17 October 1888
THE BATTY-STREET CLUE.
The startling story published yesterday with reference to the finding of a blood-stained shirt and the disappearance of a man from a lodging-house in the East-end proves upon investigation to be of some importance. On Monday afternoon the truth of the statement was given an unqualified denial by the detective officers immediately after its publication, and this presumably because they were anxious to avoid a premature disclosure of facts of which they had been for some time cognizant. From the very morning of the murders, the police, it is stated, have had in their possession a shirt saturated with blood. Though they say nothing they are evidently convinced that it was left in a house in Batty-street by the assassin after he had finished his work. Having regard to the position of this particular house, its close proximity to the yard in Berner-street, where the crime was committed, and to the many intricate passages and alleys adjacent, the police theory has, in all probability, a basis of fact. An examination of the surroundings leads to the conclusion that probably in the whole of Whitechapel there is no quarter in which a criminal would be more likely to evade police detection, or observation of any kind, than he would be in this particular one. At the inquest on Mrs. Stride one of the witnesses deposed to having seen a man and woman standing at the junction of Fairclough and Berner streets early on the morning of the murder. Assuming that the man now sought was the murderer, he would have gained instant access to the house in Batty-street by rapidly crossing over from the yard and traversing a passage, the entrance of which is almost immediately opposite to the spot where the victim was subsequently discovered. The statement has been made that the landlady of the lodging-house, 22, Batty-street-the house in which the shirt was left-was at an early hour disturbed by the movements of the lodger who changed some of his apparel and went away; first, however, instructing her to wash the cast-off shirt by the time he returned. But in relation to this latter theory, the question is how far the result of the inquiries made yesterday is affected by a recent arrest. Although, for reasons known to themselves, the police during Saturday, Sunday, and Monday answered negatively all questions as to whether any person had been arrested or was then in their charge, there is no doubt that a man was taken into custody on suspicion of being the missing lodger from 22, Batty-street, and that he was afterwards set at liberty.
On the reading of Sir Charles Warren's letter upon the administration of the police, at the meeting of the Whitechapel District Board of Works yesterday, Mr. Catmur said that although the outward excitement occasioned by the recent murders had subsided somewhat, yet the uneasiness at the police inefficiency had not diminished, but greatly increased. He moved, therefore, "That this Board hereby expresses its intense disappointment in that the perpetrators of the recent East-end atrocities are still undiscovered, notwithstanding that the Chief Commissioner of Police stated a fortnight ago that 'every nerve has been strained to detect the criminal,' and that a large force of police has been drafted into Whitechapel district to assist those already there to the full necessary to meet the requirements, and that the Home Secretary promised a week since that no means would be spared in tracing the offender and in bringing him to justice. This Board therefore regretfully concludes that the metropolitan police as at present organized are not sufficient, either in numbers or efficiency, so to protect the lives and property of the ratepayers as to secure, in the words of Sir Charles Warren, that 'crime is reduced and brought to a minimum by rendering it most difficult to escape attention.' This Board therefore asks that a Committee of the House of Commons may be appointed as early as possible to inquire into the whole subject of the police arrangements in the metropolis. That a copy of the resolution be forwarded to Sir Charles Warren, to the Home Secretary, to the Prime Minister, and to each of the vestries and district boards, reminding them that while the police are unable to bring criminals to justice, the safety of life and property is in danger throughout the entire metropolis, and asking them for their support in the demand for Parliamentary inquiry." In the course of the discussion that followed Mr. Harris, a member of the City Corporation, demurred to so sweeping and unjustifiable a resolution, and counselled [sic] patience to see whether better fortune attended the exertions which the police were undoubtedly making to track the criminal or criminals.-Mr. A. Turner, clerk to the Board, expressed the opinion that the resolution was a very unwise one, and not one that a deliberative assembly should sanction. Apart from the suspicion of political feeling, it would be a pity to lead countenance to charges so sweeping upon evidence so slight and undefined.-Mr. Robert Gladding (the chairman) said he had nothing like a case for submission to Parliament. It had been declared that crime had "culminated" in these atrocities; but the truth was that these atrocieties [sic] were sui generis. Nothing of the kind had occurred before; they had a character peeculiar [sic] to themselves, and that character made detection under any imaginable police system most unlikely.-In the end the Board divided on the resolution, and rejected it by 16 votes against 15.
At the Clerkenwell Police-court, yesterday, James Phillips and William Jarvis, the two cab washers who are charged with cutting and wounding Detective-sergeant Robinson, when searching, disguised as a woman, for the Whitechapel murderer, were brought before Mr. Bros, and committed for trial, bail being allowed.
At the Clerkenwell Police-court yesterday, James Phillips, 37, and William Jarvis, 40, both cab washers, were charged on remand, before Mr. Bros, with cutting and wounding Detective-sergeant Robinson, G division, in Phœnix-place, St. Pancras, early in the morning of Tuesday, the 9th inst. Jarvis was further charged with assaulting and wounding Henry Doncaster, a private person, on the same occasion.-Mr. Keith Frith, instructed by Mr. Ricketts, appeared for the defence.-The evidence given at the first hearing of the case was to the effect that at the time of the occurrence Detective-sergeant Robinson was on duty disguised in woman's clothing, watching, in company with Detective-sergeant Mather, Mr. Doncaster, and others, a man whose actions had laid him open to suspicion in connection with the East-end murders. While so engaged they were attacked by the two prisoners; Robinson received two stabs in the face from Jarvis, and kicks in the arm and ribs from Phillips, while Doncaster received a stab in the face, and had his jaw dislocated.-Michaelo Rainole, an Italian ice cream vender, said he was with the detectives on the morning of the 9th watching "the man who was supposed to be the man who killed all the women" when the two prisoners came up and asked what they were doing. Robinson took off the woman's hat which he was wearing and said "I am a police officer." He saw Jarvis strike Robinson in the face and cause it to bleed, and he also saw Jarvis, who had something in his hand, deal Doncaster a side blow in the face. Phillips called out to some men in a yard close by to come to his assistance, and witness went to fetch some more police. Cross-examined, the witness denied that the disturbance had begun by the prisoners asking Robinson and the others what they were doing near the cabs, and by Robinson replying "Mind your own business," and thrusting Jarvis back by putting his fist against his chin. It was Jarvis who struck the first blow. He saw Jarvis on the ground, and heard some men cry out to Robinson, "Shame! Leave off hitting him." Jarvis was in a fainting condition and was bleeding when taken to the police station.-Giuseppe Molinari gave corroborative evidence.-Detective Charles Mather, G Division, said he was in company with Robinson. At the time of the occurrence he was watching the suspected person; but he saw the two prisoners come up to Robinson, and he heard some one say, "What are you messing about here for?" Robinson replied, "I am a police constable; you know me. We are watching something." The same voice then said, "Why, it's Robinson." The witness then described the assault, corroborating the previous witnesses. He arrested Jarvis, who tried to throw him. Afterwards Jarvis, who was bleeding, began to feel giddy. Witness admitted, in cross-examination, that none of the plain-clothes officers had shown their warrant cards to prove themselves detectives. They had, he said, no opportunity of doing so.-Frank Mew, police-constable 301 G, arrested Phillips, who said, when told he would be taken to the police-station, "All right, governor, it is not the first time I have been there."-The prisoners, who reserved their defence, were committed for trial, Jarvis on the charge of unlawfully wounding, and Phillips for assaulting the police.-Mr. Bros consented to allow bail, two sureties in 20l.