22nd November 1869
Reference Numbert18691122-76
VerdictNot Guilty > non compos mentis
SentenceImprisonment > insanity

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76. CHARLES MARTIN (45), was indicted for the wilful murder of Sarah Ann Wright. He was also charged on the Coroner's inquisition with the like offence.

MESSRS. POLAND and BEASLEY conducted the Prosecution; and MESSRS. STRAIGHT and KELLEY the Defence.

JAMES WAUGH . I am a bricklayer, and live at 7, Little Suffolk Street, Borough—the prisoner lodged in my house, and the deceased, Sarah Ann Wright, lived with him as his wife—he is a shoe maker or a shoe finisher by trade—they had a little boy about eighteen months' old—they occupied the first-floor back—Mrs. Harper occupied the front room on the same floor, and I occupied the two lower rooms, sleeping in the front one under Mrs. Harper—they had lived there about twelve weeks—on Saturday afternoon, 25th September, about 4 o'clock. I saw the prisoner at his window—then deceased was standing in the yard washing—the prisoner spoke to me, and said, "It is a nice day, Mr. Waugh"—I said, "Yes, it is; but it has

been very warm"—I saw no more of him till I saw him at the police-station—about 12 o'clock that night I heard some one come into the house—I was not in bed, I was in my room—two persons came in together—they let themselves in with a key, and went up stairs into the prisoner's room—I heard the door shut—everything was then quiet till about 4 o'clock—I had gone to sleep, and was aroused by hearing the scream of a female—it appeared to me to come from the prisoner's room—I got out of bed, went to the foot of the stairs, and called out, "Martin, what is all this about? we are hard-working people, and we want to go to sleep when we go to bed; in fact, I won't have it"—I then went back to my own room, and went to bed again—three or four minutes afterwards I was disturbed by a knocking over my head—I had heard some one go out and shut the door, and as soon as the door was closed I heard the knocking overhead from Mrs. Harper's room—I opened the door, and Mrs. Harper said, "You had better come up stairs, for I think something is the matter, the child is crying so"—I put on my trowsers, went up stain with a light, and knocked at the door—there was no answer—I did not stop half a minute before I opened it, and there I saw the body of the deceased lying on the floor with her throat cut—her head was towards the foot of the bedstead close to it—the child was on the bed—I ran down stairs, put on my jacket, and ran to the station to give information—I was not above two minutes going there—I saw the prisoner there when I got to the station, and I said, "That is the man that has done it"—he was sitting on a stool in the station-house—he heard what I said, but made no answer.

Cross-examined. Q. I believe you are out at work during the day? A. Yes—I generally went out at 6 o'clock, before the prisoner went out—he and the deceased lived on very good terms—they all seemed very quiet and friendly—I did not notice any change in his manner during the latter time; in fact, my wife and I were away nine months out of the time minding a gentleman's house—Mrs. Harper's room is next to the prisoner's—her husband lives with her, and a son about fourteen years of age.

ROSE HARPER . I am the wife of Edmund Harper, and live at 7, Little Suffolk Street, in the front room, first-floor—I had lived there about twelve weeks, all the time the prisoner and the deceased lived there—on Saturday, 25th September, I saw the deceased about 4 o'clock in the afternoon as I came home from my work—she passed me going through the passage—I never saw her alive afterwards—I went to bed that night between 9 and 10 o'clock—I heard nothing in the night—about 4 o'clock in the morning I was aroused by Mr. Waugh calling out at the foot of the stairs—I heard nothing from the prisoner's room at that time, but about five minutes after Mr. Waugh had left the stairs I heard Martin open his door and run down stairs—I did not see him—he ran through the passage, opened the street door, and shut it again—I heard the baby cry, which was unusual at that time, and I got out of bed, and knocked on the floor, so at to disturb Mr. Waugh—I had my door ajar, and he said, "Oh dear me? he has killed her"—I did not go into the room then; I did afterwards, when the police came.

Cross-examined. Q. You have a son, I believe? A. Yes—he is here—I was not with him and others in the prisoner's room on the Monday prior to this.

JURY. Q. Was the prisoner always considered a person of sound intellect? A. I don't know, he was as far as I knew him to be.

JOHN POTTER (Police Sergeant M 7). On Sunday morning, a little after 4 o'clock, Mr. Waugh came to the station in Stones End—the prisoner was there at the time—I did not see him come in—Mr. Waugh said, "That is the man that has done it"—the prisoner made no reply—he had come in on his own account, I believe—I then went to 7, Little Suffolk Street, to the first-floor back—I saw a child on the bed, naked, and smeared all over with blood—there were two pools of blood in the bed, towards the foot and the side up the wall was smeared with blood—the deceased was lying on the floor on her left side, with her head towards the foot of the bed, quite dead—she had the loose skirt of an old dress thrown over her head so as to conceal the state of the throat—she was naked, with the exception of her chemise—another sergeant came in at the time—the prisoner was completely dressed when he came to the station; trowsers, coat, boots, and everything.

Cross-examined. Q. You were not present when he came to the station? A. No, I came in a minute afterwards—he was very quiet—he made no answer whatever to what was said; in fact, he did not say a single word.

WILLIAM GEORGE CAPON (Police Sergeant M 17). I accompanied Sergeant Potter to the prisoner's room, and saw the deceased lying there—I examined the room, and found these two table knives covered with blood and wet—both appeared to have been recently sharpened, and on one was a portion of hair resembling the prisoner's whiskers—I found that the deceased's throat was cut from the right side right round to the left, and the tendons of the neck were then moving—I afterwards assisted in taking the prisoner to Guy's Hospital—I asked him what his name was besides Charley—I knew him by that name—I have known him in the Borough for some time—he said his name was Martin—he was very calm and perfectly sober—he asked me to go and tell his children—I asked him where they lived—he told me at No. 50, Red Cross Street, Borough—I found them there—the elder daughter is in service—she is about seventeen years of age—there is a boy about fourteen, and three younger children.

Cross-examined. Q. Have you always known him as an honest, hardworking, industrious, peaceable man? A. I know nothing whatever against him—I have known him to work for Mr. Bowden, a shoe maker, in Union Street, Borough, and several other shoe makers in the neighbourhood—when he told me his name was Martin, he took hold of my hand and told me to go and tell his children—they were about three minutes' walk from where this took place.

WILLIAM MORTON (Police Inspector M). I was at the station when the prisoner came there, about 4.25—I noticed that blood was issuing above the wrapper that he had round his throat, and I saw that his throat was cut—I asked him how it occurred—he said, "I don't know"—I asked where he lived—he said, "I don't know"—I asked whether he was a married man—he said, "I don't know"—I directed him to be taken to the reserve room, and sent for a medical man—directly afterwards Mr. Waugh came into the station, and said that a murder had been committed in Suffolk Street, and turning round to Martin he said, "That is the man who has done it, his name is Martin; he is a lodger of mine"—the prisoner made no reply—I sent officers to the house—a surgeon Afterwards came and examined the prisoner, and he was taken to Guy's Hospital, at his recommendation—he was perfectly sober.

Cross-examined. Q. Did he come in through the door from the street up

to your desk? A. He did—after I had asked him these questions he sat down on a form in the reserve room—he appeared very quiet indeed—I had not known him before—I don't know whether he was in work at the time.

JOHN SLEEMAN . I am a general practitioner, and live in Southwark Bridge Road—I saw the body of the deceased on the Tuesday after the murder, at the request of the coroner—Mr. Teresa, my assistant, had been previously sent for—he is not a regularly qualified practitioner—I found a large wound in the throat, extending from the angle of the jaw, on the left side, to the spine on the right, right round the neck, cutting through all the structures, down to the spinal column—death must hare been instantaneous—there was a small wound, not very deep, on the upper part of the left breast—I think that must have been done by a stab with a knife—it was not at all a dangerous wound—there was an incised wound on the index finger of the right hand, extending from the second joint nearly to the top of the finger, lengthways; not done by a person holding a knife—there was a small bruise on the upper part of the right arm, as if by pressure—it was not a wound, merely a simple ecchymosed of the skin—I should think the wound on the breast was given with this knife, being round at the end, not sharp-pointed like the other; but that is merely conjecture.

HART. I am a surgeon at Stones End, Borough—I was sent for to the station, between 4 and 5 o'clock on this morning, to see the prisoner—he had a superficial wound in the throat, not at all dangerous—it had just out through the skin and exposed the windpipe—it might have been done with one of these knives, it was a jagged wound—he was sufficiently well in a day or two to go before the Magistrate—I sent him to the hospital for what little treatment was required—he was quite sober—I don't think there was anything the matter with him—he was very quiet, but appeared a little mentally excited, of course, and very much objected to have his throat touched—he said "Don't touch my throat; don't touch my throat."

Cross-examined. Q. The blood would run freely from the wounds in his throat, would it not? A. No, there was very little blood—there was only one wound—there might have been two little scratches also—it was an irregular kind of wound, and a little scratched across.

JAMES CROXON (Policeman M. R. 31). I was at the police-station on this Sunday morning—I went to Guy's Hospital to take charge of the prisoner at 3 o'clock on the Sunday afternoon—during the evening I said to him "Don't cry; don't fret"—he said, "I can't help it, policeman, I begged of her three or four times not to go to sleep and leave me awake, for I thought something would happen"—a little while afterwards he said, "Well, it is done now, and it can't be helped"—he was taken before the Magistrate on the Tuesday following.

JAMES RIGALL . I live at 5, John Street, Southwark, and am a painter by trade—I knew the deceased Sarah Ann Wright—she was about twenty-one years of age—she and I lived together as man and wife, from 4th September, 1867, until 6th, February, 1869—I then left her—when I was in work, of course we did our best, the same as everybody else did—I left her at Bermondsey, where she had the home—I know the prisoner—I had met him some time previous to my leaving her—I did not know that she went to live with him till last May—I live about 250 yards from Little Suffolk Street—I saw her occasionally—I sometimes met her in Suffolk Street—on Saturday evening, 25th September, about 4.50, I saw her in Lamb Street,

and had some conversation with her—I was not with her more than about two minutes—the child she had was by me.

The following Witnesses were called for the Defence.

ROSA MARTIN . I am the prisoner's daughter—my mother died two years ago next April—I am now in service at Mr. Hales', Kent Street, Borough, and have been so four years—I have been in the habit of going home to Red Cross Street, on an average, once a week—my father has always been kind and affectionately disposed towards me, and good tempered—I don't remember the time he went to live in Little Suffolk Street—he went to live with Sarah Ann Wright somewhere about May—he lived with her first in Red Cross Street, and afterwards in Little Suffolk Street—he always seemed kind and affectionate towards her—I saw him about a fortnight before this occurrence—I was at home for my holiday, and he was at home all the time I was at home—I did not notice any change in his manner—he was as goodtempered and good-humoured as usual—that was the last time I saw him—he had not very much work, but I did not notice anything peculiar in his manner—we were comfortable at home—he was not at home when I went home the week after.

ALFRED MARTIN . I am the prisoner's son—I am fifteen years of age—I have been living at home, at Red Cross Street—I remember my mother's death, and my father going to live with Sarah Ann Wright—he was always very kind to her, and to all of us—I saw him on the Saturday, the day before this occurrence, and I had seen him all the week—he seemed as if he was a little in trouble—I went round to Suffolk Street on the Saturday, and he was walking up and down the room all the while I was there, about twenty minutes—he did not say whether anything was the matter with him—he held his head down—he seemed a little changed from what he had been before—he had had very little work—he is a boot finisher, and worked for Mr. Bowden, in Union Street, Borough, for about five or six years—he did a little work the week before this—I saw him twice or three times on the Saturday, walking up and down the room in this way, with his head down; that was between 2 o'clock and 7—I took him some boots—he was walking up and down the room, and I asked him what was the matter, and he threw up his hands and made no answer—the deceased came in with a shawl, which she had been to fetch from the pawn-shop—he then sent me home, and an hour afterwards he came home and gave me a half-crown, and told me to come round in the morning for the washing—the deceased was in the habit of doing the washing for us—I remember her going out on the Friday night to get some supper—I saw these two knives there—this knife father was in the habit of using to eat with—I don't know the other—he used to keep this one sharpened, and used always to call it his own knife—he took it from Red Cross Street, when he moved to Suffolk Street.

Cross-examined by MR. POLAND. Q. Used you generally to fetch the washing on the Sunday morning? A. Yes, from Suffolk Street to Red Cross Street; they were my clothes and my brother's—he gave me the half-crown to pay part of the expenses of the lodging; he was in the habit of doing so—at the time he was walking up and down the room the deceased was not there.

JOHANNA WENLOCK . I am the wife of David Winlock, and live in Red Cross Street, Borough—the prisoner came to live at my house in May, 1868, and occupied a room there, as a widower—when he first came he was of a lively deposition, and a pleasant, quiet man—during the lost few months I

have noticed a very great change in him—he left my place about ten weeks before this happened—he did not leave my house exactly, the children still strange manner, his conduct in walking to and fro; when he was spoken to he would not answer—I knew of no particular cause for the change—he seemed affectionately disposed towards his children and the deceased—on the Saturday night before this occurrence I saw him in my house—he went up to his room about 7.30, or 8 o'clock—his children were there—he remained about ten minutes—I saw him as he went out—I did not speak to him, but I noticed that he looked very wild, and I made an observation to my husband about him.

Cross-examined. Q. How often used he to come to Red Croat Street to see his children? A. He was there every day—he left the money to pay me with the children—the rent was 3s. 3d. a week.

MR. STRAIGHT. Q. Have you had some experience of insane A. Yes, I have been a great deal with them.

DAVID WENLOOK . I am the husband of the last witness—the prisoner came to live at our house in May, 1868—as far as I have known him with his family, he was kind and good-tempered towards them, and a possible, quietly-disposed man—I had known him fifteen or sixteen years before he came to reside with me—we were in the same way of business, and worked together at some shops—for five or six weeks before this occurrence I noticed a great change in him—I did not speak to him about it—I did to my wife—on the Saturday before this took place, I said something to her about his manner, and she said something to me—I believe his manner was kind and affectionate to the deceased and his children—I have had an opportunity of observing them.

Cross-examined. Q. Did you work with him during the week? A. Not during that week, nor the week before—he worked in the same house with me—during the last five or six weeks he was rather slack at times—he had some work.

MARY ANN ROBINSON . I am the wife of George Robinson, and live at 16, Little Quildford Street, Borough—I have known the prisoner turned four years—he has frequently visited at our house—until lately he has been a quiet, pleasant, good-tempered man, and a good husband and father—from Whitsuntide up to the time of this occurrence, I noticed a very great change in his manner—about a fortnight before he called upon me, and remained about an hour and a half—he walked up and down the room in a very distressing manner—I noticed that he was very much changed—I asked him what was the matter, but he made no reply—he said he did not know what was the matter, that was chiefly all he said to me—I saw him twice or three times with the deceased—he was kind and affectionate to her, and so he was to his wife, during a very long illness.

EDWARD HARPER . I live at 6, Gravel Lane, Borough—I have been several times in the prisoner's company—I used to call on my mother, who lived in the same house—on one occasion I saw him crying—I have noticed a strangeness about him several times—on the Monday before the murder I was in his company, in my mother's room—there was myself, my wife, my mother and father, Mr. and Mrs. Waugh, and the prisoner and deceased—the deceased sang a song, and my father said it was a pretty song—the prisoner said, "Yes; it was," and some few minutes afterwards he suddenly jumped up, and said, "I will hit any man a bleeding nose that insults me"

—no one had insulted him, that I know of—he became very violent—I tried to pacify him—I told him he was not in his own room, he was in my father's room, and if he took my advice, he would go in his own room, and he did so.

Cross-examined. Q. What was the song about? A. I don't know—I don't know that there was any talk about the deceased going to leave him—we all sang—no one sang a song called "Annie, are you going to leave me"—it was during the time the deceased was singing that he jumped up and made use of the expression—father said it was a very nice song—I don't know that it was said in a jeering way—I did not take notice whether it was or not—my father and he began jawing together directly—I don't know what about—father was a little intoxicated, and so, I suppose, was the prisoner; and father, I suppose, took the insult to himself when the prisoner jumped up.

DR. THOMAS HARRINGTON TURK . I reside at 37, Albemarle Street, and at Chiswick—I am a fellow of the College of Physicians—I have had great experience in cases of mental disorder—I have been about twenty-one years in practice—I have been present in Court during the hearing of this case to-day, and have heard the evidence both for the prosecution and defence—I hare also had a personal interview with the prisoner in Newgate, on Monday last—I should think his mind then was perfectly sound, although it was weakened, I presume, by confinement, and the nature of his position; but it is a perfectly sound mind, I think, now—I have heard the evidence as to his previous good character, and the change in his disposition; that would be exactly compatible with a temporary attack of insanity at the time of his committing this crime—from my own examination of him, before I heard the evidence, I also came to the conclusion that at the time he committed the crime he was of unsound mind—it struck me that he was a man of remarkable kindness of disposition, naturally—he told me his relations with this woman, whom he took out of charity—there was no attempt on his part to assume insanity, and he had no recollection.

COURT. Q. Did he know you were a doctor? A. I suppose so—his account of his condition, in which he could give me no information whatever, would be exactly compatible with a crime committed in that way—the recollection would go entirely, supposing it was committed in a paroxysm of insanity—he clearly had no recollection whatever; nor could he assist me in the slightest degree—he had a badly formed head—I have no doubt that the cause of the insanity in this case was the drinking acting upon a predisposed mind.

Cross-examined. Q. I understand you to say that he was of unsound mind when you saw him in Newgate? A. I think so—I have now reason to doubt that he was of sound mind the day before he committed this offence; I had not then; I had no evidence before me—from the evidence adduced to-day, I certainly think he was of unsound mind the day before he committed this offence, from the entire motiveless character of the deed itself; the absolute difference between the man's real character suddenly taking place, culminating in such an act; his affection for this woman; his attempt at self-destruction; the nature of his pursuits; the drinking before hand; the hour at which the deed was committed, it being common, in insanity, that the most dangerous period of suicidal impulse is at that hour of the morning, the first waking from sleep—I don't know whether he had been to sleep—when I went to Newgate I think I told the prisoner I had

come to see whether he was insane—not at first, but after some time—I did not speak to him for some time—Mr. Gibson was present, and he was speaking to the prisoner—the first words I spoke to him, certainly, were not that I had come to see whether he was insane—I did not tell him that—I think I told him, which comes to the same thing, that I had been asked to investigate the state of his mind, at the time of this murder—I was with him about half-an-hour—I keep a large private asylum—Mr. Gibson, the surgeon of the goal, was with me the whole time the interview lasted, and assisted me very much in the matter.

COURT. Q. You say the most dangerous period is at that hour in the morning, on the first waking—why is that? A. It is rather a practical experience of my own—it is supposed to arise from the recumbent position—that is one theory—I don't give it is my own, but the sudden rising from the recumbent position to the upright one, acting upon a brain diseased, produces a change in the mental functions—another theory is that the intellect is suddenly called upon to act; and a third, the heart's action being suddenly called upon to do an extra work.

MR. POLAND, proposing to call witnesses in reply, to prove the prisoner's sanity since kit confinement, MR. JUSTICE BTLES considered that that evidence should have been offered in the flirt instance, at the tendency of tome portion of the examination of the witnesses for the prosecution appeared to ratite this issue, but as tottered wot no dispute as to the prisoner being of sound mind since he had been in custody, the evidence proposed was unnecessary.

NOT GUILTY on the ground of insanity. Ordered to be detained till Her Majesty's pleasure be known.

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