Enoch Knowles, 57, a Darlaston labourer, was sentenced at the Stafford Assizes yesterday to three years' penal servitude for sending menacing and obscene letters through the post.
There were several charges against Knowles in relation to letters to women, the letters usually being dispatched after they had given evidence in the Courts in various cases. It was alleged that they contained threats to kill and were filthy in tone.
Mr. A.J. Long, who prosecuted, said that Judges and a journalist, among others, had been threatened with violence, and in one case, when writing to a woman, Knowles described himself as "Jack the Ripper of Whitechapel."
The case had now let light on some things that had worried the authorities in the country for some years. In 1903, when Knowles was only 26 years of age, there was a case at the Quarter Sessions at Stafford of a man tried for maiming horses at Great Wyrley. The case attracted wide interest. The accused man was sentenced to seven years' penal servitude, but later was granted a pardon. He (counsel) was not suggesting that the Home Secretary was affected in any way by the letters Knowles wrote.
Following the trial all sorts of people who had been connected with the case got letters, and the letters indicated that in spite of the conviction the maimings would go on. Letters were received giving the times and places where maimings would take place. Most of the letters purported to come from a person who signed himself "Darby, Captain of the Wyrley Gang."
Knowles joined the Army in 1916. Then in 1919 he got married, and until 1931 matters were all quiet. But in 1931 he got implicated in a county court action, and he apparently had this curious desire again, sending letters to a bailiff who had been in the case. Later he wrote to people on matters that had nothing to do with him at all. On one occasion he wrote a very cruel letter to a member of the Royal Family. The police and the Post Office authorities had been for years trying to find out who was writing these letters.
It was stated that Knowles's guilt was eventually established when a postcard from him to some relatives was compared, in the post office, with the obscene communications.
For the defence it was submitted that Knowles, who had pleaded "Guilty," had written the letters at times when he had been worried or not in the best of health.
In passing sentence MR. JUSTICE MACNAGHTEN said he took into account Knowles's age and previous good character.