Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 8.0, 17 October 2021), July 1901, trial of ERNEST WALTER WICKHAM (29) (t19010722-579).

ERNEST WALTER WICKHAM, Killing > murder, 22nd July 1901.

579. ERNEST WALTER WICKHAM (29) was indicted for, and charged on the Coroner's Inquisition with, the wilful murder of Amy Eugenie Russell.

MR. CHARLES MATHEWS and MR. BODKIN Prosecuted, and MR. CLARKE HALL Defended.

JOHN SUMMERFIELD (76 W) produced and proved a plan of Goldburg Road, Jelf Road, Atlantic Read, and Ferndale Road, Brixton.

ADELE RUSSELL . I live at Brand, Loughborough—I had a daughter named Amy Eugenie Russell—she was single, and at the time of her death was about 35 years old—she lived in lodgings at 33, Railton Road, Brixton, and had a child about 14 years of age—she was in receipt of an allowance of ₤16 a month; she also supported herself by doing some needlework at her lodgings—I last saw her alive on May 30th—I saw her dead body at the mortuary at Loughborough on June 28th.

LUCY GOODALL . I live at 33, Railton Road, Brixton—I let lodgings there to the deceased—she had lodged with me about seven months—I have seen the prisoner there about three times, but more frequently outside the house after we forbade him to come—he came in drunk once, and the next day when he came I and my husband told him he must not come again—I know the deceased has gone out to meet him—I have not seen them meet.

REUBEN GODFREY . I live at the Raglan beerhouse, Cornwall Road, Brixton—I have known the prisoner four or five months as a customer—

I generally saw him at my house about midnight—a stout young woman was always with him—I do not know her by name—they were in my house about 12.10 p.m. on June 26th, and stayed till closing time, 12.30—they had a glass of mild and bitter each—they were quarrelling, and the woman was crying—I asked her what she was crying for—the prisoner said, "She is such a sensitive woman"—she said that life was not worth living—I said to her, "Well, you will be a long time dead"—the prisoner said, "If life is not worth living you will die to-night"—he produced something from his pocket, I could not see what, and said, "This will do it; you die to-night"—I could not see what was done with what he took out of his pocket—they left together; I had to hurry them out—I saw no more of them.

Cross-examined. On this night they were the same as other nights, except that he threatened to kill her—I am sure he said to me, "She is a sensitive woman"—I did not say before the Magistrate, "She was crying; he said to her, 'You are so sensitive'"—that must be misconstrued—he did not say, "If life is not worth living you might as well die to-night"—I did not say before the Magistrate, "This will do it," when he took something from his pocket; it did not occur to me, and I was not asked the question.

WILLIAM GOODE (Police Sergeant, 55 M). I was on duty on the night of June 26th at Brixton Hill—I have been on duty there for the past 12 months—I have frequently seen the prisoner there, generally between twelve and three at night—sometimes he was alone and sometimes with the deceased—I knew her well—she was short and very stout—the prisoner is a clerk—on June 27th, about 1.15 a.m., I saw him in Josephine Avenue, Brixton Hill, with the deceased—they appeared to be quarrelling—they were talking in a very loud tone—I advised them to go home—the prisoner said, "All right"—deceased said, "Come on, Percy"—they went towards Dalberg Road—between 4 and 5 a.m. the same morning I was at the Police-station at Brixton—I saw the prisoner there in custody—the same morning I went to the Loughborough mortuary, and saw the body of the same woman whom I had seen with the prisoner.

Cross-examined. I did not see the prisoner and the deceased day after day, but frequently.

HERBERT REUBEN EVERY . I live at 49, Alma Road, Brixton—on the early morning of June 27th I got out of a tramcar at Brixton Station, and walked down Alma Road—I was smoking, and to finish my smoking, I walked along Jelf Road, across Rattray Road, and in the direction of Dalberg Road—when I was near the end of Jelf Road, where it goes into Dalberg Road, I saw a man and woman on the right-hand side of the road as I was proceeding up; they were walking together very slowly—I cannot describe the man; he seemed to be rather tall, in dark clothes; she was shorter than he was, and rather stout—they were going towards Rattray Road, in the opposite direction to myself, but on the opposite side of the road—I walked on, and went up Dalberg Road; I got into Barnwell Road, and turned to the right, then to the right again, up Water Lane—I turned into Effra Road, Brixton, as far as Morval Road; I turned again to my right, and got into Rattray Road again—at the corner of Rattray Road I heard some terrible screams from the direction of Jelf

Road—when I got to Jelf Road I did not see anything except a dark stream on the pavement—I ran into Dalberg Road, and saw a woman standing on the pavement near the kerb, slightly swaying—I went up to her and asked her what was the matter—she said, "Sir, he has cut my throat"—I saw dark stains on her dress and coat—she half turned, and fell full length in the road—I bent over her, to ask who had done it; she did not answer—I went back to the corner of Jelf Road, and saw a man in his shirtsleeves—he went for a doctor—I went and knocked at the first house for help, and then, when I went out at the gate, I saw Mr. Edwards at his window—he came out with a towel or something of that description—we went to the woman and lifted her up between us, and Mr. Edwards wrapped the towel round her throat—I left him with her, and went to the police-station—I returned with an ambulance, and found a doctor attending to her—as I first ran round the corner to the woman I looked round to see if I could see anybody, but I could not.

WILLIAM EDWARDS . I am a civil engineer, of 60, Dalberg Road, Brixton—on the early morning of June 27th I was in bed—I was awakened about 1.45 or 1.50 a.m. by someone calling "Help!" several times—I went to the window, which opens on to Dalberg Road—I saw a woman turn the corner from Jelf Road and come down Dalberg Road—after they got about 10 yards down, a tall man came after her—he went up to her and caught hold of her left arm and said, "What are you shouting for? hold your tongue"—he then put his left hand up to her throat and said, "What is this, blood?"—he turned round and walked in the opposite direction, and she shouted out, "My throat is cut"—she was then walking in the direction of Brixton Road, down Dalberg Road—she walked about 10 yards, and then fell right on her face on the pavement, and her feet in the gutter—I slipped on some clothes, and, taking a towel, went to where she was lying—I unbuttoned her dress, and found her throat was cut—I bound the towel round her neck, and remained with her till the police came, and I despatched my wife for Dr. Dunster—the woman's throat still continued to bleed profusely—I cannot identify the tall man; I am too near-sighted, and it was too dark to see his features.

Cross-examined. My house is 10 or 12 yards from the corner of Jelf Road—my window was wide open—it was about three minutes from the time I first heard cries of "Help!" till the woman came round the corner—she seemed to walk all right before the man went up to her, and after he walked away she continued to walk in the same direction for about 10 yards—just before she fell she wavered.

ROBERT MOYE (394 W). I was on duty in Mervan Road on the early morning of June 27th—I heard shouts of "Police!" coming from Dalberg Road—I went there, and found a woman lying on the ground near No. 60—William Edwards was there—the woman was dead when I first saw her—Dr. Dunster and another doctor came, and the body was taken to the mortuary—I noticed that her skirt pocket was turned inside out—there was nothing lying on the ground near her—I noticed some tracks of blood starting from Jelf Road about half way between Rattray Road and Dalberg Road—I followed the track; it went along Rattray Road, along Probert Road and Alma Road into Kerrick Road,

and then into Atlantic Road, down to the corner of Electric Avenue—in consequence of something that was said to me I ceased to follow the track, and went at once to the police-station.

ROBERT DUNSTER . I am surgeon and physician, of 90, Kerrick Road, Brixton—about 2 a.m. on June 27th I was called by the police to Dalberg Road, where I saw the dead body of a woman lying in the gutter beside the kerb; Dr. Niall was there before me—she had a severe wound on the right side of her throat; by the time I arrived she was dead—her clothes were blood-stained—under my direction, the body was moved to the mortuary, where I made a complete examination of it—the wound on her throat started on the left side just over the middle line, in a skin-cut, and then passed to the right and ended deeply—it was 4in. or 5in. in length, and cut the deep and superficial vessels of the neck—it would require considerable force to inflict, and, in my opinion, was inflicted by some sharp instrument, such as a razor—below it, and running parallel with it there was a skin cut about 3in. long—in my opinion it was inflicted distinctly from the other, upon some other occasion—on the left fore arm I found another subcutaneous wound about 2in. long—there was a cut on each of the first and second fingers of the left hand—I think they reached to the bone—all these other wounds were such as would be inflicted by a sharp instrument like a razor—I did not make a postmortem examination; that was unnecessary, as I was able to arrive at the cause of death—it was caused by hemorrhage from the cut in the throat.

Cross-examined. The skin cut on the throat was quite superficial—the slightest drawing of a razor past the throat would produce such a cut as that—the wounds on the hands would, no doubt, be caused by a struggle—I did not see a wound on the prisoner's hands—I heard they were cut—it was the pulp on the woman's hand which was cut—it is difficult to say if the second wound in the throat was inflicted in a struggle.

ALEXANDER HAZEMAN . I keep a coffee-stall—I was standing with it at the corner of Atlantic Road and Brixton Road on the early morning of July 27th—the prisoner has been a customer at my stall over two years, and the deceased used to come with him at times—about 1.58 a.m. on July 27th the prisoner came alone to my stall from the direction of Atlantic Road—he asked for some coffee—when he paid for it I said, "Hullo, Percy, what have you been doing?"—both his hands were smothered in blood—he said, "Oh, it is all right, old boy; I know what I have been doing"—he stood at the stall about 15 minutes—he called for a packet of Woodbine cigarettes—I served him with a packet—he took one out and put it into his mouth, but the blood from his fingers saturated the paper, and he threw it under the stall, because he could not light it—another customer took one of the cigarettes from the packet, lit it for him, and gave it to him, and said to him, "What have you been doing? have you been punching the railway arches up?"—he paid, "Oh! I know what I have been doing"—he called far a second cup of coffee—I declined to serve him on account of the state of his hands; he kept putting them on the counter, and covered it with blood—he left the stall and went in the direction of Acre Lane and Mr. Peachy's stall.

Cross-examined. I have known the deceased about 18 months—they have constantly been out at night together—on this night the prisoner's

manner did not strike me as peculiar; he seemed the same as usual—I thought he at times drank a great deal, but I never saw him in a public-house.

Re-examined. On this night he did not strike me as being under the influence of drink.

ERNEST PEACHY . I live at 17, Cornwall Road, Brixton, and have been the attendant for seven weeks at the coffee-stall placed at the corner of Acre Lane, Brixton—the prisoner has been a customer there for that time—on June 25th he was at the stall—he said to another customer, "b——it not a d—shame you can never get a thing done in Brixton?"—the customer said, "What is that?"—he said, "I took this razor to the barber's in Hardwell Road to get it ground," and that as it was not done he brought it away—he showed the customer the razor—he took it from the inside pocket of his coat—I saw it, too—it had a brown bone handle—the customer said, "I would shove it back in your pocket if I was you, old man"—the prisoner put it back—this (Produced) is like it, but it had no blood on it then—I saw the prisoner again between 2.10 and 2.15 a.m. on the 27th—he came to the station from the direction of Effra Road; he asked for a cup of coffee—I served him with it—when he paid for it I noticed blood on his hands—I said, "What is the matter with your hands?—he said, "Oh, I have only been in a little bit of a fight"—I said, "Why, don't you wash it off?"—he said, "It is just as good on as it is off; let it be till the morning, so that they can see what has been done"—blood was then coming from both his hands, but from his left hand mostly—he remained at the stall till about 2.30—whilst he was there I saw the police go by with the ambulance—I said, "I wonder where that is going?"—the prisoner said, "I suppose for some poor drunken man"—it was coming from the direction of the police-station.

WILLIAM PARKER (Inspector, W). About 2.30 a.m. on June 27th I went to Dalberg Road, and was shown the spot where the woman's body was found—I noticed a track of blood, which I followed from there into the Atlantic Road to the corner of Electric Avenue, then to the coffee-stall at the corner of Acre Lane, then to Hazeman's coffee-stall—it went into the Brixton Road, along Ferndale Road as far as the fire station, and no further—I afterwards went to 40, Santley Street—a person going from Hazeman's coffee-stall to Santley Street by the Ferndale Road would pass the fire station—at 40, Santley Street I went with Inspector Allen and Sergeant Hawkins on to the first floor, and in a back room I found the prisoner—he was undressed and in bed with his brother—his hands were covered with blood—I found his clothing in the room; it was bloody—his boots were also covered with blood—in the prisoner's hearing his brother said that the clothing belonged to the prisoner—the prisoner did not say anything to that—I also found this razor in the room, on the top of a chest of drawers; it was wet with blood—as I opened it a spot of blood dropped from it—the prisoner's brother, in the prisoner's presence, said it was his.

BENJAMIN ALLEN (Detective Inspector, W). About 4 a.m. on June 27th I went with the last witness to 40, Santley Street—I saw the prisoner there—I said to him, "Are you Percy Wickham?"—he said, "Yes"—I said, "I am a police officer, and shall arrest you for the murder of a

woman this morning"—he made no reply—I said, "Do you understand?"—he said, "Yes"—I took him to the station, where he was charged with the murder of Eugenie Russell—the charge was read over to him—he said, "Yes, yes"—I said, "Do you understand it?"—he said, "No; you can charge me with what you like, drunk and disorderly, or anything else"—he gave his name as Ernest Walter Wickham, his age as 40, his occupation as a clerk, and his address, 40, Santley Street.

Cross-examined. His manner struck me as strange when I put the questions to him; he was greatly excited—I cannot say if he had been drinking; he was certainly not drunk—I should say that he had been drinking heavily.

Re-examined. I should say, by his manner, that he had been drinking heavily for days.

GEORGE BREBER SCOTT, M.D . I practise at 410, Brixton Road; I am also Divisional Surgeon of Police—about 4.25 a.m. on June 27th I was called to the Brixton Hill police station, where I saw the prisoner—on the right hand, in front of the last joint on his first finger, there was a clean incision, about 1/2 in. in length, quite superficial—crossing obl✗bquely over the pulp of the thumb there was a large incision about 3/4 in. long—on the left hand, under the knuckles of his first and middle fingers, there were quite superficial wounds, in which the skin had been shaved off completely; on the second finger there was a tag of skin left—there was no skin cut inside the hand—the wounds on the left hand must have been caused by a very sharp instrument—the prisoner was very excitable—I did not form any definite opinion as to what was the cause of his condition.

Cross-examined. The wounds on the right hand might have been caused by two persons struggling for a razor—the prisoner's state would be consistent with his drinking heavily for some time—I cannot say if his constitution and will had been weakened by drinking; I saw him for such a short time.

GUILTY .— DEATH .