Considerable excitement prevailed in Croydon on Sunday night owing to a rumour which was widely circulated to the effect that "Jack the Ripper" had had been captured in Middle-row, Croydon. A large crowd assembled outside the police court on Monday morning to obtain a glimpse of the prisoner. The magistrates on the Borough Bench were D. B. Miller, Esq (in the chair), and H. Chasemore, Esq.
Thomas Johnson, described as of Middle-row, Croydon, was brought up in custody charged with using threatening language towards Ellen White, wife of an itinerant knife-grinder, at the Royal Oak public-house, Surrey-street, on the previous (Sunday) evening.
Ellen White said that about 6.30 on Sunday evening she was in the Royal Oak public-house with her sister-in-law and her father, when she saw prisoner and another man there. Prisoner addressed himself to her and said he had been watching her about all the day, and that she was a young and pretty woman. Witness told him she did not wish to speak to her as she had a husband of her own. Prisoner then replied to the effect that is she did not take care she would not leave the bar alive. Witness asked him what he meant, and he said she would be a fortunate woman if she went home to sleep that night. Prisoner then went out, and she told her husband about it, and he spoke to the police. Prisoner was quite sober at the time.
By the Prisoner - You did say that you had been watching me half the day.
Prisoner said that the prosecutrix and another woman accosted him and wanted to treat them.
Betsy Robinson said that she was in the Royal Oak on the previous evening in the company of her sister-in-law. Prisoner was there, and addressed his conversation to them. He asked witness what her sister-in-law was, and she said, "a woman, a wife, and a mother." Prisoner laughed and said, "Perhaps she may not leave the bar where she is standing, and she will be a very fortunate woman if she sleeps at home to-night."
A man named Martin Monaghan, a shoe-rivetter, said he was in no way connected with the parties. He went into the Royal Oak public-house on the previous evening to have a drink, and saw the prisoner addressing two women, who were not now present in the court. He said he could make them look like fools, and added, "With a little trouble I could stop your laughing before eleven o'clock." The prosecutrix and her sister-in law then came in, and prisoner spoke to them, whereupon they told him to mind his own business as they did not want anything to do with him as they did not know him. Prisoner replied, "You will be a fortunate woman if you sleep at home to-night," and afterwards added, "You will be a lucky woman if you sleep in a bed to-night." Prisoner stood with his back to the door and his hands behind him, and witness considered that his attitude was of a very threatening character. One of the women said, "Why don't you speak plain?" and he replied, "What I have said I mean." Prisoner then walked out of the public- muttering and went into a lodging house.
Miss Florence Walker, daughter of the landlady, said the prisoner came into the Royal Oak and called for a pint of beer, but she knew nothing of the conversation which took place between him and the women. The words were not spoken loudly, and did not attract her attention.
Detective-sergt. Ward said that about quarter past eight on the previous evening, in consequence of information he received, he went to No.8, Middle-row, and there saw the prisoner. He asked him for his name and address, but he refused to give it. Witness told him he was a police officer, and prisoner said, "I shall meet you some other time you contemptible dog," and further added "If I do meet you you shall know it." When the two females came to the station prisoner called them two prostitutes, and used abusive language to them. He did not appear to be in his right mind, and Dr. Morton was sent for.
The inspector here handed in a certificate from Dr. Morton as follows:- "I believe him to be perfectly sane; he was not excited, and did not appear to be labouring under the influence of drink."
Inspector Wilson said that the prisoner had given an address at Westminster. Witness had telegraphed for confirmation, but had yet not received a reply. He had been informed by a man named Williams, who occasionally employed the prisoner, that the latter was accustomed to "go on the drink" Sundays and Mondays.
Prisoner, in reply to the charge, made a long rambling statement. He admitted he had been drinking, but denied that he interfered with the woman. He was annoyed at being arrested just as he was going to bed, otherwise he should not have used the language he did to the detective-sergt.
The Chairman said the Bench considered the charge proved. No doubt the public mid was considerably excited in such cases at the present time owing to the Whitechapel murders. Prisoner's conduct was disgraceful, and he would have to find two sureties in £5 each and be bound over himself in £10, or go to gaol for a month with hard labour.
Prisoner pleaded for time to communicate with his friends, and the clerk explained to him that he would be released on producing the required sureties.
|Press Reports: Croydon Advertiser - 13 October 1888|
|Press Reports: Croydon Times - 13 October 1888|
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|Press Reports: Morning Advertiser - 9 October 1888|
|Press Reports: Star - 8 October 1888|