Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 8.0, 22 April 2021), July 1888, trial of CHARLES LATHAM (30) (t18880702-635).

CHARLES LATHAM, Killing > murder, 2nd July 1888.

635. CHARLES LATHAM (30) was indicted for and charged on the Coroner's Inquisition with the willful murder of Mary Newman.

MESSRS. POLAND and MEAD Prosecuted; MR. ERNEST BEARD Defended.

ELIZABETH LEE . I am the wife of Walter Lee, a cabdriver, and live at 53, Drummond Crescent, St. Pancras—we occupy the back room ground floor—we let the back kitchen to Mary Newman about five months ago—she and her two children occupied it at first—one of them was Jane Newman, about 13—the prisoner came there about four months and a half afterwards; I can't say the date—it was after she had been there a fortnight—Mrs. Salmon occupied the front kitchen with her son Edward, who is about 28—one night, about three weeks before this occurrence, I heard a screaming in the back kitchen—I went down, and saw Mrs. Newman bleeding from the mouth, and she had a black eye—the prisoner was there—I sent for a policeman, who came—the prisoner wanted to go into the front kitchen, where Edward Salmon was—the constable refused to allow him, and he took him to the station—I went with them, and Mrs. Newman too—she there refused to charge him, and he was released—he went back to the room, but Mrs. Newman went away—she remained away two of three nights—the prisoner remained there—in consequence of his state I gave information to the relieving officer and two doctors—they examined him, and he was taken to the workhouse the same day—after that Mrs. Newman returned, and at the end of the week the prisoner returned—several days before he went to the workhouse I heard him sharpening a knife on the step, and he said "I will cut her throat"—I did not see the knife—after he returned from the workhouse Mrs. Newman went away again for two or three days—on the Saturday before she died Salmon told me that the prisoner had given him a black eye—I did not hear anything of the quarrel—that night I would not let the prisoner in, because I thought there would be a disturbance—early on the morning of 16th May he came back and lived in the house

with the deceased—on the evening of 19th May, about 7, I was in my room—as I was going from one room to the other I saw the girl Jane Newman crying in the passage—in consequence of what she said I went down to their room—the door was shut—on going in I saw the deceased lying on the bed bleeding, and the prisoner with his right hand under her head, and his left hand at her throat—he had something in his hand, but the palm of his hand hid the handle, but I am certain it was a knife—the deceased said "Mrs. Lee, he is killing me"—I caught hold of the collar of his coat and said "You murderous villain, you are killing her"—he turned round and looked very strange at me—he did not say a word—he had something in his hand, and was digging at her throat—I tried to pull him off her, but could not, and I ran upstairs and called Mr. Butcher, who was in the front parlour, and he ran down with William Mulford—I ran over to Mrs. Newman's sister, and when I came back I saw the prisoner scuffling with Mr. Butcher in the kitchen—I fetched Kelly, the constable, and I followed the prisoner, and he and Butcher and the deceased all came up together to my room—the prisoner then left—I followed him out—he went to No. 3, Charlton Street, which was not very far off—he stood by a butcher's stall there—Kelly came out of my house, and I showed him the prisoner—the prisoner went into the Coffee House public-house, and two constables took him to the station—when I got back to my house I saw Mrs. Newman in my parlour—she had a cloth round her neck, and Dr. Llewellyn was attending to her, and Mr. Butcher—she was removed to the hospital—she always went by the name of Mary Newman, and the prisoner as Latham.

Cross-examined. I did not know till lately that they had lived together 14 years—he was at times in the habit of drinking to excess; that was not very often; mostly on a Saturday night after he had finished at the meat-stall—he was attached to the meat-stall—he acted strangely this last time—on 30th April he was so bad that I was frightened—on 19th May when I went into the back kitchen he did not appear to recognise me—he did not seem to take any notice of me—he looked strange at me—he did not appear to know me—he did not appear to notice anything—he did not appear the least to understand what he was doing, he took no heed of it—the deceased was a well-behaved woman—she worked very hard—there is no ground for saying that she misbehaved herself with young Salmon—as far as I know no man visited her—on 19th May the prisoner came up to the parlour, and asked me if I had seen his brother Charley—I said "No"—he seemed to think I had him concealed somewhere—he seemed quite strange that afternoon—his own name is Charley—at the time I heard him sharpening the knife on the step he was doing it quite openly; he was talking to himself—I have heard him do that on more occasions in the yard when he was strange—I have heard him talking about a policeman getting over the yard—I have not heard him say anything about young Salmon, only that night when he wanted to get into the room, when the policeman was there—on these occasions he appeared very odd in his manner—he went into the wash house in a state of nudity—that was before he went into the workhouse—I don't know the date.

Re-examined. It was early in the morning—the washhouse is a few steps up from the kitchen—he was quite sober then—that was a day or two before he went into the infirmary—he has two brothers, Henry and

Frederick—I saw the prisoner with the mother on the Saturday a little after 5 o'clock; they came in together—it was about 7 o'clock in the day that I saw the deceased on the bed—I had seen him before that about 5 o'clock—he seemed all right done—he did not seem to have any drink in him—it was then he asked if I had got his brother Charley there.

JOSEPH BUTCHER . I live at 53, Drummond Crescent, in the front parlour on the ground floor—I am the landlord of the house—I knew the prisoner and Mrs. Newman occupied the back kitchen, and the Salmons the front—on this Saturday I saw the prisoner pass the window while I was having my tea, between 6.30 and 7 o'clock—he was going towards Somers Town way—I did not see him return to the house—on that evening Mrs. Lee came into the parlour and told me to run downstairs instantly—I did so, and went into the prisoner's room—Mr. Mulford followed me down; he was in the room with me—the door was wide open—directly I went in I saw the deceased was lying across the bed—the prisoner was kneeling with his right knee on her stomach, and his left foot on the floor, and he was digging away at her throat with his right hand—I could not see whether he had anything in his hand; it seemed to me as if he had made the wound, and he had got his fingers in trying to tear it open—I at once laid hold of him by the back of the neck—I could not pull him off by myself, he was too heavy for me—Mulford came into the room at the same time, and he assisted me, and we pulled him off of her—neither if us spoke to him—when we pulled him off she got up off the bed—I saw that she was bleeding from the throat—the prisoner was struggling with me—the female went out at the door—I fell against something and the prisoner got away from me, and I saw nothing more of him till he was in the station—when I got upstairs I found Mrs. Newman in my room sitting on a chair—the doctor was not there then—the prisoner never spoke to me.

Cross-examined. I could not say that he used to drink to excess; I never saw him the worse for liquor—I know when he was taken to the infirmary—I could not say that he had been drinking then, but he seemed strange n his manner—I might have seen him a day or two after he returned from the infirmary; he seemed very little better than before—that was about 8th or 9th May—I saw him in the street—when I pulled him off the deceased he turned and looked at me, but said nothing—I could not say whether he recognised who I was—I should say he knew what he was doing.

JANE NEWMAN . I am a little over 13—I live at 53, Drummond Crescent, with my mother, and father, the prisoner—he used to live there—on this Saturday I was in the room with my mother and the prisoner—he was standing with his back against the fire—my mother was sitting in a chair—they were not talking at all—nothing was said by either of them—then father got hold of a knife, and did that to mother—he took the knife off the dresser—it was a black handled one; it was one of the knives in use at meals—he put the knife across mother's throat while she was sitting on the chair—mother halloaed out "Don't do it"—I ran upstairs and called Mrs. Lee, and she went down—before father did this he said that Salmon broke mother's door open, and went in, and did something wrong while he went out, and he said to him "You had no business to do what you have done"—he swore he would kill her one of

these times, "I will do for you one of these times"—that was a long while before he did this.

JOHN KELLY (Policeman Y 285). On Saturday, 19th May, about half past 7, Mrs. Lee spoke to me, and I went to 53, Drummond Crescent, and saw the deceased in Butcher's room sitting on a chair—I sent for a doctor, and then went in search of the prisoner—he was pointed out to me as he was entering the Coffee House public-house, about 400 yards from 53, Drummond Crescent—I followed him in, and saw him standing at the counter—I noticed that both his hands were covered with blood—I told him I should take him into custody for violently assaulting his wife—he replied "Yes, all right"—I took him to the station—he there made a statement, which Inspector Palmer took down in writing—he appeared to me to be perfectly sober—he walked all right to the station, quite steadily, without any stagger or falter whatever—on the way he said "Let go my arm, I will walk quietly."

Cross-examined. He did not appear strange in his manner—I could not see anything wrong or anything about his manner till he made the statement—his statement was rather rambling; he seemed rather strange about his eyes; he looked rather wild about the eyes—he made no attempt to escape.

CHARLES AUSTIN (Police Inspector Y). On the night of 19th May I was on duty at Somers Town Police-station—about 10 minutes to 8 the prisoner was brought in there by P.C. Kelly—I asked what the charge was—Kelly said "For cutting his wife's throat with a knife"—the prisoner said "Yes, for cutting my wife's throat with a knife"—I searched him, and told him I should have to detain him—he appeared to be very strange in his manner—he rolled his eyes about, and he was very flushed—from what I heard I at once went to 53, Drummond Crescent—I went down to the bedroom—it was in disorder; the bedding was all rolled up on the bedstead—I found this table knife doubled up between a pillow on the floor—it had on it marks of blood and hair, and about an inch of the point was broken off—there were three separate pools of blood on the floor—I heard that the woman had been taken to the hospital—I went to the hospital, and found that she was dead—I then returned to the station and charged the prisoner—Inspector Palmer read over the charge to the prisoner—it was for the wilful murder of Mary Newman at 53, Drummond Crescent—Palmer then cautioned the prisoner—he said "Any statement you might wish to make will be taken down by me, and might be used in evidence against you"—he then began to make the statement, which Palmer wrote down—he put no questions to him—he made it voluntarily—it was read over to him—he said it was correct, and he signed it, and I and Palmer also—this is it. (Read: "I had cause. I could not go outside my place without the man who lives in the next room was in my room with my missis. I could not go to bed without this man getting in at the window. I have heard that they have chloroformed me and taken liberties with me, but I know nothing about it. Mr. Dod and Cobb, I have heard that they have taken a liberty with me, and have had my missis all over the place. On Saturday night, in Mr. Lee's room, along with Mrs. Lee, I was took queer. One night I went to the hospital after the house was shut. I told my missis to lock the door. I tried it and it was locked. I came back to my room. My room was open, and this chap ran out into the front kitchen. A night after that I went to have

half a pint of ale at the Coffee House. I was not above five minutes gone. I came back, my door was open, I saw a constable jump over the yard wall, next to where I live. I hit my missis, and asked what she had done such things for. I then went out, and heard her halloaing down the cabyard 'Let me be, there is my husband.'") I know Inspector Dod and Sergeant Cobb quite well. They both belonged to the Criminal Investigation Department at that time.

Cross-examined. I first saw the prisoner at the station at 10 minutes to 8 o'clock—he did not appear to be under the influence of drink then—I hardly knew what to make of him when he came in—he seemed rather strange; he never spoke; it was from his look, and he seemed to throw himself about very loosely—I did not know at the time whether it might be the effects of drink or not—I sent for the divisional surgeon, Dr. Thompson.

JOHN THOMPSON . I am surgeon to the Y Division—on 19th May, about half-past 10, I was fetched to the Somers Town Police-station for the purpose of examining the prisoner—from his appearance and conversation I was of opinion he had been drinking that day—I asked him the question—he replied he had, but not very much—he said he might have had about 10 half-pints of ale that evening—I laid "What else?"—he said he did not remember that he had anything else but ale—I said "Perhaps it might have been a little more than that"—he said "Well, I could not tell; it might have been"—his breath was very offensive, as if he had been drinking—his eyeballs were congested; the conjunctiva covering the eyeballs were red—his face looked bloated, and he sat there apparently not at all concerned, or feeling the position he was placed in—I said "Are you aware what you are charged with?"—he said "Yes; but I could not help giving it to her, for she was always nagging at me," and then he gave me almost word for word the statement that was taken down by the inspector—he said nothing else—I can't say that I knew him before.

Cross-examined. I should not say that he had been drinking very heavily, but I should say sufficiently to deaden his sensibility—I did not see any symptoms of delirium tremens at that time—it did not occur to me to examine him any further—I have formed an opinion since—I was at the station on another case the following day, Sunday, and I saw him then—he had just eaten a good dinner, and appeared very much better in his condition.

By the COURT. There was no sign about him then of any strangeness in manner, look, or words—I only saw him once on the Sunday—I did not see him after that.

JOHN MUTRRAY LLEWELLYN . I live at 82, Charlton Street—on Saturday night, the 19th, I went to 53, Drummond Crescent—I got there about 20 minutes to 8—I found the deceased in a chair in the front parlour; she was in a dying condition—I saw the wounds on her neck—I bandaged them up; they were cuts and stabs—I sent her off to the University Hospital—I was present at the post-mortem on the 22nd—I found there were nine wounds on the neck and face—one was a wound laying the jaw bare on the right side, and there was a wound on the left; that was really the killing wound, about an inch and a half below the left ear, that extended past the carotid, and had half severed the internal jugular vein—that caused her death—it notched one of the

vertebrae—the other seven wounds were more superficial—there were two wounds on the right hand, between the thumb and forefinger, and one on the left; that would be from her catching hold of the knife—they were all such wounds as would probably be inflicted with an ordinary table knife—it must have been done with great strength—I saw the piece of broken knife found.

GEORGE PATTEN (Policeman Y R 25). On Saturday night, 19th May, I took the deceased to the University Hospital from 53, Drummond Crescent—she never spoke all the way; she died about ten minutes after she got to the hospital.

SIDNEY HOLDER . I was house surgeon at University Hospital—on this Saturday night I saw the deceased within ten minutes after she was admitted—I found this point of a knife lying on her left breast, just under her left breast, lying on her skin—I was in Court when Mr. Llewellyn was examined; his description of the wounds is correct—the woman was between 40 and 50 years of age—the cause of death was hemorrhage from the wound.

EDWARD SALMON . I am a labourer, and live at 53, Drummond Crescent—I occupy the front kitchen with my mother—I only knew the prisoner by living in the house—I did not know him personally before he came to live there, and I did not know him then—I recollect something occurring between 12.30 and 1 o'clock when I was in bed—I cannot fix the exact date—I remember the prisoner being taken to the work house—he broke my door in between 2.30 and 12.45 in the morning—he came just inside the room, and said "You vagabond, you have been in my room again"—my mother was in the room—I said "I have not been in your room"—I had not been in in my life—he then left the room—I saw him again some time after he came from the station, the same night—he was in the passage; he said "You vagabond, I mean to do for you before long"—he came into my room several times after he came from the station—on Saturday, May 12th, about a week before Mrs. Newman died, about 6.45 at night, I was coming down Drummond Crescent, and the prisoner came behind me and gave me a blow in the eye, and said "Oh, it is you, you vagabond, is it?"—I got up as well as I could, and I had three rounds with him, and he said "I will do for you before long"—we fought three rounds, and then he went away—on Saturday, 19th May, about 4.30 or 5 o'clock, I saw him washing himself in the sink—I did not speak to him; he spoke to me—he said "What are you looking for?"—I said "I am looking for my mother"—he said "No, Ted, I have not seen your mother to-day"—I did not see anything strange in him—I have only been in his room once, and that was the week after the murder when Mrs. Lee asked me to clean the room out—there is no truth in the suggestion that there was any impropriety between me and the deceased.

CHARLES SHERIDAN (Policeman Y 493). On Friday morning, 27th April, I was called to 53, Drummond Crescent, about 12.40 in the morning—I went down the stairs, and there saw the prisoner and Mrs. Newman struggling together—the prisoner was on the top of her—she was bleeding from the left side of the face and mouth—I said "Will you charge him?"—she said "Yes I will"—he said "It is all very well; I went out to have a glass of ale, and on my returning I saw a policeman go over the back wall; I cannot go out a moment but there is some man with my wife"—she said "It is false; he does not know what he

is talking about"—I then took him outside the room—he wanted me to fetch another man from the front kitchen, and said "I want that man taken as well as myself"—he said that man had been with his wife—he did not say when—I did not notice that the door of that room had been broken—I took the prisoner to the station—Mrs. Newman was there; she refused to charge him, and he was released—the prisoner seemed to me to be suffering from a severe bout of drinking.

CHARLES DOD (Police Inspector). I know the prisoner—I knew him before this matter occurred—I did not know Mrs. Newman—nothing whatever took place between us.

FREDERICK COBB (Police Sergeant). I knew the prisoner before the 19th May, and he knew me—I did not know Mrs. Newman—nothing ever took place between her and me.

WILLIAM JAMES MACFARLANE . I am a registered medical practitioner, and am assistant to Dr. Thompson, the parish doctor—on 30th April, about half-past 11 in the morning, I went to 53, Drummond Crescent, with the relieving officer—I there saw the prisoner in the back kitchen lying on the bed—from what I saw of him I believed he was suffering from delirium tremens—I ordered his removal to the workhouse—I wrote out a certificate at the time as suffering from delirium tremens—I only saw him once—I don't think he was the worse for drink that morning; but it was from previous drinking—I came to the conclusion that he was suffering from delirium tremens from his excited look, and from the history he gave me—he said he had been drinking heavily lately.

Cross-examined. I don't think it was a very bad attack.

WALTER DUNLOP . I am medical officer of St. Pancras workhouse—on 30th April, about half-past 2 in the afternoon, the prisoner was brought there—I saw him, he was then suffering from an attack of delirium tremens produced by excessive drinking—he was excited—I sent him to the insane ward—the day after, May 1st, he was much quieter, and on May 2nd he was quite well as far as the delirium tremens went—he remained there until 7th May—on Saturday, the 5th, he asked to be discharged—I told him he would be discharged on Monday, the 7th—after the 2nd May his conduct was good; he worked scrubbing the floor, and he assisted the helpless patients from the 2nd till the day of his discharge—he was discharged well on the 7th.

Cross-examined. If he took to excessive drinking after that he would be liable to a sudden return of delirium tremens, and if so his state of mind might be such that he would not fully appreciate the nature of the act he did.

Re-examined. Taking to drink would bring on the state in which I saw him on the 30th, by leaving off drink he would get right—delirium tremens is apt to return by excessive drinking.

PHILIP FRANCIS GILBERT . I am surgeon to Her Majesty's prison at Holloway, where the prisoner has been confined since the 21st of May—I have seen him many times since, and have had an opportunity of forming an opinion as to his mental state—I have seen him almost daily—my opinion is that he is now in his right mind to a great extent, and to some extent not—he has got hallucinations—he still persists in the idea that he saw a man jumping over the wall and that he heard voices—his behaviour in prison has been very good—part of the time he has been in

the infirmary—he was wellbehaved, obeyed the rules, and conducted himself well.

Cross-examined. I have heard the evidence as to his drinking bouts—I have heard that he suffered from delirium tremens, and also about the hallucinations and delusions—that might keep on for some time, and if he was suffering from this state he might not fully appreciate the nature of any act that he committed; I mean if he had these delusions he would not know at all times what he was doing.

Re-examined. The delusion that some man had intimacy with the woman would probably induce him to revenge himself upon her—it would certainly render him suspicious—he would know that he was killing her, and he would know that what he was doing was wrong—if he had these delusions he might do this deed, and he would probably know he was not doing right; still, he would be insane, because of the delusions.

By the COURT. I define a delusion as a belief in something that does not exist—so far as his confinement in gaol is concerned he has not done one single irrational act—since he has been in the infirmary he has been under the supervision of the warders, who report to me—he understood perfectly what I said to him—he expressed himself clearly.

HENRY CHARLTON BASTIAN . I am physician to the University College Hospital, and to the Hospital for the Paralysed and Epileptic—I was requested by the Home Secretary to see the prisoner in Holloway Gaol—I saw him on June 18th and 27th—I talked to him, and examined him with a view to see what the state of his mind was—I had a long conversation with him on each occasion—he seemed to be suffering from hallucinations of sight and hearing—he thought that he heard voices when he was in bed, calling out in the yard; also voices calling to him in the street; also that he had seen men running in and out of his room, partly through the door and partly through the window; that he saw a policeman going out through the window—he had also certain delusions relating to the hallucinations with regard to this woman—his delusions were fancies that the woman had been having connection with the man Salmon, the policeman, and many others—I think all these things were the result of excessive drinking; that is to say, it was a condition of brain brought on by long continued excessive drinking—he appeared to know who I was, and to understand what I said to him, and to express himself and make himself understood by me—at present I can detect nothing else wrong about him than the delusions or hallucinations he was not suffering from delirium tremens when I first saw him; he had recovered from that long ago—a man in that state taking drink would be less able to control his feelings.

Cross-examined. The excessive drinking had undoubtedly damaged his brain—there was a diseased action; it is not a disease that could be recognised by the naked eye—he was sent to the infirmary for delirium tremens, and all the active symptoms of delirium tremens had disappeared when he was discharged—I think it was quite excusable that they did not detect his condition of mind; if they had, undoubtedly he should not have been discharged, but I think it was an oversight that might naturally occur.

By the COURT. A suspicion may run into a delusion; the want of foundation for the suspicion may be of such a character as to make it a

delusion; that is what I think in this case—the things ho said were a improbable—he said that men came about his place like so many cats—I think that is a view that a sane man could not hold—a sane man may hold a suspicion not amounting to delusion, but a delusion is suspecting something that no sane man could suspect.

By MR. BEARD. I stated in my report that the prisoner cannot even now he said to be actually of sound mind; that is so in regard to the fact that he still apparently implicitly believes that he heard and saw these things, and he entertains the delusions arising out of that, other wise, as far as I can see, he is of sound mind.

GUILTY of murder, but, being insane at the time he committed the act— Ordered to be detained during Her Majesty's pleasure.

(For Cases tried in New Court, Wednesday, see Essex and Surrey Cases.)