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|Crown Court - 1823
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|Author:||Mel [ Wed Apr 29, 2009 4:26 pm ]|
|Post subject:||Crown Court - 1823|
Tuesday April 8 1823
Thomas FOulds, 29, was indicted for having burglariously entered the dwelling house of John Wilde, at Colne, an committed a rape on the person of Susanna Wilde, his wife.
Mr. Starkie stated the case to the Jury.
Susanna Wilde, a good-looking young woman, stated that in October last, her husband, who is a whitesmith, was at Bradford, in Yorkshire, where he had been working for several months, occasionally coming over to see her. On the 11th of that month she went to bed about nine o'clock; and about three in the morning was awakened by hearing some person in the room. She got out of bed, and attempted to get a light, but the man who was in the room took the match from her hand, and forced her back to the bed, and attempted to violate her person; but it did not appear that the offence was completed. Whilst she was struggling with the man, he spoke to her, and she knew him by his voice to be the prisoner Thomas Foulds; he lived about 100 yards from her, and had often heard him speak. There was another man standing at the door, who appeared to be in company with the prisoner. As soon as she got at liberty, she attempted to get out out of the house, but both men held her, and prevented her from going. She told them she knew the prisoner, and would "fetch law for him" in the morning. They offered her money to say nothing about it; but she refused to receive it. She cried out "murder!" several times, and as soon as she could get away, went and alarmed one of her neighbours, and told her what happened.
She was cross-examined by Mr. Jones, for nearly two hours, chiefly respecting some discrepancies between her present evidence and her deposition before the Magistrate. It appeared that, in the latter, several circumstances were omitted to which she now swore; and particularly that she recognized the prisoner by his voice, and even that she heard him speak at all. She admitted that she had a child before her marriage; that two men, named Mitchell and Bent, were at her house the same afternoon, and gave her some gin to drink; she could not tell how the prisoner obtained admittance; she found the window shutters and the door open, and the lock of the latter nearly wrenched off; still she could not tell how he got in; was sure that she locked the door and fastened the shutters; she was not drunk when she went to bed, and had never told any body so; she occupied a room on the ground floor of a house, with a separate door opening to the street. Other families lived under the same roof; but it did not appear that any person heard her cry out for assistance.
Mr. Justice Bailey inquired whether there was any further evidence to prove the identity of the prisoner. Being answered in the negative, he left it to the Jury to consider whether they could safely convict a man of a capital offence on the evidence of a person who was merely recognised by his voice. If they were of opinion that they could not, it was useless to proceed further with the case.
The Jury deliberated for a short time, and returned a verdict of Not Guilty.
Mr. Justice Bailey observed, that the verdict did not at all tend to impeach the character of the prosecutrix. He had no doubt she had been used in the manner she described, though she might, perhaps, be mistaken as to the person who had assaulted her.
Mr. Jones, said, he had abundant evidence to prove that the prisoner was in bed at the time; and some to contradict the other statements of the prosecutrix.
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