26th April 1880
Reference Numbert18800426-405
VerdictNot Guilty > unknown

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405. WILLIAM MILLS (37) was indicted for, and charged on the Coroner's Inquisition with, feloniously killing and slaying James Spencer.

MR. RAVEN Prosecuted; MR. HORACE AVORY Defended.

ALFRED WEAVER . I live at 2, North Street, Bethnal Green, and am a labourer, employed by the City Commissioners of Sewers—on Saturday evening, 17th April, about 7.30, I was at the Cross Keys public-house, Blackfriars—the prisoner and Spencer were there too—I knew them both; Spencer worked at our place—after being there some little time Spencer said to Mills "Let us have a little spar"—they went outside, and were going to fight—an officer stopped them, and they came back into the house—Mills then went out and walked over Blackfriars Bridge—Spencer remained about half an hour, and then went over the bridge with his van—Mills pulled his coat off, and Spencer in getting out of the van slipped and fell on his backside—he got up and they went down on the embankment to fight—Mills said "Come on"—Spencer said "All right"—they did not fight—a police sergeant stopped them and said "If you fight here I will take you both into custody"—Mills walked on down Queen Victoria Street—Spencer followed—he bid me good night at St. Andrew's Hill, and I left him and walked on with Mills to the European, opposite the Mansion House, and had a drop of beer with him, Clayton, and Driscoll; that was about 8 o'clock—Spencer came in afterwards and had a glass of beer by himself—he said to Mills "I want to have this fight out"—Mills said "All right," drank his beer, and walked out—Spencer said "Don't run away"—Mills said "I shan't run away"—Spencer said "I will follow you like a leech"—we went to the corner of Broad Street—Mills said, "Are you going to have a drop of beer

before you fight or after?"—Spencer said "We will have a drop before we fight and a drop after"—we went into the Railway Tavern, Liverpool Street, and had some ale there—I believe Spencer paid for that—we than walked down to the bottom of the Avenue to a small paved court—I was persuading Spencer to go home—Mills shouted out, "Come on"—they bath pulled their coats off and fought—Spencer struck Mills in the mouth; that was the first blow—Mills then struck Spencer in the chest, and he fell and Mills on the top of him—I picked Spencer up; he was very nigh senseless—he fell on the top of his head on the stones twice—I stood him against the wall—Mills said to me, "If you don't get away, I will serve you the same"—it was the second time he fell that Mills caught him on the chest—after I had stood him against the wall, he went in again—there was an interval of about five minutes between the two falls—he did not get up the second time—I walked down the court frightened, and went into the railway station, for about half an hour, and when I came hack they were all gone—I heard Mills say an to Spences, "Where do you live? I will take you home, but he could not speal—I did not go to get any one to help him, because I saw a policeman coming up the court—I heard his head strike each time he fell—I did not see any how in the face—Spencer was drunk, he could herdly stand; Mills was about half or three parts drunk—we had all been drinking.

Cross-examined. At the Cross Keys Spencer knocked Mills's pipe out of his mouth; that began the sparring—they were both the worse for drink then—Spencer said to Mills, "You are a bigger man than I am, but I am as good a man as you;" he also said, "I will pay you to-night, if I go to Waltham stow to do it"—he said that going up the court where they fought—Spencer fell flat on his back as he got out of his van; he came down pretty heavily—I told the Coroner that when Spencer fell is the court it was not from a direct blow, but that they wrestled and fell together; but there was a blow in the mouth—they fell heavily—Spencer recovered himself after I stood him against the wall, and then he fell a second time on his head.

JEREMIAH DRISCOLL . I live in Frying Alley, Spitalfields—I work for the City Commissioners of Sewers—I was at the Cross Keys on this Saturday night with the others, and went with them to the Railway Tavern—when they came out into the court, the prisoner and Spencer took off their coats and had a bit of a spar—Weaver picked Spencer up and stood him against the wall—

I could not say that he was drunk—they were neither drunk nor sober—there were no unfair blows.

Cross-examined. Mills has always been a quiet, peaceable man; he was very much aggravated to this.

JOSEPH PHIPPS (City Policeman 882). I was on duty on this Saturday evening about 20 minutes past 9—I was informed that a fight was going on down the avenue—I went there with another constable and found the deceased lying on the ground on his back—on lighting a match I found that he had a wound at the back of the head, and he was bleeding from the left ear; he also had scratches about his face—he was unconscious—J had him conveyed to the hospital in a cab—I asked when I first got there, "Who has done this?" and Mills replied, "I have done it, police-man, and I had great provocation to do it; this man has followed me from the Cross Keys, Blackfriars, and I knocked him down; if I can assist you I will, I shall not run away"—I took him to the station—as far as I could see he was sober.

Cross-examined. He may have been drinking.

WILLIAM BYRNE . I am senior house surgeon at the Metropolitan Free Hospital in Commercial Street—the deceased was admitted there on Saturday week—I examined him—he was unconscious; he never rallied; he died on the Friday following—I made a post-mortem examination—there was a fracture of the skull coursing over the base of the brain, and a large clot of blood was effused about 3 inches in diameter, which comprised the anterior part of the middle lobe of the brain—there was a bruise on the back of the head, and another behind the left ear, and a large bruise on the small of the back—I did not see any marks on the face—the clot of blood was sufficient to cause death—every other organ was perfectly healthy.

Cross-examined. A fall would cause the fracture—I have he the description of his fall from the van—I don't think that would have fractured the skull—there is nothing inconsistent with its being so caused, or with its being caused by the first fall in the struggle.

The prisoner received a good character.


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