The Kilnhurst Outrage – Hewitt’s Trial – 3. The Evidence

July 1892

Mexborough & Swinton Times, July 8th 1892

The Kilnhurst Outrage

The Evidence.

The evidence for the prosecution, as given before the magistrates, was then repeated, the following witnesses being called :—

Prosecutrix, who still had her ear bandaged up, gave evidence in corroboration of Mr. Kershaw’s statement. She described her journey from Swinton to Meadow View, she noticed the prisoner stop and stand on a step as she passed him, and directly afterwards she was assaulted from behind. She was rendered unconscious. For a fortnight she was confined to her bed. She was now quite deaf in the left ear, but was not so before.

In cross-examination, witnessed was asked as to when she first told anyone after the assault that her assailant was Hewitt. She replied that she did not tell her aunts when they came to see her, because she wished to keep it to herself. The first day she saw the police to recognise them was on the Tuesday, and that was the first day she mentioned that Hewitt haul assaulted her. The police did not tell her that Hewitt was the only man about the place. They asked her what she could remember, and she told them. She did not tell a man named Thompson on the night of the assault, when she was being carried home that she did not know who the man was who had attacked her, but he wore a black coat and a white mullet. Questioned as to her conversation with Dr. Burton she said the reason she did not mention Hewitt’s name to him on Tuesday was because she had been told not to do so until the proper time. She could not remember saying anything to the doctor on Sunday. She had no doubt whatever that the prisoner was the man who struck her down. She did not see his face, but she saw his back as he walked in front of her. The night was not very dark. She had known the prisoner for some years and he had never attempted to do anything of this kind before.

Mr. Mellors: Now, don’t think we don’t sympathise with you. I deeply at sympathise with you. On the night before you suffered this attack did you not walk on the canal bank behind the prisoner?

Prosecutrix: Yes sir.

Further cross-examined, prosecutrix said Mrs. Jeffry was her aunt. She did not know that she had told her aunt she did not know who the man was who struck her. Mrs. Macintosh, too, was her aunt. She did not remember telling her that she could not recognise her assailant.

Mr. Mellors: Did you tell your aunt it was Hewitt?

Prosecutrix: No, I didn’t.

Dr. Burton, of Swinton, was the nest witness. He described the injuries from which he found Miss Flavell suffering on being called to attend her, and said they might have been caused by the heavy hedgestake produced.

Cross examined: Onthe Tuesday after the assault. Miss Flavell told him she could not recognise the man who struck her,

Jacob Smith, miner, Highthorne, said he and his wife were returning from Kilnhurst on the night of the assault. Witness had some dogs with him. They met the prisoner 26 yards beyond Meadow View on the Swinton side, and Miss Flavell 22 yards further on. Witness said “Good night” to Miss Flavell. He met no one else until he reached Highthorne.

Jessica Janet Smith, wife of the previous witness, also give evidence. She said: I am the wife of the previous witness. I remember being in Kilnhurst on Saturday night the 21st May, in the company of my husband. I live at Highthorne. The first person we saw was Hewitt, when we were about 26 yards past Meadow View That would be on Swinton side. The next person we met was Miss Flavell, about 100 yards farther on. My husband said “Good night” to Miss Flavell and she replied.

Samuel Goldspink, miner, Kilnhurst, said he was returning from Highthorne towards Kilnhurst, and heard a scream. He was running at the time, and proceeded faster until he reached the spot where the assault had been committed. He found Miss Flavell unconscious. Her face was covered with blood.

John Gray, miner, and William Charles Gray, miner, proved meeting Hewitt near Kilnhurst Vicarage and seeing Goldspink holding prosecutrix 220 yards further on.

James Wood, signalman at Kilnhurst Midland Station, said he heard a scream about 11.18 on the night named. At the same time he also beard a party of young men going across the bridge singing.

Police-sergeant Hamilton Lyttle, of Swinton, said he visited Hewitt’s house after the assault—at one, o’clock on Sunday morning. The dwelling seemed to be in darkness, but prisoner came downstairs with his collar and front on. Prisoner told him he left Swinton at eleven o’clock that night, but denied that he had seen Miss Flavell on his way home, or anyone at or near to Meadow View. He also denied that he had heard a scream there.

Witness then informed him of the cowardly assault, that had been committed and his answer was. ” The night is too dark for her to tell who has done it.” Afterwards witness was present during a conversation between Smith and Hewitt. Smith said to the prisoner, ” I met you last night coming down from Highthorne,” and prisoner replied, ” Yes, you did; you had some dogs with you.” When before the magistrates for remand prisoner said he was never near the place.

Witness was arrested on the following Tuesday and prisoner said, “Oh  dear, a warrant. I thought a summons would have done. Is Miss Flavell able to appear?”

Cross examined, witness denied that there were any marks on the wall near to where the assault took place, as though some person had gone over it. He made a thorough examination of the place. When at prisoner’s house he did not say to him “Now be honest, Hewitt and tell us what you know about it.” Prisoner never gave him a number of persons who he had met on the road on the night of the assault. Mrs. Hewitt did not say ” Has she any idea who has done it?” Such words were never spoken. Prisoner did not reply to his wife “She would not know who struck her if she was struck from behind because it was sodark.’

Witness was subjected to a searching cross examination as to statements said to have been made to him by the prisoner, and also as to what he had written down in his pocket hook—which he bad left at home—when Miss Flavell gave information as to the assault.

Police constable Samuel Lund said he did not suspect Hewitt when be first visited him, but from what he afterwards said he suspected him very strongly and told the sergeant about it.

Cross-examined, witness said he did not have any conversation with Thomas Whitfield about a man with a white muffler on.

Mr. Mellors: Will you swear that?—Witness: Yes.

The depositions taken before the magistrates were produced, and it was found that Lund, in his evidence on that occasion, said “I asked him (Whitfield) if he had seen anybody with a white muffler, or something white round his neck.”

Mr. Mellors : In that true, sir, or not ?

Witness : Will you allow me to explain?

Mr. Mellors: It needs explanation, sir.

In further cross examination, witness denied that he had said ” The man we want is the man with the white muffler.”

He went to every house at Meadow View and asked if anybody had seen a man on the steps with a white muffler on. It was prisoner’s son who suggested that he went to these houses. Witness found a bottle of beer near the place; it was in a basket in the court if the learned counsel wanted it. (Laughter.)

Mr. William Flavell, father of the prosecutrix; said he first heard from the police on the Monday, that prisoner was suspected. When his daughter was brought home be examined her things and found there was nothing missing—neither from her pocket or basket.

William Muscroft, miner, proved seeing prisoner leaving Mr. Flavell’s newspapers in the rain on the railway station platform after he had opened the parcel and taken out his own papers.

Mr. George John Monson, civil engineer and surveyor to the Swinton Local Board, said the plans produced had been drawn by him. The plans were correct ones of the road from Kilnhurst to Swinton.

This concluded the case for the prosecution.