30 July 1887
(Before Mr. Justice Stephen)
Israel Lipski, 22, stick maker, was indicted for the wilful murder of Miriam Angel.
Mr. Poland and Mr. Charles Mathews conducted the prosecution on the part of the Public Prosecutor; Mr. M'Intyre, Q.C., and Mr. Geoghegan appeared for the defence.
Mr. Poland, in opening the case, said the prisoner was indicted for the wilful murder of a young married woman named Miriam Angel. The prisoner had lived at 16 Batty street, Whitechapel, in which house there also resided the deceased and her husband. The prisoner was a stick maker, and he had engaged a boy named Pitman and a man named Rosenbloom to assist him in that business. At 6.30 on the morning of Tuesday, June 28, the prisoner was seen in the yard of the house dressed. The husband of the deceased had gone to work at 6 o'clock. At 7 o'clock Rosenbloom came to work at the house and the boy Pitman at 8 o'clock. The prisoner went to the shop of a general dealer in Backchurch lane for the purpose of buying a vice and a sponge to be used in his business, and while there he asked what time an oil shop next door opened. Before the prisoner left the house a man named Schmusch called and spoke to the prisoner about working for him. The prisoner told him to go upstairs and wait, which he did for some time, but finding the prisoner did not return he left. The prisoner went to the oil shop and purchased a pennyworth of nitric acid, which was used in his business. The prisoner returned to the house and asked the landlady to get him some coffee. The coffee was prepared, but as the prisoner was not present the landlady called out to him to come down and get it. The boy Pitman answered that the prisoner was not in his room. It was alleged that at that time the prisoner was in the deceased's room. Eventually, as nothing was heard of the deceased, some women lodgers in the house went up to her room on the first floor and called to her. Receiving no answer, and finding that the door locked on the inside, they burst the door open. The deceased was then found lying on the bed dead, with marks of nitric acid on her face and clothing. The alarm was given and a doctor was sent for. A medical man arrived and found that the deceased had been dead for about three hours, rigor mortis not having set in. As the death had been occasioned by nitric acid being poured down the throat of the deceased, search was made for the bottle which had contained the fluid. There was also a serious injury over the deceased's eyes. A man went under the bed for the purpose of looking for the bottle, and in doing so he touched a man's head. The prisoner was then found lying underneath the bed, and there were also marks about his mouth showing that he had taken some of the nitric acid. The bottle was discovered upon the bed. It was alleged on the part of the prosecution that the prisoner entered the deceased's room for some purpose, locked the door on the inside, and being discovered by the deceased it was suggested that he first battered her with his fist and then administered the nitric acid to her, when, finding that she was dead, he took a portion himself, but the quantity he took was not sufficient to occasion his death. A post mortem examination was made of the deceased, and it was found that she had died from suffocation caused by the nitric acid burning her throat. Mr. Poland said it was clear the prisoner could not have gone into the deceased's room with the door locked on the inside for any proper purpose. It was not suggested that the prisoner bought the nitric acid for the purpose of administering it to the deceased, but having it in his pocket at the time he used it. The prisoner was removed to the hospital, and through an interpreter he made a statement to the effect that on the morning in question a man spoke to him at the corner of Backchurch lane about work; when he returned to the house he saw the man and another on the first floor, and they took him by the throat, opened his mouth, and poured some poison down, saying, "That is the brandy you asked for." They asked him whether he had any money, and he replied only the sovereign he had given for the brandy. They asked him where his gold chain was, and he said it was in pawn - they said, "If you don't give us it you will be as dead as the woman;" they threw him down and put a piece of wood in his mouth - one of the men said, "Don't you think he is quite dead," and the other man answered, "Yes, he does not want any more," and they then drew him under the bed and left him for dead. Mr. Poland pointed out the improbable nature of this statement, and said that with reference to the sovereign spoken of by the prisoner he had asked the landlady to lend him 5s that morning, but she refused. It was difficult to conceive a clearer case against the prisoner.
Evidence was then given in support of the charge, Isaac Angel, the husband of the deceased having been called.
Simon Rosenbloom denied emphatically that he was standing with the strange man outside the deceased's room when the prisoner returned. He never stood outside the door. Witness did not have a parcel in his hand, and he did not say to the strange man, "He's here, come in." The strange man and witness did not catch hold of the prisoner, and they did not throw him down.
Mr. Justice Stephen asked whether there was any use in pursuing the questions further.
Mr. M'Intyre replied that he was cross examining on the prisoner's statement. The prisoner could not give his account of the matter.
Mr. Justice Stephen said he had again and again allowed a prisoner to make a statement before his counsel addressed the jury is he wished to do so.
Further evidence bearing out the statement of Mr. Poland having been given, Isaac Schmusch deposed that up to recently he had been working in Birmingham, and was a locksmith. He came to England seven or eight months ago, and among other places he went to Mr. Smidt's, in Backchurch lane, to obtain employment. There he met other Russian Jews. On Monday, June 27, he saw the prisoner there and was engaged by him to file sticks. The prisoner took him to 16 Batty street, and told him to begin work next morning. The next morning - June 28 - he went to the house at 8 o'clock. The prisoner told him to go upstairs and wait a little time and he would give him something to do. Witness went upstairs into the prisoner's room, where he saw the witnesses Pitman and Rosenbloom. He waited 15 minutes, but as the prisoner did not come, he left the house, and at 12 o'clock he went to the shop of Mr. Smidt, who told him of the death of Mrs. Angel. Witness remained at his lodgings for the next eight or ten days, visiting Mr. Smidt every day, and then went to Birmingham for work. He wrote to his landlord from Birmingham.
Cross examined - Witness did not go into the deceased's room. He was not near the door with Rosenbloom when the prisoner returned.
Mrs. Leah Lipski, the landlady of the house 16 Batty street, was next called, and deposed to the facts alleged in the opening statement. She added that the prisoner had lodged in the house for two years. He was a respectable young man and always bore a good character.
Mrs. Angel, the mother in law of the deceased, stated that her daughter was in the habit of coming to her house to breakfast. As she did not come on the morning in question, witness went round to 16 Batty street to see her. As she could get no answer from the deceased, and the room door being locked, witness looked through a window and saw her lying on the bed as if in a faint. They then pushed open the door.
Harris Dywein, a general dealer, deposed that he was acquainted with Mr. and Mrs Angel, and at half past 11 o'clock on the morning of June 28 he heard a noise at the house 16 Batty street, and went there to inquire the cause. On going into Mr. and Mrs. Angel's room, he saw the deceased lying on the bed partially covered. Mr. Piper, assistant to Dr. Kay, was called in, and Dr. Kay came 10 minutes afterwards. Witness looked for a bottle, and on searching under the bed he touched a man's hand. Dr. Kay jumped on the bed and removing a pillow said, "Why, it is a man," and told the witness to send for the police. The prisoner was then brought out from under the bed in an apparently unconscious state. Dr. Kay felt his pulse and slapped his face. The prisoner then opened his eyes. Witness found a bottle on the bed in the middle.
Some additional evidence was given, and the further hearing of the case was adjourned until tomorrow (Saturday) morning.
The jury were not allowed to separate but were taken to an hotel for the night.