10th April 1899
Reference Numbert18990410-306
VerdictGuilty > unknown

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306. MICHAEL JOSEPH HOLLAND (33) was indicted for and also charged on the Coroner's Inquisition with the wilful murder of Joseph Wootton.



ALFRED ALBERT ASHWELL . I live at 30, Stanhope Street, Drury Lane, and am potman at the Grapes public-house in Sardinia Street—the prisoner is a frequenter of the Grapes—he is a Covent Garden porter—I had known Joseph Wootton 14 or 15 years—on Thursday, March 2nd, I was on duty at the Grapes—I saw the prisoner there between 7 and 8, with two other men—I do not know their names—I know the prisoner's brother; he was not one of the men—they stayed some little time, and then left—I saw the prisoner again about 10.30 with the deceased; they came into the public-house, and had two glasses of aleandapenny worth of tobacco, and the prisoner said he would leave 1d. behind the counter with my governor for a man that he would call in, and he went out and fetched in Peter Collins, who had his half-pint of ale, and then went out; he only stayed in the house about half a minute—I went out to the door—Holland and Wootton were still inside—they were in there about 10 or 15 minutes; they came out together—they went away together towards Sardinia Buildings—they seemed to be friendly enough; they had been drinking, but they were not drunk—I should say that Wootton was the worse—I did not see them again that evening.

Cross-examined. I think I last saw them at 10.45—they had had a drink; they were on good terms.

JAMES DAMERAL (440 E) produced and proved the plans of thelocality, showing that the deceased fell a distance of 36 ft. 3 in.

GUSTAVE DEMANNING . I am a photographer, of 326, Euston Road—I took these two photos of the back of Sardinia Buildings, each from different points of view—one is from immediately opposite the back of the building, and the other from the back of the yard.

ELIZABETH BOWMAN . I am the wife of Thomas Bowman, a labourer, and live in Room 85 on the fourth floor at Sardinia Buildings—on March 2nd I came home to my room about 11 o'clock—I had to pass the prisoner's door, No. 84—I heard two people quarrelling; it was very slight; I thought nothing of it—both were men's voices—I heard one call the other a b——d—that was the only word I heard—I passed on to my room and shut my door—I did not hear any more—my son William was at home on that night.

Cross-examined. I did not think very much of the matter.

WILLIAM BOWMAN . I am 14—I live with my mother in Room 85, Sardinia Buildings—on March 2nd I went upstairs with her; I left our room to get some water from the sink on the same floor; as I passed the door of Room 84 I heard quarrelling; I had heard it before when I passed with my mother—while I was at the sink I saw the prisoner come from Room 84 and go downstairs—I was still at the sink when he came back, about 5 or 10 minutes after—he went to his own room, 84—then I went back ito my room—as I passed his room then I did not hear anybody speaking inside—the prisoner had a short greenish coat on.

Cross-examined. Whilst the prisoner was away from his room the door was shut, and he closed it behind him when he came back.

RUTH ELLEN SERLE . I am the wife of Frank Serle—I was living at 3, Sardinia Place on March 3rd—the kitchen which we occupied joined Sardinia Buildings—this photograph correctly shows our kitchen window; it is the nearest window to Room 84—I was in that kitchen on March 3rd, about 12.30 a.m.—I heard sounds of quarrelling very close to my kitchen; they were men's voices; they went on for 2 or 3 minutes—I then went to wake up my husband, who had to go to his work—I do not think I returned to the kitchen again.

Cross-examined. I was in the kitchen 10 or 15 minutes—I am sure the voice was a male voice, but I am not sure that there was more than one voice.

CAROLINE FROOD . I live in Room 79, Sardinia Buildings, which is on the same floor as 84, on the opposite side of the corridor—I was sitting in my room on March 2nd, from 9 p.m., and about 12 o'clock I heard load voices—Mrs. Broad was with me, and I took my lamp to show her the way to her room—when I opened the door I heard that the voices came from Room 84—I lighted her to her room, 74—I heard a cry as if "I am bested;" the heart went out in the cry—I was just closing my door then—it was a sort of cry of despair—I said at the Police-court, "As though the heart went out with the cry"—there was silence then—I locked my door and went to bed—some time after I heard footsteps, which turned out to be the police.

Cross-examined. When I first heard the voices I thought they were in the corridor.

ANNIE RICH . I am the wife of Thomas Rich, 32, Sardinia Buildings—we live in a room on the ground floor—it looks out on the area—I was at home on the night of March 2nd—about 12.20 I was sitting in my room and heard a great thud, but did not know where it came from, I was so frightened—after a few minutes I heard a groan; it came from the back—I heard a second one after a few minutes—I looked out at the window; I did not open it—I could see nothing, but I heard two more heavy groans—I went out of my room to look for my husband—I met him coming into the house—we went back to our room and went to the window—he asked me for the lamp—he opened the window—we both looked out, and saw someone lying in the corner of the basement, on the left side of our window—there was another groan just before we opened the window—my husband went and called the deputy of the lodging-house, Mr. Hutton—afterwards the police came.

THOMAS RICH . I am a labourer, and the husband of the last witness, living at 32, Sardinia Buildings—on the early morning of March 3rd my wife met me at the door—I went back into our room with her—I heard a groan—I went to the window, opened it and looked out—my wife got the lamp; I heard a moan, and I saw something white, which I thought was a man—I shut the window, and went for Mr. Hutton, the caretaker—I took him to my room, and opened the window again, and showed him what I had seen—I saw the man picked up—he was dressed in a shirt only—he was afterwards taken to the hospital.

ANDREW HUTTON . I am manager at these buildings—I live in Room 23 on the ground floor—about 12.30 p.m., on March 3rd, Mr. Rich came and called me, and I went with him to his room, and by the light of his lamp held out of his window, I saw a man lying in the area, vomiting and moaning—he had only his shirt on—I sent for the police, and got the key of the basement from Mr. Hewitt—I sent for an ambulance, and then I went into the area—two constables went down with me—we went to that part of the area which is directly underneath the window at the back of the building, where we found a man—he was a stranger to the buildings—he was alive, but he could not speak—he had a large wound in the small of his back—I saw that when the policeman and I lifted him off the brick rubbish on to the pathway—he was placed on the ambulance and taken to the hospital—the prisoner lived in Room 84—he had only taken the room for a fortnight, and I think Wednesday night, March 1st, was the first night he slept there—the room was taken on February 20th by his brother for him—I am not aware that there was any other occupant there, too—the window of the prisoner's room is immediately above the spot where the deceased was found—the prisoner's window was lighted—I and the constable proceeded to call at the rooms on the different floors above the spot where the man's body was found—we could get no information from any person below the prisoner's room, and then we knocked at the prisoner's door—there was no answer at first, and the constable said he would break the door open—I said I would rap, which I did, and I called out "Joe!"—the prisoner said, "What is it?"—the door remained closed—then he came and opened it—he had nothing on but his

shirt—I said there was a man found injured in the area, without his clothes—he said, "I know nothing about him"—I said we did not know where he had come from—he said, "There are no clothes here; there are my trousers"—I did not go into the room then—we then went on to the floor above, and then up to the roof, to see if the door up to the roof was locked; we found it was—the police then left, but returned in about 20 minutes, and we searched all the rooms with the windows opening on to the basement—as we came down the second time, we searched the water-closets—the sergeant was present then; before that there was only a constable there—there is a w.c. on each floor and on each half-landing—we found nothing in any of them—I looked into them—I did not go into them—the examination was made by the light of a bull's-eye—5 or 10 minutes after the sergeant went away I went upstairs again, and I saw a pair of boots and a pair of socks in the sink on the third floor, where the prisoner lived—I gave them to the police—I went upstairs again with Mr. Hewitt, and on pushing the door of the w.c. between the third and fourth floors we found it would not go back, and on looking behind it, I found a bundle of clothing on the floor—I took it up to Bow Street Station, and gave it to the inspector—I was present when it was opened—it contained a man's coat, vest, overcoat, and handkerchief—I had examined that closet with the sergeant on our way down—there was no difficulty then in pushing back the door.

Cross-examined. The Rooms 85, 79, 83, 81, 78, and 80 were all lot and supposed to be occupied—the prisoner came to his door when he heard my voice.

JAMES HEWITT . I am a portmanteaumaker—I used the basement of this house as a workshop—I lived in No. 19 on the ground floor—I have the key of the basement; it leads on to the area—on the early-morning of March 3rd I was called up by Mr. Hutton—I went with him, and found the man lying in the basement; he was taken to the hospital—I went with the others to the rooms upstairs—I was with the party outside Room 84, and also up to the roof—I went up again with the sergeant to go to the prisoner's room a second time, the sergeant had some conversation with him; we then went up to the top floor, and the sergeant was just going to knock at the door when the prisoner came up; he only had his shirt on; he was carrying a bundle under his arm—I said to him," What do you want up here in your shirt; if they are your trousers you have got under your arm, why don't you put them out; You will have the women out on you directly, and there will be a fine to do"—he made no answer; he gave a stagger, and seemed surprised to find me on the landing, and turned round sharp and went downstairs—it was a large bundle, dirty-looking; it was larger than would be required for a pair of trousers—I was with the party which first searched the different w.c.'s—nothing was found then—I was present when at a later period the bundle was found, which was taken to the station—it was not in the w.c. on the first search.

Cross-examined. The bundle was found in the w.c. on the landing above the prisoner's room—it was a light landing—there was no light, but it was a nice, moonlight night—when I saw the prisoner there he looked as if he hud been dt inking.

FREDERICK WHITTLE (208 E). On the early morning of March 3rd I was sent to Sardinia Buildings, and I remained there after the other officers had taken the deceased to the hospital—when I made a search of the area with my lantern there was no article of clothing there—I looked up and saw that all the windows were closed—I then went with Mr. Hutton over the buildings themselves, and examined the w.c 'a and sinks—nothing was found in any of them—I knocked at several doors, including the prisoner's, and after some little delay he came and opened it—he wag in his shirt then—I asked him if there was any row in the house, and if he had anybody living with him—he replied, "No, there is no b——living here, only me"—I asked him if he had seen a strange man in the building, or whether he had seen any clothes lying about—he replied, "No"—he showed me a pair of trousers which he picked up off the floor, and said, "This is my trousers, if you want to see them"—I afterwards saw him wearing them—I did not go into the room; the conversation was at the door of the room.

Cross-examined. The prisoner did not appear drunk; he appeared sleepy.

FRANCIS SALE (142 E). About 12.45 on March 3rd I was called to Sardinia Buildings, and I went there with another constable—I saw Hutton there; I went round the area at the rear of the building, where I saw a man lying insensible on the rubbish there; he had only his shirt on, which was torn on the left from the armpit downward—I saw a large wound on his back, from which there was a good deal of blood, and blood also on his mouth and his legs—he was sent to the hospital on an Ambulance—then Sergeant Palmer arrived, and with him I searched the building and area; in the area we found a pair of trousers lying between the place where the deceased was lying and the building—I cannot say if they were there when I first saw the deceased, because I directed my whole attention to him—they were just as if they had been dropped; I took them to the hospital—they have since been produced at the Police-court—we then knocked at all the doors of the rooms with windows above the area, beginning at the basement—we knocked at the prisoner's, and he said, "Who is there?"—the sergeant replied, "The police"—the prisoner replied, "F——you," and then opened the door—we asked the same questions as we had put to the other tenants as to whether any one was missing from his room, or bad anybody jumped from his window, as there was the body of a man found in the area.—the prisoner said he was the only occupant of the room, and that no person had been in the room with him at all—he had only his shirt on—we did not go into the room—we examined the sinks and w.c.'s as we went up and coming down, too—we found nothing in my of them.

Cross-examined. There was a delay of a few seconds before the prisoner opened the door—it was the second time I had been there.

WILLIAM PALMER (29 E). About 1.45 p.m, on March 3rd, I went to Sardinia Buildings, and examined them with the last witness—I heard him give his evidence at the Police-court—I agree with him that the trousers were found, and with the conversation that took place between us and the prisoner—I took part in the examination of the w.c's and sinks—nothing was found in them.

WILLIAM CROSSTMAN (Police Inspector). About 3 o'clock on March 3rd I was sent for to King's College Hospital—I found a man being attended to by Dr. Levick—he recovered consciousness for a minute or two, when he gave the name of Joseph Wootton, 13, Little Church Street,. Marylebone—he then became unconscious again, and he died at 7.45 the same morning—I sent a telegram to the address he gave, and Mrs. Emily Wootton came to the hospital, where I saw her—I went with her to Sardinia-Buildings; we got there about 6 o'clock—I had been there at about 4.30—we went to Boom 84 and saw the prisoner—he opened the door—he only had his shirt on—I told him a man named Joseph Wootton had been found on the brick rubbish below his window—I asked him if he could give any explanation, whether he had been in his room—his reply was to the effect that he did not know anything of him—I noticed there were blood-stains on the right sleeve both of his inner and outer shirt—I saw a large fresh blood-stain just under the bolster of the bed—I saw a recent scratch on his forehead—I asked him how he accounted for the blood—I pointed out to him that it was recent—he said he had had a fight with Laurie Dunovan two nights before outside the Caledonian public-house, at the corner of Drury Lane and Kemble Street—I said, "The blood on the sheets feels damp"—he made no reply—I noticed the curtain over the window was pulled down en the right-hand side—there had been a pair hanging over the window; the string was broken—the bottom of the left curtain was shut out under the lower part of the window, which was closed down on it—the beading on the right side of the window was off, and lying against the left side of the window inside the room—two square hampers stood by the window on the top of the other; each of them was about 8 in. high—on the left of them were two chairs against the wall, with some half-bushel baskets on them—one chair was partly in front of the window—there was a picture frame face downwards on the floor, and as I lifted the frame up the broken glass fell on the floor—I raised the lower sash of the window, and in the dust immediately below the sill I noticed recent finger-marks on the woodwork, which went downwards on to the stonework, and there was a stain almost in the centre of the sill, as if a heavy weight of flesh had been dragged over it—on the brickwork under the sill there were several scratches going up and down, as if something had been struggling to hold; on to the window ledge—I found two felt-hats in the room; I asked the prisoner who owned them—he said, "They are mine"—as I was examining the hats, he said, pointing to the one with the black band, "I bought that for mother's funeral"—I asked him to fit them on, and the one with the black band fitted him perfectly, the other did not—I told him to dress himself, and that he would have to accompany me to the station—he dressed himself, and I sent him to the station with a policeman—I told him he would be charged with injuring Wootton, who was alive then—the prisoner said, "I came home about 9.20 p.m. I had been in the Constitution public-house with my brother George and his wife Laurie Dunovan was in the public-house at the same time. I was in the Grapes from 8 to 9, and saw Daniel Coughlin and David Lay there. Mr. Hutton was standing at the door of the dwellings as I entered. I was drunk at the time"—about 8.30 that

same evening, having received information of Wootton's death during the day, I charged the prisoner with murdering Joseph Wootton—he replied, "I do not know anything about it at all; I was drunk at the time; I have known Wootton about 14 or 15 years"—from the appearance of the windows and the articles round it, it seemed as if there had been a struggle there.

Cross-examined. The room was in the same state when I saw it as it is in the plan—I have seen poles hanging out of the windows in some dwellings, but I do not think they use them here—the prisoner did not flay he had got the scratch a few nights before; he said two nights before—the deceased was about the same type of man as the prisoner—it is not an unknown thing for a window to be shut down on a curtain—the furniture was very much dilapidated.

WILLIAM GOUGH (Police Sergeant E). About 4.30 on March 3rd I went to Sardinia Buildings, and there saw Inspector Crosstman—I went into the basement and area—I examined the windows immediately above the area on the first and second floors—I also examined the windowsill of Room 84—the windows, with the exception of 84, looked as if they had not been opened for some time—I went up to Room 84, and the prisoner opened the door—I said I was a police-officer, and that we intended making a minute examination of his room—I asked him who had slept in the room that night—he said, "Nobody but myself has been here. I know nothing more; I came here at 9.20 last night"—I noticed there were 3 or 4 ins. of curtain caught outside the window—I said, "How do you account for this?"—he said, "I know nothing at all about it"—I made a very close examination of the window sill, and I could see distinct finger-marks pointing towards the window—there was 1 mark on the woodwork, and 2 or 3 on the base of the stonework—I called the prisoner's attention to that; he said nothing—there were several fresh marks on the brickwork about 2 or 3 ft. below the sill, and about a foot long up and down—I called his attention to them—he did not see them; he became quite sullen—I noticed the beading was broken—he made no remark as to that—I saw the inspector show the two hats to the prisoner—the inspector said, "Whose hats are these?"—the prisoner replied, "They both belong to me; I have had them 18 months"—I was not present when Mrs. Wootton was brought to the room; I was when the hats were shown to her; she identified them—I saw blood-stains on the bed, and I called his attention to them; he said, "My brother had my things put here two days ago, and I know nothing more"—I called his attention to the fact that the blood was moist, but he made no further statement—the blood on his wrist and shirt and under-shirt was pointed out to him, and he said, "I got that two days ago fighting with Laurie Dunavan"—He was taken to the station—after the man had died I took the hat which Mrs. Wootton had identified, and put it on the deceased's head, and it fitted exactly.

Cross-examined. I examined the basement; it is full of brick rubbish—when the prisoner was seen to leave his room I think he went downstairs to his brother's room to get some lamp-oil.

Re-examined. There are outside the Court a number of articles of clothing that were found in various parts of the building.

LAWRENCE DUNAVAN . I live at 12, Kemble Street, and am a newspaper lad—I have known Wootton about a year and the prisoner about 3 years—I saw them in the Hart public-house, in Russell Street, Drury Lane, on March 2nd—they left about 10.15—they seemed to be on good terms then—I had a fight with Holland 3 weeks before March 2nd, outside the Constitution public-house—a policeman turned us away—neither of us bled in the fight.

Cross-examined. There was another fight after that, on a Saturday, February 25th—on the Thursday, when I saw the men at the Hart, they had been drinking pretty heavily—they seemed perfectly friendly.

CHARLES ALDERSEY (244 E). I was on duty in the early morning of February 18th in Covent Garden Market—I know Holland by sight and also Dunavan—I saw them on that morning—they were fighting—they were not near the Constitution public-house—I went towards them, and they went away.

Cross-examined. I did not make a note of it; it was only an ordinary occurrence—I never made a report about the fight—I made a statement on March 28th.

EMILY WOOTTON . I live at 13, Little George Street, Marylebone—the deceased was my husband—he was a general dealer—I think he was 54 years old—he lived with me at that address—on March 2nd he left home between 12 and 1, mid-day—he did not come back that night, and the next time I saw him was at King's College Hospital the next moniing—I got there at 7.30; he was alive then—he died at 7.45—I went to Sardinia Buildings with a police-inspector, and was shown the room, 84, and also two hats in the room—I gave a description of a hat before I saw these two (Produced)—this hat is my husband's—I was also shown these boots, socks, coat, trousers, waistcoat, handkerchief, and shirt(Produced)—they are all my husband's—they are the clothes in which he was dressed when he left my house on that day.

Cross-examined. I said before the Coroner that my husband was addicted to drink—I have heard him speak of Holland—I cannot say if there was any illwill between them—my husband was the relics of a finely-built man—his age was against him—he was a powerful man.

PERCY LEVICK . I am House Surgeon at King's College Hospital—I received the deceased about 1 o'clock on the morning of March 3rd—he died about 7.45 on the following morning—he Was taken to the wards at once, and I examined him there—there was a graze on the centre of his forehead about the size of half-a-crown; some of the skin was just rubbed off, and some small scratches on the head and upper part of the face—in the bend of the left elbow I found a graze 3 in, long by 2 in. broad—on the outside of the left arm there was a linear scratch 3 in. long to the left of the elbow—on the left wrist there was a graze, and on the left hand some superficial scratches—a graze on the outside of the left thigh, about the centre; it was oval, about 2 in. long and 1 1/2 in. broad—some scratches on the outside of the left ankle, and on the base of the great toe there was a flap of skin turned forwards on the under surface about the size of a shilling—on the under surface of the left foot there was a graze about 3 in. long; the right heel was bruised and g'razed—on the right buttock there was a triangular wound,

the base about 5 in. long, and the sides 4 in. and 3 in.—the wound ran through the muscles down to the bone—all the marks were quite recent—the man's nose had been bleeding when he was brought in—there was no mark of a blow—a fall such as this would be quite sufficient to rupture some blood vessels—on March 4th I made a postmortem examination—I found the 12th dorsal vertebra was completely shattered, so as to allow the adjoining vertebra, the one above and the one below, to come together—the spinal cord was completely ruptured—the 11th rib was broken, and a portion penetrating the right lung—there was a considerable amount of bruising along the spine—the cause of death, in my opinion, was shock due to the rupture of the spinal cord, and the other injuries—the injury to the buttock could be caused by a fall on to a brick from a height—I think the fall of 36 ft. from the sill to the ground would account for the injuries—he must have fallen in a semisitting position—he would not have been able to move his lower limbs at all after the fall—the wound on the toe looked as if it had been caused by rubbing against a rough surface—I think it could be caused by a man with bare feet trying to get foothold against the side of a brick wall—the grazes oould be caused by scraping over the surface of a stone window sill—the man's measurement after death was 5 ft. 7 in.—it is a little longer after death—he was a strongly built man, just wasting a little, owing to age.

Cross-examined. The wound on the toe could have been caused by hard pressure over a rough surface—the grazes on the face and forehead could have been caused by touching something in the fall—the shock of the fall is quite sufficient to cause the nose bleeding.

GEORGE ALBERT HAMERTON . I am divisional surgeon to the E Division of Police, and live at 3, Southampton Street, Strand—on March 3rd, about 9 a.m., I was called to Sardinia Buildings, Little Wild Street—I noticed stains of blood on the bed and bedding in Room 84; it was not quite dry—the dust on the window-sill was rubbed off in patches—the mortar on the wall below the window was apparently rubbed off, presenting a white surface which distinguished it from the other portions—I went to the place where the body was found, and found some blood there—the same morning I examined the prisoner about 9 o'clock at the station as to his fitness to go before the Magistrate—he was calm and collected; he answered my questions; he was not under the influence of drink then; I cannot say that he was recovering from the influence of drink—I saw blood on the right arm of his shirt and undervest, which was apparently recent—there was a stain on the right shoulder about 1 1/2 in. square, and 3 or 4 small stains on the right arm—the blood might have come there 6 or 8 hours before my examination.

Cross-examined. I cannot say how long they had been there—I only saw one sheet in the room; the other I saw at the station.

Gough Re-examined. I asked the prisoner his age; he said he was 32.

GUILTY .—The JURY added that they thought the murder was done without premeditation. DEATH .

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