1866 – Aggravated Assault on a Young Woman

February 1866

1866, February 19, Sheffield independent

Aggravated Assault on a Young Woman

On Saturday last, at the West Riding Police Court, before Mr Aldham, Sir Isaac Morley, and the Hon W.G.Eden, Joseph Morton, ex-policeman and Joseph Lewis, the former of whom did not appear, were charged with an assault upon Harriet Front, at Conisbrough on Sunday night last.

The complainant, who is 19 years of age, was returning from the Conisbrough Station, having been to Doncaster, and according to the evidence of a young man named Elliot, who was with the defendant, at the time of the assault, they saw the young woman, and having walked close to her for some distance, Morton made a grossly indecent proposition to them respecting the young woman, to which Elliott said he would not agree.

Morton at once proceeded to do what he proposed, and attempted to commit a rape on Front, Lewis been within a few yards of him at the time, and Elliott, who was further off declining to interfere.

The poor girl struggled with Morton for 10 min, who, finding that he could not accomplish his vile purpose, desisted, and Lewis (according to her statement) then attacked, and was so engaged when her cries and the noise of the scuffle attracted the attention of the inmates of an adjoining house, who came out and saw two men running away in contrary direction, and the complainant in the half fainting state, and her clothing much damaged.

Mr Aldham told the witness Elliott that his conduct had been extremely disgraceful. He knew that the defendant Morton proposed that they should each criminally assault the young woman, and when he saw and heard her struggling with Morton he did not so much as raise a finger for her protection. He had behaved very disgracefully indeed.

Mr Woodhead, who appeared for the complainant, called several witnesses; and Mr C.E.Palmer, for the defence of Lewis, submitted that the girlĀ“s statement, being uncorroborated, so far as his client was concerned, could not be received.

Mr Aldham said the bench had decided to deal with the case under the Act for the Protection of Women. The assault was a very aggravated one, for which Morton would be committed to prison for three months, and Lewis must pay a fine of 40 shillings and expenses.

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