Mexborough and Swinton Times April 20, 1907
A Miserable Denaby Squabble.
Woman’s Alleged Rough Handling
Hearing At Doncaster
Prisoners Committed To The Assizes
On April 8, a Denaby party were eating, drinking, and making merriment. They were celebrating a wedding in no half-hearted fashion. As a result, the majority of them got riotously drunk and committed various deeds of violence one upon the other. If the story of Annie Till is to be believed, those violences were well-nigh murderous in her particular case.
Doncaster bench, on Wednesday, occupied some four hours in getting at the bottom of the miserable and sordid tangle. The bench consisted of Mr W. J. Huntriss, Mr J. W Clarkson, and Mr G. Walker Jackson, and a remarkable story of alleged brutality and savagery was told. A glass hand named John Johnson was brought up on remand charged with unlawfully wounding Annie Till, wife of William Till, a filler, of Denaby, on April 8, Mr James Baddiley appeared for the prisoner.
The Woman’s Story.
The prosecutrix presented a pitiable picture indeed. Her eyes were completely disfigured by two large contusions, while it was evident that she was still suffering from other injuries, her forehead being well bandaged, she was accommodated with a seat while giving her evidence. She said that on the date in question she went to the house of John Compton, in Cliff view, about 12.15, there having been a wedding at 8 o’clock in the morning, and she was one of the guests. The house was full, and they were all drunk when she and her husband got to the house. Prisoner was there, he being a lodger at the house. During the afternoon there was a disturbance, a man named Pearson knocking her husband off the bench, after which he left, been followed by a crowd, and she also went out, carrying a child, eight months old in her arms. When outside, prisoner struck her in the face with his fist, knocking her and the baby to the ground, whilst in this position prisoner kicked her in the stomach and once on the left side. A man named Thomas Coates came along and took her home, where she saw her husband.
Then at about 4-30, her husband left the house, and she was left alone with her little boy, aged 10, and her baby. When her husband had been away 10 minutes, and the baby was on her knee, the little boy dozing in the armchair. A man named Pearson and prisoner entered the house by the front door. Pearson said to the prisoner,” There’s only the one in,” whereupon Johnson said,” have I to finish her?” Pearson came up and kicked her on the ribs, and then he ran out. Johnson picked up a piece of iron from out of the fireplace, and struck her on the back of the head with it. But he did not say anything, the blow knocked her out of the chair, onto the floor, and blood oozed from the wound on her head. She attempted to get up, and he felled her again by a blow with the iron in the crown of her head, and she became smothered with blood. After he struck are the second time he ran out of the house. She struggled up from the floor, and went to the front door and screamed. Prisoner, who was against the door struck her under the chin, knocking her again to the floor, falling to the floor and while there kicked her under the nose. Blood was flowing profusely, and she became unconscious.
When she returned to consciousness she was in her home in a chair against the table and it was evening. Neighbours were attending her, her son Thomas had been awakened when she began crying and took the child from her after the prisoner had kicked her. Johnson was certainly fresh when he did this, but witness said that she was not. Certainly she had had three glasses of beer and a glass of rum, and was not the worse for drink. She had not told anyone that her husband had inflicted the injuries as for her black eyes, Johnson had caused those, she denied that Johnson stood outside the house prior to the sold and shouted a challenge to her husband to fight him. Immediately after she returned to consciousness she had exclaimed “Johnson has done it.” her husband was not then present, and Mrs Webster (a neighbour) did not accuse him of assault. Neither had her boy accused his father, but ran out crying “Johnson’s done it.”
What the Boy Saw and Heard
The evidence of the boy, Thomas Till (10), bore out, in effect, the statement of his mother. He awoke in time to see prisoner strike his mother with a poker, exclaiming, as he did so, “I’ll knock your rotten brains out.” His mother screamed, but sat still. Then Johnson struck her in the face, and kicked her on to the floor. Witness then ran out of the whole house with the baby, but did not tell anyone that the father had done this.
A Challenge Declined.
The husband, WM Till, also gave an account of what happened at the wedding party, and subsequently, at about 445 on the afternoon in question he was at the end of Barnburgh Street, where he saw the prisoner, who, taking off his jacket, said, “Are we to have fight now?” Witness replied “No I’ve had quite plenty.” Returning home about half an hour later, by the back way, he saw his wife just conscious, and able to talk a little. He did not, however, hear her say to Mrs Webster that he had inflicted the wounds upon, nor did he hear some say so.
Dr. F. G. Twigg said the woman had been under his care from April 8 until previous day. When he first saw her face was very much swollen, and there was a cut underneath the nose, which might have been caused by a blow from a man’s fist, or a kick from a man’s boot, there were two wounds at the back of the head. One about 2 ½ inch long, and the other about 1 ½ inch long, the latter of which was the deeper, and the more dangerous wound of the two. There were bruises on various parts of the body. She was suffering from shock and loss of blood. She had never been in actual danger, nor was she quite out of danger.
Thomas Coates, John Manley, and Ann Brindley, neighbours, also gave evidence.
Police Constable William O Ransom, stationed at Denaby Main, said that about 1 o’clock on the ninth he went to the lodgings of prisoner, and said, “Now Johnson,” to which Johnson replied, “I know what you want, it’s about that woman, it’s not me, I was in our house when it was done, I never put my hands on either of them.” On the way to the police station prisoner said “I went down to their house because there had been a bit of bother up there. Till and the misses were in, but I never touched them.” When charged he said, “if you can prove me guilty I hope I shall have to suffer for it, but I am innocent.”
Case for the defence
WM Webster, 32, Bamber Street, said he lived opposite to the house of Till, on the day of the alleged assault he came home about 445, and saw the prisoner coming along the pavement. Prisoner saw Till and thereupon challenged him to a fight. Till accordingly came out. “All the lot of them,” said witness, “ were drunk, and Mrs. Till came out and struck the prisoner, who a little after went away, Mrs Till returning to the home.
20 minutes later witness heard a noise as of screaming and Mrs Till’s son rushed out saying his father was striking his mother with a poker. There was a good many people in the street.
Cross examined by the Superintendent witness iterated that the injuries had been caused by the poker, which, according to the son, at the time of the affair, was being used upon her by her husband. He did not know that she was unconscious for 10 minutes, he also swore that Johnson never went into the house of Till.
“Ahr Bill’s Has Done It”
Susanna Webster, mother of the last witness, was not one of the wedding guest. On the particular afternoon she was standing outside her door at about 5.30 when the little boy Till came along carrying in his arms a little boy, and crying “My father’s hit my mother on ‘t top o’ ‘t head with a poker.” Clutching as he did so the dress of witness in the attitude of fear. Witness had proceeded to the house and there saw Mrs Till line in a corner, and crying. “Ahr Bill’s done it, Ahr Bill’s done it, Susanna, Ahr Bill’s done it.”
A neighbour named Mrs Warren came in and administered to the struck woman some cold water. Another neighbour, very un-feelingly observed that it served her right. Witness had then seen Till, who had threatened to give his wife some more before the night was out.
The cross examination by the superintendent centred round the veracity of the small boy Till. Questioned on the subject of the alleged statement by Mrs Till the superintendent pointed out to witness that she had made the statements on the subject of those present.
Witness: She kept saying it all the time, the woman was beustly drunk in the corner.
The Superintendent: You said Mrs Brindley remarked that it serves her right? – Yes, because she was drunk.
Were you sober? – Yes, I had only a drink for my supper.
Margaret Moran, another neighbour, gave an account on of the challenge of Johnson to Till. That the latter stating that he could not fight, owing to an injury to his wrist. Also, she spoke of the outer ring which took place about half an hour later she had run into the house of Till, and Mrs Till was suffering from injuries pointed to her husband at the end of the table, and said to witness, “he’s hit me with a poker, Mrs: give me a drink of water.”
In the course of cross-examination, witness denied that Mrs Till was picked up out of the gutter, unconscious and bleeding, by two women. She firmly held to the statement with reference to the wise accusation of the husband. Further, she expressed regret that she had gone into the house. She knew it would be a law job.
Prisoner made no statement, and he was committed to take his trial at the assizes ball been allowed into a personal recognisance of £20, and sureties of £10 each.