The Eastern Post & City Chronicle
Saturday, 15 December 1900.
RESULT OF THE INQUEST.
PROCEEDINGS AT THE POLICE COURT.
At the Thames Police-court on Friday, Barnet Abrahams, an English Jew of 50, Newark-street, Commercial-road, was charged, on remand, before Mr. Dickinson, with the wilful murder of Police-constable Ernest Thompson, 240 H, on the 1st inst. - Mr. Sims now appeared to prosecute on behalf of the Treasury; Mr. Deakin defended; and Detective-inspector Divall, H division, watched the case on behalf of the Commissioner of Police. The prisoner now presented a much better appearance, the bruises on the face having almost disappeared. He listened intently to the opening statement and the evidence of witnesses. - Mr. Sims, in opening the case, said he appeared to prosecute on behalf of the Director of Public Prosecutions. Abrahams was charged with the crime of the wilful murder of Ernest Thompson, a constable of the H division. The case was a serious one, although the facts were tolerably simple. On the morning of Saturday, Thompson, who had been 10 years in the police service, and was a married man with four children, was on duty in Commercial-road and some adjoining streets. The former thoroughfare, to use the words of one of the witnesses, was "as light as day." About half-past twelve a man named William Ward, who had been in the convict service, met the constable and had a conversation with him. While they were talking, several men, including the prisoner, and two women, appeared on the scene. They were shouting, singing and creating a disturbance. The constable requested them to go away, whereupon the usual argument occurred, and there was also insulting language. The men went away, but afterwards returned and gathered round the constable. Ward, having been in the public service, went to Thompson's assistance. Abrahams was anxious to know why he was ordered away, but at length went, after having
When last seen he was going down Union-street. Ward then wished the constable good night, and went his way. About one o'clock a man named Butcher pitched his coffee-stall near the spot, and the prisoner accompanied by two women, came there. Abrahams seemed in a merry mood, and was laughing and singing. The constable came along and told him to go away. The prisoner expostulated and refused to go, but eventually he did so, followed by the constable. On getting to the top of Union-street he stood still, and the constable was then about ten yards distant. Butcher would state that he heard a scuffle, but saw no blows struck. They fell to the ground, and although he did not see them get up it was clear they must have done so, for six constables who came up had a clear view of what was taking place. Constable Dipple saw the prisoner standing in the middle of the road, and at that time Thompson was on the pavement. The accused went towards the constable, raised his right hand and struck the constable a blow on the left side of the neck. Thompson seized the prisoner, and held him tightly. When his comrade came up he said to him, "I am done for. Hold him - he has stabbed me," and fell unconscious. Those were the last words the poor fellow spoke, and he died when within 50 yards of London Hospital. It was then found that his truncheon was in his pocket, so inferring that it had not been used on the prisoner. The latter struggled and resisted so much that the police had to resort to harsh measures. One officer drew his truncheon and struck him a blow on the shoulder; but, as that did not quiet him, another constable hit him between the eyes with his fist, and that succeeded in quieting him. When at the station prisoner said, "They nearly murdered me with their truncheons, and it is a wonder that I am alive." The next morning when formally charged by Inspector Dival [Divall], he made a statement, in which he said, "I had no thought to do injury to anybody." He also said to Sergeant Wensley, "I did do it. It was an unlucky moment for me. I regret it, but cannot help it. May God rest his soul." The wound was a deep one, and almost severed the carotid artery. Those were the facts, and it would be clear the prisoner and the deceased were the only two persons together. - Two or three witnesses were called, after which Mr. Dickinson remanded the prisoner.
Mr. Wynne E. Baxter resumed his inquiry at the Limehouse Coroner's Court, on Monday, into the circumstances attending the death of Ernest Thompson, aged 32 years, late a police-constable (240 H) attached to Leman-street police-station, who was stabbed to death while on duty in Commercial-road, Whitechapel, early on the morning of the 1st inst. Barnet Abrahams, a cigar maker, who stands remanded from the Thames Police-court on the capital charge, was again present in court in the custody of two warders from Holloway Gaol. His interests were watched by Mr. Deakin, solicitor, and Detective-inspector Divall appeared for the Commissioner of Police. - Dr. Francis Hilliard, house-surgeon at the London Hospital, recalled, said that great force must have been used to inflict such an injury as the witness found. The deceased might have been able to blow his whistle two minutes after being stabbed. The wound could not have been caused simply by pressure on the neck - there must have been a direct blow. - Dr. Thomas Jones, divisional surgeon to the H division, proved examining Abrahams at the station after his arrest. The witness described the injuries he found, some of which might have been caused by blows from a fist and some by a truncheon. The face and clothing were smothered with blood, but not from his own injuries. The accused was perfectly sober, and in the witness's opinion he was not suffering mentally as a result of his injuries. - By Mr. Deakin: The accused did not make any statement of having been knocked about in the cell in witness's presence. In reply to the coroner the witness said he examined the dead man's clothing the following day, and found a clean cut on the collar of the overcoat near the divisional number. - Evidence was next given by Lewis Michaels and Emanuel Cohen, both members of the Netherlands Choral and Dramatic Club in Bell-lane, of which the accused was also a member. The both saw the accused on the Friday night and averred that he was sober. They also gave Abrahams the character of being a hard-working and inoffensive man. Neither of them had ever seen him in possession of such a knife as the one produced. The accused was the principal support of his aged mother and two orphan nieces. - Lyon Hartz, cashier of the Netherlands Club, said the accused was in the habit of
from him. The last occasion he did so was in the early part of the week in which the crime was committed. The witness had suggested that he should buy one, but Abrahams said he had no reason to do so when he could always borrow his (witness's). The witness had never seen the knife (produced), and it would be absolutely useless to cigar makers. The accused returned the witness's knife at the time he lent it to him, after he had used it. - At the request of the jury Inspector Weidner gave evidence as to the number of coffee-stalls in Commercial-road. In the witness's opinion it was not necessary for them to open so early as 12.30. The stall-keepers did not require a licence. The coroner asked if Abrahams wished to make any statement on oath. - Mr. Deakin: No, sir. Acting under my advice, he will not. - The coroner, in summing up, remarked that the jury had to decide whether they believed Ward's evidence or not. Two witnesses named Butcher had given a very clear and distinct account of the affair, independent of any police evidence. It was as well that it was so, as it might be thought that as the deceased was a police-constable, the evidence of his colleagues might be tainted. There was no evidence that Thompson had assaulted the accused, which might reduce the case to one of manslaughter. If they were satisfied that he deliberately stabbed the deceased in a moment of frenzy, it was a case of wilful murder. Thompson had lost his life in the execution of his duty, and there was nothing to show that he had exceeded his duty. - After a brief deliberation in private, the jury returned a verdict of "Wilful murder" against Abrahams, who was committed to take his trial on the coroner's warrant. The jury expressed their satisfaction at the manner in which the police had performed their duties and given evidence.
Under the presidency of Mr. E. Mann, J.P. (the Mayor of Stepney), a meeting of the residents of the Borough was held on Wednesday morning in the Whitechapel Parish Church Room, for the purpose of taking steps to raise a fund for the relief of the widow and orphans of the late Police-constable Thompson. In an eloquent speech his Worship said the afflicted ones had a great claim upon the generosity of the public. By means of an appeal in the "Times" about £300 had already been raised, but he thought they ought to be able to obtain quite £1,000. Personally he was willing to help the movement in any way, and he would give 10 guineas to the fund. His firm would give another 5 guineas, and Mr. Thorp, their manager, 5 guineas. (Applause.) - A local committee was formed, and other necessary steps taken to raise the proposed fund.