Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 8.0, 15 July 2020), October 1888, trial of LEVI RICHARD BARTLETT (t18881022-953).

LEVI RICHARD BARTLETT, Killing > murder, 22nd October 1888.

953. LEVI RICHARD BARTLETT was indicted for the wilful murder of Elizabeth Bartlett.

MESSRS POLAND and CHARLES MATHEWS Prosecuted; MESSRS GEOGHEGAN

and LAWLESS Defended THOMAS GEORGE JONES. I am now living at Stevondale Street, Canning Town—for many years I was in the prisoner's employment as a milk carrier—lately he has kept a small general shop at 248, Manchester Road, Isle of Dogs, Poplar, where milk was sold—he was living there with his wife—on Friday, the day before Saturday, the 18th August, he and his wife were rowing—the prisoner was drunk the best part of that week—he was always quarrelling when drunk—I do not remember any particular expression that he used to her that week, only swore at her and hit her—on Saturday, 18th August, I went out on my round about a quarter to 7—the prisoner went out before me, about half-past 6—I returned about half-past 8—the prisoner was sober at a quarter to 7—I saw him about a quarter to 9; he was then about half drunk—he went out about that time—I saw Mrs. Bartlett at the time; she had been crying, and seemed distressed—I went out again, and came back a few minutes past 12—the prisoner was then in the yard—he told me he had had a fall a few weeks before, and it was bleeding afresh, and he asked me to put a piece of paper on it for him; he was then drunk—he went back to the house, and about 10 minutes to I he asked his wife for eighteen pence—she said " No"; he had some in the morning, and she would not give him any—I did not hear him say anything, he went out—I was away from the house between 1 and 2, back again at 2, and I next saw the prisoner about half-past 2—he was then sitting in the arm-chair in the parlour, drunk—I went away and returned about half-past 5, the prisoner was in the same place, drunk—

between 8 and 9 that night I had been down to the coal-cellar to break up some coal and coke for the Sunday morning—a hammer was kept there for that purpose, this (produced) is the hammer—while I was there breaking up the coke, the prisoner came to the top of the stairs and asked what I was doing—I told him I was breaking the coal and coke up—he said "What hammer have you got?"—I said "The hammer I always use"—he was a little more sober then—after that I went up to the kitchen, leaving the hammer in the cellar; about 9 or a few minutes after I heard them quarrelling in the shop—I could not exactly hear what they said; I heard words between them, I heard the prisoner throwing the shutters about inside and outside the shop—he took them outside first and then took them up and threw them back into the passage; I did not see him, I heard him, he did not shut up the shop—I shut it up about 11, I found the best part of the shutters lying inside on the floor; he came down into the kitchen with a jug with ginger-beer and milk in it—he drank some and wanted me and the little boy to have some; the last I saw of him was about 11, after I had shut up the shop and was going up to bed—I did him good night, he was then sitting in the armchair in the parlour—his wife was there, he was then about half drunk—he was drinking the ginger-beer and milk at the time—I shared my bedroom with a man named French and the boy Still—Still was in bed, French had not come in—the prisoner and his wife slept in the next room, the front, and ours was the back—I could hear them speak, but not what was said; the prisoner came up to bed a few minutes before his wife, she came up about a-quarter past 11—I could hear them talking, but could not hear what they said—it was more friendly than rowing, it seemed friendly and quiet; I went off to sleep—between 4 and 5 in the morning I was awoke by the prisoner coming into my room—he asked French if he had got any drink—French said no, he had forgot to bring any; the prisoner shook hands with French and said "Good-bye, you won't see me no more alive"—he then went back to his own room, he seemed sober then—in about twenty minutes he came into our room again, and again bid French good-bye; he then came to me and said "Good-bye, Tom, I have done for my missis, and I am going to do for myself"—he shook hands with me and went out of the room—I had not heard any sounds in his room; I did not see any injury about him when he came in the second time, he, seemed much the same then as to drink, but paler—he came back a third time, in about ten minutes, and called out to French "Ben"—he then had a razor in his hand and his throat was gashed—he then turned and went back to his own room; at that time I awoke Still—he got up and went into the prisoner's room—I put on some clothes and went in after him—he was sitting on the side of the bed and his missis was lying in bed—Still went and shook her and called her—she did not answer—she was breathing, but was not sensible—she was in her nightdress—I noticed that the left side of her head was knocked in, and there was blood on her head on the pillow, up the wall, and on the ceiling—she never moved or spoke; I then went upstairs and called the lodgers, and then went for Dr Smythe—the prisoner made a gurgling noise in his throat in the room, but did not speak to understand him—I know this knife (produced)—it was generally kept in a little box in a shed in the yard, and was used for cutting leather for boots—this razor is the

prisoner's, it used to be kept in a case upstairs in their bedroom—it was a razor like this that the prisoner had in his hand when he came into our room—he had two razors; this is the case in which the razor was kept, and this hone was sometimes kept upstairs and sometimes downstairs; he used to use it to sharpen his razor on for cutting his corns; I saw it on the Saturday afternoon, about 2 o'clock, downstairs on the sideboard.

Cross-examined. I have been with the prisoner off and on for five years—my duty was to take out milk; that would take me about two hours and a half—during the last three months the prisoner was more drunk than sober—he was sometimes called Mad Dick the Jockey, and the boys would call that after him—I have known him go by that name ever since I worked for him—when he left our room he left the door open—it was about half an hour after he first came in till I saw him with his throat cut—his coming in woke me; I am a light sleeper—when he said I should never see him again I took no notice; I have often heard him say so; I often heard him threaten to commit suicide—he was a very strange man; he was all right when sober, and strange when drunk; he was sober when he said I should never see him again; I never heard him threaten to commit suicide when sober—they lived together happily when sober—the wife was a very hard-working industrious woman, and looked after the shop as best she could—the last words I heard between them were quiet and friendly words.

BENJAMIN FRENCH . I am a dock labourer—on the night of 18th August I was sleeping at 248, Manchester Road—I had been a lodger there for a great many years—I knew the prisoner and his wife very well—for some time he had not been very sober; that has been going on for some years—about 5 in the morning of 19th August he came into our room and woke me up and said "I have done it"—he shook hands with me and said "Good-bye," and went out of the room again—he seemed very quiet—there was nothing particular the matter with him that I saw—in my idea there was not the least sign of his being drunk—in a few minutes he came back; he had a key in his hand; he gave it to me and said "Give that to Jim; "I did not know who he meant at the time—he asked me if I had a drop of drink in the place—I said I had not—he did not come into the room again, he only opened the door and put his head inside and showed me what he had done; he had cut his throat—he did not speak, but walked away into his own room—I went upstairs to fetch the lodgers, and went with them into the prisoner's bedroom—I saw Mrs. Bartlett in bed, and the prisoner lying by her side on the bed bleeding very fast—Mrs. Bartlett's head looked very bad—Dr Smythe arrived shortly after.

Cross-examined. I had lived with them about 14 years, and knew them both very well; I never saw any row with them; I never saw him strike her—the key he had was the key of the sitting-room on the same floor as the shop—I gave it to Mrs. Bartlett's sister when she came.

By the JURY. I went to bed at 10 o'clock on Saturday night—I heard no sound of strife or any words in their room.

WALTER STILL . I was in the prisoner's service as a milk carrier—I slept in the house—on Saturday, 18th August, I went to bed about 9 30 or 9 40—I went to sleep—I heard no sounds in the course of the night—I was awoke by the prisoner growling in his throat in the next room—I got up at once and ran into the next room—I found Mr. and Mrs.

Bartlett there—he was sitting on the bedside with his hands in his throat trying to tear his throat open with both hands—I did not notice anything in his hands—I ran round to Mrs. Bartlett; she was lying in bed—I shook her, and saw blood coming from her throat—I can't say whether she was alive—I halloaed out and ran into the next room and dressed—I then ran down to Mrs. Mears, Mrs. Bartlett's sister, and brought her to the housed—the doctor got there just as I did.

EMMA MEARS . I live at 290, Manchester Road, Poplar—my sister, Mrs. Bartlett, lived at 248—I was in the habit of visiting her from time to time—I knew the prisoner—for a month before 18th August he was mostly drunk; when drunk they lived on very uncomfortable terms—he was very quiet when sober—he has often thrown things at her, heavy sticks and bottles, anything that came to his hand; of course she had to protect herself, and she threw things at him too; I don't want to screen my sister more than him, she had to do it; that would be when he was drunk—he has very often said he would out her head off and throw it in the street—on Saturday morning, 18th August, I was at the house at 9 10 or 9 15—the prisoner was then half drunk—my sister was sitting crying in a chair—I said "What is the matter?"—she said "Can't you see the old villain? I have not been in bed again until 2 o'clock this morning"—the prisoner was present—they were quarrelling about a quartern of gin—the prisoner wanted 2 1/2 d. more for drink—she said "You won't have it out of me this day if I know it"—he said "You——cow, I will mark you for this to-night"—he flew to go to the cakes to take them out to sell, she went to stop him taking them, and he up with his foot and kicked her in a dangerous part—she ran round the parlour into the shop—he got the iron bar in his hand that was used for the blind, and raised it two or three times, and got very excited; she raised the flap of the counter, and got a knife—nothing was said, but in the meantime the boy Still came to the gate—the prisoner flow to the gate to make a hit at Still—I said "For God's sake, Walter, take care that he does not hit you," and his wife said "If he hits you with that bar go for a policeman"—he did not hit him; he threw the bar down, this was just about 11 o'clock; after that ho took the bell of the gate, snapped the piece of iron off, and threw the bell at her—it missed her—she ran after him, and he took the gate off the hinges and threw it at her, and said "You——cow, pick that up," and ran out into the street—he went out twice to get drink in the meantime—11 45 that morning was the last time I saw him till I was called up by Still about 5 30 on the Sunday morning—I then went to the house, and saw my sister lying on the bed—she was breathing, but she died shortly after—when the prisoner said he would cut her head off he was drunk, but he has said it when sober, and laughed at it; he has a brother named Jim; I don't know anything of him.

Cross-examined. I have seen him about twice; I never spoke to him, only the day he came to look at my sister at the mortuary—I have been in the habit of visiting her for 11 years; during that time the prisoner has many times threatened to out her head off, for the last five years——he had been drinking heavily all the week before this Saturday—my sister was about 56 years of age.

MARTHA JOHNSTON . I live at 260, Manchester Road—I have known the prisoner and his wife many years—he came to my shop about 3 o'clock in the afternoon of 18th August—he said "Halloa," and I said "Halloa"

to him—he said "I will treat you to-night, and it will be the last you will get"—I said "All right"—he was very tipsy—when sober he was very quiet, when drunk he was rather romancing, he talked very curiously.

Cross-examined. I have known him twenty years, when he kept an eating-house—he was very often drunk—I have heard them quarrel, but I never saw any blows.

EMILY CROWHURST . I am the wife of George Crowhurst, a grocer, of 317, Manchester Road—I knew the prisoner and his wife for some few months—on the evening of 18th August, about 9 45, I was in my shop—I can see the prisoner's shop from mine—at that time I saw him come out of his shop, bringing a shutter; he put it up at the window, but did not succeed, and he took it down again and threw it in the shop, and turned the gas out—his wife lighted the gas again; she had a small stick in her hand and I saw her strike him once, I do not know where—they then went into the little room at the back of the shop—he was not sober.

Cross-examined. I did not see him strike her back.

WILLIAM DOE (Police Sergeant K R 30) About 5 15 in the morn ing of 19th August I was fetched by French to the prisoner's house—I was on plain-clothes duty—I went up to the front room first floor—the prisoner was sitting on the side of the bed in his shirt, bleeding from the throat; the front of his shirt was covered with blood—he had a razor in his right hand; I saw blood on the razor—I had known him before as Freeman—I said "Halloa, Freeman, what is the matter?"—he muttered something which I could not understand—he struggled very much, trying to get his hands to his throat—with assistance I tried to prevent his doing so—I got the razor from him—three constables came to my assistance in holding him—he struggled very violently on the bed—I found this hammer under the bed, right between his legs; the handle had smears of blood on it—this knife lay by the side of the hammer on the floor, it was covered with blood—Mrs. Bartlett was lying on the other side of the bed, apparently dead—from the condition of the bed more than one person had slept in it—there was no disturbance of the furniture in the room—I saw that Mrs. Bartlett was bleeding very much from the head and throat—Dr Smythe came; he stitched up the prisoner's throat, and by his direction I took him to the hospital—I have known him four and a half years; he was always addicted to drink—he went by the name of Richard Freeman, or Mad Dick, as they used to call him—he was a very quiet man when sober; I used to meet with him once or twice a week.

Cross-examined. I do not know that he has been in the army, or in the Crimea.

MICHAEL CRAWFORD (Police Inspector K) On 19th August, a few minutes after 5 a m., I was called to the house—I went into the front bedroom on the first floor—I there saw the prisoner and deceased; she was not dead, she was breathing, but unconscious—I saw the condition of her head and neck; her brains were protruding on the pillow, and there was blood up the wall and on the ceiling—she was undressed except her chemise, her dress was on the railing at the foot of the bed, undisturbed, and there was no sign of any struggle—she was lying on her right side, breathing—the prisoner was being held by the constable and the doctor, who arrived at the same time as I did—he stitched up the wound—we tied him on a shutter, took him downstairs, and had him conveyed

to the hospital; he was very violent—I took possession of the hammer the razor, and the knife—the hone was on the top of the cupboard; there were strokes on it as if something had recently been sharpened on it—the case of the razor was on the dressing-table—the blade of the razor was covered with blood—it was handed to me by Doe—it was taken out of his hand—the razor case was on the dressing-table—I noticed the stains on the hammer and knife—the prisoner was taken to the Poplar Hospital—I put him under the charge of a constable—he remained there until 27th September, when I went to the hospital, and took him into custody—I told him he would be charged with killing his wife—I also said that the Coroner's jury had returned a verdict of wilful murder against him—I also told him he would be charged with attempting to take his own life—he said "All right; how are they all in the Island?"—I said "Very well"—he said "Well, the firm is not cracked up yet"—the hammer weighs 81/2lb.

Cross-examined. He was committed for trial on 5th October—he gave his age as 66, but it is either 57 or 58—I have known him 13 or 14 months, since I have been stationed in that neighbourhood—he was unconscious and struggling, with four constables trying to keep him down—he could not speak; blood was flowing from his mouth.

CHARLES SMYTHE I am a registered medical practitioner, of 53, Kew Bridge Road, Brentford—in August last I was practising at Poplar—early on Sunday morning, 19th August, about a quarter to 5, I went to the prisoner's house—I went upstairs into the bedroom, and saw the deceased lying in bed in her chemise—she had been stabbed in the neck, and the head was fractured—she was insensible and was dying; she died in about an hour afterwards—I made a post-mortem examination—the skull was fractured over the left temple, about 4 inches in diameter—the bones were quite broken in, and the brain substance knocked out—that blow alone was quite sufficient to cause death—it was such a wound as a hammer of this kind would inflict—there were three stabs in the neck such as might have been made with this knife—one was two inches deep, another an inch and a half, and the other between an inch and an inch and a half—there was effusion of blood into the left, eyelid, and the left ear was split—in my judgment the blow was given first—that would produce immediate insensibility—I should say the slit in the ear was produced by the knife—I saw the prisoner there at the time, held down by four constables—he had been bleeding very freely; that would cause insensibility—I could not say whether he was sober or not—I stitched up the wound, and had him conveyed to Poplar Hospital.

Cross-examined. He might be faint from loss of blood—he was struggling violently.

PHILIP FRANCIS GILBERT . I am surgeon of Her Majesty's Gaol Holloway—the prisoner has been under my care there from 27th September until to-day—I have seen him very frequently, almost daily—in my opinion he is sane—he has suffered from gout.

Cross-examined. I have had a good many patients under my care since 27th September—I visit the cases in hospital every day; he has been in the hospital all the time he has been in prison—my attention was directed to him when he came in, as to his sanity—I always examine men who commit murder, to find out whether they are sane or not—I have had him alone in my room over an hour at a time, talking to him

—he knew I was the surgeon of the gaol—there are warders in the hospital; he was six weeks in Poplar Hospital before I saw him.

Witnesses for the Defence.

SARAH ANN FITCH . I live at 40, Horseferry Road, Westminster—I am married; the prisoner is my brother, he is 65 or 66 years old—I have a sister named Emma Perkins; I had another sister named Ellen, she is dead—about four years ago Emma Perkins was brought before a Magistrate charged with trying to drown herself in the canal in the Kent Road, and she would have been drowned had it not been for assistance coming and fetching her out; I became surety for her and the Magistrate discharged her—my sister Ellen twice attempted to poison herself—the prisoner is my full brother, we had the same father and mother—he has been a soldier in the Crimea, in the name of Freeman—about 16 years ago he was in the London Hospital for seven weeks; a hook got under his knee in pulling him up, he would have been killed if he had not been caught by the hook; it was in the Docks, in unloading—ever since that I have noticed an alteration in his manner, he has not appeared the same man at all.

Cross-examined. That happened in October, 1872—the actual injury was a lacerated knee; he was discharged cured, but he was doctored for a long time afterwards; he had a straight waistcoat on when I went to see him in the London Hospital—he has drank very freely for years—up to the time of this occurrence he lived with his wife and carried on business—he came to see me in his shirt-sleeves, like mad—there are nine of us in family, six girls and three boys—in July, 1884, one of my sisters tried to drown herself—she was 34 years old—she had had a few words with her husband; I was not there, I was sent for—she afterwards went back to her husband and is living now, but she is not always right—my other sister has been dead 14 years, she was about 25 when she died; she tried to take poison twice; the first time was about 19 years ago, I don't know the cause of it, it was trouble—we never knew what she died of.

CHARLES SEREL . I live at 71, Manchester Road—I am churchwarden of Christ Church, Poplar—I have known the prisoner about 15 years—he went by the name of Dick Freeman, that was all I knew him by; he was always very strange in his character all the time I knew him—he has been a teetotaler for a long time, and he was more strange then than when he was drunk—it was connected with his work in Millwall Docks I saw his strangeness, but I could not illustrate it exactly just now, he was a ganger; I can only say he was very strange and eccentric, that was always the impression on my mind.

Cross-examined. It was a few years before the murder that he abstained from drink; I should think six or seven years ago—I never knew that he was a heavy drinker—I don't believe that he has been a heavy drinker, not even recently—I have seen him nearly every day up to the time of this occurrence; he was not a free drinker during that time; I don't believe it was the quantity of drink that affected him, I don't know how much he did drink—I have not seen him the worse for drink during the last three months—half a pint sometimes will make a person drunk; I know his habit was to have a glass or two now and then.

WILLIAM MURRAY LESLIE . I am a B. M. and Master of Surgery of

Edinburgh University—I have known the prisoner between 4 and 5 years—I have attended him—my opinion is that he is not quite sane, even when sober I could not honestly say he was quite sane, when drunk he is a dangerous lunatic—that is my experience of him—several times when driving I have seen him come up with an unmeaning grin on his face, put his arms round the horse's mouth and kiss it, and sometimes he would take the foam from the horse's mouth and put it into his own—he was quite sober then, but strange in his actions—for instance, he came up to me on one occasion and struck me a very hard blow—I looked straight at him to see if he was angry, and he appeared perfectly friendly, and there were no symptoms of liquor, he could stand, walk, and speak accurately—I attended him once for a dislocated arm—I found him sitting in a chair, I bandaged his arm up, and visited him again one or two days afterwards, he had then taken off all the bandages and wrappings, and either by accident or design taken the head of the bone out of the socket, which hung loosely by his side, and he was looking at it rather complacently; that occurred on two occasions with reference to the same injury.

Cross-examined. I last saw him five or six weeks before this affair—I did not attend him professionally then, he was in the street talking to my coachman—my last attendance on him was for the dislocation about a year ago—to the best of my recollection it was from a fall; I am not prepared to say it was when drunk, he called on me some time after the dislocation, what was the time of it I could not say—I attended him for it from time to time—I know that he does drink Very freely—the last visit was about 9 months before that—that was for nothing more or less that I could discover but mad sulks, he was sitting almost motionless; and his wife said she did not know what had come to him, he had got so quiet—in my opinion that condition was produced by excessive drinking—when sober, I believe, he followed his ordinary calling as a milk dealer—if I had been asked to sign a certificate of lunacy, I should have examined him much more carefully before I did so—the instances I have mentioned would justify it—he was sober at those times—I could not exactly say that he was in such a state that I would have signed a certificate of lunacy—I have not been asked to see him in gaol—whether he is perfectly sane now I cannot say—I have spoken to him frequently in my own consulting room—I do not remember that I cautioned his wife that he was a dangerous man; when drunk he is quite irresponsible for his actions, he was more furious than I ever saw a man when drunk

Re-examined. I never examined him specially for lunacy, from my cursory examination I considered him a lunatic—I have examined the back of his head, there are a great number of scars on his head and face from injuries received—he was perfectly mad in the ordinary acceptation of the term when under the influence of drink—he was the most furiously mad man I ever saw, from that he received his nickname of Mad Dick.

GUILTY . — DEATH .