26th July 1897
Reference Numbert18970726-507
VerdictNot Guilty > no evidence; Guilty > unknown
SentenceImprisonment > penal servitude

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507. PATRICK O'CONNELL (25) and JOHANNA SULLIVAN (46) were charged on the Coroner's Inquisition with the manslaughter of Johanna Forbes. O'Connell was separately indicted for the same offence.

MR. BODKIN, for the Prosecution, offered no evidence against Sullivan.


BERNARD JOHNSON . I live at 3, Merchant's Row, Limehouse, with my wife—I have been laid up ten weeks—the prisoners with his mother, Mrs. Forbes, and a woman named Sullivan, were lodgers, living in one room—they had been there thirteen months—on Thursday evening, May 27th, they had a disturbance, and a policeman was fetched, and sullivan was taken into custody—O'Connell caine home half an hour after midnight of the 28th—he said to Forbes. "You bad b——you have locked her up;

I'll pay you, and you shall lock me up"—he dragged her off a chair she was sitting on, and beat her to the foot of the stairs—I heard kicks—she called out, "Oh, Patsy, don't"—after four or five minutes he went out—my wife brought her into our room—the prisoner came in and went upstairs—then he came to our room-door and said, "Is my mother in there?"—I said, "No; she has gone out"—he said, "It is a lie; she has been there," and he forced the door open, caught hold of his mother, and dragged her out by the shoulders into the passage—there was a light—he beat her and kicked her in the passage three or four times—she was on the floor—I was at my room-door, two or three feet away—I called him a cowardly vagabond—he said to his mother, "Who will take your part now?"—he went out, leaving her lying in the passage—he came back, and beat her and kicked her each time he came back—he kicked her in the back—when he said, "You have locked her up," etc., she said, "No, Patsy, I won't lock you up"—he remained in the passage the third time about five minutes—the woman was on the floor the whole time—he went out, and did not return that night—my wife and I placed her in our little kitchen, stood by her all night, and in the morning we went to the Police-court—on the 29th we sent for the doctor—under his advice she was taken to the hospital.

Cross-examined by the Prisoner. I was not in a state to be able to stop you—you had been at work, but you had been drinking when you came home.

ELLEN JOHNSON . I am the wife of Bernard Johnson, and live at 3, Merchant's Row, Limehouse—I remember the disturbance on May 27—about 10.30 there was a further disturbance—afterwards Mrs. Forbes's side was very much swollen, where she was kicked by a boot—I fetched a constable from near the Eastern Hotel—I went with Mrs. Forbes and the constable to Limehouse Police-station—Sullivan had been taken into custody for assaulting Mrs. Forbes—Sullivan and the prisoner left together—about 12.30 the prisoner came back and went to my kitchen, found his mother there, dragged her out, and beat her at the foot of the stairs—he punched her with his fist—she said, "Oh, Patsy, don't"—he went out—she was lying crouched at the foot of the stairs—she asked me, and I took her into my kitchen—he returned, and called out something I did not hear at the kitchen door—my husband replied, "She has gone out"—he burst the door open, and dragged her off the chair she was sitting on into the passage—he struck her the first time, and the second time he kicked her—he said, "Now you have locked her up, I shall pay you, and you shall lock me up"—she said, "Oh, Patsy, don't; go and get bail, and get her out"—he left the house, but hurriedly returned—she was still lying on the floor in the passage—he renewed his kicking, and left, saying, "I will find the constable out, and I shall pay him, and he shall lock me up"—I took her into my kitchen, and remained with her the whole night—she seemed helpless; I had to drag her along the floor into the kitchen—I would not go upstairs for fear of his returning—the next morning I went with her to the Thames Police-court—Sullivan was charged with assaulting Mrs. Forbes the night before, and gota month's hard labour—I assisted Mrs. Forbes to the end of the street, and put her in a train, and then helped her into the Court—I brought her back in the same way—she was very bad on the 28th; and got worse on the 29th—I

went for the parish doctor, who got her removed to the Bromley Sick Asylum—the prisoner did not return till he had served his ten days for an assault on the police.

Cross-examined. I saw and heard what you did—I have some pawn-tickets which the deceased gave me before she went to the asylum.

JAMES ENDICOTT (424 K). I was spoken to by Mrs. Johnson, and went to her house—Mrs. Forbes' face was swollen very much—I took Sullivan in custody—she was detained that night—the next morning she was sentenced toa month's hard labour for assaulting Mrs. Forbes.

ROBERT ROSS SUTTER . I am the medical officer of the Bromley Sick Asylum—I was there when Forbes was admitted on May 29th—she was apparently over fifty years of age—I examined her—I found a large bruise on her left cheek, a small one on her right cheek, a large one on the centre of her chest, and one large bruise each side of her chest—her back, from the shoulder-blade downwards, was covered by a number of bruises, which partially coalesced, forming a continuous area—the outer side of each arm, from the shoulders to the wrist, were also covered by a continuous area of bruising—the outer side of both legs, from the hip joints to the knee and the joints, were covered with bruises—there was a small bruise on the inner side of her left-hand joint—she was very weak, her heart was strong and regular in action, but the valves were incompetent—the abdomen contained a twelfth part of albumen, showing an old inflammation of the kidneys—I attended her till June 14th, when she died—she constantly complained of great pain on the left side of her chest—I examined her repeatedly for fractured ribs, but could find no sign—she gradually became weaker, and died—I made a postmortem examination—I found the remains of most of the bruises I have described—on opening the chest I discovered a fracture of the tenth, eleventh and twelfth ribs, on the left side, immediately underlying bruises—on the right side there was a fracture of the seventh rib, also under-lying a bruise on the right side of the chest; the heart was enlarged and the mitral valve diseased; the muscles were healthy; the kidneys weighed three ounces instead of four and a-half or five ounces; quite one half of their substance had been lost by old inflammation—on the left side of the face was a severe bruise, but not deep—death was from exhaustion, the result of extensive bruising, and four fractured ribs in a woman who was suffering from bad kidney disease—the union of the fractures was in a cartilaginous stage, which implies an interval of between fourteen and twenty-one days from their occurrence—the bruises could have been caused by a kick with boots.

Cross-examined by the Prisoner. On June 10th we got her out of bed because we were afraid her lungs would get full of fluid, being an old woman, and having an incompetent heart, and she would have died; so, for a medical reason, I let her sit up in bed.

JOHN HANCOCK (Police Inspector, K). I was present at the Bromley Sick Asylum on June 16th, when an Inquisition was held by the Coroner, Wynne Baxter, upon the body of Johanna Forbes—after the verdict of the Jury I took the prisoner into custody—I told him I should arrest him on the Coroner's warrant for the manslaughter of his mother during a quarrel—he replied, "I am not guilty."

The Prisoner's Statement before the Magistrate: "I am quite innocent

of it. I never lived with Johanna Sullivan. She stopped in the house with Mr. Johnson's permission."

Prisoner's Defence: I asked my mother if I touched her. She said, "No, no; don't have any more bother." I am quite innocent. That is all I have to say.

Evidence for the Defence.

CORTAIN THOMAS CHIVERS . Mr. Wynne Baxter is in Switzerland—I was present at the inquest on Johanna Forbes, and saw him take down the evidence—the prisoner was sworn and examined after the proper caution—Mr. Baxter took down his evidence—it was read over, and he signed it. (Read: "I have no fixed residence. I have been walking the streets all night. I am a dock labourer. I have seen the body in the mortuary. It is that of my mother. Her name was Johanna Forbes. She was the widow of John Forbes, a coal-porter. She had been married twice. She was fifty-two years of age. She last lived at No. 3, Merchant's Row, St. Anne's Street, Liraehouse. She occupied one room on the first-floor front. I occupied the same room, and so did Johanna Sullivan. Johanna Sullivan was a friend of my mother's from childhood. I did not live with her as my wife. I cannot say whether Sullivan was older or younger than my mother. I could not say whether she was about the same age. We three had been living in one room for about five months. I am twenty-five years of age. There was one bedstead in the room. I slept on the floor. On Thursday, May 27th, I came home from work about 7.30 p.m. I was sober. My mother told me she had been having a row with Johanna Sullivan. Sullivan was in the room at the time. I said, 'Been rowing again, you are always rowing; I told you this morning not to have no row.' They were both sober. I went out, and returned in about ten minutes. They were still jawing. I then went out, and returned at nine p.m. Thoy were both jawing. I went out again. I met Johanna Sullivan in the West India Dock Road about ten, or half-past ten. I could see that she had had a drop of drink. I took her into a public-house and treated her. We walked across the road. She went before me, and two policemen took her to the station; I do not know what for. I went and had another drink. I then walked towards home. I met my mother with Mrs. Johnson. They both went into Limehouse Police-station. They did not speak to me This was about 11.30 p.m. I went home, and my mother and Mrs. Johnson returned, and went into Mrs. Johnson's kitchen. I asked my mother if she was upstairs. She said, 'No.' Mother got nasty, and jawed, and carried on. I did not answer her much. She struck me. I did not strike her back. I left, and went and had another drink. I then went to the Police-station to see if I could bail Johanna Sullivan. I was told it was too late. I went towards home, and later on I got locked up. The next day I appeared at the Police-court, and I gotten days' imprisonment for insulting a policeman. I do not know what became of Johanna Sullivan. After theten days' imprisonment I went home. Neither my mother nor Sullivan were there. I heard my mother was in the Sick Asylum, and that Sullivan was locked up. I have not seen Sullivan since. I went to the Sick Asylum, and saw my mother on Sunday week. She did not tell me what was the matter with her. She did not tell me anything about Sullivan, and I did not ask her anything

about her. I did not see mother after that until I received a special order last Sunday. I went and saw her. She could not speak much. She did not mention Sullivan's name, or the cause of her illness. She died on Monday at 11.50 a.m., without having told me anything. I stopped with her all Sunday night, till five a.m. Monday."

GUILTY .— Eight Years' Penal Servitude.

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