New Conisborough Assault Case – Exemplary Sentences.

August 1905

Mexborough and Swinton Times August 5, 1905

New Conisborough Assault Case.
Exemplary Sentences.

Before Mr. Justice Jelf in the Crown Court at Leeds Town Hall, on Tuesday, Walter Webb (40), contractor was indicted for feloniously assaulting Mary Guest, a girl under the age of 13 years, Conisbrough on 9 January and on divers other days between that date and the 26 April 1905, and Mary Ann Guest (38) widow, was indicted for feloniously aiding and abetting the said Walter Webb to commit the office. Mr Wraggs prosecuted. And Mr Newell appeared for the defence.

The female prisoner is the mother of the girl, Mary Guest, who is 11 years of age, and Mr Wraggs stated that since her husband died, two years ago, the prisoner Webb, who is a married man, made frequent visits to her house.

Afterwards the little girl went away with Webb with the mother’s consent, and it was a consequence of her running away and giving information that the prisoner was arrested.

The learned counsel referred particularly to an assault upon the girl, which, it was alleged, took place on the 23rd, January, when, it was said, she was tied down to a couch with a clothesline. Evidence was given with regard to this charge, and both prisoners went into the witness box. Webb stated that he had arranged to go and live with Mrs. Guest and the children, and he went with the girl to get apartments at Dodworth, but was not successful. He denied that the girl ran away from him, and said he himself put her in the train to return home.

Mr. Newell called attention to the fact that the evidence of the girl was uncorroborated, and submitted that whole story was a concoction on her part.

His Lordship, summing up, said it was a terrible charge – one of the most terrible he had had to try, and the jury must not find a person is guilty unless it was clearly proved.

The jury, without leaving the box, found the prisoners guilty.

His Lordship addressing the prisoners, said he thought this was about the most shocking case that he had even then had to try. As to the woman, he remarked that all of the mothers that he had come across she must be the most cruel and the most wicked.

The prisoners were each sentenced to penal servitude for five years.