Brutal Assault on a Young Lady At Kilnhurst – Local Tradesman Arrested

May 1892

Mexborough & Swinton Times, May 27, 1892

Arrest of a Local Tradesmen.

On Tuesday night the police made an apprehension in connection with the assault. The man under arrest is George Hewitt, who, like Mr Flavell. the father of the injured girl, is a newspaper dealer at Kilnburst and has also a branch shop at Swinton. Hewitt was taken on Wednesday morning by the first train from Swinton to Rotherham in charge of Sergeant Little. Several local gentlemen, impressed with Hewitt’s innocence, attended at Rotherham with the view of bailing the prisoner out. Amongst them were the Rev. Philip Houghton (vicar), Mr. Enoch Jagger. Mr. J. Nicholls, Mr. Whitfield, and Hewitt’s brother, Sergeant Little it is stated had a conversation with Miss Flarell on Tuesday evening and afterwards decided to arrest Hewitt. He was apprehended at Swinton. Much feeling prevails at Kilnhurst that the man is innocent, and there is talk of a meeting of indignation at his arrest, and a petition to the Home Secretary. Mrs Hewitt when she heard the news, was in a state of the greatest possible agitation, and she remained downstairs all Tuesday night. She had hoped her husband would have been allowed to be bailed out, but he was detained in custody. Hewitt is the father of nine children, and they are amazed at his arrest. It is not known at present what grounds the police have for this action.

Our Rotherham representative writes that George Hewitt, newsagent, of Swinton was on Wednesday brought to the Rotherham lock-up from Swinton. He is charged under a warrant with having unlawfully wounded Miss Flavell on Saturday night. Later in the day he was brought up before Mr. H. Jubb, J.P. and remanded until Monday next. The ordinary procedure has been adopted with regard to Hewitt, and the police only acted in accordance with the warrant which had been issued. The friends of Hewitt are sanguine that there has been a mistake and with the object of assisting him to prove his innocence have retained Mr. H. H. Hickmott, solicitor, of Rotherham to defend. The proceedings before the magistrate were of a formal character.

Hewitt was apprehended quietly after business hours on Tuesday night, and was lodged in the Swinton lock-up. He was allowed to shut his shop in the usual way, and was then requested to accompany the police-sergeant to his station, being ‘wanted.’ This step was only decided after the sergeant had had a long interview with the injured girl in her bedroom. What there transpired can only be conjectured, but at the conclusion the sergeant took train straightaway to Rotherham, presumably with the intention of communicating the statement made to him by Miss Flavell to his superintendent, Major Hammond. This over, the officer took the evening train back to Swinton and made his arrangements to arrest Hewitt. The suspected man was found at his shop, which erelong would have been closed for the day. The arrest was made so quietly that it did not attract attention. Subsequently, however, it leaked out, and was carried to Kilnhurst. Hewitt’s wife and family being much distressed at it. The opinion in the locality is unfavourable to the request and comment ran strongly against the measures the police have adopted.

lt is apparent, however, that the representatives of the law had no alternative but to do as they did, for everybody admits that the chain of circumstances is terrible against Hewitt. The motive ascribed—that of trade rivalry – is certainly inadequate for such atrocity; in fact, whatever motive the committer of the outrage had would be no palliation for interference with anyone; but if the motive in this case is proved it makes the crime that of a dastard and a deep-dyed villain to boot.

The evidence of circumstances is very strong. Not many minutes after 11 o’clock on Saturday night a young man named Jake Smith was going along the road from Kilnhurst to High Thorn and just beyond the houses known as Meadow View passed Hewitt. Smith proceeded up the hill, and passed Miss Flavell 40 yards further on. Further up the hill he passed the young fellow named Goldspink and then Smith turned round the bend at the top of the hill, and was engaged there for several minutes talking to a friend. Smith says he was misinterpreted in the statement previously made concerning him. He did not himself hear any screams. Goldspink, however, whom he had passed, heard a cry. “Oh. Dear,” as of a female in distress and hastening down to Meadow View, found the body of Miss Flavell lying upon the road in an unconscious condition. She had evidently, after receiving the blow, staggered across the road and fallen. The next circumstance is that Hewitt was met by the five young men, John Gray, Charles Gray, Somerville, Sam Thompson and Cobb. They met him near Kilnhurst Church, perhaps 900 yards away from the scene of the occurance. It is stated that the police have possession of a gnarled tree root, which it is supposed the man who assaulted the girl used to strike her with. A murder could easily be done with it, and one blow would be sufficient for the purpose. The wonderful thing is that Miss Flavell was not killed outright.

There has been considerable ill -feeling between the Flavells and Hewitts for a long time, owing to them competing with each other in the newspaper and hardware trade. The Flavells have conducted the sale of newspapers for many years at Kilnhurst and Hewitt became a rival in that business eighteen months or so ago, bringing the papers over from his Swinton shop. Then the Flavelis started an opposition shop at Swinton, and thus the ill-feeling which already existed was greatly increased. Miss Flavell has had charge of the Swinton branch for a year and a half. The general opinion of her in Swinton is that she is an inoffensive person and one to whom anyone would take a liking.

Many Kilnhurst people believe Hewitt is suspected wrongly.

Mr. Flavell has received notice from several of his customers that he need not supply them with papers again. The reason attached to one of these notes implied that Mr. Flavell had egged the police on to arrest Hewitt. No reason is given in the other cases, but is understood to be the same. Mr. Flavell complains that this is very unjust, as the police have taken the case out of his hands, and in doing as they have done acted quite contrary to his wishes.

Hewitt Liberated.

At half past five o’clock last evening the Rev. Philip Houghton, vicar of Kilnhurst, received a telegram from Mr. Hickmott, the solicitor engaged for the defence of Hewitt, that the police authorities had deferred to the applications which had been made to allow bail: and requesting those who were ready to become bailees to go over to Rotherham. By the quarter past six train the Rev. Philip Houghton, Mr. Heald, Mr. J. Bower, Mr. Jones and Mr. Glasby went down to Rotherham and Hewitt was liberated on the recognisances of Mr. Houghton and Mr. Heald of £20 each and himself in £40.

The parties returned to Kilnhurst by the train arriving there at 8-38 and a large number of people who had assembled on the bridge for the purpose of seeing Hewitt gave him a cordial greeting. The poor man was entirely broken down and wept bitterly; a defence meeting was afterwards held, £8 10 6 being collected on the spot. It is stated that over 500 people were present and much excitement prevail. The following order upon the committee: Reverend P Houghton, E Jagger, E.J.Turner, J Goodinson, R. Heald. E. Kettle, T. Palfreyman, H Preece, J. Jeffery, J. Bentham, J. A. Bower. T. Whitfield and J. W. Carr

Miss Flavell’s condition is gradually improving She was a little better yesterday, but she still complains of great pain and is taking nothing but liquid ices etc.

Mr. Monson, surveyor of Swinton, has been instructed to prepare a plan of the scene of the outrage.