The Kilnhurst Outrage – Hewitt’s Trial – 2. The Prosecuting Barrister’s Address

July 1892

Mexborough & Swinton Times, July 8th 1892

The Kilnhurst Outrage

The Prosecuting Barrister’s Address

Mr Kershaw (by whose side during the whole of the hearing of the case was Mr W.M. Gichard) observed at the outset that the prisoner was charged with having unlawfully wounding a young woman called Flavell, was about 21 years of age. The prisoner and the prosecutrix’s father were in the same business – they were newsagents – and carried on their trade in the same places – at Swinton and Kilnhurst. Prisoner, apparently actuated by some animosity against his rival in trade, exhibited it in several petty ways. Shortly before the outrage, Mr Flavell having heard something from a gentleman connected with the newspaper business, saw Hewitt, whom he asked if he had been saying that he (Mr Flavell) was ruining him in trade. Hewitt thereupon said “What I have written I have written.” He (Mr Kershaw) only made these remarks assure that prior to the occurrence which he was about to relate there was some animosity – small it might be – which was exhibited on the part of the prisoner. When newspaper parcels arrive by train at the station, he had taken out his own lot and thrown those belonging to Mr Flavell on the platform when rain was coming down, and left them there in the wet. He simply mentioned such matters of this kind to show there was animosity in the presence of mind.

But Mr Flavell was not the person attacked; it was his daughter who was actively concerned in his business, having had the management of a branch shop at Swinton. During the week prosecutrix generally walked on, at the close of business, about 7 o’clock in the evening; but on Saturday night she was later when she close the shop. On the night named it was 11 o’clock when she started from Swinton. There was no doubt whatever that Mr Bell was stricken down and grievously hurt, and the question jury would have to decide, was by whom she was attacked. The evidence which was to be given was of a circumstantial character.

He intended to call as witnesses, persons who were going in both directions along the road on the night named; and he thought he should show to the satisfaction of the jury that the prisoner was not far away when the unfortunate girl was knocked down. She started from Swinton about 11 o’clock, and when she reached Carlisle Street, her attention was attracted by some horses which were restless. At that moment prisoner was walking home from his business at Swinton, and was about 4 yards in front of her. His attention also, as the jury would understand, was attracted by the noise of the restless horses and turn round, and therefore must have seen that Miss Flavell was behind him. Prisoner proceeded on the road, as also did Miss Flavell, and they were met by a man and his wife of the name of Smith. They will tell the jury that they met no one on the road until they met the prison. That was about 26 yards away in the houses at Meadow view. They first met the prisoner, and afterwards passed Miss Flavell, who was walking much faster than Hewitt. She was then about 100 yards behind the prisoner. A man named Goldspink, who would be all about 235 yards behind the young lady heard a scream, and immediately ran in the direction from whence it came. He came across Miss Flavell on the side of the road, leaning against the wall, with her face covered with blood. She was in an unconscious state, was moaning, and saying “Oh Dear.” After carrying a short distance for the purpose of trying to recognise who she was, several other young men came upon the scene and assisted in carrying her home.

When about 40 yards past Meadow View, Miss Flavell got close to the prisoner, and he stepped into a gateway. This was a strange thing to do, and consequently attracted her attention. She did not see prisoner’s face, as he had his back turned towards her. She knew him perfectly well, and, as she would tell the court that she had not the slightest doubt about his identity. On getting level with him and having just passed, prisoner stepped out of the gateway. As a matter of fact she did not remember anything as she had passed the corner near the gateway. She remembered nothing of the assault until she came to consciousness and found herself at home some time afterwards. Prisoner was also seen when between the church and the vicarage by two brothers named Gray, and other young men – seven or eight altogether – you were going in the direction of their home, singing. A single man who was on duty heard these persons singing, and also heard a scream – the same as Goldspink heard. That was at 11.18; he remembers the time, inasmuch as he signalled a train. The screen was that of Miss Flavell when she was struck down.

After the assault to police officers – Sergeant Lyttle and police constable Lund – went to see the prisoner after the assault, and the conversation which took place between them was most material. It was directory after the occurrence. In reply to questions, he admitted that he left Swinton at 11 o’clock, but denied that he saw Miss Flavell on the road. The sergeant also asked, “Did you see anyone on the road when at or near Meadow view?” and prisoner replied, “No.” That could not be true, for 26 yards on the other side of the houses he met the two Smith. He ought to have given the best assistance he could to the police, and ought, in the interests of the girl, to mention the fact of meeting Smith and his wife. Another question put the prisoner was “Did you hear screams at or near Meadow View?” and the answer was “No.” In all probability when the prisoner was a man or not who committed the dastardly act on the girl, he was the nearest person to her when she was struck down. The sergeant said, “A most cowardly assault has been committed and Miss Flavell tonight, and I have information that you must have been close to the place at the time, and it is a curious thing you neither heard nor saw anything.”

He (Mr Kershaw) asked the jury to imagine for a moment, one of themselves, an innocent man, be spoken to in this way. Would they not understand by it there was a strong suspicion in the minds of the officers? One would have expected to have received a reply something to this effect: “What is that to me; why do you speak to me about it, I have nothing to do with it;” but instead of that, prisoner made this most extraordinary remark, “The night is too dark for a child who has done it.” That was a most remarkable observation. A day or two afterwards prisoner was arrested on a warrant, and he said to the police officer, “What, a warrant, I thought a summons would have done.” When charged before the magistrates prisoner said, “I was never near the place.” Which statement he (Mr Kershaw) submitted was not true. Mr Kershaw referred to the finding of the steak with which it was supposed to blow which rendered Miss Flavell insensible was given. It was suggested in defence, when before the magistrates, that the attack was made by a tramp; but Mr Kershaw pointed out, if a man of this description attacked a woman in the dead of the night, he did so for a purpose – either robbery or for a worse purpose. As a matter of fact, however, her basket, containing money etc. and her pocket and watch and chain, were not interfered with.