16th September 1850
Reference Numbert18500916-1589
VerdictGuilty > unknown; Guilty > unknown

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1589. JOSEPH BRAZNELL and JOHN WREN , feloniously threatening to accuse Michael Tasburgh of an infamous crime, with intent to extort money.—Other COUNTS, varying the manner of stating the charge: Wren having been before convicted.

MESSRS. CLARKSON and BALLANTINE conducted the Prosecution.

MICHAEL TASBURGH . I am between seventy and eighty years of age, and live at Bird Wallace-hall, near Doncaster; I am a widower, and have children and grandchildren. On 27th Aug., I arrived at Euston-square from Doncaster, and proceeded directly in a cab to the Tavistock Hotel; after dinner I walked out, intending to return and go to bed—I went through the Lowther Arcade, through a street which I do not know, to Hemming's-row—I saw something going on at a shop window, I thought the man was making billiard-balls—I stopped and looked at him; there were four or five persons standing there; Braznell was one, but I did not see Wren—I asked Braznell

if he knew what the man doing; he said, "Turning"—after that he pressed very much against me, and leant over as if he wished to look into the shop; that had the effect of pressing upon me—I believe I was standing with both hands down; in a moment or two afterwards I perceived that he was pressing his private parts against my hand; I withdrew my hand and walked away about twenty yards—he then came up to me and asked me what I meant by taking indecent liberties with him—I told him I had done no such thing—he said, "Do you think I will allow you to do so for nothing?"—a conversation took place which I cannot remember exactly, but he asked me what I would stand; it was all to the same purpose—I said I would stand nothing—he said, then I must take the consequences—I continued walking, and he followed me close—when we got to the bottom of Hemming's-row, he said I had better go into a public-house and have a glass, and we could soon settle the business; that he did not want to have any dispute, nor to be hard upon me—I again told him in the most peremptory manner I was able, "I will neither go into any house, nor give you one farthing"—he said, then he would hand me over to the police; I said I was quite ready to go with the police—I think he said, "Then you had better follow me"—I understood him to mean, to the police; I said I was ready to do so, and walked on—when he said he would hand me over to the police, I said, "Then you mean to threaten me"—he said, "No, I don't, I know the law as well as you do"—Wren was then standing in front of me—I first saw him at the bottom of Hemming's-row—I cannot tell whether he could hear all that was said, he was five or six yards off—a few minutes afterwards I saw the prisoners speak together with a third party, whose name turns out to be White—I went on walking with them both, and when we got into the Haymarket, by the bottom of Panton-street, a policeman came up, with White, who had left to fetch him, about two minutes before—Braznell said to the policeman, "That is him," pointing to me; Wren was close to me—I did not hear Braznell say anything to the policeman about Wren—I gave myself up to the policeman—I do not think Braznell had spoken to the policeman before I did so—I was locked up in the station all night—I told my story to the inspector, nearly the same as I have now—next day I was taken before Mr. Hardwick, the Magistrate, at the Marylebone police-court—the prisoners and White appeared as witnesses against me—I had no solicitor or counsel, I thought I could tell my own story better—the prisoners were examined apart, by the Magistrate's order; police were sent out with them—I then told my story—I was discharged, and made the present charge against the prisoners—I never caught hold of Braznell by the private parts, or forced down his trowsers—I took no indecent liberty with him; the moment I perceived him pressing on me I withdrew.

Cross-examined by MR. ROBINSON. Q. Have you ever been in business? A. No; I am quite independent—I think I arrived at the Tavistock Hotel at a little after two o'clock—I left Doncaster at ten—I did not dine at the Tavistock, as they have only a table d'ho✗le, and I do not like it—I dined at the Albion, in Drury-lane—I left there about eight—it was a quarter-past eight as near as I can say when I first saw Braznell, and about twenty minutes elapsed between my first seeing him, and my being given into custody, but I am not quite sure—I am pretty well acquainted with the streets of London—I have been here three times this year—I knew Panton-street, but not Hemming's-row, I do not think I was ever in it before—it is a very short street—I had gone out to walk until nine—I was five or ten minutes looking into the turner's shop—I spoke to Braznell first—there were several

persons looking in, but I only noticed a little girl—I had not to look over anybody's shoulder—I was near the window—Braznell was pressing over me to look into the shop—my hand was not at his private parts till he pressed against me—his private parts were against my hand for about a minute—I withdrew my hand immediately, and walked away—I have not been used to Courts of Justice, except in my own county—about twenty minutes elapsed from my leaving the shop till I was given into custody—I was bound over by the Magistrate to prosecute—it was about a quarter of an hour between my making my statement to Inspector Whall, and my being given in charge, it was done as quickly as it could be.

Cross-examined by MR. WOOLLETT. Q. The first time you saw Wren was at the bottom of Hemming's-row? A. At the end of the street—he might or might not have been at the window—Braznell walked with me, and Wren on my left side till we got to the end of Hemming's-row, when Wren went in front of me, and was there when Braznell threatened me.

WILLIAM OBEY (policeman, A 299). I was in Panton-street—White came up and gave me information—I went and found the prisoners and Mr. Tasburgh standing still—Braznell said he wanted me to take an old gentleman into custody for taking indecent liberties with him in Hemming's-row, and he said, "Here is my witness"—Wren said, "I saw the transaction"—Mr. Tasburgh said it was quite false, that Braznell threatened to give him in custody, and he intended to follow them till they did so; that he was an old man, but he would not put up with a charge which was false—he went readily with me to the station—Inspector Whall was there—statements were made, and Mr. Tasburgh was locked up all night, taken before the Magistrate next morning and discharged, and the prisoners were committed.

Cross-examined by MR. ROBINSON. Q. How far from where Mr. Tasburgh and the prisoners stood was it that White came to you? A. About twenty yards—in the same street.

JOHN WHALL (police-inspector). I was at the station, in Vine-street, Pic-cadilly, when Mr. Tasburgh was given into custody—he made a statement to me—I produce the charge sheet—the charge made by Braznell is "Indecently assaulting Joseph Braznell, at Hemming's-row, St. Martin's-in-the-Fields"—it is signed by Braznell, and Wren as a witness.

Cross-examined by MR. ROBINSON. Q. What time was it? A. The charge was taken at half-past nine o'clock, but there was a charge under investigation when he was brought in.

WILLIAM BISHOP . I am clerk at the Marylebone police-court. I was present when the charge was made against Mr. Tasburgh—the prisoners were examined in support of it, and also a person who gave his name White—the charge was then dismissed—I took down what they stated—(reads—"Joseph Braznell says, 'I am a lithographic printer, and live at 7, Robin Hood-court, Shoe-lane: last night, at a quarter to nine o'clock, I stopped with two young friends at the shop-window of a turner, in Hemming's-row, and looked in; the prisoner was standing there when I went up; I was there about a minute, when the defendant put his hand behind him as I was standing behind, and caught hold of me by my privates, at the same time saying, "What are they doing in the shop?"—I told him they were turning, and then told one of my friends what the defendant was doing, and to watch his proceedings; when the defendant asked me to go for a walk; I walked with him as far as the Haymarket, till I met a constable; then I gave him in charge, and my friend followed close behind us' ")—Some questions were put by Mr. Hardwick after Wren had been examined, and then Braznell was recalled, and further questions put.

(The COURT, upon looking at this further statement, considered that it was not relevant to the present charge, it only going to the credit of the party then under examination. MR. BALLANTINE then proposing to read Wren's examination, MR. WOLLETT objected, on the ground that it was not a voluntary examination, but one which he was bound to give upon oath, the Magistrate having the power to commit him if he refused, which rendered it coercive; referring to 2 Russell on Crimes, p. 855, and Rex v. Lewis, 6 Car and Payne, 661. MR. JUSTICE WILLIAMS was clearly of opinion that the evidence was admissible. Read—"John Wren sworn: 'Iam a porter, and live at 4, Little Cockpit-yard, King's-road; I was with the last witness last night, and, whilst standing by the kerb, he called my attention to what the defendant was doing, and I saw the defendant force down the last witness's trowsers, and catch hold of his privates' ")—on that being read over, he corrected it, and said, "He attempted to force them down; the defendant then asked him to take a walk; my friend did, till he came to a constable, and then he gave him into custody."

(MR. ROBINSON, with MR. WOOLLETT, submitted that the indictment could not be supported, in as much as there was no evidence of any threat to accuse the prosecutor of an infamous crime, but only of an indecent assault, which was held in Reg. v. Middleditch not to be sufficient to sustain a charge of this nature. MR. JUSTICE WILLIAMS was of opinion that there was evidence for the Jury.)

BENJAMIN GREENARD (policeman, G 153). I produce a certificate from this Court—(read—John Robert Wren, Convicted, June, 1847, of stealing paper, and confined six months)—Wren is the man—I was present at his trial.


WREN— GUILTY . Aged 20.

Transported for Twenty Years.

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