Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 8.0, 13 August 2020), May 1877, trial of JOHN WICKS (47) (t18770528-496).

JOHN WICKS, Killing > manslaughter, 28th May 1877.

496. JOHN WICKS (47) , Feloniously killing and slaying Elizabeth Wicks.

MR. LILLET conducted the Prosecution; MR. M. WILLIAMS and Mb. C.

MATHEWS the Defence.

GEORGE ABBOTT . I am a Great Western van boy, and live at 7, Craven Place, Kensal, New Town—the prisoner and his wife lived at No. I—on Saturday afternoon, 14th April, between 4 and 5 o'clock, I was at home, in consequence of hearing a noise I went out and saw Mr. and Mrs. Wicks running; Mr. Wicks ran indoors and fetched out a spoon and struck Mr. Wicks on the head with the bowl part, she had the handle in her hand—the prisoner went to return the blow, and instead of that he stabbed her in the neck; I thought he struck her to defend himself—I saw the knife in his hand after it was done—she fell against the fence, and her sister got hold of her, and took her to the doctor's—I saw blood come from the wound directly the blow was given.

Cross-examined. She was close to him when she struck him with the spoon; it was all done in an instant—he appeared to put out his hand as if to ward off the blow—I did not see the knife until after it was over.

Re-examined. I saw it directly the blow was struck.

HENRY STACEY . I live at 10, Landseer Terrace, immediately opposite the prisoner's—I was standing at my door on the afternoon of 14th April, between 4 and 5 o'clock my attention was called by the prisoner and his wife quarrelling, which was very frequent—I could hear them using very violent language towards each other, more especially on her part—I saw her driving him out saying "Stab me you b——if you are a man, stab me, stab me"—she kept on saying it three times, and she struck at his head three or four times with a spoon—there is a little narrow garden in front of their house, about 2 yards wide, and the prisoner backed out into the path and then into the middle of the road, she striking at him all the time; I never saw him raise a hand to her till this happened, and then he held up his hands to ward her blows off to all appearance and gave her a push—he pushed her with one hand, but he had both hands up, she was striking at him furiously on the forehead, and I believe it did cut him—she even struck at him after she had received the stab—I did not see any knife until the policeman told me that he had a knife—I did not see any blood, I saw the sister get a cloth and put on her neck and take her off to the doctor.

Cross-examined. While she was striking at him he was trying to get out of her way to avoid her blows—she was very violent and excited, she was more drunk than he was, and using most horrible language.

CHARLES HAGAN (Police Inspector X). I went with Mr. Hannay, the Magistrate, to St. Mary's Hospital, and there saw the deceased Elizabeth Wicks—she made a statement which I took down, I afterwards read it over to her and she made her mark—Mr. Hannay asked her if she knew that she was dying—she said "Yes, I have no hope of recovery, my breath is so, bad"—she could only speak in a whisper—this is her statement. (Read: "On Saturday, my husband was at home sitting by the fire, he had been drinking, I went in and said to him "You might have done your work," and I asked why he would not let my son do the work as he would not do it himself. He called me very bad names, and I ran upstairs and got a little iron fender and threw it down at him, but it did not hit him, he got up, and went into the garden and sharpened a knife; I took a spoon out of the drawer and went to him, but I did not hit him; he was stooping sharpening his knife; he got up turned round and stabbed me in the neck; I don't remember any more. I had a share of two or three pints of beer. My husband had been drinking for six or seven weeks; he was the worse for drink at the time, when he is sober there is not a kinder man or a better husband.

DAVID ETHERLEY (Policeman X 3). On 14th April, about 5.15, I was on duty in the neighbourhood of Craven Place—in consequence of information I went to Mr. Pocock's surgery, and there found the deceased, she could not speak—I then apprehended the prisoner in the Kensal Road, I found this knife in his hand covered with wet blood—I said I should take him in charge for stabbing his wife in the neck—he said "Don't handle me, I will go quiet, I know I did it, she must have run up against it"—he had been drinking, but was not drunk, he appeared to be perfectly sensible.

ELIZABETH WILLIAMS . I am the wife of John Williams and live at 2, Craven Place, next door to the prisoner—between 4 and 5 o'clock in the afternoon of 14th April, I saw the prisoner come out of his house eating some food; I did not see that he had anything else in his hand—he said it was hard to work to keep two women—Mrs. Wicks' sister was living there at the time—his wife came out and told him to cut her b——pocket off she had a table spoon in her hand, and she ran at him to hit him, and as she turned round I saw the wound in her throat—I could not say whether she hit him or not—I helped her off to the surgery.

Cross-examined. He held up his hand as if to keep her off.

BY THE COURT. I saw him all the time he was in the garden, he was not sharpening any knife.

MARGARET WELLIN . I am the sister of the deceased—on the Saturday afternoon when I came indoors my sister and the prisoner were quarrelling upstairs in the bed-room, he came down and my sister followed him with the fender, she hove it very violently, but did not hit him—he went into the garden with the knife in his hand—my sister said "Cut my pocket out"—she said that to aggravate him; she went into the garden to him, and then came indoors and fetched a German silver tablespoon that was on the table and hit at him with it; I went to run after her, and my skirt caught in the fender and I could net catch her in time to save the blow; I got to her as the stab was given; I can't say whether she struck him, I had to turn my head to remove my skirt from the fender—I found that she was

stabbed at the left side of the neck; I did not see the prisoner do anything, I don't know how it was done—I ran indoors and got my apron and put round her, and took her to the surgeon's—she was afterwards taken to the hospital, I saw her there dead—the prisoner is a master sweep.

JOHN BATTEN COOMBE . On 11th April, I was house-surgeon at St. Mary's Hospital, I received the deceased there and examined her—she had a wound in the upper part of the neck, on her left side, about an inch long; I did not probe it, because fluid and blood came out of it—it went into the back of the larynx and food came out of it, I should say the depth was about 2 inches, it pierced the larynx right against the spinal column; the wound had been closed by two small superficial stitches by an assistant of the gentleman to whom she had been previously taken; I had to take those out before I could form an opinion as to the wound—there was not much blood, she could not swallow, or speak, except in a whisper, inflammation of the lungs immediately set in about ten days after, and she died on 9th May, from exhaustion and inflammation of the lungs, the result of the wound; she was of rather a bad habit of body, and apparently had not led a very regular life, but these wounds are almost always fatal even in the strongest habit of body—in my judgment unless she had received this wound she would not have died—a knife of this sort would cause such a wound.

BY THE COURT. The wound was quite horizontal with the body, it went in at right angles, not downwards; if the man held the knife stiffly in his hand, the woman falling against it might be sufficient to produce the wound, it was a penetrating wound; if she had fallen forward it ought to have been not only penetrating but longitudinal—it might probably be caused by the woman coming against it, it is unusual to get such a wound in that way, but it might be.

NOT GUILTY .