Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 7.2, 21 September 2017), February 1901, trial of GEORGE HENRY HILL, alias PARKER (22) (t19010225-234).

GEORGE HENRY HILL, Killing > murder, 25th February 1901.

234. GEORGE HENRY HILL, alias PARKER (22), was indicted for , and charged on the Coroner's Inquisition with, the wilful murder of William Pearson.

MR. A. GILL, MR. MUIR , and MR. LEYCESTER Prosecuted, and

MR. P. CLARK Defended.

RHODA KING . I am the wife of Thomas George King, a printer, of 35, Exmoor Road, Southampton—on January 17th I travelled by rail third class from Southampton West to London in a lavatory compartment—the train started about 11.15—the lavatory was nearer to the back of the train than I was—I seated myself at the back of the train at the further end, with my back to the engine—no one else was in the carriage—when I got to Eastleigh the prisoner got in, and sat with his back to the engine, near the door—we were each in a corner seat—we stopped at Winchester, and Mr. Pearson got in, and sat in a corner seat opposite me—he was reading the paper, but not very long—neither of us spoke, up to the time we got to Surbiton—Mr. Pearson had then moved to the other side next to the lavatory door—before we got to Surbiton the prisoner went into the lavatory and shut the door behind him; he was there about two minutes, and came back and sat down again—I saw Surbiton Station us we passed through, and I took my ticket out of my purse and stood up and looked out at the window—I then had my back to the prisoner, and heard two sounds, one directly after the other, and thought it was fog signals—I did not feel anything, but I found my face bleeding—I said, "What have you done?"—he said, "I did it for money; I want some money; have you got any?"—I said that I had a little, and took my purse out and gave him a shilling—he took it and put it in his pocket—I noticed that Mr. Pearson was bleeding from his head, I cannot tell exactly from where—I do not think he was alive then; I heard a gurgling in his throat—the prisoner went to him and took some things out of his pocket—I saw a cigar case and a purse—he offered me a sovereign; I said that it was of no use to me; I would not have it—there was blood on my face; I tried to staunch it with two handkerchiefs, and then the prisoner gave me his, and the blood got on my hand—he said, "Keep your hands down; don't touch me," and I did not—he said he had come from Birmingham, and was going to Liverpool on Saturday night, and then to South Africa—I kept him in conversation some little time—I did not see the revolver, but he said, "It won't do for me to keep this by me; I have a good mind to put it in his hand, and then it will appear as if he had done it himself"; I said, "If I was you I would throw it out of the window"—he was going to throw it out, but

there were some men working on the line; he said, "I can't throw it out; there are some men working there"; I said, "If I were you, I should throw it out"; I saw it then, and he threw it out—he took some bullets out of his pocket, and I said, "I would throw them away too"—I did not see them; they were wrapped up—I said, "If I was you I would put something over his face, for I don't like the look of him," and he put a handkerchief over his face—he said, "As soon as I get to Vauxhall I shall make a run for it; mind you don't say anything about it"—when we got to Vauxhall the prisoner opened the door, and was going to get out; he hesitated a moment on the footboard, and then jumped out and ran away—I called out, "Stop him"—I was taken to the hospital, and was there about eight days—this (Produced) is the purse I saw in his hand.

Cross-examined. He did not speak when he got in, and he sat down on the seat nearest to where he got in—I sat at the other end—he did not go to sleep—I was not watching him, but he had a very bad cough; he coughed all the way, and seemed to be very restless all the time—he made no sign of knowing Mr. Pearson when he got into the carriage at Winchester—Mr. Pearson did not speak from first to last, or I either—the train stopped just before Surbiton, and he went into the lavatory—I do not know whether Mr. Pearson was asleep, but be was perfectly quiet—the prisoner was still sitting in the same place; after passing Surbiton he was sideways—I was nearer to him than Mr. Pearson was; he could have touched me with his hand—not a minute elapsed between the shots; it must have been at the same moment—it was before I turned round—it struck me on my cheek—he had not asked me for money, but I went on my knees, offered him money, and implored him to spare my life—he stood up at one time—he did not go over to Mr. Pearson at once after firing at him—I do not remember what sort of watch chain Mr. Pearson wore—I saw the purse, but did not see the money in it; I only saw what he took out in his hands—I did not see whether he took any money out of the purse and put it in his pocket, or out of his pocket and put it in the purse—I never saw him with a railway ticket at all—I was extremely alarmed—it was at my suggestion that he threw the revolver out of the carriage; he had previously asked me what he had better do with it—I remember passing some buildings with glass roofs at Nine Elms; it was at those that I suggested that he should throw out the revolver—I asked him if he had got a mother, and to spare my life for the sake of my two sons—be said, "I am sorry I hurt you/" and that he had two or three brothers, and had had bad luck for a long time—I asked him where he came from—he said, "Birmingham"—I have not since heard that his father lives there—it was at my suggestion that he put the handkerchief over the deceased's face and a paper behind his arm—the train had not quite stopped when he opened the door—I had never seen him before—so far as I know, he had no reason to assault me in any way—he did nothing between Eastleigh and Surbiton but look out of the window and cough—he had a very bad cough.

Re-examined. He did nothing from first to last to indicate that he knew Mr. Pearson.

ALFRED GIBBONS . I am a ticket collector at Vauxhall Station—on Thursday, January 22nd, I was on duty on the platform—my collector's

box is at the top of the stairs—that is the platform at which passengers from Southampton West arrive—I only saw the prisoner as he passed me—he gave up this return ticket (Produced); both halves are here—he gave it to me doubled up, and I did not notice that it was a whole ticket—I heard a shout of "Stop that man" after he had passed—I saw the porters run and look down and saw the prisoner running down the stairs.

Cross-examined. I was standing with my back to the rails—he passed me as an ordinary passenger at an ordinary pace, as far as I remember—I did not know who the shouts alluded to.

WILLIAM CRAIG . I am a porter at Vauxhall Station, and live at 53, Barrington Square, South Lambeth—I was on duty at No. 2 platform, heard shouts of "Stop him," and saw the prisoner giving his ticket up and rushing downstairs as fast as he could—I followed him, and across the road to the gas works—it was very dark inside—Fuller came up to me, and I saw the prisoner brought out.

ALFRED ATKINS . I am a fire-raker, employed by the South Metropolitan Gas Company—on January 22nd, about 2.30, the prisoner rushed into the gas works, and some people after him—he went into No. 12 archway—I found him in No. 10, standing between a truck and the wall—I caught hold of him; he said, "All right, mate, let me go"; I said, "No," and a policeman took him in custody.

THOMAS FULLER (143 L). On January 17th, in the middle of the day, I was on duty at Vauxhall Cross—I heard a disturbance, entered the premises of the Metropolitan Gas Company, and searched—somebody called out, "Here he is"—I saw the prisoner and arrested him—he said nothing—I took him to Larkhall Lane Station—he went quietly—before he was charged he said, "I wish I had killed the woman, and then I should have got away had I have killed her."

Cross-examined. I made this note at the time—Atkins came up afterwards with a railway porter—the prisoner did not speak, but he was very excited; he did not appear to have been drinking—I do not know that he had been drinking pretty freely two or three days before.

JOHN THORLEY (Detective Sergeant). I searched the prisoner at the station and found on him this purse, containing ₤5 in gold, a licence, four penny stamps, a game licence, and a receipt for rates, both in the name of Pearson—Mr. Pearson's name is on the purse, and his address is on the game licence—he was wearing a metal watch and a silver chain, but they had been taken off when I saw them—I found some cartridges loose in his trousers pocket; they fit the revolver—I found one shilling in his trousers pocket and 6 1/2d. in bronze—Innes afterwards handed me this revolver, with four full cartridges in it.

JAMES INNES . I am a plate-layer on the London and SouthWestern Railway—on January 17th, about 1.15, I was on duty on the line between the locomotive yard and Nine Elms, and found this revolver about 50 yards from the bridge, on the up Windsor line—I gave it to the policeman on duty.

Cross-examined. There are some sheds 40 or 50 yards west of where I picked the revolver up, with glass skylights in the roofs—they are not all glass.

ISAAC COLLINGS (Police Inspector). I was on duty when Fuller brought

the prisoner in—later in the day, about 5.30, I charged him with murder, and later on he asked for writing materials, as he wished to make a full confession of the crime—I gave him some paper, and said that anything he wrote would be used in evidence against him—he wrote down this statement, and signed it in my presence: "To Mr. James Parker. Dear Father,—I am writing to you from a prison, as I am here charged with the wilful murder of a man from Manchester, also wounding a woman, by shooting at them with a revolver. I must have been mad. I do not know what I did it for. I had no cause. I believe I am going mad, etc. Never crave for money; it is that which has been the ruination of my life. I have gone through hundreds of pounds, etc.—Your wretched and broken-hearted son, GEO. H. PARKER."

Cross-examined. I witnessed his signature; that is our practice—he handed me the letter and said, "It will be too late for the country post to-night"; I said, "I believe it will"; he said, "Keep it back."

Re-examined. It was open—he did not ask for an envelope.

STEPHEN ROSE . I am a rent collector, of 38, London Road, Battersea—on January 17th I was at No. 2 platform when the 1.35 p.m. train from Southampton arrived—my attention was directed to third class carriage 259; I went up to it, and found the deceased and a ticket from Eastleigh to Winchester; the fare is 6 1/2d., and the excess to Vauxhall would be 5s. 6 1/2d.—I assisted in taking the deceased to the waitingroom.

Cross-examined. The train started from Southampton West at 11.15 leaving East Leigh about 11.25.

ALBERT COOK (Policeman, W). I assisted in taking the body from the station to Lambeth Mortuary—I there searched the pockets, and found 3s. in silver in the right-hand waistcoat pocket, and 3d. in bronze in the right-hand trousers pocket, but nothing else of any value.

EDWARD RINGWOOD MEARS . I am a barrister, of 2, Elm Court, Temple—the deceased was my brother-in-law; he was a gentleman farmer—this game licence bears his name and address, 1, Church Road.

Cross-examined. So far as I know, he had never seen the prisoner—I know nothing of any quarrel between them—he might have ₤5 or ₤6 in his purse; I should not know; he might have less.

GEORGE ALBERT SIMPSON . I am a registered medical practitioner, of South Lambeth Road—on January 17th I was called to South Lambeth Station, and saw the deceased—he was dead—there was a wound on the left eyelid, and the left eyebrow was singed—I afterwards made a post-mortem examination, and found this bullet (Produced) in the brain—it is similar to these other bullets—death was due to the bullet—it went down wards and backwards—it appeared as if the pistol had been fired very close, and from a position higher than the eye.

Cross-examined. I am a B. A.—I have had very little to do with cases of weak brain or brain disorder, but I have studied it—people in the lower stations of life are generally more subject to diseases of the brain than in the higher, but it depends on circumstances—if a person is of naturally deficient mind, although it might be slight, it would be increased by excessive alcoholism—continual heavy drinking would impair a mind which was predisposed—another cause would be severe

disappointment, or brooding over some trouble, imaginary or not—it is quite possible that a man predisposed to the attacks of an unhinged mind, or weak-minded, might, from alcoholism or disappointment, be led away in a moment to do an act which he is not responsible for.

Re-examined. I mean that a man of naturally weak mind, by habitual drinking, might become insane for the time being; it would lead to delirium tremens; he might be of weak mind, and not be insane—if he was suffering from delirium tremens there would be clear indications of it—I am merely speaking generally; with regard to this particular case I have no knowledge, and whether he had been drinking heavily I do not know.

WILLIAM HENRY BECKLEY . I am a draughtsman, in the employ of the South-Western Railway, and live at 157, Douglas Road, East Leigh—I prepared these plans of carriage No. 269, and this model was made from them.

Cross-examined. The distance from the corner seat at one corner and the corner seat at the other is between 7ft. 6in. and 8ft., the two cross corners; the actual distance is 7ft. 9in.

By the JURY. And then, of course, there is the body of a person on each side—(Measuring the model.)—it is 9ft. 2in. from corner to corner, right into the corner—the breadth of the carriage is 5ft. 11in. from back to front.

ELIZABETH SARAH ROWLAND . I am the wife of James Rowland, a private in the Scottish Rifles, who is now in India—I live at 24, Prince Albert Street, Eastney, near Portsmouth—I know the prisoner as George Henry Hill—he was in Portsmouth in my company from January 12th to 16th—he was not doing anything—we went to two places of entertainment together, and he paid—we went to the theatre—on Wednesday, the 16th, we went together to Southampton, and stayed together that night, and in the morning we went to the station together—he paid the expenses of the trip—on the way to the station he left me, and I did not see where he went—when he came back we went to the station together—he said that he had sufficient money, and he took me a ticket for Portsmouth; I do not know whether he took a ticket for himself—we went together as far as Eastleigh, where I changed into a Portsmouth train, and we separated—that was the last I saw of him till he was in custody—I know his writing—after he was in custody, on the 19th I got this letter from him—(Read: "Holloway Prison. To Miss L. Rowland. Dearest Lizzie,—It makes my heart bleed, as I am writing these few lines, to think I shall never see you again, and that you will be alone and miserable now, and through me. I always loved you dearly, and meant well by you, and I know that what I am going to do wil✗ break your heart. I am truly sorry and penitent for having, in an evil moment, allowed myself to be carried away into committing the offence for which I now stand convicted, that of murder. No doubt you will remember, dear Lizzie, the morning we left Southampton, when I left you in the private bar of an hotel, I went and purchased a revolver, so that when I came down to Portsmouth on the Saturday I could end both our lives if I had not been successful in obtaining money from my father. I know you were not happy at home, nor I either, for I have been very unhappy of late, mostly on account of the false charges brought

against me at barracks. God knows I was as innocent as the dead. I shall get hung now, and may God help and protect you through your trouble. I should like for you to write a letter to me and tell me all your trouble, etc. It is breaking my heart to think that you are all alone now, and all through my mad act. I believe I was mad; I know I was drunk. God help me! My days are numbered, but I will bear it unflinchingly—Your wretched and broken-hearted sweetheart, GEO. H. HILL.,—I afterwards received these two other letters from him—(He first requested the witness to send him some clean clothes; the second was: "H.M. Prison, Holloway. To Miss L. Rowland. Just a few lines in answer to your kind and welcome letter, etc. I had no intention of hurting anyone after I left you at Eastleigh Station. I have received the things safe that you sent me, etc. I wish we could both have died together, and we should have been out of all trouble then, etc.—GEO. H. PARKER, H.M. Prison, Holloway.")—when we parted he told me he was going to London to get some things he had left there.

Cross-examined. He told me that he was going to Birmingham to see his father, and that he was out of work, and should get some when he got to his father's—I had known him since August—I do not wear a wedding ring—I never told him that I was married—Eastney is where I live; that is near Southsea—he treated me with kindness and affection—he is of a very affectionate disposition—on January 12th he came to visit me at my mother's house at Eastney, and took me out and spent money on me—a good part of that money went in drink—when he was going to London on January 16th he did not ask me to accompany him part of the way—I said before the Coroner, "He was going to London; he wished me to come with him part of the way"; that was part of the way to the station—I was the worse for drink, and so was he; we were drinking heavily all day—next morning, when we had been to Southampton, and he was going away, we went to a public-house to get more drink—we were some time in the public-house—I do not know where he took the ticket to, but he said he had enough money to take him home—I had not at any time expressed a desire to die—I never complained of being unhappy at home—occasionally, when he was courting me, he gave way to drink, but I do not think he was suffering from the effects of heavy drinking on this morning when he saw me off; he had completely recovered by that time—he has not spoken to me of any grudge he had against Mr. Pearson, nor has he mentioned his name—he is a man of somewhat quick temper; he was very fond of me indeed.

Re-examined. He had one glass of stout that morning; that was all—he said that he had enough money to take him home, but not enough to take me with him—I never told him that I was unhappy at home, but I had a reason for leaving home—it is not a fact that I was unhappy at home.

CHARLES BIRD (Policeman, 320). I produce some documents handed to me by the prisoner at the Police-court on January 25th—one is a letter to Mrs. Pearson—(Read: "January 25th. Dear Madam,—I am writing these few lines to ask your forgiveness for the crime which I have done. I read an account of your husband's funeral in the paper; I am really and truly

sorry for the crime which I have done, and I feel for you and your late husband's brothers. I am truly sorry and repentant for having in an evil moment allowed myself to be carried away into committing the offence for winch I now stand convicted. Perhaps you have seen in the paper that I had no intention whatever as to shooting your husband. No, none whatever. I purchased the revolver at Southampton with the intention of shooting the girl whom I have been going out with and myself; she was unhappy at home, and so was I. I shot your husband on the spur of the moment. I never spoke to him in my life, and it is utterly false what the woman Mrs. King says; I never asked your husband for money, nor she either. I am really tired of my life. If you only knew what I have gone through! But there, I am telling you of my trouble, and you have got enough of your own. God forgive me! There is nothing for me to do now but to make my peace with Him. I know it seems rather hard for a young chap like me, in good health and strength, only 23 years, to die like this; but never mind; I deserve it; God forgive me for saying so. I would now only ask you to write me a few lines, and say that you forgive me your husband's death.—I remain, the wretched murderer of your husband, GEO. H. PARKER").

ARTHUR DAVY . I am the divisional surgeon of police, and live at 344, Clapham Road—I assisted Dr. Simpson in making the post-mortem—on January 17th, between 9.30 and 10, I saw the prisoner in a cell at the Police-station—he was lying down when I went in with the Chief Inspector about some papers which were supposed to have been in the deceased's pocket—I thought he was remarkably cool under the circumstances; I saw no indication of drink.

Cross-examined. He was remarkably cool, considering the charge which was hanging over his head—I do not think the muzzle of the pistol was over 9in. from the deceased's face.

JAMES FULLER (Re-examined). When the prisoner was charged Fuller, No. 376, was present—that is another Fuller—he made a note also, but I have not seen it—the prisoner said what I have told you—he said that he had a grudge against him for what he had done when he was in the Army, and when he had left—what I have told you is what I put down at the time.

HENRY FULLER (376 L). I was in Larkhall Lane Station on February 27th, when the prisoner was there, and the last witness—I heard what the prisoner said, and made a note of it—he said, "I did it. This is an old grudge, as he injured me when I was in the Army, and also since I have been out"—he also said, "The woman pushed her head into it, and the trigger went off; she then went on her knees and begged for mercy, offering me a shilling; she promised she would not split; she also said that I jumped out of the train before it stopped"—James Fuller was not there all the time.

Cross-examined. It was said in the order in which I took it down—Fuller and I were not together the whole time—there were four of us there, and I was not taking particular notice of what he said to the others.

CHARLES EASMAN (41 W.R.). I was at Larkhall Lane Station when the prisoner was in custody, and took this note of what I heard him say (Reading:"I shot him to get my own back. The woman pushed her face

against the trigger, and afterwards it went off, grazing her cheek. I wish I had killed her, and then I should have got away; I wish I had killed the old cow. I had known him for a long time; he injured me both in and out of the Army."

GUILTY .— DEATH.