6th May 1872
Reference Numbert18720506-429
VerdictGuilty > manslaughter

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429. FREDERICK JAMES (39), was indicted for the wilful murder of Charles Starkie; he was also charged on the Coroner's Inquisition with the like offence.

MESSRS. POLAND and BEASLEY conducted the Prosecution; MR. DIGBY SEYMOUR, Q.C., and MR. STRAIGHT the Defence.

WILLIAM DAVIS. I am a surveyor, of Brixton Road, Stratford—I made this ground plan of this house—the other plans before his Lordship and the Jury are copies of it—from the front door to the kitchen door is about 22 ft.; the parlour is 10 ft. 10 1/2 in. by 10 ft. 9 in.; the passage is 3 ft. wide, and the parlour doorway is 4 ft 6 in. high—one of these bullet marks is 5 ft. 9 in., and the other 5 ft. 6 in. from the passage floor—the higher mark is towards the street door—I have drawn a section at the side, showing the parlour and the doorway and the position of the bullets—the parlour door is 2 ft. 8 in. from the street door, so that you could almost step from the street door into the parlour by taking a turn round—there were two marks on the wall of the passage opposite the parlour door, exactly as they are marked here—the passage ceiling is about 8 ft. high.

Cross-examined. The parlour door opens inwards from the jamb, further from the street door; the look is towards the street, and the hinges towards the kitchen—there was a table in the parlour.

ANNIE JAMES . I live at 103, Cumberland Street—the prisoner is my brother—he carries on business there as a machine-sewer for the boot and shoe trade, sewing the soles into the uppers by a machine—Starkie, the deceased, was in the habit of bringing work for me and the men to sew, and at that time he came from Bamberger's, a manufactory in Great Cambridge Street—he has not been coming very long, perhaps twelve months

—on Tuesday, 2nd April, when the two workmen were at tea in the work men's room behind the parlour, Starkie came—5 o'clock is the usual tea hour—there are folding doors between the parlour and the workmen's room, but they are always kept locked—the parlour is the room where my brother used to sleep, and to make out bills—he was there that afternoon, making out bills, and I called him to his tea as Starkie came in—Starkie brought two pairs of boots, and said "I want these sewn"—my brother told him he could not sew them until they had had their tea—he said he would wait, he would not go without them—my brother said that there was work to be sewn that was brought there before he came—my brother then came into the kitchen, where I had got the tea ready for him—he sat down to tea, but he did not finish it; I do not think he had any; he Said "I will finish the bills you called me from"—Starkie followed him to the parlour door, calling him vile names—he said he was a thief, and he did not like him—he said "James, yon b—shit, I will try and do you all the harm I can; I will try and take Bamberger's work away from you; and he called him a b—villain, and lots more that I could not hear exactly; and the prisoner kept telling him to go—he said I shan't; I won't" and then I heard the parlour door close; the door out of the parlour into the passage, as if my brother was trying to shut him out—then there was a report of fire-arms, and I saw the deceased leaning in the parlour door, where my brother was, like this, as if he was putting his head round and taunting him, with his back towards the street—the door was open then, but I did not see it opened—I could not see it where I was, but it must have been open, because he was putting his head in at the doorway—he was loaning in the doorway when I heard the shots—I heard three shots, but I missed him from the doorway previous to the third shot—the whole thing did not take very long; it might have taken ten minutes from the beginning, when I saw him at the parlour door to the time the shots were fired—I do not mean the whole occurrence; of course it took some time to quarrel—I may be mistaken; I said ten minutes between each shot, but it was not so, it was almost momentary; it was very quickly; I was very excited, the man frightened me by using abusive language—it was about two minutes from the first to the second shot, not any longer, and the third followed very quickly—I heard a scuffle before the third shot—I did not see the man leaning against the doorway when the third shot was fired; I lost sight of him, and I heard him say "Take that, you b—shit"—after the third shot, I saw him fall at the parlour doorway, with his head outside the street doorway, and his body partly in the passage—the street door if very near the parlour, and it was open—the doctors and the police then came in—my brother kept a revolver down in that room; it was under his pillow at night, and on the table or sideboard during the day—I cannot say whether it was loaded.

Cross-examined. He kept 295l. in the house, because he was afraid of the banks; and there had been attempts at robbery—the revolver was kept under his pillow at night, but he used to remove it in the morning, that I might not be alarmed by it, as I made his bed—he would put it on the sideboard or table close at hand—the room is very small—it was not so far as a foot from the table where he was making out his bill—before my brother went, into the room where the men were having their tea I heard a loud talking—I think the man wanted the work done—he was abusive, because he wanted his work; and then my brother went into the room to

him—Starkie refused to leave; my brother asked him to leave before he went into the kitchen to me—he asked him I think more than once, and Starkie said "I shan't"—my brother said "Don't make a noise; let the men have their tea in peace; how would you like to be disturbed while you were having your tea?"—he spoke very quietly, and Starkie said "Don't be so d—d independent about it, you will lose it soon enough; I will get it from you, if I can; I will ruin you"—that was before my brother came into the kitchen—he then came into the kitchen, leaving Starkie there, because he wanted him to go; but before he left the men's room, I heard him once more ask the man to go—as my brother left the men's room, Starkie seemed to follow him, taunting him about his independence—he did not come on as far as the kitchen; he stood there, and my brother came on into the kitchen, and left him—I said that, if I were he I would not go into the room while that man was there; and he said that he would go into the parlour and finish the bill he was making out—Starkie had gone back to the work-room—I said that from what I saw of Starkie he seemed to be so frightfully excited, as if he was mad—as my brother left the kitchen I heard loud talking, and saw the man follow him up as he went towards the parlour—I can't say whether my brother went into the work-room from the passage, because the parlour doorway is inside, but the workshop is not—I know he went towards the parlour—he would have to pass Starkie on his way if he was standing in the doorway, because he would have to pass the workshop to get to the parlour—my brother went quietly towards the parlour, without saying anything or looking behind him—I saw him go into the parlour, and heard him close the door, and so far as my brother was concerned, the matter between him and the deceased was at an end—that was what he wanted—I then heard the words I repeated before—the deceased was leaning in the parlour doorway after that, as if he was putting his head in and taunting him—I did not see the door open, but I saw him there as if he had opened it; he was in a stooping position, taunting him—my brother keeps his money up stairs in the day time, but he always kept his pistol down stairs in that room—as my brother passed on towards the parlour, Starkie called him a b—thief, and a b—rogue, and a b—swine—my brother took no notice, but walked into the parlour, and I heard the door shut—the next thing I saw was Starkie leaning in—he opened the door twice—I heard it shut quick and then opened a second time, and then I saw him leaning—I heard him call him a b—villain, and say that he would do him all the harm he could—I heard him say "Put me out," but what else he said I can't say—I heard my brother tell him to go—after the first shot was fired Starkie laughed loud, and said "Blank cartridge"—I think he said it twice—I then lost sight of him—I then heard a scuffle; it seemed to be in the parlour, as if he rushed in—I then heard the expression "Take that, you b—shit," and then the third shot was fired—I can't say whether it went off by accident or otherwise.

COURT. Q. Who said that? A. The dead man—I am certain of that—he was a tall young man; they say his age was twenty-eight—I never noticed him much, and so many come there.

MR. SEYMOUR. Q. Were you there when the policeman came and saw your brother? A. Yes—my brother said before he left that he never meant to do it, but the man struck him on the shoulder, and the pistol went off in the scuffle; that was when the man went up stairs—the man was dead

at that time—my brother is of a very good-natured disposition, he is a widower with two children—I have lived with him four years, and always found him a kind—hearted, good-natured, and just man.

Re-examined. I may have said more or less in the excitement before the Coroner and Magistrate—the prisoner kept saying this at the door two minutes—from the time Starkie came into the house he was alive about a quarter of an hour.

WILLIAM TRIPP . I live at 22, Sewardstone Road, Victoria Park, and was a workman for the prisoner—on Tuesday evening, 2nd April, About 5 o'clock, I and my fellow-workman, Hannibal, were at tea, in what we call workmen's room—Starkie, who I had only seen once or twice before, came into the room about 5.15—he had two pairs of boots with him that he wanted sewn—he said "Oh, you are at tea, I will wait"—the prisoner followed him into the room, and said "I would rather you would come again when the men have done tea hour; would you like to be annoyed during your tea?"—Mr. James then left the room and returned in two or three minutes, and said "Why don't you go?" and put the two pairs of boots on starkie's arm, saying "I neither want you or your work"—Starkie said "James, you know I don't like you; I have tried to do you all the harm I could; I will try to take Bamberger's work away from you, but I can't, because he won't have them done anywhere else"—Starkie then walked towards the work-room door, and James followed him, and then loud language was used in the passage just outside the work-room door—he said "James, you are a b—rogue, and a b—shit, and a b—swine"—I cannot tell you where they were standing, as I was sitting down at tea, and we remained seated all the time; we did not rouse ourselves—I heard Mr. James walk up the passage, but I did not see him; I thought it was Mr. James—he appeared to go to the street door, but it appears it was to the parlour, and he said "Will you go out of my house?" he said that three times over, and then I heard a report directly after that—the next thing I heard was a clapping of hands, and then the deceased said "You b—fool, they are blank cartridge"—a second report followed very quick after the first—I then rose up to go to the door, and heard a slight scuffle in the passage again the door—I had just got the handle of the tea-room door in my hand and got into the passage when a third shot was fired—the tea-room door was partly closed, I suppose Mr. James half closed it as he walked out—I got into the passage as the body fell half outside the next door and half in the passage—I ran and got the police—when they came the body was not as I left it—I did not go for two or three minutes.

Cross-examined. Just before the third explosion, I heard a voice which I believe was Starkie's, say "There, take that"—I could not see into the passage from my chair, so that I cannot say which way the steps went—after begging Starkie to go, James went out of the work-room, and Starkie followed him; I believe that to be correct—the prisoner is a mild, good-natured man—I never worked for such a master in my life—I am no longer in his service—I have set up in business on my own account.

THOMAS HANNIBAL . I live at 85, Brandon Street, Walworth—I was working for the prisoner on 2nd April, and had done so seven or eight months—I knew Starkie by his coming there once or twice—he came on 2nd April, when Tripp and I were at tea, and brought two pairs of boots to be sewn—we use a sewing machine—they could have been sewn in about three minutes if the two man had been called off and set to work—we are usually

at tea half-an-hour, and we had begun tea a quarter-of-an-hour—there would be fifteen minutes to wait before the three minutes began—he said "Oh, you are at tea"—while he was in the room the prisoner came in and said "We cannot sew your boots while the men are at tea, if you come again after tea you can have the boots"—Starkie said he would wait, and the prisoner said "I had rather you would not wait," and left the room, leaving Starkie there—in about two or three minutes the prisoner returned and said "Starkie, I wish you would go;" and he took the two pair of boots off the mantelshelf, put them on Starkie's arm, and told him he neither wanted him or his work-Starkie said "James, you know I don't like you, and I will try to do you all the harm I can, and I will try to take Bamberger's work away from you, but I cannot or I would not bring it here," and with that they left the room—Tripp and I remained at our tea and saw nothing more—I heard the prisoner say "Will you go?"—Starkie said "James, you are a b—rogue, and a b—swine, and a villain"—the prisoner was halloaing "Will you go out of my house?"—I heard somebody walk up the passage, and then I heard a report, and then a dapping of hands, saying "You b—fool, blank cartridge"—then I heard another report and a shuffling of feet at the end of the passage, and then the words "Take that" and a report—I cannot say positively who it was said "Take that," but it was laid before the third shot was fired.

Cross-examined. It was said at the time I heard the shuffling—the prisoner bears the character of a kind-hearted amiable man among the people who know him.

AMELIA SILBY . I live at 14, Cumberland Street, opposite the prisoner's house—on 2nd April, I was in my kitchen, and heard some shots fired—after the last shot, I saw the flash from the pistol, it appeared to come from the parlour door, and I saw the man fall—I did not see where he stood before he fell, but it appeared as if he must have been standing close to the parlour door—I saw him fall in the passage immediately after—as near as I can tell there were from two to three minutes from the first to the second shot, and the second and third almost immediately followed each other.

FREDERICK WALLACE . I am a general practitioner and have the licence of the College of Physicians—on 2nd April, about 5.30, I was called to the prisoner's house and found the deceased sitting on the threshod of the passage, supported by two men—he was then dead—I had him lifted into the passage and afterwards into the parlour, and saw a bullet mark on the left side of his face, just below the cheek-bone—the man's height was about 5 ft. 9 in., and it was four or five inches from the top of his head—I did not take his measurement—he had an ordinary forehead—I afterwards made a, post-mortem examination by order of the Coroner—I opened the head, the bullet had entered exactly below the cheek-bone, passed through the upper jaw-bone, going straight backwards; it then entered the skull in front of the upper part of the spinal cord, I might say the most important part of the spinal cord, completely smashing it; it then went transversely along the base of the skull; it then, cutting a furrow in the base of the brain, reached the back of the skull on the right side, the lowest part of the occipital bone, which it fractured, and I suppose not having sufficient force to get out through the back of the head, it glanced upwards along the brain till it reached the centre of the head, where I found it—there was a regular furrow where it

had passed—went straight through to the occipital bone and then glanced upwards—that wound would occasion instantaneous death.

EDWARD DUNT (Policeman H 152). On 2nd April, about 5 pm.,—I was on duty in the Hackney Road, in uniform, and heard a report of fire-arms—I saw some men running up Cumberland Street—I went to No. 103 and saw the deceased lying on his back, partly outside, with his legs partly in the door and his head towards the iron-gate—there is one step to the house—we lifted him up and the doctor came up and ordered him inside—I saw the prisoner upstairs, he spoke to me first and said "I give myself into your custody, I know I have done wrong in using fire-arms, I was very much aggravated and fired at the wall twice first, and he laughed at me and said it was only play"—I asked him where the fire-arms were; he said that he looked them up in an iron-safe, and he had got the key—I told him he must come to the station-house—he said "I am aware of that, but allow me to wash myself and put a clean shirt on," which I did in the up stairs room—he said that he should like to ride, I sent for a cab and took him to the station where the inspector saw him—he seemed very sorry for what had happened.

Cross-examined. A charge of wilful murder was made against him—I did not hear him say "Oh, no, it was not wilful"—I was at the station with Inspector Ramsay, but Ramsay was not by when I first spoke to him—I did not hear him say so when he was before Ramsay—he said that he was wrong in using fire-arms, but he fired twice at the wall first—he appeared very sorry.

SAMUEL RAMSAY (Police Inspector N.) I was at the station when the prisoner was brought there—Dunt said in his presence that he had shot a man—I said to the prisoner "I must search you"—he said "I have nothing on me"—I said "What did you do it with?"—he said "With a revolver, and you will find it in a safe at my house"—I found some keys on him, and he pointed to the key which belonged to the safe—he said, two or three times, "I was very much provoked"—I went to the house, opened a safe in the first floor front room with the key, and found this revolver (produced)—it contained three empty cartridges and three full ones, one of which I have had opened—I took it to the station, wrote out the charge "Wilful murder of Charles Starkie, by shooting him through the left cheek with a revolver, at 103, Cumberland Street, Shoreditch," read it over to him, and he said "I did not do it wilfully, he provoked me very much, I told him to go out, I then fired twice at the wall, he then struck me on the shoulder"—he did not say how many times—this is the memorandum I made at the time—I went back to the house and found two marks on the wall which appeared to be made by bullets, as far as I could judge—they were indented, and were directly opposite the parlour door—I searched for the bullets but did not find any—it was a party wall, there was a very small coating of plaster and then bricks—Dr. Wallace gave me this bullet (produced)—I had the pistol examined by Squires, a gunsmith, who is here.

Cross-examined. I saw the table at which the prisoner was writing in the front parlour—you could stand at the passage door and reach the table—it is a small room.

JAMES SQUIRES . I am a gunsmith, of 72, Kingsland Road—Inspector Ramsay brought me this pistol to examine—I found it contained three empty cartridge cases, and three cartridges which contained balls—it is a double-action revolver; by pulling the trigger and firing, it cocks itself

for the next shot; or you may pull the hammer up; you can do it either way—all are not double-action, but this is.

COURT. Q. Would a man know, from the outside of the pistol, what cartridge was in it? A. He would see the bullets—if a man took it up, and some chambers were loaded and some not, he could be certain whether the first shot he fired was from a loaded chamber, he could see that it was loaded—it does not require to be cocked to go off, pulling the trigger is enough.

DR. WALLACE (re-examined). The bullet produced is the one I gave to Ramsay.

MR. SEYMOUR contended that there was sufficient provocation to reduce the offence to manslaughter; for although no words would be provocation sufficient, yet as a scuffle was heard before the third shot, and as the prisoner's shoulder was struck, there was evidently more than verbal provocation; and further, that though the deceased entered the workroom lawfully, he entered the parlour unlawfully, and became from that time a trespasser, which would also reduce the offence to manslaughter. (See "Reg. v. Smith" and "Reg. v. Sherwood," Archbold, p. 333; "Reg. v. Harewitz," Hale's Pleas of the Crown, p. 474; also Arohbold, p. 635.) MR. POLAND contended that as the prisoner was not defending his possessions, even if the deceased insisted on remaining in the room, he was not justified in using a deadly weapon towards him, and that no words, threats, or gestures would be sufficient provocation for the use of it. MR. JUSTICE BYLES considered that if the third shot was fired after a threat by the deceased, and during a scuffle or struggle provoked by the deceased, the crime would be manslaughter, and not murder, and left it to the Jury to say whether the prisoner aimed at the deceased or not.

GUILTY of manslaughter. The Jury considered that the prisoner did not take aim at the deceased. Twelve Months' Imprisonment.

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