Victorian London - Crime - Violence and assault - rape

(Before Mr. Baron Gurney.)


    George Cant, a publican, was indicted for a rape committed upon a young woman named June Bolland.
    Mr. Adolphus and Mr. Ballantine were for the prosecution; and Mr. Phillips and Mr. Bodkin for the defence.
    Mr. Adolphus stated the case for the prosecution, and called the following witnesses:-
    June Bolland deposed that she resided with her brother in Solomon-terrace, St. George's-in-the-East. On the 30th of September last she went as barmaid to the Windsor Castle public-house, Holborn, kept by the prisoner. She slept in one of the attics, and the prisoner and his wife slept in the room underneath. The prisoner called her on the morning of Thursday, the 3rd of October; when she came down to the bar, the prisoner patted her on the cheek with something he had in his hind, and afterwards called her into the bar, put his hand upon her breast, and insisted upon kissing her. She threatened to inform Mrs. Cant of his conduct, and he said, "What the eye did not sea the heart would not believe." He then wished her to leave the door of her room open that he might come in when he came to call her in the morning ; but she told him she was not the sort of person he imagined her to be, and left the parlour. In the course of the day her brother and a gentleman named Balfour called upon her, and she communicated to them what the prisoner had said and done to her. Mr. Balfour said that after what had passed he did not think that the prisoner would again attempt to use indecent liberties with her, and her brother, at the suggestion of Mr. Balfour, advised her not to leave her situation. Subsequently she became unwell, and about eight o'clock in the evening she was conveyed up stairs to bed, but she was then so ill that she could not recollect who went up to her room with her. She was insensible when she reached her bed, but during the night she partially recovered, and found the prisoner at the bedside. He placed one of his hands upon her mouth to prevent her calling out, and a struggle took place and she fainted. There was then a candle on the table in the room. About six o'clock in the morning she recovered her senses, and found her clothes, which had not been taken off, in disorder, and the bones of her stays broken. The offence charged in the indictment had been committed when she was in a state of insensibility. The prisoner was then standing at the door of her room, and she cried out to him. "You villain. you shall not come in." She: went down stairs to inform Mrs. Cant of what the prisoner had done; but when she told that person that  her husband had used indecent liberties with her, Mrs Cant said, "I will not hear you, drunken hussey." The prisoner, when she intimated to him the previous day that she wished to leave the house, requested her to stay, and told her that she would soon be comfortable enough. When she called him a villain, she observed him at the door of her room in the morning, he told her that she was a drunkard, and that she disgraced his bar, and must not again enter. it. She immediately left the house, and went to her brother's, where she told what had happened to her. On the Saturday following she was examined by a medical gentleman.
    Cross examined by Mr. Phillips: Before going to  Mr. Cant's, she had been a barmaid in a public-house in Windmill-street, Finsbury-square. Before that she lived four years with her brother, who kept a public-house, and she acted as barmaid to him. She had been nothing else. She had learned millinery and dress-making with her aunt ; but had never practised that business. She had only drank a glass of half-and-half on the day the offence was committed. A young man, named Joseph Edwards, went home with her. She left Mr. Cant's about six o'clock, and arrived at her brother's at half past seven o'clock. Edwards had been sleeping there that night. He was a friend of  Mr. Cant, and is here today. She is subject to a swimming in the head, and that was the cause of her going to bed on the day in question.
    Henry Holland, the brother of the last witness, stated that he called upon her on Thursday, accompanied by a gentleman named Balfour. She then complained of the treatment, she received from her master, and mentioned that ho had taken improper liberties with her. Mr Balfour advised witness to allow her to remain in her situation, and as he thought that Cant would not again use liberties with her, he wished her to remain. She once had been ill with erysipelas in the head, and was for some time out of her mind; and she was occasionally troubled with a determination of blood to the head.
    Mary Holland stated that the prosecutrix was very much agitated when she came home on Friday morning. She told. what had occurred to her, and from the appearance of her clothes and person, witness had no doubt that the offence had been committed upon her.
    John Balfour stated that he was clerk to a wine merchant.  On Thursday, the 3rd of October, he went to the house of the prisoner, accompanied by Henry Holland, and at his suggestion the prosecutrix was allowed to remain in her situation. She appeared to have been crying, and was agitated. She told her brother what the prisoner had attempted to do to her in the morning.
    The surgeon who examined the prosecutrix stated he had no doubt that intercourse had lately taken place for the first time.
    John Wells, a police constable, stated that when the prisoner was apprehended, he said that he had only kissed the girl.
    This was the case for the prosecution.
    Mr. Phillips addressed the jury for the prisoner. He disclaimed anything like impeaching the young woman's character, and he was happy that he had no reason for making even an insinuation against her in regard to her conduct previous to this occasion. That she was deeply to be commiserated he owned, and that she had come here to tell what she believed to be the truth he had not the least doubt. He was sure, however, that both reason and a sense of justice would compel the jury (if the witnesses he intended to call for the prisoner should speak the truth) to say that they could not see their way through the case, and that such a doubt was created in their minds as would warrant them in acquitting the man at the bar. He approached the defence of the prisoner with the greatest anxiety of mind, because, if the evidence he intended to adduce should be discredited, the consequences to the prisoner would be truly awful. The giddiness in the head had induced those who had only been acquainted with the girl for four or five days to believe that she was intoxicated; and it was most natural, for the swimming in the head would produce all the appearances of intoxication. She was taken up stairs by a servant of the prisoner, who would describe her appearance at the time, and she would also state that the young man, Edwards, came to the door with her. That she had been violated there was not the least doubt, but that the prisoner had committed the offence was by no means clear ; and it would be his duty to call the young man Edwards, who, if he (Mr. Phillips) was rightly informed, would state that he was the guilty party, The young woman had given her evidence very fairly, however, and had stated only what she considered to be the truth. She had sought to exaggerate nothing, but had stated the facts as they appeared to her. After Mr. Cant had been committed, Edwards had called at the office of Mr. Williams, the solicitor for the prisoner, and made a disclosure which left no doubt of the innocence of the man at the bar. He did not  mean for an instant to justify the conduct of Edwards, and it was a pity that he did not make all the amends in his power to the young woman. He was a young unmarried man, and might have done so. It was unlikely that the prisoner committed the offence, for, if he had been guilty, it was not probable that he would have conducted himself towards the young woman as she had stated she had done in the morning after she had recovered from her illness. He (Mr. Phillips) believed he bad been a foolish man in using even the liberty he himself confessed he had done with the girl, and it would be a warning to others to beware of the consequences of the smallest deviation front a virtuous line of conduct The liberty he had used in the morning had induced the girl to suppose that he had committed the capital offence upon her during the night. Unfortunately there were many cases in which the innocent suffered for the guilty, but there was no instance in which the innocent had actually come forward to place himself in the situation of the guilty. It was very unlikely that an individual, entirely innocent of a capital charge like the present would come forward and put a rope about his neck, in order to free the man who had actually committed the crime. He could not, therefore, see any reason to throw doubt on the testimony of Edwards.
    Jane Hollier was then called, and on being sworn she stated that she was at the Windsor Castle public-house when this transaction was stated to have occurred, and about eight o'clock she assisted the prosecutrix to bed. Witness thought she was in a state of intoxication at the time. About twelve o'clock witness again went up to the bed-room of the prosecutrix, accompanied by Joseph Edwards. Edwards remained at the door while she went in. She asked him to come up with her, as there was only one candle. The poor girl was lying on the bed, with her clothes on, asleep, and witness covered her with blankets. Witness was in the room about five minutes, and the door was closed during that time. When she came out, she found
Edwards at the door, and the gave him the light, and be went towards his bed-room.  She neither saw the prosecutrix nor Edwards again that night.
    Cross-examined by Mr. Adolphus—The prosecutrix was not able to speak on her way up stairs. She heard the prosecutrix say to the prisoner, " You took liberties with me, you villain."
    Mr. George Williams, the attorney for the prisoner, stated that he knew Josaph Edwards; that person came to his office after Cant was committed, and made a communication to him. Witness never saw him before to his knowledge.
    Cross-examined by Mr. Ballantine—The communication was made after the prisoner had been admitted to bail.
    Thomas Shipton, pot-boy at the Windsor Castle, stated that the prosecutrix appeared to ho intoxicated on the day in question. He saw her before she went up stairs, and she then presented the appearance of a person who had taken liquor.
    Mrs. Goodchild, a washerwoman, stated that she was employed by Mr. Cant . She went up to the bedroom of the prosecutrix about nine o'clock on the night in question, accompanied by the prisoner and his wife. The girl was then lying across the bed, and witness, assisted by Mr. Cant, placed her straight upon the bed. They all left the room together. No light was left in  the room.
    Joseph Edwards being called—
    Mr. Baron Gurney said— It is my duty to tell you that you are not bound to answer all the questions that may be put to you, and if you do you must abide by the consequences.
    Edwards examined by Mr. Phillips—He is a boot-a maker, and formerly slept at the house of the prisoner. He now resides at No. 2, Fenton's Buildings. He was in the habit of visiting the prisoner's family occasionally, and he slept there on the 3rd of October when Miss Bolland was there. She went up stairs, he believes between nine and ten o'clock. She appeared then to be intoxicated. He saw her next morning, about half-past six o'clock, and went to her brother's house with her. They went along Chancery-lane, along Fleet- street, and over Blackfriars-bridge. He told her that was the way to the Commercial-road, believing that she lived near the Commercial-road, Lambeth, and it appeared that it was Conmercial-road, East she wished to go to. After the prisoner was committed he called at the office of Mr. Williams, and made a communication to that gentlemen, which was true. He made a similar communication to a friend of the name of Murphy. He went into the prosecutor's room about eleven o'clock on the night of the 23rd of October. He had no light with him. She was in bed.
    Mr. Baron Gurney—I've already given you warning.
    Edwards proceeded to state that he had criminal intercourse with the girl, and he felt it his duty, when the prisoner was committed, to, inform Mr. Williams of what he had done.
    Cross-examined by Mr. Adolphus—Witness was out of employ at. the time of this transaction. He knew Mr. Cant, and the first time he slept at the Windsor Castle was on the 3rd of October, he believes. He has known him for four or five years. He had lodgings at Bartholomew-close on the 3rd of October. When he stayed at the Windsor Castle late he was asked to sleep there. The girl did not appear at all unwilling to submit to the intercourse; but, on the contrary, appeared quite willing. He had not gone to bed before. She was not covered with blankets. He heard all that has been stated to day when the prisoner was examined before the justices, but he did not mention a word of what he has stated to-day. On the way home on Friday, the prosecutrix said that Mr. Cant had called her a drunkard, and she would fix him for it. She then seemed happy enough.
    Mr. Williams recalled.—Mr. Cant had been in the Windsor Castle for three weeks before this occurrence.
    Thomas Henry Murphy stated that Edwards had made a communication to him on the subject of this case.
    A number of witnesses were called, who gave the prisoner a good moral character.
    Mr. Adolphus replied, he was obliged to Mr. Phillips for the manner is which he had spoken of the prosecutrix. No aspersion had been cast upon her character.
    The case depended upon the evidence of the witness Edwards, but the strange story he had told he conceived to be entirely unworthy of belief. The Learned Counsel then commented at great length upon the evidence of this witness, contending that there could not be the least doubt of the prisoner's guilt, if the girl's testimony was to be believed; but - if they gave more weight to the evidence for the defence, they would have to acquit the man at the bar. No insinuation had, however, been thrown out to cast discredit upon the girl's statement, and it could not be laid aside in consequence of the story told by the witness Edwards.
    The Learned Judge summed up the evidence. He told the Jury that if criminal intercourse took place when the girl was in a state of insensibility the offence would be the same as if she had been conscious of what was passing and struggled to protect herself. The Learned Judge then read the evidence, and commented upon it as he proceeded.
    The Jury retired for about two hours, and on their return pronounced a verdict of Guilty.
    Prisoner—I am as innocent of the charge as any man that ever was born.
    The prisoner was then removed from the dock, and before the Learned Judge left the court, he was again placed at the bar, and Mr. Baron Gurney ordered sentence of death to be recorded against him.

Northern Star and Leeds General Advertiser, November 2, 1839


WORSHIP STREET, CHARGE OF VIOLATION. On Tuesday, Charles Warren, a portly, respectable-looking man, described as a coffee house keeper, at Queen's-road, Dsleton, was placed at the bar before Mr. Tyrwhitt, charged with a criminal assault upon his female servant. Lydia Smith, a girl twelve years of age. Mr. Henry Allen, from the office of the Associated Institution for Improving and Enforcing the Laws for the Protection of Women, was in attendance to watch the proceediings. The prosecutrix, an intelligent, innocent-looking young girl, stated that she had lived for six weeks in the service of the defendant, who had conducted himself with gross impropriety towards her on repeated occasions, almost from the first day that she entered the situation. She succeeded, however, in repelling his advances, until the night of Monday [illegible], when the defendant suddenly entered the back kitchen, where she was in the habit of sleeping, soon after she had retired to rest, and inquired if she was asleep, at the same time telling her that her mistress had just gone out. Feeling greatly alarmed, as there were no other inmates in the house, she requested the prisoner to leave the room, and hearing the door close almost immediately, she supposed he had done so, and fell asleep, but was awoke shortly afterwards by some one getting into her bed, and discovered it to be the prisoner. The witness here entered into a detail of the prisoner's subsequent conduct, which went fully to establish the perpetration of the outrage, and added that before be quitted the apartment, the prisoner enjoined her to strict secrecy with regard to the oc currence, and she had no opportunity to communicate the matter to any of her friends until two days after, when she was visited by her sister, and having made her acquainted with the infamous conduct to which she had been subjected. she was taken away from the house. Sarah Smith, sister of the prosecutrix, fully corroborated the girl's evidence as to her having apprised her of the outrage on Wednesday even ing last. The girl's father, a respectable-looking, elderly man, stated that on Sunday evening last he was called out from chapel by the last witness and her aunt, who communicated to him what had taken place, and he immediately proceeded to the house of the prisoner, from which he removed his daughter, and conveyed her home to his own residence. On the following morning his daughter was attended by a surgeon, the result of whose examination induced him to obtain the assistance of a policeman, with whom be repaired to the prisoner's house, and gave him into custody. Mr. Tyrwhitt ordered the prisoner to be remanded for a week.

Reynolds Newspaper, September 12, 1852

OUTRAGE. - A correspondent writes:- "Dulwich has recently been the scene of a criminal outrage which has created the utmost indignation and has had the most deplorable results. The victims were two young ladies, the daughters of highly respectable parents, residing in Brixton, and one of them has since died, while the other lies in a critical state. As far as the parents have been able to ascertain it appears that the two young ladies while walking one evening down the Brixton-road were accosted by two well-dressed, gentlemanly-looking men, and importuned to accompany them to a theatre in the Strand. This request the girls refused to comply with, whereupon they were asked as an alternative to go for a walk. To this request they unluckily yielded. Accordingly the four strolled as far as Dulwich, and on arriving there the girls were asked to partake of refreshment. They accordingly entered a publichouse, and it is believed that here the drink of which they partook was drugged by one of the men. Soon after swallowing it the girls became stupefied, and while in that condition the scoundrels succeeded in outraging them. Then, unseen by the landlady, the two men shortly after quitted the place together. Not suspecting what had happened, and being, of course, ignorant of the respectability of the poor girls, the landlady treated them as persons of questionable repute, and at about 11 o'clock at night ejected them from her house.  Frenzied, as the parents say, and overwhelmed with a sense of disgrace, they had not the courage, nor had they probably the sense, to retrace their steps home. The poor creatures, therefore, wandered about all night in a distracted state and did not return home even the next day. Meanwhile the parents instituted inquiries in all directions, and at the expiration of two days the girls were found in a most deplorable state huddled together in one of the recesses on Blackfriars-bridge. Even then they did not seem to have recovered entire consciousness, but told the story to their parents as best they could. One of the poor girls did not long survive her shame. A few days after her return home she expired, it is said from the effects of the administered drug, and the other has ever since been in such a state of prostration that her life is despaired of, and in the opinion of her medical attendants her mind is likely in any case to be affected. It is to be hoped that the authors of this most shocking and heartless crime will soon be in the hands of the police.

The Times,  September 7, 1877