Mexborough and Swinton Times April 5.
Serious Charge against a Conisborough Man.
Alleged Abdominal Attack.
Accused sent for Trial.
A special sitting of the Doncaster West Riding Police Court was held on Tuesday, when a most extraordinary case from Conisborough, was investigated. A filler named William Thomas, who lives at New Conisborough, was in custody on a charge of having, on Tuesday, 26 March committed a most serious offence on Frances Allison, the wife of Frank Allison, who lives at the Station Hotel Conisborough. The magistrates on the Bench were Mr Godfrey Walker (in the chair) and Mr C Schorah. The prosecution was conducted by Mr W Baddiley, solicitor, Doncaster, and the prisoner was defended by Mr R.A.H. Tovey, solicitor, Doncaster.
Case for the Prosecution
Mr Baddeley, in briefly opening the case, said one particular feature of the case was that when the prosecutrix was attacked the power of speech was completely taken away from her for a time. She was so frightened that she could not open her mouth. The question would be one of identity of the prisoner. The prosecutrix recognising him again by his voice; he was, Mr Baddeley thought, a Welshman. Another peculiar thing was that before anyone had been charged with the offence, the prisoner, when spoken to by the brother of the prosecutrix about having been in a garden, said: “Do you think I’ve been committing a rape?”
That was a very peculiar remark to make when no charge had been made against him, and when the woman’s name had not been mentioned. At 10 o’clock, closing time, the prosecutrix told her husband what had actually happened, and the prisoner was apprehended next morning.
Frances Allison, the prosecutrix
said she was the wife of Frank Allison, and lived at the Station Hotel, Conisborough. There was a garden at the back of the house in which there were two conveniences. One was used by the customers of the house, and the other was for private use. The witness described how she went out by the kitchen door into the garden and what followed.
A man pushed open the door of that place where she was in court over by the back of the neck, and made use of an obscene expression. He then dragged her onto the ground outside. She was unconscious, and could not call out, but she could remember what was going on. The man ran away from the direction of the arts and the witness then screamed out.
Her brother, Fred Lowe, came out of the house. He asked what was the matter, and she told him that a man had knocked her down. She was then on the ground. She did not then tell her brother, Fred, what the man had actually done. The man was wearing a cap. She returned to the house with her husband, who had followed her brother into the garden, and afterwards she went into the dram shop. She there saw the prisoner, and heard him talking to her brother, Fred, and she identified him by his voice. Her brother went out to try and find a policeman, but a police officer did not come until after closing time at 10 o’clock. Up to the police, and she had not told anyone what the man had actually done. After the police had gone away she told her husband. On Thursday, 28, she saw Dr Craik. In the course of the evidence torn articles of clothing were produced.
In reply to the Chairman the prosecutrix, said she had never seen the prisoner before that night.
Cross-examined by Mr Tovey, the prosecutrix said she was not easily frightened, but she was very frightened by what happened on the night of March 26. Her arms were scratched, but whether by the man or contact withthe ground she could not say. She tried to get hold of the man, but she did not know whether or not she scratched his face. The man was perfectly sober, and she did not notice that he smelled of drink. She did not think she would have noticed it if the man had had some drink.
When her brother came for her to go into the dram shop all he said was: “Come and see if you can identify the man?” On entering the dram shop she did not speak not even to her brother. The prisoner was sat on the left hand side of the dram shop, and there were other men there. She did not stay more than a minute before she returned to the kitchen to wash her arms which were bruised.
Her brother went with her into the kitchen, and he said: “is that the man?” And she replied, “Yes, it is.” Here the witness turned to look at the prisoner in the dock and said: “That is the man that stands there.”
Continuing, she said the prisoner was the only man in the dram shop, although they were from a dozen to twenty there, who spoke while she was there. He stood up and said “Do you think I’ve been committing a rape?” Her brother had previously asked him, “What have you been doing up that garden?” The prisoner remained seated for a while after the question had been asked, and then he stood up and answered it as before stated. The prisoner then sat down, and her brotherasked himto show hishands, and he refused, saying something like “I think you have shown me up enough.” Her brother then said to the prisoner, “I’ll fetch a constable.” She did not hear the prison say “that’ll be all right, and then I’ll show you my hands,” but she did he hear him say, “You will hear more about this.” She could identify the prison by his voice, because he was not an Englishman.
Dr Robert Creek, physician and surgeon, practising at Conisborough, gave evidence as to the injuries of the prosecutrix. There were bruises on bothher arms, which he thought would have been caused by endeavouring to break a `backward fall.’
Fred Lowe, brother of the prosecutrix
Fred Lowe, brother of the prosecutrix, said he lived at this Station Hotel, Conisborough. On Tuesday night, 26 March, the witness was at the bar in the dram shop. He saw the prisoner coming to the house about 8:30. Two other men were with him, his brother and John Adams. He did not see the prisoner go out, but he saw him come in again about 9:35 by the front door of the dram shop. He came in hurriedly, and the witness then heard his wife in the kitchen shouting “Fred” he left the dram shop, bar, and went through the tap room into the kitchen. In consequence of what his wife said to him, he went down the passage into the garden, along with Mr Allison, and there saw his sister (the prosecutrix) lying on the ground. She said: “there is a man knocked me down,” she was in an excited state and was crying.
He left her there with Mr Allison while he ran round to see if he could find anybody, but he could not, andthen returned to the dram shop. Immediately afterwards, he went into the kitchen, where he saw the prosecutrix, and he said to her, “Just come through into the dram shop and see if you can identify the man.” She followed him to the dram shop. He spoke to the prisoner, and said, “What have you been doing up the garden?” The prisoner replied, “Do you think I have been committing a rape?” The prisoner said: “I’ve not chastised you with doing anything.” He then asked the prisoner “Will you allow me to look at your clothes and hands.” The prisoner’s hands were in his trouser pockets.He refused to let him see them. The witness said, “I will go fetch the police then,” and he went to the door to look for a policeman, but could not see one.
At 10 o’clock the house was closed, and after that he saw three policemen, and examined the ground in the garden with them. The ground was very hard as there was a very severe frost. The witness went with the police officers to the prisoner’s lodgings. At that time the witness did not know what had been done to his sister. He was told afterwards by his wife. He saw Police Sgt Brown between nine and 10 o’clock next morning (Wednesday). The prisoner came into the dram shop on that morning, and Sgt Brown spoke to him, and the prisoner was afterwards apprehended.
In cross examination, the witness said people in the tap room could see the people in the dram shop if they stood up. He spoke to the prisoner twice about the matter. At first he moved for the prisoner to come to him, and the prisoner came. After the prisoner said “Do you think I have been committing a rape?” he further said, “I have not been out.”
The prosecutrix was present, as the witness went for her out of the kitchen before he spoke to the prisoner. The witness did not know the name of the prisoner at that time. John Thomas, the prisoner’s brother, and John Adams were both sat down. When the prisoner came in the second time Adams did not come in with the prisoner. A man named David Lowe, no relation to the witness, was in the dram shop, and had been there for some time. From where he sat David Lowe could not see the front door of the dram shop, owing to a wooden partition, but he could see people when they got inside. After the witness had been out the first time to look for the police he returned to the dram shop and the prisoner was not then there.
He asked the company “Has he gone?” and someone said he would be back in a minute. John Adams had also gone out. The prisoner came back along with John Adams, but the witness did not speak to either of them again, but called “Time” as it was 10 o’clock. When he went to the prisoner’s house with the police, he thought his sister had been knocked down. That was quite enough to go and see about, he thought.
In re-examination the witness said David Lowe was “chalking on” at the bagatelle board, which was fixed behind a petition, and he could not see anyone coming by the front door of the dram shop.
John Cole, Waiter
John Cole, a waiter, employed at the Station Hotel, said on the night in question he was waiting in the tap room. He could see into the dram shop. He saw the prisoner come into the dram shop alone about 9:35. The witness afterwards had a conversation between the witness, Fred Lowe, and the prisoner, and he corroborated the previous evidence.
In cross examination, the witness said there were two conversations that night, between Fred Lowe and the prisoner with about 10 min interval between.
Edward Adams, miner, living at8 Frederick Street, Conisborough, said he was in the dram shop of the Station Hotel, on the night in question, and saw the prisoner come in about 8:30. The witness’s cousin, John Adams, and the prisoner’s brother, John Thomas, were there. The witness saw the prisoner leave the dram shop alone about 9:35. He was away about five or 6 min, and then returned. Fred Lowe, who was waiting in the dram shop, after wards had a conversation with the prisoner, first asking him if he had been up the garden. The prisoner In reply made a similar observation as that spoken to by the other witness. Fred Lowe then went out, and was absent for five or 6 min. When he returned, the prisoner and Jack Adams were not present, and Fred Lowe asked where they were. Shortly afterwards the prisoner and Jack Adams came in, and Fred Lowe asked a prisoner to let him look at his hands, but he refused.
Thomas Edward Smith, filler, 12 Sprotborough Street, New Conisborough, was also in the dram shop, said he saw the prisoner there about 9:30. He heard Fred Lowe asked the prisoner what he had been doing up the garden, and the prisoner made a reply that had been spoken by the witnesses.
Police Sgt Brown
Police Sgt Brown, stationed at Conisborough, said that on Wednesday morning, 27th of March, from information received, he went to the Station Hotel, and there saw Mrs Allison, who made a complaint to him. She showedhim her arms, which were bruised, and several articles of clothing, which were torn. While talking to Mrs Allison, the witness received information that the prisoner had come into the house.
He called the prisoner out of the dram shop, had some conversation with him and examined the coat the prisoner was then wearing. He found both sleeves were glazed with grease and dirt. The elbow of the right sleeve appeared to have been rubbed against something hard, as there were scratches on it. The elbow of the left sleeve was also scratched but not so much as the other. He asked the prisoner to account for the scratches on the glazed parts of the sleeves. The prisoner replied, “That is done with my having my arms on the table.” The witness again saw Mrs Allison, and had a conversation with the prisoner, where Mrs Allison could hear. In consequence of what Mrs Allison said to him the witness then charged their prisoner with having committed a rape. He replied, “I know nothing about it. I was in the Station Inn, but did not go out until I was spoken to by the landlord,” meaning the witness Fred Lowe. The distance from the kitchen door of the Station Hotel to the place where the assault was said to have taken place, was 22 paces.
In reply to Mr Tovey, the witness said Mrs Allison told him on the Wednesday morning that when she heard the prisoner’s voice, she was sure he was the man.
This was the whole of the evidence offered for the prosecution, the case having occupied the court from 11 a.m. to 3:50p.m. with half an hour for luncheon.
Mr Tovey, for the defence, submitted that there was no evidence to warrant a conviction. The woman herself did not prove anything. The most that she said was that she knew his voice, because it was not the voice of an Englishman. The only other evidence was as to whether the prisoner went out of the dram shop, and went back in again.
Supposing he did, for the sake of argument, was that sufficient to convict him with a serious assault in the yard? Would any jury convict under those circumstances? There was evidence that after this serious offence had been suggested against him, the prisoner actually went back to the same place and stopped there until closing time. Not only did he do that, but he went back next morning to the very same spot. He (Mr Tovey) was prepared, if necessary, to put the prisoner and other witnesses in the box, but submitted there was not sufficient evidence to justify the prisoner been sent for trial.
The Chairman: You had better call your witnesses.
The Defence Witnesses
William Thomas, the Prisoner
William Thomas, the prisoner, gave evidence. He said he lodged in Cusworth Street, and was a filler, employed at Cadeby Main Colliery. He went to this Station Hotel on the night in question, along with his brother and John Adams, about half past eight. After being there about three quarters of an hour Fred Lowe said something to them. He said, “What have you been doing at our back?” He (the prisoner) replied: “Why me! I have not been out of the house, since I came in with my brother and John Adams.” Fred Lowe then said, “now then you have.” And he replied, “You can ask anybody in the room.” He (the prisoner) also said, “You will hear more about this here, sure you’ll like this.” Fred Lowe said, “I am not charge you with anything,” and he said. “That’s enough.”
Up to the time Lowe came to complain about him having been out at the back. He had not been out of the house since he went in at half past eight. Just after Lowe made a complaint He (the prisoner) and John Adams went out together, and they were out about 10 min. They returned to the dram shop together, and Fred Lowe again spoke to him Lowe asked him to show his hands, and he (the prisoner) said “no, you have shown me up enough.” Lowe then said he would fetch the constable, and he (the prisoner) said, “Fetch him, and then I will show him.” He did not say anything further to Lowe
While he was speaking to Lowe, Mrs Allison was in the bar, but he did not see her all the time, as he had his back to the counter. When he turned round she had gone. The police came to his lodgings the same night. On the next morning he went to the Station Hotel, along with his brother and John Adams and there saw the police Sergeant. He denied having been in the garden of the Station Hotel, and declared that he had never even attempted to assault the prosecutrix, nor did he interfere with any woman on the Station Hotel premises that night. He knew nothing whatsoever about the assault, except what he had been told. He had never spoken to Mrs Allison at any time.
Cross-examined by Mr Baddiley, the prisoner said he went to the Station Hotel on Wednesday morning to have an explanation. He asked the barman for Fred Lowe, and was told he was out. The Sgt came in. When Fred Lowe spoke to them on Tuesday night about having been out, his brother, John Thomas told the persons in the room that he (the prisoner) had never been out. Fred Lowe was present when John Thomas said that, and was said about 5 yards away. John Adams was sitting close to his brother when he said that he (prisoner) said nothing about committing a rape, and he never mentioned the word. He had no money when he went to the Station Hotel on Wednesday morning. When Fred Lowe spoke about him having been out at the back he thought Lowe meant to suggest that he had been stealing, and that was why he said he had “shown him up enough.” He refused to show his hands, but would have done so had a policeman come.
John Thomas, brother of the prisoner.
John Thomas said they lodged together. He went with the prisoner to the Station Hotel on the night of March 26. Up to the time Fred Lowe came and asked the prisoner what he had been doing in the backyard the prisoner had not yet been out of the dram shop. The firsttime the prisoner went out was about 9:40, after Fred Lowe had spoken to him. John Adams went with him. Lowe afterwards came in and said “Has he gone?” And the witness said “No, he’s not gone; he’ll be back in a minute.”
The prisoner came back with John Adams after two or 3 min. Fred Lowe then asked him to show his hands, and prisoner refused, saying he had been shown up enough.
Cross examined, the witness said he had told the police his brother sat beside him in the dram shop, and never left the room until after Fred Lowe spoke to him. The witness was a Welshman. When he went with the prisoner to the Station Hotel on the Wednesday morning he had no money, as he spent up on the Tuesday night. John Adams had money, but the witness denied that Adams was standing treat. Afterwards the witness explained that he did not consider it treating and each man paid in turn. He paid as often as Adams paid on Tuesday evening. He never heard his brother make remark that the witness said he made.
David Lowe, 30, Blyth Street, Denaby, filler, when given his address, explained that the place was called `Packie´s puzzle. “He had nothing to do with the prisoner in any shape or form. He went to this Station Hotel about 7:30 PM on the 26 March. He saw the prisoner, his brother, and Adams come into the dram shop, abouthalf past eight, but he did not see the prisoner go out of the room until after Fred Lowehad spoken to him. Then the prisoner went out with Adams and after he came back Fred Lowe had another conversation with him, but the witness did not hear the whole of it.
Cross-examining, the witness denied that he was “chalking up” for the bagatelle players. He said he had scored before until one man said he would punch him in the mouth for “putting on too many,” and then he thought it was time to give up scoring (laughter.)
John Adams, miner, 31 Balby Street, New Conisborough, said he was at the Station Hotel, along with the prisoner and his brother. On the night in question they had 3 pints of beer, were just ordering a fourth when Fred Lowe accused the prisoner of having been out in the back premises. The witness knew the prisoner had not been out, and he said so to Fred Lowe. The witness afterwards, went out with the prisoner, but returned to the dram shop, when again Fred Lowe again spoke to him.
The hearing of the evidence was concluded at 5.50, the court having sat from 11 am
Chairman said the prisoner would be committed to take his trial at the next Assizes. Bail was allowed – either two sureties in £10 each, or one in £20
Sheffield Daily Telegraph, May 14.
Yorkshire Spring Assizes.
Alleged Outrage at Conisborough.
At Leeds Town Hall yesterday, before Mr Justice Grantham, William Thomas, was indicted for having committed a criminal assault upon Mrs Frances Allison, wife of Frank Allison at Conisborough, near Doncaster, on 26 March.
Mr Walter Beverly appeared for the prosecution and Mr Charles Miller for the defence.
Council stated that the prosecutrix was the daughter of the landlord of the Station Hotel at Conisborough and she and her husband assisted in the conduct of the business. It was alleged that late on the night of the 26 March, a man followed the prosecutrix into the backyard, knockedher down, pushed a handkerchief into her mouth, and committed the offences complained of.
She could only identify the prisoner by his voice, he being a Welshman with a pronounced accent.
The defence was that the evidence of identification was insufficient.
Prisoner was found not guilty, and acquitted.