15th December 1902
Reference Numbert19021215-94
VerdictGuilty > with recommendation

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94. EMMA BYRON (24), otherwise KITTY BYRON , For the wilful murder of Arthur Reginald Baker.


Francis Charles Reed, an assistant in the City Surveyor's Office, produced and proved a flan of Post Office Court, Lombard Street.

ADRIENNE LIARD . I am the landlady of 18, Duke Street, Portland Place; I let lodgings—the deceased came there by himself about July 21st; he occupied a room on the first floor—at first he paid £1 1s. per week—about a week afterwards, the prisoner came and occupied the room with him—she was not introduced to me, But when he took the room he said he wanted it for himself and his wife, who would be coming in a week—she was addressed as Mrs. Baker—in October the room was changed for a less expensive one—the deceased went out in the mornings—I do not know if he went to business; he did not go out every morning—the prisoner used to stop in the house a little later, and then go out—on the night of Friday, November 7th, there was some noise in their room—next day I spoke to the prisoner about it, and the same day I gave the deceased notice to quit—on Monday, November 10th, he came to me and had some conversation with me, and later in the morning the prisoner came and said she wished to apologise for the noise they had made in the night; she said, "You have given us notice and we have got to go"; I said, "Yes, you have got to go tomorrow Tuesday, but he will stop another week"—the deceased had asked me if he might stop for another week, and I agreed to it—the prisoner said, "Well, next week you will hear something very dreadful"; I said, "What is it," and she said,'"Well, Madam, don't you tell him if I tell you, because he bangs me so," she then said there would be a divorce with him and his wife—I said, "As you are not his wife, why do you support all the ill-treatment he gives you"; she said, "I love him so"; I said, "Why don't you go to work"; she said, "I lost my character, and I cannot get any work now; he used to come alter me, and I lost the whole of my character"—I told her the deceased had spoken to me, and I said to her, "He has just told me you are not his wife, and you are no class," and that she would go next morning to her sister's, and that he would stop another week with me—when I told

her that, she said, "He wants to send me to-morrow to my sister; all I know I see."

Cross-examined. I said before the Coroner that the deceased had been kicking up a row, that is correct—at 7 p.m. on Friday, he was drunk, the prisoner was sober; she showed me her hat which he had torn, and all the bed was nearly on the floor and his stick as well—I have never seen her intoxicated—when I went into their room, I asked the deceased why all the things were on the floor; he did not say anything, but the prisoner said, "Oh, we have been playing millinery"—he was drunk nearly every day—the first thing in the morning the servant used to go and fetch brandy for him to drink—that habit existed practically all the time he was in my house—when the prisoner said, 'I cannot leave him because I love him," she spoke very earnestly—when I told her the deceased had said she was no class she said, "I am a brewer's daughter"—I said, "Is it possible, what do you live with a brute like him for?"—it was than that she said "Because I love him, and I have lost my character, and I cannot get an work"—I said, "Why are you always screaming like that"—she said, "Well, how can I help it when he comes and strangles me, and puts his hand on me like that; how can I help it"—I had not heard her screaming constantly, but I had that night—I asked her why she lived with a brute like that, because he was always knocking her down—as soon as he came home, the quarrelling began, and then you heard a bang—when he was sober, he was a perfect gentleman, but he was very seldom sober.

Re-examined. The deceased was drunk nearly every day from July to November—I have heard noises in their room before November 7th, but not screams.

ISABEL KINGETT . I am servant to Madam Liard, at Duke Street—I used to go there in the day time and leave about 8 p.m.—I have been there since January—on November 10th, the prisoner wanted to speak to Madam Liard—about 11.15 a.m. they had a conversation—I then saw the prisoner coming downstairs,; she said to me, "I have told Madam all about myself and Mr. Baker, and now I will go and interview Mr. Baker"—she seemed very excited; I did not see her again that morning.

Cross-examined. I took up their breakfast that morning; they seemed on good terms then, and also on the previous morning—when the prisoner said she was going to interview the deceased there was emotion, in her voice—she was always sober; the deceased was exactly the opposite, but when he was sober he seemed very fond of her, and she seemed to be very fond of him, although he treated her very badly—she did not eat her breakfast on the 10th; they had their breakfast taken up to their bedroom.

RAPHAEL LIARD . I am the son of Madam Liard, of Duke Street—I have been living there for some time—on November 10th, about 11.45 a.m., I saw the prisoner going out of the house; she was in a hopeless condition, and was crying.

Cross-examined. As she was going out she said. "Oh, my poor Isabel!" she mistook me for the servant; she was always sober, in spite of ill-usage she seemed very fond indeed of the deceased; he was a brute to her, and many times I have seen her on the staircase running away from him—I have

heard her many times say that he was going to kill her—he was drunk nearly every day—I cannot say if he seemed fond of her when he was sober, because he did not speak much.

JAMES MOORE . I am a cutler and silversmith of 211, Oxford Street—I was in my shop on Monday, November 10th, about 12.30, when the prisoner came in and wanted to see some knives—I was about to show her an ordinary pocket knife, when she asked for a long or strong single-bladed knife—I am not certain which word she used—I then showed her a long two bladed knife, which had what is called a flush spring—I opened the long blade—I stooped down to look for another description of knife, and when I looked up she was trying to close the blade that I had opened—I said, "Oh, you will not be able to close it, it has a lock"—she said, "Oh, I do not know, I have firm grip, see!" and suiting the action to the word she grasped me across the hand; she had a moderately firm grip for a young person—I said, "Of course, you know best, but it is not a lady's knife; is it for your own use?" she said. "Yes; is it nice and sharp?"—I showed her another knife; this is it (Produced)—a flush spring knife has a spring which does not project as this one does—a projecting spring once in operation fixes the blade absolutely firm in the hasp of the knife, and can only be released by pressure of the spring—I said, "You will be able to manipulate this better, it has a projecting spring"—upon my showing her how to open it, she said, "Oh yes"—she asked the price of it, I told her 6s.—she asked me if I had not got one for about 5s.—I said no, and then I said, "I will let you have it for 5s. 6d., and eventually she bought it at that price—she again asked if it was nice and sharp—I said, "Oh, yes"—I think she—paid me in silver—I asked her if she would have it in paper, and she said, "Oh, no," and put it into her muff which she was carrying—the knife was closed then—I had closed it before handing it to her; she then; left the shop.

Cross-examined. The police communicated with me on the morning of the 12th—I am in the habit of serving in the shop myself—I have a moderately large business.

JOSEPH FRAYER . I live at 34, Warner Street, Barnsbury, and am a counter clerk at the Lombard Street Post Office—on Monday, November 10th, about 1.15 p.m., I was there behind the counter—there are two entrances, one from King William Street, and the other from Lombard Street—about that time the prisoner came in by the King William Street entrance—I had seen her before, she had been there before to send express messages—when she came in on November 10th, she said "Good morning" to me, and then went to one of the receptacles at which the public write telegrams—I saw her writing on a telegraph form—she then asked me for an envelope—I gave her one with an embossed stamp—she enclosed what she had written in the envelope and closed it and returned to the desk to address the envelope—she returned to the counter, and it being Lord Mayor's day I said to her, "Have you seen the Lord Mayor's Show"—she said she had no wish to see it—I was called away from my desk and was absent about ten minutes—the prisoner was at first calm—I saw her later on when she called for her reply—she had gone out of the office while I was.

away—when she came in again she said to me "Have you the reply"—as I had not accepted her express letter I referred her to the clerk who took it in my absence—the prisoner was then rather excited—when she first came in she seemed hurried.

Cross-examined. I was engaged with ordinary counter clerk's work when the prisoner first came in, but being Lord Mayor's day there was then nobody in the office—she gave her letter to another clerk—when she came in the second time she was rather excited.

PHILLIP HENRY MORLEY . I am an overseer at the Lombard Street Post Office—I was there on Monday, November 10th, about 1.15 p.m., when the prisoner came in, and went to a telegraph desk and wrote something—she then handed me this envelope (Produced) addressed "Reg. Baker, Esq., Westralian Market, Stock Exchange"—(The message inside was,"Dear Reg., I want you a moment, importantly, Kitty")—she asked that it might be sent by express messenger—the charge for that was 3 1/2d., which she paid for with a florin, and received the change—I handed the envelope to Mr. Chivers, a counter clerk in the office—I had seen the prisoner in the office several times before—she had come there to send express letters in the same way.

Cross-examined. I should say the prisoner was perfectly sober.

ARTHUR STEPHEN CHIVERS . On November 10th I was a counter clerk at the Lombard Street Post Office—I was handed this envelope with an embossed stamp on it, to have it expressed—I gave it to a messenger boy named Coleman, who went away with it—I saw the prisoner at the office directly after 2 p.m.—she asked me if she might remain at the end of the counter—I replied, "Certainly, Miss"—she appeared very worried and seemed to be brooding over some trouble—she was leaning on her right elbow, which she rested on the counter—as she was approaching the counter I noticed she had a muff, but when she came up to me it was below the counter, and I could not see it.

Cross-examined. I did not take much notice of the prisoner—I cannot say which hand was in her muff.

WILLIAM ROBERT COLEMAN . I am a telegraph messenger at the Lombard Street Post Office—on Monday, November 10th, I received from Mr. Chivers an express message to deliver—I took the envelope to the Stock Exchange—I left the post office about 1.24 p.m.—I could not get the letter to the addressee, as there was a considerable crowd it being Lord Mayor's day—I remained about fifteen minutes trying to deliver the message—I returned to the post office, where I arrived about 2.5 p.m.—I saw the prisoner there—I said to her, "I could not deliver the message as the gentleman is in the reading room"—she said, "Take it back again, and try and deliver it"—I went back and was successful in getting to the deceased—he opened and read the letter and returned with me to the post office—I think we got there about 2.30, but I did not notice the time—we both entered the post office—the prisoner was not in the office then—the deceased spoke to one of the clerks at the counter about some payment that was demanded for the extra waiting—it was only 2d., I think, and he refused to pay it—the deceased then left the office and immediately afterwards I saw the prisoner in the

office, but I did not see her come in—I went out and spoke to the deceased, and he immediately returned with me to the post office—the prisoner was still there and I saw them in conversation—I did not see them meet, as I went behind the counter—I could not hear what they were saying—I saw them move towards the Lombard Street door—the deceased went first and the prisoner was about a yard behind him—the deceased went out of the door—there are about three steps leading into the court outside the office—he went down the steps—the prisoner paused on the steps and then followed him—I believe they were talking then, but I could not hear what they said—I saw what I thought was a knife in her hand—that was after she had paused and she had begun to go down the steps—I called out something—I do not think the prisoner could hear what I said—when she got to the bottom of the steps she turned to her right and so went out of my sight—she appeared to go faster—I did not see what happened next—I afterwards looked out of the King William Street door, and I saw the deceased lying up against the wall on the opposite side of the court—he was partly sitting and partly lying—he looked very white—I did not see any blood—I do not know where the prisoner was.

Cross-examined. When the deceased went out of the post office the last time I do not know if he went out backwards—the door is a double swing door—he went down the steps, and I did not see him any more—I am not sure if the door was closed after the prisoner had gone out—before I saw what I thought was a knife, the prisoner was evidently talking to somebody down at the bottom of the steps—when I say I saw something which I thought was a knife, I mean that I saw something flash—I do not know—which hand it was in.

By the COURT. I called out after I saw the knife flash—I am sixteen years old.

JOHN FINN . I am a clerk at the Lombard Street Post Office—I was there on November 10th, about 1.55 p.m.—I saw the prisoner on the top step leading to the post office door in Lombard Street—she looked through the glass door several times—after a few minutes' delay she came in and said to me. "When will that boy be back"—I went and asked a question and then returned to the prisoner and told her that owing to its being Lord Mayor's day the lad was probably delayed, and could not deliver the message—she remained in the office about fifteen or twenty minutes altogether—she seemed to be labouring under some sort of excitement—she walked up and down the office and looked at the various notices on the walls—she leant on the counter at the telegraph end of the office—she had a muff in her left hand—Coleman returned almost as I was speaking to her—he told her that he could not deliver the message, and she said, "Take it back, Mr. Baker will come at once when he knows I am waiting"—the boy went away again and the prisoner left the office—whilst she was away the deceased returned—I did not see Coleman come in—after a short conversation he left the office by the Lombard Street, or north, door—almost as he left the prisoner came in by the same door and placed herself with her back to me—I heard Mr. Dunn explain to her that there was 2d. due because Coleman had had to wait more than ten minutes—she

replied, "All right, old boy, I am worth 2d."—I saw the deceased then come in by the Lombard Street door—he made straight for the prisoner—he said something which I did not hear, and she said, "You must pay the 2d., pay it with this," and she put forward her right hand in which she had a florin—she tried to put it into his waistcoat pocket—before she took out the florin the deceased said, "I shall not," he backing towards the Lombard Street door; the prisoner followed him, holding the florin out all the time, and attempting to press it into his waistcoat pocket—they went through the door where there are three steps—the deceased went down them—the prisoner paused for a moment on the top of the steps and she then seemed to spring from the top steps in the direction of the posting boxes which are immediately outside the door on the right as you pass from the door—Coleman made an exclamation—I did not go to the door; I remained behind the counter.

Cross-examined. My duty at the time was the sale of stamps—I was about ten feet from the Lombard Street door—the prisoner leant both of her hands on the counter while she was waiting—I should not like to swear she had both hands on the counter, but that was my impression—when she was on the steps I noticed she had a muff on her left hand—she went out at the same door that the deceased came in by, and he came in again about a minute after she had gone out—my impression was that the deceased did not wish me to hear what he was saying—I am positive the prisoner tried to force the florin on the deceased with her right hand—I could not hear what passed between them when they were on the steps because the glass door was between us.

WILLIAM MARTIN DUNNE . I am a clerk in the Lombard Street Post Office—I was there shortly after two o'clock on November 10th—I remember Coleman returning with the letter which he could not deliver—the prisoner was in the office then; she told the boy to take the message back, which he did—he returned shortly afterwards with the deceased—the prisoner had left the office then—I had some conversation with the deceased with reference to the extra charge created by the delay in delivering the message—I said to him, "There is 2d. to pay, owing to the delay in the delivery"; he said he would not pay it, it was nothing to do with him, and it was the business of the lady—he did not pay it—the prisoner came in; I told her there was 2d. to pay; she said, "That is all right, old boy, I am worth 2d."—the deceased then came in and said to her, "You owe the post office some money, you had better pay it"—she said, "No, you pay it"—he said, "No, I will have nothing to do with it."—she pressed a silver coin on him and asked him to pay the 2d. with it—he pushed his arm as she went to put it into his waistcoat pocket—she seemed rather to insist upon giving him the coin, and he began to back towards the door—as he went out I heard her say, "I will go out, too"—the next thing I heard was an exclamation by Coleman.

Cross-examined. I did not hear all the conversation between them—he spoke rather sharply; the prisoner was calm—I do not know what passed between them on the steps.

ARTHUR STEWART WIELAND . I am an accountant of 10, Walbrook—about 2.30 p.m. on November 10th, I was posting a letter in Post Office Court, which is outside the Lombard Street Post Office—this is a correct photograph of the boxes—I saw the deceased standing against the letterbox next to the one in which I was posting my letter—he had his back towards me—I saw the prisoner standing on the post-office steps, presumably they were talking, but my attention was not directed to them until I heard the man say rather loudly, "No, I will not," or "No, I cannot"—I heard the prisoner repeat a question rather imploringly, and then he replied in a more pronounced manner and loudly, "No, I will not"—the prisoner rushed off the steps towards him—I did not see anything in her hand then—she had a muff on, I think, her right hand, but I am not sure which hand—she appeared to be buffeting him with both hands, first one side and then the other, and in a sort of regardless way—she used both hands, but I cannot particularise how they were used; she was striking very rapidly—it appeared to me to be on his head—his back was turned towards her as though retreating, and I should say the blows fell more particularly on the right side of his head—he continued to retreat to more than the middle of the court, and for five or six yards—the prisoner still continued to attack him—when they reached past the clock I saw something gleam in her hand—I then realised for the first time that it was a serious matter—there were two blows very rapidly one after the other with what I thought was a hat pin—I ran forward, but the second blow had fallen before I got up to where she was—he had turned his face to her, when he saw, I think, for the first time the knife in her hand—I think one of the blows fell on his head and the other on his shuolder, but it is difficult to decide—he fell down, and I think the prisoner fell with him, as I found her on the ground when I got up to them—a man named Lockie was holding the prisoner by the wrists—I did not see a weapon lying on the ground—as the deceased fell he was about a yard from the wall opposite the post office—that would be about as far as he could go in that direction.

Cross-examined. When Lockie was holding the prisoner she was trying to get at the body on the ground and was calling out, "Oh, Reggie, Reggie, let me kiss him!"—she seemed in great distress—I only heard the conversation they had imperfectly, but I heard her ask him something imploringly, and then he said something angrily—I think she had got her muff on one of her hands—I do not know definitely which hand, but I think the right—when she dashed down the step she simply buffeted him with both hands, the muff being in one of them, and she followed him down the court doing that—at that time I thought she was only doing what a woman in a bit of temper would do, simply hitting him over the head with her muff and hand together; there was no extreme passion shown—my impression then was that she did not intend to hurt him at all—I had my eyes riveted on her all the time; she could not at that time have got the knife from her pocket—I suddenly missed the muff, whether it fell to the ground or not I do not know, but it had gone when I saw the knife in her hand—I think the knife was in the same hand that the muff had been in—the

two blows which were administered with what I thought was a hat pin were a matter of a second.

Re-examined. While I was watching what was going on, I did not hear anything said about a knife.

WILLIAM HENRY LOCKIE . I am a labourer of 11, Cory Square, Commercial Road—I was passing along Post Office Court about 2.30 on Monday, November 10th—I had entered at the King William Street end and was going towards Lombard Street—I was nearly through the court when I heard a cry—I turned round; I saw the prisoner and the deceased near the wall opposite the post office—the deceased was the nearer to the wall; he had his back to the wall and the prisoner was in front of him—I saw her hand come down twice with a knife in it—one of the blows came down on the left side of the deceased's head and one towards his breast—after the second blow the deceased slid down the wall on to the ground—I ran across and caught hold of the prisoner's left hand—I heard the knife drop to the ground after I caught hold of her hand—someone picked it up and handed it to a constable—it was a knife similar to this one—it was open when it was picked up—while I had hold of the prisoner's hand she said, "Let me go to see Reggie, my dear Reggie"—I said, "No, you have done enough now"—I did not leave go of her—I held her until the police came—I saw a straw hat on the ground which I thought was a woman's hat—I did not see any hat belonging to the deceased—I saw a brown muff there—they were not far from the knife.

Cross-examined. I caught hold of her left hand and the knife was in her right—when she said, "My Reggie, my Reggie!" she seemed dazed and silly.

WALTER THOMAS HUNT (386 City.) On November 10th I was on duty near to and I was called to Post Office Court, where I saw the body of the deceased lying on the ground—I at once sent for an ambulance—the prisoner was being held by Lockie—I heard her call out, "Let me kiss my Reggie, let me kiss my husband"—a post-office clerk named Russell was in the court, and he handed me this knife—it was open at the time—I took the prisoner to the station with the knife—she did not say anything on the way—she was very excited, she kept trying to throw her arms about and wrench away from me.

Cross-examined. She was not trying to escape from me, but was in a state of great agitation—she seemed slightly dazed.

EDWARD JOHN RUSSELL . I am a counter clerk at the Lombard Street Post Office—I was there on November 10th when the deceased and the prisoner were there—I heard Coleman say something—I went out into the court in consequence of what he said—when I got outside, the deceased was lying on the ground on his right side in a huddled-up position on the far side of the court—I saw an open knife on the ground—I picked it up and handed it to a constable—before the police came I raised the deceased up, and as I did so a 2s. piece fell to the ground—I noticed two wounds on his head, one over the left temple and the other over his right eye—there was some mud on him—I did not think then that he was dead, and I endeavoured to restore him—he was quite unconscious, and he never

recovered consciousness—my belief now is that he was then dead—I noticed a slit in his jacket just above the breast, over the heart—the prisoner was being held by Lockie when I went into the court—I heard her say, "Let me get to him, let me kiss my Reggie"—she was in a very excited condition.

FRANCIS ERNEST BAKER . I am employed on the Stock Exchange, and am a brother of the deceased, who was a member of the Stock Exchange—I saw him on November 10th about 2.5 p.m.; he was then in perfectly good health—at his request I gave him a florin.

JOHN MANN (526 City.) On the afternoon of November 10th I took the deceased to St. Bartholomew's Hospital—I was handed a florin which had been picked up by Russell—I assisted to search the deceased in the hospital mortuary—I did not find a florin on the body—I found a number of documents on him, and amongst them the envelope with the embossed stamp—there was no money on him.

FREDERICK FOX (City Police Inspector.) I was on duty when the prisoner was brought in at 2.45 p.m.—I subsequently learned that Mr. Baker was dead, and at 5 p.m. I told the prisoner that the man she had stabbed in Post Office Court was dead, and that she would be charged with murdering him by stabbing him several times about the body with a knife; that she need not make any answer to the charge, but whatever answer she made would be taken down in writing and used for or against her—she said, "I killed him willingly, and he deserved it, and the sooner I am killed the better"—at 5.40 p.m. I again visited her in the cell, and she said, "Inspector, I wish to say something to you; I bought the knife to hit him but I did not know I was killing him."

Cross-examined. When she was brought to the station she was not in an extremely agitated condition but very excited—she was very firm and looked at you in a very determined manner—she did not have to be put to bed—a bed was provided for her at 5 o'clock—in the ordinary course she would not have a bed at all, but I thought this was an exceptional case, and that she could either sit or lie down or go to bed if she thought proper—she was not excited or agitated when she made the first statement—I do not remember using the word "agitated" at the Police Court—I have made a mistake; I did not intend to say that she was not excited; what I meant was that she was not so much excited as when she was brought to the station—her second statement was, "I bought the knife to hit him, but I did not know I was killing him," not "I bought the knife; I hit him, but I did not know I was killing him"—I am quite positive about that statement; I wrote it down at the time.

Re-examined. She was not so firm at 5.40 as she was at 5 o'clock.

MATILDA COOPER . I am matron at Cloak Lane Police Station—I searched the prisoner and found on her a fur muff, a pawn ticket, 15s. 6d., and a bundle of letters.

JAMES FINLAY ALEXANDER . I am house surgeon at St. Bartholomew's Hospital—on Monday, November 10th, at 2.45 p.m., the dead body of. Arthur Reginald Baker was brought there—there were four wounds upon him; one about three inches long on the left side of the head, above and

in front of the ear, going down to the bone—there was another bruised wound on the head above the right eye, which might have been caused by falling on the stone pavement, there was dirt on it—there was a third wound about the third rib on the left side over the breast bone—I probed that; it went down to the breast bone—the fourth wound was over the left shoulder blade about three inches deep—it did not penetrate the chest—those wounds were such as would be caused by the knife produced.

FREREDICK GORDON BROWN , M.R.C.S. I am surgeon to the City Police—on November 12th I made a post-mortem examination of the body of Arthur Reginald Baker, and saw the four wounds which have been described—I agree with the last witness that the wound over the right eye was probably caused by a fall on some stone substance—there was dirt on each side of it—the wound above the left ear was clean cut, and about three inches long—it would not have caused death—part of the wound in the breast went clean through the breast bone into the aorta—considerable force must have been used, and it was bound to have caused almost instantaneous death—the person who struck the blow must have been standing immediately in front of the deceased—he died of that wound—there was also a wound on the right side of the left blade bone, going down towards and separating the muscles of the spine—that blow must have been struck while the deceased was in a stooping or falling position—the blow on the chest would make him faint directly, and he would die almost immediately—his liver was of normal weight—there was no sign of prolonged drinking.

Cross-examined. The deceased's liver was not that of a drunkard, it was of normal weight—the first wound was above the temple bone and the second in front of the chest, which was a fatal one, the third was inflicted as he was falling forward.

GUILTY, with the strongest possible recommendation to mercy by the Jury. DEATH .

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