25th November 1861
Reference Numbert18611125-71
VerdictGuilty > with recommendation

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71. GEORGE INKPEN (20), was indicted for the wilful murder of Margaret Edwards.

MR. LEWIS conducted the Prosecution.

STEPHEN ELLIS (Police-inspector, R). I am stationed at Greenwich—on 11th December, I went to the prisoner's house 37, Amelia-terrace, Deptford—it was about a quarter to 11 in the evening when I arrived—I understood that he was in bed, but he dressed himself and came down—I did not then tell him why I had come, but asked him to come outside, and we went out

together in company with several other persons, his friends—I believe I said, "Come thin way"—I said to him, as I understood that he had made a statement, "I suppose you can point out the spot whore it occurred?"—he turned round, looked me in the face, and said, "I will tell you all about it; I bad been to Hackney-wick, I got out at the station in High-street: I then went to Bennett's, the barbers, and from there to the Lord Duncan public-house. While I was there she came in for the supper beer; we went out together; she offered me some of the beer; I drank some, she drank some, and together we drank the whole of it; she then said,' It is no se living, my friends are always nagging at me; will you follow me?' I said, 'Yes; anywhere you like to go.' We then went down the Mornington-road to the Surrey Canal; she asked me if I had got a handkerchief I said, "Yes."She said, "That will not be long enough to go round us both;" she said, "I have a piece of tape, but I did not bring it for that purpose;" I said, "I have got some boot laces," she said, "They will do;" we then tied ourselves together"—he did not say how—she said, "I do not think I shall sink; I said, "Why not?" she said, "Because the crinoline will keep me up."She then put her arms round my neck and we got into the canal. We rolled over together several times she soon drowned; but did not very soon sink. The string broke, and I got out on the opposite side. I tried to save her but could not. I hen got into the canal again, swam across, and went home"—I asked him what the young woman's name was; he said, "Margaret Edwards," and that he had been keeping company with her about three years—I proceeded with him to wards the Surrey Canal—I have omitted to say that he said at the tine they tied themselves together, "I was" very bad, and she had to hold me up—when we got near the canal I asked him if he felt better, as he had previously complained of shivering and cold; he said, "Yes; I am all right now; if I had been as well a while ago, I should not have been in this situation," or words to that effect—I sent for some drags; and at the spot which he pointed out in the Surrey Canal, we found the body of the. young woman—he appeared anxious to see the body, and I allowed him to do so—on its being landed he said, "It is not injured," or, "not damaged, is it?"—on obtaining a full view of the face he remarked, "It has made a great difference to her"—I then took him to the station-house, and charged him merely with attempting to commit suicide by throwing himself into the Surrey Canal in company with Margaret Edwards, who was drowned—I said, "I have merely taken your own words;" he said, "Yes; that is the truth—I assisted in taking the body of the girl to the dead-house—I found no handkerchief or boot-lace—the prisoner said nothing to me about any tape.

Cross-examined by MR. SLEIGH. Q. When he looked at the body and made these observations, were they made in a tone of affection? A. Yes; rather so than otherwise—he might have been drinking, but I should consider him quite sober and rational—that was after being in the water—he said that he had been drinking—I omitted that—when he said that, if he had been as well a while ago it would not have occurred, I said, "Had you been drinking?"—he said, "Yes; rather freely—the information which caused me to go to where he was was from one of his own friends: Wright and another person—I understand that he was in bed—I saw a coat and hat down stairs which I was told belonged to him—they were very wet.

MARY ANN COLLINS . I am the wife of John Collins, a carpenter of Deptford—the deceased Margaret Edwards was my sister—she was twentyfour

years old, and was single—I had last seen her on Sunday evening; the night before she was at my house from 6 to half-past—she was in very good spirits, as good as ever I saw her—I know that she and the prisoner have been together as suitors just upon three years.

SUSANNAH RUSSELL . I am the wife of Mr. Russell, of Deptford—he is in the Income-tax office—Margaret Edwards has been in my service a year and eight months—I saw her about half-past 7 this evening—she appeared in good spirits—I gave her certain directions, and she had to leave the house for some beer—I did not see what she took for it—it was her duty to bring a pint—that was partly for herself and partly for the family—I had two jugs of a particular kind—one of them is missing—it was similar to this one (produced).

WILLIAM HAY . I keep the Lord Duncan public-house, Broadway, Deptford—I knew the deceased Margaret Edwards well for some years as a servant—she was in the habit of coming to my house for beer—I know the prisoner—I saw him on that night first between 6 and 7 o'clock—the girl came in a little after 7, or half-past 7—the prisoner was there—she brought a jug similar to this—I cannot say that it is the same—they recognized each other, and she left in about three or four minutes—she appeared to be in good spirits at that time—she came in smiling as if she was pleased to see the prisoner—she left first; and he left a few seconds after her—he was perfectly sober.

Cross-examined. Q. Did she male some signal? A. In leaving she got to the door, and threw a glance towards him as much as to ask him to follow her—he had been there, I should think, getting on for an hour before she came in with the beer-jug—I cannot say what he bad been drinking; but very trifling—he is a young man of very temperate habits—I know that for years he has been in the employ of the Steam Navigation Company—I have never seen him otherwise than as a quiet, well-conducted man—I cannot say whether he was very fond of this girl—I think he drank a pint of porter, or a glass of half-and-half, I know it was not spirits—he told me that he had been at Hackney-wick the previous part of the day to see a running match—the girl talked to him in a low tone of voice—I did not notice that she took the most part in the conversation—they were speaking together in an under tone, and I had other business to attend to—they were talking together about three or four minutes before she went out and beckoned him.

SOPHIA LEWIS . I live in Roll's-street, Deptford, under the North Kent Arches—my husband built his cottage there—on 11th November, between 8 and 9 in the evening, I had occasion to go to the next cottage to see my daughter who was left in charge of two children; and as I reached the window, I heard a fearful scream in the direction of the Surrey Canal—it appeared to me more of a female voice—I was so alarmed that I turned back—it was as nearly half-past 8 as possible.

Cross-examined. Q. Have you ever been examined about this matter before? A. No—I cannot tell you what distance our house is from the canal; bat it is right in a line with the canal, and the arches go over it—I had only to go next door, from one door to another—it was last Monday fortnight—I mentioned it on the Tuesday to Mr. Lewins, a market-gardener—I live so secluded that I did not hear any talk about it till my son came home to dinner and told me that something had occurred the night before—it was not till after that that I mentioned having heard anything—there is a public thoroughfare over the bridge—there is another cottage built on

the railway the same as our's is—there were no trains running at this time; but we are so accustomed to them, living there nearly eight years, that I did not notice them—I do not know the spot where the body was found—I have not been shown it since—I understand that an inquest was held in our neighbourhood—I read it on Sunday in the newspaper—I did not go to the inquest—I read that the prisoner was taken before the Magistrate—I heard screams; but did not go before the Coroner or Magistrate—I did not consider it of any moment—we often hear noises, though we live in a lonely part—if I had not heard afterwards that something of this kind had occurred, I should have tried to avoid it, for I am a very nervous person—I have known the prisoner's family for seven years—he is a most respectable man.

COURT. Q. What is hit father? A. He is not living; his mother is living—I have seen her here this morning—I only heard one scream, but I was so alarmed that I turned back—it was very shrill—it seemed to be a very fearful one of length—I did not afterwards go to my daughter's—my neighbour, Mrs. Taunton, returned to her family, and afterwards came into my house—I did not say anything to her about the scream, or to anybody else that night—it was about half-past 4 that I saw Mr. Lewins after my son had come and told me what had happened—I did not mention the scream to my son—I did not think it proper—he is fourteen years old—I was so ill at the time that I did not know what to do.

ELIZA TAUNTON . I live at Roll's-street, Deptford—on the evening in question, about half-past 8 o'clock, my attention was attracted by screaming, in a female voice, in the direction of the Surrey Canal.

Cross-examined. When did you, after that night, make any mention of this matter to anybody? A. The next day—that was after I had heard what bad occurred—the screaming was on 11th November, Monday—it was not till Tuesday afternoon, after I had heard what bad occurred, that I said anything to anybody—I saw Mrs. Lewis in the evening after I came home when I arrived at the door-way I went into her house—I mean at half-past—I live next door to her—the railway trains run over our house—it was a continual screaming that I heard—there were several screams—this was before I had seen Mrs. Lewis—I saw her three or four minutes afterwards—I noticed it very much, thinking it might be my own children; and seeing Mrs. Lewis's door open, I thought the sound might come from there my two children are there—they scream like other people's children, but they were in bed and asleep then—at first I thought it might be some one in convulsions, screaming fits: big children—I have only two children in my house—at the first moment my impression was that the screaming was from my house—I afterwards thought it was a female, or some big children screaming for help, or in convulsions, and I thought there might have been a fire in some cottage—it did not strike me that it might be the railway whistle; it was not that—the trains run every quarter of an hour, but it was not the shrill railway whistle—it was screaming from some individual.

COURT. Q. You say that it was continual screaming, and more screams than one; what interval was there between the screams I A. It was a continual screaming; there was no space—it was a continual screaming for two or three minutes, I cannot say exactly—when I got home I found my children in bed and asleep.

MR. SLEIGH. Q. How far is the pointsman's house from yours? A. A few arches off.

FREDERICK DAY . I am waiter at the Ship and Billet, East Greenwich—I

have seen the prisoner—I was in his company on 11th November, at Hackney Wick—I afterwards went with him to King William-street, City—it was half-past 5 when we got there—he bought a boot-lace there—he did not say that he wanted it for any reason whatever—this (produced) resembles it—it was a trifle longer than this, but very little—I left him at Deptford Railway-station, and he agreed to meet me at the Ship and Billet—he said that he should be home at half-past 8.

Cross-examined. Q. Do you say that this is the lace he bought? A. It appears to be the one—we were not walking along the street when he bought it—we were in a public-house in King William-street, and a man came in with boot-laces while we were drinking a pint of ale—I bought one first, and then the prisoner bought one—it was a pair of boot-laces—he bought one and I bought the other—we bought them to get rid of the man—I gave 2d for mine—we had been to see a foot-race—we were not there without having something to drink—I had half a pint of brandy, neat brandy—it was undiluted—I also had two pints of ale in King William-street—we had one biscuit in King William-street, but I had the best part of it—the prisoner only had a mouthful of the brandy; we shared it among three of us, and the two pints of ale we shared between two of us, a pint apiece—the prisoner was really the worse for liquor—he was very talkative—it was between 6 and 7 o'clock when I left him—I left him in that excited state—extremely talkative and the worse for liquor.

MR. LEWIS Q. Did you see him after half-past 8? A. Yes; we came down in the train at half-past 6.

COURT. Q. How long did you stay at the public-house in King William-street? A. Till about a quarter to 6—we both went down by the train in the same carriage, from London Bridge—we left London Bridge at five minutes past 6—the last I saw of him was twenty-five minutes or half-past 6—I had known him some months—he is a humane, well-conducted young-man—he never told me that he was in love with this girl, but I had heard of it, and I knew the fact that he was keeping company with her.

JOHN ROSSITER . I am a painter, of Old King-street, Deptford—on the evening of 11th November, about a quarter to 9, or from that to 9 o'clock, I saw the prisoner at Penny Bundle-lane, which leads to the Surrey Canal—I have been shown the spot from where the deceased was removed—he was about five hundred yards from there—he was going from the canal in the direction of Amelia-street—I have not been shown the house where he lives—he was running, and was we, as if he had been overboard—it was a very dear night—I heard no screams.

Cross-examined. Q. If there had been any screams proceeding from the canal, were you in such a position as you must have heard them? A. I was at home at the time—my house is half a mile from the canal—I left home at half-past 8, the half hour went as I came out at the door—it took about a quarter of an hour to walk there, but as the crow flies it is a much shorter distance—if there were cries at the canal, I certainly should not have heard them from my home, nor if I was coming in that direction, unless I was in the neighbourhood of the canal—I cannot hear the railway whistle at my house—I have measured the depth of the canal, at the place where the body was found, there were five feet of water there, but on this night I should not think it was more than four feet six inches—the depth varies, owing to the locks.

JOHN SIMMONS . I live at 2, Somer's-street, Deptford—I found this jug in Florence-road, forty or fifty yards from Mrs. Russel's.

Cross-examined. Q. How far is that from the canal? A. I do not know; it is opposite New Cross-road.

JOSEPH HENDERSON . I am a member of the College of Physicians, residing in High-street, Deptford—I made an examination of the body of the deceased on the Tuesday, the day afterwards—after removing the clothes, I looked for any traces of external injury, and there were two marks: a bruise on the left side of the temple here, and an echymosed spot on the left side of the left arm, a dark spot or bruise—that might have arisen either from a blow or a fall—I afterwards made a post-mortem examination—the body internally was perfectly healthy—there was a good deal of frothy mucus from the mouth, and the lungs were gorged; the was drowned in fact—I afterwards attentively examined her clothes—they did not present the least appearance of having any tie round them—there was a depression on the bonnet, which was a black straw one, and the plaits were torn.

COURT. Q. I understand you to say that these marks might have arisen either from a blow or a fell? A. Yes—they were both on the same side; they may have been caused by a bruise on the same substance—I think the bruise most have been from a flattened surface—they may both be bruises at the same time from a flattened surface, or else there must have been an abrasion of the skin—the two marks were about in a straight line from one to the other—the bruise on the outside of the arm might have arisen from a grasp—the bruises were caused before death I think, because in bruising the dead body, we should not have that amount of discoloration under the skin—there are barges going frequently backwards and forwards on the canal—by before death I mean before the circulation had actually stopped—they might have been occasioned after apparent death.

Inspector Ellis, by the direction of the Court, made a sketch of the locality, and pointed out the railway station, the bridge, and the switchman's-box.

MR. SLEIGH to INSPECTOR ELLIS. Q. How far is the switchman's box from where the body was found? A. About three hundred yards—I should state that the distance from where the body was found, to the House of the witness who heard the screams, was not measured by me, but by police-constable Turner.

JOSIAH TURNER (Policeman, R 287, examined by the Court). There are two switchmen's boxes, one is almost directly over the canal, and the other fifty or sixty yards off—I measured to where the two female witnesses live, that is 290 yards—there are forty-nine arches—and to the other switchman's is fifty or sixty yards, that is immediately over the canal—there are always switchmen in each box, night and day.

Joseph Beard more, superintendent of the General Steam Navigation Works, at Deptford; Richard William Temple, Master of the Dean Stanhope's School, Deptford; Thomas Cheeseman, a blacksmith, of 7, Garden-place, Deptford; John Wormley, a blacksmith, of Deptford; and Henry Tugwell, of 38, Ameliaterrace, Deptford, gave the prisoner a good character.

GUILTY .—Strongly recommended to mercy by the jury, the woman being a consenting party. In reply to the Court, the jury stated that they believed the prisoner's statement to be honest and true, and that there was no spite, anger, malice, or deliberate intention to take the woman's life before they went to the canal.



Before Mr. Justice Bramwell.

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