard Coe say "Kill the b—"—I saw a female there—she was talking to Overton—I saw the men rush at Bacon and tear his coat off in the middle of the road—It was just as I came out of the fish-shop—two of them rushed at Balls and the other rushed at me—I heard them say "We will settle the three before we go."

FREDERICK GEORGE LARKIN . I am a surgeon, of Mason Street, Southwark—on the Saturday in question I was called about mid-day to the prosecutor's house—I found him suffering from a very severe black eye—there was a swelling behind the right ear, and the eye was swollen up and filled with congealed blood—the left cheek was also bruised—both bones of the nose were broken, and the nostrils were plugged with congealed blood—there had evidently been bleeding from the mouth—he complained of pain about the left part of the chest, also about the right loin—his pulse was exceedingly slow, and he was altogether in a severe state of collapse—he had pains generally about him as from severe bruising—the wound on the skull behind the ear was not very severe, but it must have been caused by some hard substance—I have seen him almost daily since—he is now in the state I apprehended at first—in a very weak condition in his nervous system—I still doubt whether there may not be a fracture of the skull—I look at the case as one of very serious injury.

Cross-examined by MR. GRIFFITHS. If all the blows he received had been

given with the fist, they must have been excessively severe—I question whether the blows on the nose could have been caused by a fall, unless he had fallen upon the kerb.

Cross-examined by MR. MATTHEWS. I cannot say that he is going on satisfactorily—he is daily complaining of severe giddiness, and it is very questionable what might arise.

Re-examined. There was no displacement of the bones of the nose.

WILLIAM NESBITT (Police Serjeant). On the morning of the 4th May I met with the witness Ball—I went with him to the One Bell, and found the prisoner on the ground, being held up by Corfmatt, and bleeding profusely.

Cross-examined by MR. MATTHEWS. The three prisoner's were about two yards from the spot.

JAMES TOOLEY (Police Constable R 176). I took Overton into custody—he said "Don't hold me tight, I will go quiet; I have done nothing"—when I placed him in the cell—he said "You big b—b—, if I had got you in a field I would serve you a b—sight worse."

DONALD MOLLOY (Policeman R 149). I took Coe into custody—he said he knew nothing about the assault, and we were taking the wrong man.

Cross-examined by MR. GRIFFITHS. Coe works at Mr. Timmer's.

ALFRED MOORE . I am a cheesemonger, and live at 6, Forsyth Street, Rotherhithe—about 1 o'clock, on Sunday morning, 4th May, I was standing about five yards from the Bell—I saw the three prisoners and the prosecutor—I saw Overton strike Bacon on the ground, and kick him with his feet—it was rather a dark night, but there was a lamp burning at the Bell public-house, sufficiently near for me to see.

Cross-examined by MR. GRIFFITHS. Bacon was knocked down—I was about five yards off when I saw Overton strike him—I saw a female there.

WILLIAM GARDINER . I keep a public-house, at Rotherhithe—on the morning of the 4th May last Bacon was in my house, about 12.40—he was perfectly sober; the prisoners were there also drinking—they and the prosecutor left my house, about one time—I called "Time," and they went out—there were five men in one compartment, and a female and another man in another.

Cross-examined by MR. MATTHEWS. The female came in with a man that I knew.

Witnesses for the Defence.

EDWARD FREEMAN . On the night in question, as I was passing the Bell a woman asked me if I would treat her, and I told her that I had no money—whilst I was there, three men came out of the house and began chaffing her—then a biggish man came out—he comes up and said "If no one else won't take her part, I will"—I stood on one side then—he chucked off his coat, and gave it to some man; I could not swear who it was now—he knocked the littlemost one of the three down, and when he got up he knocked him down again—the big man and the little man afterwards went down together, and after that the big man lay there—I said to him "Why don't you leave the job off, you have had enough of it now?—he said "I have been kicked"—I says "I can swear nobody kicked you"—some one else then came up.

Cross-examined by MR. W. SLEIGH. I did not give my name and address to anybody on the occasion—my wife was reading the newspaper; I said to her "I know a little about the thing, and I will give evidence about it"—I found the Overtons out by going to the Bell—the first public-house that I

went to about it was the Compasses, in the Bermodsey New Road—we had a good many singing matches with birds there—I never saw Overton at the Compasses—a person named Saunderson mentioned his name to me—I never heard the name of Overton before I got there—the Compasses is 3 miles away from the Bells, more or less—I am a hawker and a bird-fancier—I will swear I was not outside the public-house when this transaction took place—what I could tell the man by was his bushy whiskers—I was about five or six yards off him—I had my cage under my arm—I had been to Elephant Street that night—I went there about taking some things to a lady's house, that I had got—I had been at two or three public-houses that night, but I had only a drop of porter or four half-and-half—I was not tipsy—the Compasses is a house I use.

DAVID LAWRENCE . I am a beer-house keeper and furniture-dealer—on 3rd May, about 11.35, the prosecutor came to my house with a friend—he called for a pint of ale—I served him—he was rather personal in his remarks—I looked at him and said "Have you come in here to have a row?"—he wanted another pint, and I would not serve him, because I thought he was in liquor—he pressed hard for another pint of ale—from that time it became 12 o'clock, and he went away.

Cross-examined by MR. SLEIGH. He said to me "I suppose you are doing very well now, Mr. Lawrence?"—I said "Why I—"he said "Oh, I know all about it," and he mentioned the names of two people belonging to the Salvage Corps—I took offence, because I thought he came in to kick up a row—I could see he was drunk—I was subpoenaed to come here.

COURT. Q. What is the No. of your house? A. 313, Rotherhithe—I am not a bird-fancier—I may have a lark or a linnet—I take lodgers—we are registered for something like thirty, or forty—I think Balls was with the prosecutor—I should not like to swear it.

HENRY DAVID AYLING . I am a warehouseman, employed at the same place as Coe and Overton—all the three work for my master—I have known them for three or four years, or during the time they have been employed for the firm I represent—they were known as quiet and inoffensive men—I have never heard a word said against them otherwise—on the 2nd of June they were at work—they worked all day, and left off work about 6.30—the last time I saw them was at 12.10 in the evening—at that time they were perfectly sober—they left my house, and they had been there from before 10 o'clock.

DAVID LAWRENCE (re-examined). The name of my house is the Royal Standard—I know a person named John Marsh—I could not say whether he was in my house.

Fitzs Defence. I have been 9 or 10 years in one service. Two years ago I lost the use of my right arm, and I am still employed to do what I can with one arm. About six or seven months ago I broke my right leg, which I am now only recovering from. I leave it with you whether I am a likely person to run into any danger. My leg is hardly strong enough for me to do anything. I have got a poor old mother eighty years of age.

FITZ— GUILTY .— Twelve Calendar Months' Imprisonment.

COE and OVERTON—

NOT GUILTY .


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