Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 8.0, 22 April 2021), July 1900, trial of WILLIAM JAMES IRWIN (61) (t19000723-489).

WILLIAM JAMES IRWIN, Killing > murder, 23rd July 1900.

489. WILLIAM JAMES IRWIN (61) was indicted for and charged on the Coroner's Inquisition with the wilful murder of Catherine Irwin.

MESSRS. AVORY, BODKIN, and BIRON Prosecuted, and MESSRS.

GEOGHEGAN and STEWARD Defended.

EDGAR WILLIAM IRWIN . I live at 13, All Saints Road, Westbourne Park, and am the prisoner's son by his first wife, who died in 1887—there were six other children besides myself—my father married the deceased on September 11th, 1888; she was then 35—I think my father is 59 now—there were four children by the second marriage—last June my father told me that the deceased had left him and the baby, who was seven weeks old—he was living at 50, Blenheim Street, Chelsea, with the children of the second marriage—he said he did not know where his wife was—I was assisting my father with money in June; I paid part of the rent—about August, last year, my father went into Chelsea, Infirmary, and from what I have been told he remained there till December—when he came out I heard that he went to work for Mr. Scott, a cooper, in Rotherhithe Street—I have seen him about six or seven times since December, and I have assisted him with money—the last time I saw him was on June 21st, 1900; he asked for a few coppers—I did not give him any—he did not say if he was at work then.

Cross-examined. When I saw him on June 20th he told me that the three other children were on his hands—I was living with him when he married the deceased, and lived with him about two years—they appeared to live happily—I did not know a man named Sexton—in June, 1899, any father told me his wife had run away.

ADA POWELL . I live at 26, Beyal Road, Fulham, with my mother—about April 19th the deceased came to lodge there in the name of Irwin—she stayed there a month—the prisoner called twice—I knew him as Mr. Irwin—he saw his wife—Mr. Sexton came to see her.

Cross-examined. Before the deceased came, Sexton came and engaged the room for her, and paid a week's rent in advance—he said he was an old friend of her husband—when he visited her, mother used to let him go into the sitting-room—when her husband came he would not come in.

Re-examined. Sexton never stayed all night.

JOHN SEXTON . I am gate-keeper at the Royal Hospital at Chelsea—I made the acquaintance of the prisoner and his wife in 1897—they were living at 50, Blenheim Street, Chelsea, and from that time till the deceased left her husband, I visited the house—I was on good terms with them both—two months after she left her husband I heard of it—I had no communication with her till two months after she left—then she wrote me a letter—the prisoner came and asked me time after time where his wife was—I found out that she was working at Whiteley's, where she lived—from there she went to some lodgings at Claybrooke Road, Hammersmith—I visited her there three or four times—I knew she bad a child in April, 1900, at Queen Charlotte's Hospital, after which she went to live at 26, Beyal Road, Fulham—I got the room for her—I visited her there—while she was there I saw the prisoner in Hammersmith, but I did not speak to him—he did not see me—I wrote this letter to the deceased while she was at the Lying-in Hospital—(This stated that was sorry that she had been taken so short, but hoped it would be tlie last time;

that he hoped that she would be satisfied now that she had got a girl; that she had better go back to live with her husband till she was perfectly free, for as long as he lived they (the deceased and Sexton) could not be happy together; that he had no intention of giving her up, and he would always be her; that if she were free he would have made a home for her, and that he wanted to see her before she went to live with her husband again)—I had not had connection with her, I respected her too much—after she went to Beyal Road, she got a situation at Peter Robinson's, and went to live at Great Titchfield Street at a house which is kept for the employees at Peter Robinson's—on June 20th, at 8.30 p.m., I met the prisoner and his wife outside the Middlesex Hospital, spoke to them and shook hands with them—the deceased said to me, "I must leave you now, Jack, to do some shopping"—she left, her husband—I saw her go into the house in Great. Titchfield Street—I waited for her for 20 minutes—she came out, and I was in her company till 11.30 p.m.—her husband left us, and we went to do some shopping, and then we went for a walk till 11.30—at that time we went back to the home—we saw the prisoner standing at the top of Great Titchfield Street—he said to her, "Millie, I want to speak to you for a minute"—they walked away for a few yards—I did not hear what they said—they parted, and I saw them shake hands—they were together two or three minutes—she left her husband—he went away, and I saw her into her house—I did not see any more of the prisoner—I went down the road to overtake him, but could not see him—on the following day I got a telegram from the hospital—the prisoner had never made any objection to my acqualintance with his wife.

Cross-examined. My hours at Chelsea Hospital were from 6 a.m. till 2 p.m.—I knew the prisoner did not come home till 8.30 p.m.—I visited her once or twice—in 1898 I helped them with their rent—I knew they were living apart from April or May, 1899—I only took the room in Beyal Road for the deceased—I think I took it in the name of Mrs. Bailey—I did not know where the prisoner was working; I did not try to find out—I was friendly with him, and am now—I do not know if any other person was visiting the deceased between April, 1899, and April, 1900—there were no immoral relations between us—I do not know whose the baby was—her husband used to visit her—I swear it was not mine—if the deceased had been free from the prisoner I should have married her—she told me she wanted a girl baby—I do not know where her relations are—when she died I took possession of her trinkets—I handed them over to the Coroner's Court—I said that I was a friend.

Re-examined. The deceased wished me to take possession of her trinkets—it was a mistake that she was described as my sister.

EMILY AUGUSTA WRIGHT . I live at 18, Great Titchfield Street, and am an assistant at Peter Robinson's—the deceased was an assistant there, where she was known as Mrs. Bailey—she slept in the same quarters in Great Titchfield Street—she had been there for about six weeks—she left the house every morning about 8 a.m.—I used to sleep in the same room as the prisoner, and we walked to our work together occasionally—on Friday morning, June 22nd, we started together about 8.10—we went in

the direction of Margaret Street—she spoke to me, and the prisoner came up—I had never seen him before—he took hold of her arm, and asked if he could speak to her for a minute—she said she could not stop—I do not think she wanted to speak to him—he said, "I must speak to you for a minute"—she said, "I cannot stay this morning"—she was walking along while this was being said, and the prisoner was moving by her side—I moved aside, and she ran forward two or three yards the prisoner ranafter her, overtook her, and caught hold of her—I cannot say what part he caught hold of—he seemed to be striking her—she turned round the nextsecond, stabbed—he had a knife in his hand—shegave a little scream and I saw blood coming from her right shoulder—the prisoner was holding his right hand up before she was stabbed—she sank down—somebody seized the prisoner, and a constable came up.

Cross-examined. Before the prisoner spoke to the deceased she said to me, "Here is some person whom I do not wish to speak to."

GEORGE ROACH . On June 22nd, about 8 a.m., I was walking along Titchfield Street, and saw the last witness and the deceased pass me, after which I saw the prisoner walking a little way behind them—the two ladies overtook and passed me on my left, and the prisoner on my right—he went up to deceased and said, "Liz" (I think that was the name), "I want to speak to you"—she took no notice; then he took hold of her arm as though to pull her towards him, but she threw him off; he then put his hand into his right hand pocket, pulled it out, and appeared to punch her in the chest—I thought it cowardly, and I hurried up to take her part, and as the prisoner raised his hand again, as though to strike her, I saw a knife in his hand—I seized him by the throat, the knife fell out of his hand, and somebody picked it up and handed it to me; I afterwards gave it to a policeman who came up—as I seized the prisoner I said to him, "You scoundrel to stab a woman like that!"—he said, "Oh, you don't know"—I held him till a constable came and took him.

TOM JOYS (354 D). About 8 a.m. on June 22nd I heard a whistle in the direction of Great Titchfield Street—I went there and found the prisoner being held by Roach, who gave him into custody—he also handed this knife(Produced) to me, and said in the prisoner's hearing, "Here is the knife; I saw him do it"—the prisoner said nothing—Constable Haylett came up, and took the woman to the hospital—I took the prisoner to the station, where he was charged with attempting murder—the charge was read over to him—he made no reply.

HENRY BROWN (Police Inspector). I was at the station when Joys brought the prisoner in—I said to him, "You will be detained here until I go to the hospital to ascertain, if possible, the nature of the injuries of your wife"—I went to the hospital, and at 10.25 a.m. returned to the prisoner, and said to him, "Your wife is in a most dangerous condition"—he replied, "Yes; I expect so; I have nothing more to say at present"—I formally charged him with attempting to murder his wife—he made no reply—the same morning he was brought before a Magistrate, and remanded till June 29th—the same day, in consequence of a communication from the hospital, the Magistrate attended there, and took the deceased's deposition—the prisoner was present, and had an opportunity of cross-examining—when he was charged he was asked for his address—

he said he had no home, and had not been in a bed for about 10 nights—there was only 1d. on him—I found a letter in a box at Great Titchfield Street, which was pointed out to me as the deceased's.

Cross-examined. I also found a leather case containing needles and thread.

HERBERT'GIBBONS GARNSEY . I am assistant at Peter Robinson's—on the morning of June 22nd I was in Great Titchfield Street, shortly after 8 a.m.—I saw what happened to the deceased.

Cross-examined. The prisoner had a stick under his left arm before he struck the blow—I think he put his hand into his front and drew out the knife and struck the woman.

Re-examined. He struck the blow with his right hand.

FRANCIS BLUNDY . I am house surgeon at Middlesex Hospital—I was there at 8.20 a.m. on June 22nd, when the deceased was brought in—I examined her and found her suffering from a clean-cut wound immediately beneath the right collar bone, 2 1/2 in. deep and 1 1/4 in. across—there was no bleeding then; there had been a great deal, and after her admission it began again—an operation was performed to stop the bleeding, but she died at 8.10 the same evening—I made a post-mortem examination—this knife might cause the wound—it punctured the right lung—I was present when the deceased's deposition was taken—she was in a fit state to understand what was said to her.

ALFRED BOXHALL (Inspector C). On June 22nd I served a notice on the prisoner, informing him that the deceased's deposition was going to be taken at the hospital—(Deposition: Read: "I am the wife of William Irwin; I have been living at Great Titchfield Street, at Peter Robinson's, not with my husband; I was going to my work at Peter Robinson's this morning, when my husband came up to me and asked me to speak to him; I told him I had no time; he said 'Take that, then.' He stabbed me; he struck me with a knife. I saw the knife; I ran away and fell down. I remember being taken to the hospital. We have quarrelled about money; I could not keep him; he had asked me for money. I have been living apart from my husband since twelve months last October. Last night my husband said I had driven the last nail into my coffin; I left him then. It was in Titchfield Street I left him. I met him by surprise this morning; I did not expect him. He has often assaulted me before. I have never charged him or summoned him for assaulting me. I never knew that I was going to meet him. He has waylaid me about four times a week. He has never done any work. Cross-examined. My quarrel was not exactly on account of my going out with another man; I have done so; a friend of my husband's, but there was nothing wrong; I have known him about two years and a-half.")

The Prisoner in his defence, on oath, said that Sexton had been visiting his wife while he was away; that his wife left him, and he did not know where she had gone; that the last child was not his; and that he did not remember using any knife or stabbing his wife.

GUILTY.—Strongly recommended to mercy by the JURY .— DEATH.