Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 8.0, 04 October 2022), October 1895, trial of GEORGE BECK (t18951021-803).

GEORGE BECK, Killing > manslaughter, 21st October 1895.

803. GEORGE BECK , for the Manslaughter of William Wythe.

MR. KENRICK Prosecuted, and MR. GEOGHEGAN Defended.

FANNY WYTHE . I am the widow of the deceased—I live at 17, Brown-hill Street, Queen's Road, Haggerston—on October 10th my husband was at home till about 9 p.m., when he left the house—he was then perfectly well and sober; about 11.15 I heard a knock at the door; I went out and found him lying on the pavement about two doors from the house—Beck and a stranger brought him in; he was insensible; he never rallied; he died on Thursday, a little after two o'clock—as the prisoner was going I asked a party to stop him, as he had done it; he had threatened my husband before—the prisoner said, "All right, I'll stop;" or something to that effect.

JOHN CUNNINGHAM, M.D . I practice at Queen's Road, Dalston—the deceased was my patient—on October 10th I was called to his house between 10 and 11 p.m.—I found him unconscious, and bleeding from his right ear—I found no external marks on his face, but there was a slight abrasion of the skin at the back of his head—death was due to fracture of the skull and effusion of blood to the surface of the brain—I attended him till he died, on October 12th; I made a post-mortem examination; I found a contusion on the back of his head, and a fracture of the skull leading to the base of the brain through the right ear; also a large clot of blood on the surface of the brain; the effusion of blood corresponded with the fracture—death was caused by pressure on the brain from

the fracture; the injury was likely to have been occasioned by a fall and his head coming in contact with the pavement.

Cross-examined. I noticed no sign of direct violence except the bruise on the back of the skull—the fall was sufficient to cause the injury—I did not before the Magistrate use the expression "abnormal"—I said the skull was somewhat thin and brittle—in saying "It would have taken a crow-bar to have produced similar injuries on some skulls" I mean it would have taken a heavy instrument—the deceased was 11 1/2 to 12 stone in weight.

WILLIAM JAMES TAPLIN . I am a coachman, of 19, The Oval, Hackney Road—on the 10th October I was in the Brownlow public-house about three-quarters of an hour—I saw the prisoner with William Wythe—I do not remember having seen the prisoner before—alluding to William Wythe, the prisoner said he had been done out of £200 in twelve months, and he would make him "sit up," or something to that effect—I went out and left him talking to a man that was reciting, telling him his faults and joking—I heard Beck say to the deceased, "Come and have a drink and settle up"—I went back to the Brownlow and spoke to my brother coachman, and the second time I went out I heard Beck say something which I took to mean that I was to go away, and I went away about eight or ten steps—I heard the accused say, "Hold his mouth," and then he said, "that's all right"—when I left I heard a thud, a sound of falling.

Cross-examined. It had been raining about eight o'clock—they were standing close to an iron grating—the men were holding one another by the collar on both occasions—my impression was that the prisoner was trying to turn Wythe round to have a drink—Wythe was resisting—the prisoner's back was towards me at the time he spoke.

GEORGE SUTTON (Detective J.)I produce plan drawn by myself of Brownlow Street and neigbourhood, also an accurate scale plan of the scene the subject of this charge—opposite No. 15 is an iron grating about four feet square—it was defective, it had. been worn and had been repaired with a piece of zinc, and one bar projected higher than the others.

Cross-examined. It was a round bar—I have heard that the London County Council have condemned the grating—persons might easily slip upon the zinc—it is about fifty yards from the public-house—the plan merely shows the house opposite which he fell.

ARTHUR DYER . I live at 9, Brunswick Grove, Hollo way—I am a brass finisher—about 11.10 on the 10th inst., I was coining down Brownlow Street, with a young woman—I saw the prisoner and another man who seemed to be in his company—I did not know them—the prisoner seemed to be hustling the deceased about—they were having high words which I could not catch—Beck seemed to catch hold of Wythe by the shoulders—all of a sudden he hit him on the side of the head or face, and said, "Take that, you old b" in an angry tone—I was then within eight or nine yards of them—the blow was quick—the deceased fell flat on the pavement, with his face towards the Brownlow, downwards—it was a terrific blow—I heard a thud—the deceased appeared unconscious when he was picked up—before that the prisoner said to the man who appeared to be in his company, "You turn your head," and the other man went away—I saw no more of him—the deceased was not fighting; merely trying to get

away from the prisoner—to a man coming from the other side of the road the prisoner said, "He has hit me in the 6——mouth," at the same time putting his hand to his mouth—a woman, I have since heard was Mrs. Flowers, came out from a house two or three houses lower down, and said, "I know who it is; it is Mr. Wythe"—she knocked at "Mr. Wythe's door—the prisoner said, "Now I have knocked him down I will pick him up," and with the assistance of this other man he carried him to his house.

Cross-examined. Before the Coroner I gave my address as 23, Cromer Street—before the Magistrate as 9, Brunswick Road, Holloway—I never lived at 23, Cromer Street—I never went there—my real name is Arthur Dyer—I have gone by the name of Brown—my real name is Brown—when I gave my evidence before the Magistrate I was living at 9, Brunswick Road, 'Windsor Road, Holloway—and before that—I said, "I have changed my address"—I changed it in my own mind, because I gave a false address at first—I was on my oath when I gave my name and address—I gave the wrong name and address because I did not want to be brought into the case; I did not intend to turn up—when I did turn up I stuck to the name I had given—I called at the deceased's house the next night after the occurrence—I said I would like to serve the prisoner the same—I used a stronger expression—I said I would like to serve the b——the same—I was examined by the Coroner—I was cross-examined—I mentioned Beck's expression, "Take that," etc., before the Coroner—I will not swear I did—I do not know young Wythe, the deceased's son—I talked about the matter coming to the Courts—I have not seen him since—I have seen him every day since waiting here—I live a good distance from where he lives—Taplin was as close to the prisoner as I was—he was facing him—I was facing the prisoner—the prisoner struck the deceased with the left hand—I will not swear that—by the position they were standing I should say so—although they were holding each other by the shoulder—I did not hear the prisoner say to the deceased, "Come along, old fellow; have a drink and settle up"—what I said before the magistrate is true: "It was a dark night; he did not twist the deceased round, the deceased twisted round as he fell"—it was a swinging blow; I do not think the prisoner intended to hurt the man at all—what I mean is, I did not take much notice of the thing itself, because it had nothing at all to do with me.

Re-examined. I gave a false name and address because I did not want to lose my work—you do not get paid too much for expenses for coming here, and I did not intend to turn up—I did not want to be mixed up in the matter—I am a brass-finisher—I have accurately described what I saw.

ELIZA FLOWERS . I am the wife of Christopher George Flowers, of 15, Brownlow Street—on the night of this occurrence I was in my parlour—I heard people quarreling outside my window—I went to the street-door to see what was the matter—on opening the door I saw the man fall—I pushed the door to and opened it again—I recognised the man that fell as Mr. Wythe—he was about two feet from my doorstep—he was facing me exactly opposite my door—I saw Mr. Beck at the side of him—I heard the prisoner repeat, "Now I have knocked him down I will pick him up"—I ran for Mrs. Wythe.

Cross-examined. I said before the Magistrate, "I heard voices louder than usual"—I never knew Wythe was deaf—I saw no blows struck—the prisoner had his glasses on at the time.

WILLAM HENRY WYTHE . I am a builder, of 17, Brownlow Street—I am the deceased's son—there was a dispute between the deceased and the prisoner about some plumbing work the prisoner had done about June 1894—I have words between them—the deceased refused to pay the prisoner for some work, he owed him some money—a correspondence took place—on the evening of 10th, I was indoors when my father was brought in—he was insensible—we accused the prisoner of doing it—my mother said, "You have done this"—he said, "No, I did not, I only pulled him about and asked him to have a drink"—mother said, "You know you were not friends"—the prisoner said, "I did it, and he never touched me; send for a doctor."

Cross-examined. My mother, Dr. Cunningham, and my sister were present when the prisoner said, "I hit him"—I did not notice whether the prisoner seemed sorry—the Coroner's verdict was, "Death by misad venture"—I did not say what the prisoner said before the Coroner—I did before the Magistrate—I was stopped, I did not get so far as that—the Coroner stopped me—I had a solicitor—he asked no questions—I told my solicitor what I have said here—I said my father's lips were very much swollen—as if he had received a severe blow on the mouth—Dr. Cunningham said his lips were puffed up beyond their natural size.

FREDERICK WYTHES . I am a house decorator, of 9, Elizabeth Place, Pearson Street—I am the deceased's brother—about seven or eight weeks previous to this occurrence I saw the prisoner in Middleton Road—he asked me whether I was one of the Wythes—I said, "Yes"—we walked as far as the Fox—he asked me to have a drink, and we went in and got talking about my brother—I said, "I have not been friendly with my brother these two years"—he said, "I should like to give him a hiding"—I had not seen him before that to my knowledge.

Cross-examined. I went into the Coroner's Court when the case was nearly over—I heard the Jury return a verdict of "Death by misadventure"—I did not then say to the prisoner, "You won't have it all your own way at the other place"—coming out of the Magistrate's Court I made that remark—I did not intend to make it hot for him there—I did not approve of the verdict; and the zinc on the grating being mentioned—it was lead, which is more pliable to our feet than zinc.

FREDERICK BROWN (J 2). On 10th October, about 11.30 p.m., I was called to 15, Brownlow Street—I found the deceased sitting in an armchair, and Beck and the deceased's relatives in the same room—Dr Cunningham was attending him—the prisoner said, "I did it, and I am extremely sorry for it. If there is anything I can do I will willingly do it I will tell you how it happened. I saw Wythe in Brownlow Street, and I said to him,' I have some work for you, will you come and have a drink"? He declined. I said to him again, 'Come and have a drink.' At the same time I took hold of him by the shoulders, and twisted him around. He slipped up, and fell headlong on the pavement. I called the man who was standing near. I said to him, 'I have knocked the old man down, let us take him inside,' and we brought him home. It was a pure accident"—I took him into

custody—he was charged—I did not ask him to make any statement—he was sorrowfully affected—he was quite sober—he is a very respectable man—at the police-station, when the prisoner was in the room, Dyer said "To the best of my belief, I saw the prisoner strike him with his hand," he could not tell which one, "on the side of the face"—I do not recollect hardly what he did say; I do not take down what a witness says—at the house, Dyer said, in the passage, he would like to serve the prisoner like it—the prisoner was present.

Cross-examined. The deceased's son was present—the prisoner was almost crying—I have made inquiries about the prisoner—he bears the character of a thoroughly respectable, peaceable, quiet, and sober man—I know he sent the doctor to attend the deceased—he was not in tears in my presence.

The prisoner received an excellent character.

NOT GUILTY .