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The Times (London).
Tuesday, 17 February 1891.


The police, after detaining the man James Thomas Sadler upwards of 40 hours in the Leman-street Police-station, considered that they had then sufficient evidence to charge him with the wilful murder of the young woman, who has now been positively identified as Frances Coles; and the charge was formally preferred by Detective Inspector Moore about 12 o’clock on Sunday night. With regard to this, the police in charge of the case have acted in an unusual manner. As late as yesterday morning, Superintendent Arnold issued strict orders to the officers engaged at the police-court that no information was to be given to any one as to whether the man was to be brought before the magistrate or not.

In addition to the evidence of the witnesses who will be called at a future date to prove the connexion of the accused man with the deceased woman, another most important fact has been brought to light through the exertions of Detective Sergeants Record and Ward. These officers, in the course of their inquiries, are said to have found a man named Donald Campbell, who was able to furnish them with startling facts concerning a knife which he had purchased from Sadler on Friday morning. Campbell, who is a seafaring man, and at present staying at the Sailor’s Home, Well-street, Whitechapel, stated that about 11 o’clock on Friday morning, at the Home, he saw Sadler, whom he had not met before. The latter produced a peculiarly shaped knife, and offered it for sale for a shilling. Campbell purchased the knife, and, after receiving the money, Sadler went away. The purchaser then noticed that the handle had a clammy feeling, and also that the blade was stained. He washed the knife, and when doing so saw that the water had a reddish appearance. Campbell afterwards sold the knife, but was able to furnish the detective officers with the name of the person who had purchased it from him. By that means it was secured. On Sunday morning Campbell went to the Leman-street Police-station and picked Sadler out from amongst a number of other men.

On Sunday Sadler complained of a pain in his side, and on being examined by the divisional surgeon he was found to be suffering from a broken rib. Yesterday Dr. Houchin visited the Arbour-square Police-station and treated the injury. Sadler, while being detained at the police-station, was not able to give any coherent account of his movements after an early hour on Thursday night, owing to the condition he was in from the effects of drink. He stated that he met the deceased woman on Wednesday and passed that night with her at a common lodging-house. During the greater portion of Thursday he was in her company and gave her money. He strongly denies having had anything to do with her death. The police still incline to the belief that the prisoner has had nothing to do with the previous murders in Whitechapel, and, in fact, one or two of his discharges prove that he was away at sea at the time some of them were committed.

It has been ascertained that the woman Coles was the daughter of an old bootmaker, who is now an inmate of the Bermondsey Workhouse. She was 25 years of age, and at one time was engaged in an East-end bottling warehouse.

At the Thames Police-court yesterday afternoon, before Mr. Mead, JAMES THOMAS SADLER, 53, described as a ship’s fireman, residing at the Victoria lodging-house, Upper East Smithfield, was charged by Detective-inspector Moore, of the Criminal Investigation Department, with wilfully causing the death of Frances Coles, by cutting her throat with a knife, or some sharp instrument, at Swallow-gardens, on the 13th inst.

Superintendent T. Arnold and Chief Inspector Swanson watched the case on behalf of the Commissioners of Police.

The accused appeared to be still suffering from the effects of drink. During the evidence of witnesses, he listened attentively to all that was said, and frequently interrupted them.

Superintendent Arnold asked that only the evidence of arrest might be then taken, in order that the Treasury might take up the case on the next occasion.

Mr. MEAD said he must have some evidence to connect the prisoner with the charge that was preferred against him.

Samuel Harris was then called, and, in answer to the magistrate’s clerk, said, - I am a fish-curer, and live at 8, White’s Row, Spitalfields. I was in my dwellinghouse about half-past 9 on Thursday evening. I had been there about an hour and a half when I saw a woman whom I knew by the name of Frances. She was sitting on a form, with her head resting on the table. That was in the kitchen of the lodging-house. About half-past 11 I saw a man come in. The prisoner is that man. He was alone. He looked round the kitchen, in which there were other men and women, and then he sat down by the side of Frances. I heard him ask her if she had any lodging money. She looked up at him, and again laid her head on the table, but made no reply. He then said, "I have been robbed, and if I knew who had done it I would do for them."

The Prisoner. - Be careful.

Witness, continuing, said, - About half-past 12 he went out alone, and the woman still remained in the kitchen.

Superintendent Arnold. - Can I ask him a question?

Mr. MEAD. - Certainly not. It is only an advocate’s privilege to do that.

Witness. - Before he went out he produced a certificate - a money discharge.

The Prisoner. - An account of wages.

Witness, continuing, said, - He asked me to let him go up to bed, and I could take care of the document. I noticed he had to take about £4 odd. About three or four minutes afterwards I saw Frances tuck a black crape hat under her dress. At the time she was wearing another hat. She then walked out.

By the Clerk. - The following afternoon the police took me to the mortuary, and I recognized the woman.

The Prisoner. - I wish to jog his memory about what he said about the robbery. The girl was with me when I was robbed. Just read that part again, please.

The Clerk having done so, the accused said, - I wish him to verify that statement, or to draw it back - that I would do for them.

Witness. - You did say that. Prisoner was drunk, and so was the woman. I noticed he had a bruise over the left eye, and blood was coming from the place where I now see the mark.

The Prisoner. - I had a lot of blood on this side, too, which he does not seem to have noticed.

Sergeant W. Edwards, 7 H said, - Shortly before 2 o’clock on Friday morning I was on duty on the Mint Pavement. I saw the prisoner, who, in my opinion, was drunk. I could see he was suffering from a cut over the left eye; and he said he had been knocked about by some men at the dock gates.

The Prisoner. - That is quite right.

Witness. - I asked him how it occurred. He replied, "I was going to my ship, which is lying in the dock, and the gatekeeper refused to admit me, as I daresay I was drunk. The gatekeeper told me if it wasn’t for one man, a metropolitan constable, who was there, he would give me what I deserved -a good hiding; and if the officer would only turn his back he would do it then. The constable walked away, when a gang of dock labourers came out of the gates, started on me, knocked me down, and kicked me in the ribs. I believe my ribs are broken." I walked about 30 yards with the prisoner, and I examined his ribs to see if they were broken. I was not satisfied, and offered to take him to the hospital. Constable Hyde came up, and he also examined his ribs, and we then thought he was all right. Prisoner said, "I believe I am not so much hurt as I thought I was," and then he walked towards the Minories. At 2:45 I was informed that the body of a woman had been found. When I saw the prisoner I was about 500 yards from Swallow-gardens. In my opinion, he was certainly drunk. I saw nothing of the woman previously.

The Prisoner. - I think he is pretty near the mark. I was drunk and thought I was going the other way.

William Fewell said, - I am night porter in the receiving room of the London Hospital. A little before 5 on Friday morning I was on duty in the receiving room when the man in the dock came in with a lacerated scalp and a small cut over the eye. I trimmed the hair from the scalp wound, which was on the right side, and also washed his face. I asked him how he came by it, and he replied, "The truth of it is I have been with a woman and she has done me."

The Prisoner. - Be careful.

Witness. - I asked him whether it was for much. He replied, "Only for 7s. or 8s. and a watch. I shouldn’t have minded that, but they knocked me about." Prisoner was trembling very much, and I asked him why he trembled so. He said, "I am so cold. I have been walking about. Can you give me something to warm me?" I told him I had nothing to give him, and persuaded him to go on to his lodgings. He said, "Unfortunately, I have got none. I have only been on shore one night, and have not secured any." He also told me his ship was lying in the London Dock. I saw there was blood on his hands, and asked him if they were cut. It was some few seconds before he answered, and before doing so he put up his hands and looked at them. He then said, "Yes, my finger is cut. He (or they) had a knife." I looked at the finger and saw that it was only a slight cut. I then said, "All the blood cannot come from that little cut." He replied "Well, if it didn’t come from that it came from my head." I asked him where it happened, and he said "In Ratcliffe-highway, near Leman-street." He also added that he had been into one or two places to get a few halfpence, so that he could buy refreshments, but they chucked him out. If he could borrow a little he would be willing to pay treble for it as he had £5 to draw. The receiving-room nurse then dressed his wound, as it was too slight for the doctor to be called. As he seemed so queer I let him lie on a sofa, and he went to sleep. He slept for an hour and a half. Then I woke him up, and told him he would have to go, as I was soon going off duty. I gave him a penny and he seemed grateful for it, and went away.

Mr MEAD. - Do you want to ask the witness any questions?

The Prisoner. - There are two or three little things, but I am not in good trim to cross-examine. I am thoroughly hungry and cold. I have had nothing since tea-time last night, and I don’t feel fit to take an interest in the proceedings. I have been shifted from one cold cell to another, and my clothes have been taken off me at the will and option of the police and doctors. I have not anything to ask now. I am not fit to do it. There are one or two things wrong in what he says, but I can’t ask anything now. I am really too hungry.

Mr. MEAD. - Now let us have some evidence about the finding of the body.

Superintendent Arnold said, - Shortly after 3 o’clock on the morning of the 13th I went to Swallow-gardens. I there saw the body of the female, with a cut in her throat. She was dead. That is the body which Harris afterwards saw. I now ask for a remand.

Mr. MEAD. - Have you any questions to ask?

The Prisoner. - I should like something to eat.

Superintendent Arnold. - You shall have something.

The Prisoner. - It’s about time.

Mr. MEAD. - You are remanded until to-morrow week.

Related pages:
  James Sadler
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       Press Reports: East London Advertiser - 28 February 1891 
       Press Reports: East London Advertiser - 7 March 1891 
       Press Reports: East London Observer - 28 March 1891 
       Press Reports: Times - 3 March 1891 
       Press Reports: Times - 4 March 1891 
       Press Reports: Times [London] - 16 February 1891 
       Press Reports: Times [London] - 18 February 1891 
       Press Reports: Times [London] - 24 February 1891 
       Press Reports: Times [London] - 25 February 1891 
       Press Reports: Times [London] - 28 February 1891 
       Press Reports: Woodford Times - 27 February 1891