Alleged Brutal Wife Assault at Conisborough

October 1892

Mexborough & Swinton Times – Friday 21 October 1892

Alleged Brutal Wife Assault at Conisborough

James Donnell, pit sinker, formerly of Conisborough, was in custody, on a charge of inflicting bodily injury and his wife, Lydia Donnell, at Conisborough, on 24 February 1891.

Mr Baddeley appeared for the prisoner.

Lydia Daniel, wife of the defence, stated that he last Christmas sale went to reside in Kilner’s new buildings. On Monday, February 23, 1891, defendant went out about 4 o’clock, and as he did not return she went in search of him at about 1130, but was unsuccessful in finding him. He returned 1030 in a very drunken state. When he came in she was in the act of poking the fire. She asked him where he had been and raised the poker to strike him with it but he took it out of her hand and hit her with it on the top lip. She fell unconscious and remembers nothing more. The blow knocked two teeth out. At the time when defendant struck her she was standing. She was unable to say and she got upstairs. The marks of burns on her face were made at the time. Her daughter was in bed that night. She had no marks of burns on any other parts of her body. About 3 o’clock in the morning her husband again came to her. Later on he spoke to her and asked her what he had been doing, and wanted to bathe her face, but she would not let him do so.

She next saw him when she was a patient in the hospital at Mexborough. Some of her neighbours came into her house and attended to her when he assaulted her. Defendant said third daughter for the doctor, and Doctor Twigg attended her the same afternoon and ordered the removal to the hospital. She remained there for five or six weeks.

By Mr Baddeley: She had been married about 15 years and had had three children, the youngest been four months old. On leaving the hospital she went to her brother’s house and her husband came and lived with her, and subsequently took her to Ashton-under-Lyne. He had been very kind to her since the assault. He was kind to her before; it was drink that caused him to assault her. They were on a visit to their relations at Chesterfield when he was apprehended. When he came home on the night of the assault she was vexed with him, and found fault with him for stopping out late. There was a paraffin lamp on the table when he came in. When he struck with the poker and she fell against the table and upset the lamp. Next day she found that her apron and dress the burns. Her husband came to her and told her he was going to Wakefield where his mother lived. Defendant’s brother came to see her the day defendant went away, and said his brother had sent him over. She heard her husband tell her daughter to fetch the doctor. She did not wish to press the case because there were no better than anywhere. They came to Chesterfield on pleasure and had some drink, and she got excited and a quarrel. At the present time they lived at Blaen-gynfui, Wales. She was drunk when she commenced the bother at Chesterfield, and in her rage went for a police officer.

Cross-examined by Superintendent Blake submitted that he had several times smacked her face before the assault took place.

Mary Mitchell, wife of Riley Mitchell, bother Street, Conisborough, said she remembered living next door to the present Darnell in February of last year. She remembered the night of the assault. She was in bed when the assault occurred and their attention was drawn to the matter by the cries of the children. She got up and went outside and listen at the door and heard Mrs Donnell, cry “Oh dear Jim, do give over.” She did here prisoner speak, nor had she any idea what he was doing. All was quiet for a while, but subsequently the children began to cry again. She never saw prisoner after that night. About 4 o’clock on the invitation, she went in to see Mrs Donnell, she found in bed. In their advice received the Nelson for a doctor and witness was present when the doctor arrived.

By Mr Baddiley: She never heard anyone go in the house after the children cried. She did not hear Mrs Donnell come home, but she heard the door open and close.

Doctor Twigg, Mexborough, deposed that in February 1881, he was practising at Conisborough, and subsequently he succeeded Doctor Sykes at Mexborough. He was called to see Mrs Donnell, and found burns on her face, chest, right arm and thigh. The upper lips had been burned through on the right side. Two or three teeth were knocked out. In his opinion some hot instrument would have caused the wounds on the face. From their peculiar appearance he did not think that lamp oil could have caused them. Her hair and one of her ears have been burned. There were also burns and bruises on the chest. One thigh was burned. He dressed her wounds and ordered her removal to the Mexborough hospital. She was under his charge at the hospital for seven weeks. For eight or 10 days her life was certainly in danger. Her wounds did not heal very well.

By Mr Baddiley: The wounds will be worse for recovering in a woman who took drink, and in a woman who did not drink. It would be a violent blow of the poker that would break the skin of her lip.

Sergeant Wakefield received prisoner into custody at Chesterfield on the eighth inst. he made no reply to the charge, but subsequently he said, “I shall offer no defence, I did wrong in doing it.”

This was the case for the prosecution. Defendant on in the charge on over to him, pleaded guilty, but reserved his defence.

The Bench ordered him to take his trial at the sessions.

On Tuesday, at the West Riding Sessions, the prisoner was sentenced to 3 months with hard labour, and ordered to find sureties to keep the peace for six months, or a further three months imprisonment.