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Reminiscences of Superintendent Mulvany

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Reminiscences of Superintendent Mulvany

Post by Karen on Sun 11 Sep 2011 - 22:32


as told by George R. Sims.

After forty years' service in the Metropolitan Police, Mr. John Mulvany, Superintendent since 1895 of the H Division, which is chiefly associated in the public mind with Whitechapel, comprises the whole of the Stepney Borough from Wapping to Spitalfields, half Bethnal Green, and a portion of Shoreditch, and it includes the Tower and the Mint.
An intimate acquaintance with the district with which Superintendent Mulvany has latterly been associated, and the privilege of enjoying the distinguished officer's personal friendship, are the reasons which have led me to induce a man who is modesty personified to confide to me some portion of the strange history of a police officer of high rank, whose professional lot has for many years been cast in an area where some of the most sensational dramas of crime have been enacted.
Some of the events in which Superintendent Mulvany acted as the principal representative of the law at the time of their occurrence are already historical. I need only name the Sidney-street siege as one of them. It was for Superintendent Mulvany, to speak the word as to the action the police were to take on that memorable occasion, and he spoke it.
But apart from his remarkable experiences in a quarter which presents the most complex problem of humanity in London, the views of an eminent and widely-experienced officer have a special value not only to the criminologist but to the sociologist.
Superintendent Mulvany knows his East-end as few men know it, and its varied life is an open book to him. But the interest he has taken in it has not only been that of a superintendent of police. He has probed its mysteries with the open mind of a student of human nature, and many of his suggestions concerning the well-being of the community have been acted upon with the happiest results.
But in gathering his reminiscences from his own lips to lay them before the readers of "Lloyd's" my first object has naturally been to obtain a record of his most interesting experiences in the detection of crime.
I have in my library a dozen large and closely-printed volumes in which scientific men have set forth their views with regard to the criminal, his mind, his manners, and his methods.

Habitual Criminals' Methods.

The change in the attitude of science and literature towards crime has been brought about by the recognition of the fact that crime is a disease and the criminal a degenerate.
The scientific criminologist discusses criminality from the point of view of heredity, environment, and stress. He seeks for the cause of criminality. In professional criminal investigation the man whose task it is to bring the criminal to justice deals with the effects.
The professional criminal investigator must, like the criminologist, have a knowledge of the criminal mind, manners, and methods. But he must have something which the criminologist does not possess. He must have a personal acquaintance with the habits of criminals, he must have an intimate knowledge of habitual criminals, required by being brought into contact them from the earliest years of his service. He must be, by long practice, so familiar with the methods, not of types but of individuals, as to be able to study the scene of a crime and to know almost at a glance if the crime is that of an old hand or of a novice.
The habitual criminal usually commits his crime in a manner peculiar to himself, and leaves behind him signs of his particular form of handiwork, which are known to the police as "hand-writing."
No man in the Metropolitan Police Force can rise to the position of superintendent who has not served his apprenticeship in the service and commenced as a constable. It is while he is on street duty that he acquires the rudiments of his calling, and begins to get into touch with men, a familiarity with whose faces is afterwards of the greatest use to him.
And so when I begged my friend Superintendent Mulvany, to tell me the story of his experiences, I asked him to begin at the beginning and tell me first of all what it was that induced him to become a policeman.
"My father wanted me to go into a merchant's office," said Mr. Mulvany, smiling. "One day he told me that he had secured an excellent opening for me with a City firm, and we set out together to see the principal.
"It was a beautiful summer morning, and I enjoyed the walk, rather a long one, immensely, for I loved exercise and the open-air.
"But my heart sank down into my boots when we turned into a narrow lane with huge blocks of warehouses on either side of it, and we entered a building in which, though it was broad daylight, the gas was lighted.
"We went into an office with a big daylight reflector attached to the only window. The window looked on to a blank wall. My father introduced me to the principal, and then they had a conversation to themselves. But it was settled that I was to attend the next week and start as a junior clerk at a nominal salary.

First Years in the Force.

"When we got out into the street I opened my mouth and drew in the fresh air greedily. "Well, John," said my father, "you're a lucky lad. You're starting with a fine firm, and if you are diligent and painstaking you are sure to get on."
"I shook my head.
"I shall never get on in an office that is lighted with gas on a summer's day and looks out on a blank wall, father," I said.
"Thank you very much," but I'll try and get something that leaves the sky above my head and daylight in my eyes."
"And that is how I shook the dust of the City from my feet in one way, and got the dust of the streets on my boots instead. It was my love of fresh air that caused me to enter the service from which after forty years hard, but to me always congenial, work, I have now retired.
"I joined the Force in May, 1871, and was posted in the P Division, which includes Walworth and the Elephant and Castle.
"I had three-and-a-half years' good schooling in a rough neighbourhood, and although I had many a "rough-and-tumble" I managed to come through without every being badly knocked about.
"When I first did police duty things were rough, but there was not that element of danger from fire-arms which there is now.
"The native criminal did not carry a "barker." No expert cracksman would carry one or work with a man who did.
"I remember talking on this subject with a once well-known housebreaker who had retired from business on account of a nervous breakdown. He said to me that he could not understand this new-fangled idea of men in his trade carrying revolvers. If a man used one he was not only likely to make a hanging job of what might only have been five years at the worst, but the cracksman who fired a revolver when he was out on business was doing just the very thing he ought to avoid, that is, attracting attention. It would be just as sensible for a burglar to go about his business, and in a moment of danger ring a fire alarm bell.

Enterprising Receivers.

"The Walworth Division when I was a constable, was a great haunt of the cracksmen of the Midlands and the North country. They used to come there because there were some enterprising receivers in the neighbourhood, and, consequently, a ready market for the proceeds of their provincial enterprises, but it was rare indeed to find any man in possession of firearms. The use of the revolver has come in with the large influx of foreign criminals.
"The neighbourhood of the Elephant and Castle was very different in the early seventies from what it is now. Within a hundred yards of the famous tavern there was, when I first went on duty there, a very low street, which was called Lock's Fields. Every house in it was occupied by a class likely to create disturbance on the slightest provocation, and to give vent to their emotions by deed as well as by word.
"One of my first experiences as a young constable was finding myself absorbed in a huge crowd of people assembled in this street to greet with vociferous cheers the entertainment provided for them by a sailor.
"The sailor had been robbed in a room of the upper floor of one of the two-storeyed houses. He signified his resentment by rushing to the window, flinging it wide open, and throwing the contents of the room into the street below. Two chairs, a table, the fire-irons, bedding, glass, crockery, everything he could lay his hands upon followed each other in rapid succession through the window, while the mob shrieked with delight, and encouraged him with loud shouts of "Go it, Jack!"
"When he had thoroughly broken up the little home and cast it forth he climbed through the window, hung for a moment to the sill, dropped to the ground with the lightness and agility of a cat, and went dancing up the street, waving a torn window curtain and followed by a portion of the crowd, while the rest scrambled for the wreckage of the furniture.
"There was no necessity for me to hesitate as to what I ought to do. The mob had settled the question for me directly I made my appearance in the street. I was hemmed in the whole time, and rendered a helpless but interested spectator of the scene.
"Another odd incident of my first beat that I recall occurred one morning in the Walworth-road. Soon after the shops had opened for the business of the day a tradesman came to me and said, "Constable, there's a navvy breaking up the road just in front of my shop. I asked him what he's doing, and can't get anything out of him. I wish you'd come and look at him."
"I went with him, and there sure enough in the middle of the road was a navvy. He had laid his dinner, done up in a red handkerchief, on the kerb, and he was working with his pick-axe making a hole in the roadway.
"As it was not usual for big holes to be dug in this way in the middle of a busy thoroughfare, I went up to him and asked him what job he was on.
"I'm making a new underground railway," he replied, and went on making the hole larger.
"What, all by yourself? Where are your mates?"

Detained For Inquiries.

"Higher up along the road. But they're not my mates; I've got the contract."
"Ah," I said, "I see; then you must be the man I was given a message for. Your foreman tells me he wants to consult you."
"Oh, he's a fool! I've given him full instructions. But where is he?"
"I'll take you to him."
"The navvy picked up his dinner, shouldered his pick, and walked by my side. We walked as far as the police station, where the inspector detained him for inquiries. We found eventually that he had been released from Colney Hatch only the previous day.
"That was my first lunatic. I have had to do business with a good many since, but I have never had to interfere with another who carried a pickaxe.
"After three years on street duty I became Sergeant Clerk to the Superintendent of the Division, and for a whole year I gave up the joys of fresh air, and then I became Station Officer at Sudbury in the T Division, and took my walks abroad once more, but in a more romantic district than the Walworth-road.
"My next move was to Peckham, where I was promoted to Inspector, and it was here that I was instrumental in unravelling a mystery which was quite in the nature of a London Journal romance.
"In the middle eighties there resided in South London an old lady, a widow, of rather eccentric habits, who possessed a considerable amount of house property in the neighbourhood of Camberwell.
About the year 1884, she employed a young man as a sort of "Jack of all trades" to do repairs generally and keep her houses in proper condition. This man did his work so satisfactorily than in about a year he induced Mrs. B. to marry him, she being about seventy, while his years numbered only some twenty-seven.
"This man brought his mother and his brothers and sisters to reside with himself and his aged bride, a course that soon led to disaster. Domestic troubles arose, and there were frequent appearances at the local police-court, which eventually culminated in the aged wife separating from her husband and going to reside with a sister and niece of hers in another of her houses.
"Soon afterwards she was taken ill, and her illness was followed by a paralytic seizure. The family consulted, and she agreed to make her will. The time and date for her solicitor to attend to do so were fixed, and it was thought desirable that her husband should be notified as to what was contemplated, and he was accordingly written to.
"On the day specified, the will was made and duly signed by the old lady, but the husband did not put in an appearance.
"About a week after the will had been made - one bitter morning in the month of January, 1886 - a four-wheeled cab drove up to within a few yards of the old lady's house, but just round the corner. A man got out, and, going up to the door, knocked. Mrs. B.'s aged sister answered the knock, whereupon the man put his foot in the door, called out to some other men in the cab, and he and they at once forced themselves into the house, and went upstairs carrying blankets.
"The man and his companions at once proceeded to wrap the old lady in blankets, and, despite the resistance and screams of her sister and niece, succeeded in placing her in the cab and driving away.
"During the commotion the lady living in the next house, thinking the proceeding an extraordinary one, took the number on the back of the cab.
"Armed with this the old lady's niece proceeded to the police station and related what had happened, and asked police assistance.
"It was at once apparent to the Superintendent that the case presented considerable difficulties from the fact that the parties were husband and wife. He, however, suggested that the family solicitor should be sent for to consider the position, which was done, and it was decided to apply for a warrant against the man, who had been recognised as the old lady's husband, for assault.
"In the meanwhile, I had traced the cab driver (who also turned out to be the proprietor), and inquired of him where he had removed the old lady to. The man flatly denied all knowledge of the affair till I pointed out to him that the lady who took his cab number had plenty of time to observe him, and had given an exact description of him, and would doubtless identify him. The result of this being pointed out to him, the driver eventually gave in, and stated where he had removed the old lady to. With this information I proceeded to the police court and received the warrant.

Read the Warrant.

"The house to which the old lady had been taken was in N----- street, a turning off the main road. Standing at the junction of two streets, it was one of those large, rambling old houses at one time frequently met with in suburban districts. The entrance stood in the side street, and was approached by a double set of steps, while the iron receptacles for the flambeaux used in bygone days still stood at each side.
"When I arrived at the house I found a brother of the husband on guard outside. He at once asked my business. Being told that what had occurred had been the subject of an application to the magistrate, and that the magistrate had directed me to call and see if the old lady was well treated, the man went up to the door and knocked twice. A voice inside asked who was there. The brother's reply being satisfactory a great unchaining and unbolting took place inside, and we were admitted.
"The hall was large, with a wide old oak staircase leading to the rooms above. On the first floor we entered a room facing the front of the house. It was very large, with bow windows. The husband was in the room, and immediately inside the door on the right the old lady was in bed. She recognised the police uniform, and struggled to get up in bed, raising her hands imploringly to me and pointing to the door. The husband's mother, seeing this, came forward and said, "What is the matter, dear? Lie down, there's a dear. You are very comfortable."
"At this juncture I took the warrant from my pocket and read it to the husband, telling him I should arrest him. There was much commotion at this announcement, the family loudly protesting against the proceedings, and declaring he should not be taken, the husband himself joining in, saying the woman was his wife and the law could not interfere.
"Finding the resistance considerable, I pointed out to the man and his family that the circumstances of the removal in such inclement weather (it was snowing at the time) and its secrecy had justified the issue of the warrant. I explained that prior to entering the house I had arranged at the police-station that if, after entering, I was not out in twenty minutes, the doors and windows of the lower part of the house would be broken in by a body of police. The man appeared inclined to make trouble for me; but the family got nervous, and advised him to go to the station quietly, which he did.

Dramatic Meeting.

"The case was heard by the magistrate next day, and the old lady's doctor stated emphatically in his evidence that her life had been endangered by the summary removal in such weather.
The magistrate thereupon decided to remand the man for four days on bail, and directed that the wife's doctor and the doctor in attendance on her at her husband's instance should meet at the house and consult as to her condition, and if he was satisfied she was being properly cared for it would influence his decision.
"When the day arrived for the medical consultation, I accompanied the old lady's doctor to the house. When we were ushered into the room we found a tall gentleman looking out of the bow window into the street.
"The old lady occupied the bed in the same position as before and acted in the same manner. The room though large was rather dark. The husband's mother called the gentleman from the window and said that he was the old lady's medical attendant. On the two doctors approaching each other, they simultaneously drew back in a most dramatic fashion. The old lady's own doctor exclaimed, "What, you!" Immediately the other doctor made a dash for his hat and rushed from the house.
"The old lady's doctor at once explained that the man was a fraud. He knew him well, and some years previously had caused him to be proceeded against for practising without a diploma. The genuine doctor thereupon examined the old lady himself and at once decided that her life was being endangered by her detention and advised her removal to her own home. A cab was sent for, blankets obtained, and she was taken home by the doctor and myself.
"The old lady lingered some weeks, but eventually succumbed to the attack of paralysis.
"I was not long in discovering the object of the mysterious removal of an apparently dying woman.
"The husband had been notified that his wife was making a will. He knew that he was not likely to benefit by it. The old lady had long since repented of her folly in marrying such a fellow.
"How was this difficulty to be got over? The husband decided that the best way to do it was, with the connivance of his relatives to "kidnap" the dying woman, take her to a house where she would be entirely under the control of members of his own family, and then to have a new will prepared which the dying woman would be forced to sign.
"It is quite possible that the plot would have been successfully carried out but for the fortunate circumstance that an observant neighbour took the number of the cab in which the captive had been removed, and thus enabled me to trace the victim of the plot to the place to which her husband and his accomplices had carried her.

Work of the C.I.D.

"The old lady's sister and niece profited by the will and removed into the country.
"While the young man and his wife were living together a number of bonds were stolen. All efforts to trace them at the time failed, but about a year after the old lady's death one of her husband's family was found dealing with them, was prosecuted and punished.

"My next move was back to Walworth, and there I remained for years, during which time I was appointed to the Criminal Investigation Department.
"It is in the work of Criminal Investigation that what the public would call the "romance" of a police officer's life begins. It is in this connection that he becomes more intimately concerned in the unravelling of "mysteries," and his logical faculty is brought into play.
"He leaves the routine of station work and starts out to pass, as it were, behind the scenes of a strange underworld and to be brought into close personal contact with the actors in those dramas and tragedies of real life that thrill, entrance, or horrify all classes of the community. He has to find the key to enigmas for which the public are clamouring for a solution. He has to follow up suspicion until it becomes proof, to piece the facts together until he has a chain in which there is no faulty link. The process to a zealous and intelligent officer - and the men of the Criminal Investigation Department must have both qualities if they are to be of real service to the cause of justice - is an absorbing one. It keeps the mental faculties and the powers of observation in constant exercise, and it leaves very few dull moments in the life of a man whose heart is in his work.
"It was from the time that I was appointed to the Criminal Investigation Department that the "romance"- if I may use the word - of my calling became apparent to me. Because of the keen interest I took in them most of the famous cases, with the varied incidents connected with them, have remained fresh in my memory to this day."
"One of the most interesting must have been that of the woman-poisoner, Neill Cream," I remarked. "You were closely connected with that case, were you not?"
"Oh, yes," said Mr. Mulvany, "Neill Cream was one of the most remarkable criminals with whom I was ever brought in contact. That experience has remained so vividly impressed upon my mind that from memory I can tell you the whole story now."

[To be continued in next week's "Lloyd's News."]

Source: Lloyd's Weekly News, December 24, 1911, Page 9

Last edited by Karen on Tue 13 Sep 2011 - 1:42; edited 3 times in total

Karen Trenouth
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Re: Reminiscences of Superintendent Mulvany

Post by Karen on Tue 13 Sep 2011 - 19:29



I have always taken a keen interest in the story of the extraordinary criminal, Doctor Neill Cream, the wholesale poisoner of women, and I have, while studying the case, come into possession of some remarkable details in connection with his peculiarly infamous career.
The full story of this amazing scoundrel has yet to be written, but, with the unravelling of the mystery surrounding the series of crimes known as the South London murders, Mr. Mulvany - then Chief Inspector Mulvany - was very closely connected. It was, therefore, with the greatest satisfaction that I found myself in a position to hear the true story of the running to earth and capture of the infamous Neill Cream from the lips of the eminent officer who was so largely concerned in bringing it about.
Neill Cream, murderer, forger, incendiary, blackmailer, and wholesale poisoner of women, carried on his peculiar pursuits in Canada and America for the purposes of gain. Having narrowly escaped capital punishment across the Atlantic, he came to this country and, undaunted by the years of imprisonment he had suffered, started almost immediately on a peculiar campaign of crime which, although not altogether unknown abroad, was without precedence in England. He administered poison to women of a certain class, solely for the purpose of gloating over the fact that he had inflicted the most excruciating torture upon them.
He carried out his abominable crimes so cunningly that he left no clue to his identity, and when he was at last arrested, largely through the skill and cleverness of Chief Inspector Mulvany and Detective Inspector Harvey, he had brought at least six women to an agonising death, and in all probability several more whose fate could not be connected, by absolute proof, with the fact that he had made their chance acquaintance.

Murder for Pleasure!

To the students of the psychology of crime Neill Cream has always been a fascinating subject. His criminal career may be divided into two periods. During the first period, which he spent in Canada and America, he murdered for profit. During the second period, which he spent in London, he poisoned purely for pleasure.
It is no business of the official criminal investigator charged with the discovery of the perpetrator of a crime and the bringing of the guilty person when discovered to the bar of justice, to trouble himself with the psychological aspect of the affair. But it is part of the duty of the prosecution to discover if possible a motive for the crime, because, in murder cases, especially those in which the evidence is what is known as circumstantial, motive largely affects the balance when the jury are weighing up the evidence, pro and con, in their own ordinary business minds.
To explain to an ordinary common jury the motive which impelled a man of education, and, in a certain sense, of refinement, to poison a girl of the unfortunate class directly he made her acquaintance, would have been a difficult task. The reason is well known to scientific men and criminologists, but it does not appeal to the ordinary everyday citizen.
Fortunately, the chain of evidence which the police were able to link together was so strong, and the accused had, in his own over-cunning, so completely given his own case away that there was no necessity to go very deeply into motive in the case of Neill Cream. The fact that he, and he alone, was the poisoner of half-a-dozen women, who had all died in agony after exhibiting the same symptoms, was so clearly established by the police that the "motive" was left for the initiated to discuss among themselves.
It was in the discovery of the mysterious poisoner, the obtaining of sufficient proof of his identity to justify an arrest, that Superintendent Mulvany was especially concerned, and it is from the point of view of clever detective work that his narrative is so supremely interesting.

What a Policeman Saw.

"About the end of the year 1891," said the Superintendent, "a young woman of the unfortunate class, named Ellen Donworth, was found dying in a room in a court off the Waterloo-road. She expired before anything could be done for her, and nothing was elicited as to the cause of her illness. An inquest was held, and a verdict returned of "Death from the effects of poison, self-administered, while of unsound mind." The matter excited no suspicion as to foul play. It was a case of suicide, and it was passed from men's minds.
"I was not serving in the district at that time.
"In the month of April, 1892, at which time I was Chief-Inspector in the district, two young women, named Marsh and Shrivell, were found dying at 118, Stamford-street, Waterloo-road, the circumstances being these: -
"At about two a.m. the constable on the beat saw a young woman let a man out of the door. There is a forecourt to the house in question, and a street lamp immediately opposite the door. The constable coming up the street, from the Blackfriar's-road, noticed a man wearing a tall hat and glasses, stoutly built, and about 5ft. 8in. high, leaving the house. The man, after bidding the young woman "Good-night," turned to the right and went towards York-road. About 2:30 a.m. the same constable, on coming round again, heard screams from the same house, and saw a cab at the door. The constable at once entered the house, and found the girl Shrivell being carried out. She was in great agony. He assisted in placing the girl in the cab. On proceeding upstairs he found another girl named Marsh lying across a chair, and also in great agony. He helped to bring her down, placed her in the cab, and at once drove with the two girls to St. Thomas's Hospital.

Empty Tin as Clue.

"On the way he asked Shrivell what was the matter. She said, pointing to Marsh, "It's her friend, Fred, who said he was a doctor, gave us some pills." The constable said, "Was that the man I saw you let out at two o'clock?" She replied, "Yes, I saw you pass at the time."
"Both women died soon after arriving at the hospital, before any further information could be obtained from them.
"The matter was reported to the station, and I and Detective-Inspector Harvey took the case in hand. On making inquiry at the house in the morning, the landlady denied that any man was there the previous evening. A search of the room occupied by the women revealed nothing except that some empty bottles of Bass and an empty tin that had contained salmon were on the table, and some letters were also found showing that the girls' parents resided at Brighton and presumably had no knowledge of the life they were leading. We took possession of the empty salmon tin, and ultimately it played a most important part in the case. It was really the first clue to a mystery which baffled the police for a very long time.
"The doctors at the hospital were at first of opinion that the women had died from ptomaine poisoning.
"But the case presented features which made further investigation imperative, and we made every effort, without success, to trace the man who had been seen to leave 118, Stamford-street. I failed completely and so did my colleague, Inspector Harvey.
"The inquest was held, and it was found after several adjournments that the women had died from strychnine poisoning, but there was no evidence to show by whom administered.
"The coroner received an anonymous letter some weeks after the termination of the inquest, stating that the poisoner of the girls Shrivell and Marsh was a young doctor named Harper, residing in Lambeth Palace-road, who had left his lodging the day after the murders, and had gone to reside with his father, a doctor living at Barnstaple, Devon. Inquiry was made, and it was found that a Dr. Harper had resided at the address in the Lambeth Palace-road. He had passed the required examinations, had obtained his diploma as a surgeon, and had left his lodgings in the ordinary way after notice. This anonymous letter increased the mystery, for young Dr. Harper, of whom we had a full description, did not in any way answer the description of the man who had been seen leaving the house in Stamford-street.

Paroxysms of Pain.

"The course we now decided to adopt was to send plain clothes officers into the Strand and vicinity to describe to the women of a certain class the man who called himself a doctor and said his name was Fred, and to ask them if they knew or had heard of such a man. This course ultimately led to the finding of a woman who said she had known such a man, but had not seen him for some time. She also said that a friend of hers who resided in the same house as herself in Lambeth-road, named Matilda Clover, had in the preceding November died a death exactly similar to the Stamford-street girls. Her statement was taken, and it was to this effect: Clover was friendly with a man who used to visit her. She called him Fred, and he said he was a doctor. One evening in November, 1891, he came by appointment to supper. He sent out for bottled beer and tinned salmon. He asked a girl who was in company with Clover at the time to stay and have supper with them, but, fortunately for herself, she had an appointment, and left.
"On her return, about 1:30 a.m., she heard Clover groaning, and, going into her room, asked what was the matter. Clover said that Fred had given her some pills. The poor girl was lying half-dressed across the bed, which was out of its usual place. She explained that in her agony, during the paroxysms of pain, she had pushed the bed away from the wall with her head.
"Our informant at once called the landlady, and a doctor was sent for. On arrival he questioned Clover, and later sent her a bottle of medicine, but she died in great agony soon afterwards.
"The doctor inquired what the girl had had for supper, and was informed that it consisted of bottled beer and tinned salmon. Clover was buried on the doctor's certificate that she had died of delirium tremens and syncope.
"Somerset House was next visited and a search of the death register made. There, curiously enough, we found the deaths of Ellen Donworth and Matilda Clover in consecutive entries, but at this time there was no connection in our minds between the two cases. It was the case of Shrivell and Marsh that had led us to look into the Clover case.
"On visiting Lambeth-road, where Clover had lived and died, the landlady - the same person as in Clover's time - denied all knowledge of her, and answered us that neither she nor anyone had died there in the preceding November. On these facts we obtained an order to exhume Clover's body. She was interred in a pauper's grave at Tooting Cemetery, having been at this time buried six months and a fortnight.
"Arrangements were made with the cemetery authorities and the late Dr. Stevenson, of Guy's Hospital. He and his assistants attended to make a post-mortem on the body. Thirteen coffins had to be taken up to get at Clover's. We had her uncle at the cemetery to see if it was possible to identify her; also the undertaker who had placed her in the coffin. There was no difficulty in identifying it, the plate with name being quite fresh.
"The coffin was conveyed into the mortuary, and there opened by the cemetery authorities in the presence of Dr. Stevenson, two gentlemen he had with him, myself, and Inspector Harvey. Contrary to expectation, the body was found to be quite fresh and without taint. The doctors at once attributed this to a vegetable poison. I saw the post-mortem made. In the meanwhile the uncle had identified his niece, as had also the undertaker.

Plan to Delay Death.

"The post-mortem operations revealed the heart, liver, and other organs to be quite fresh. The doctors scooped up red blood from the cavity of the stomach. Parts of the various organs were removed for examination, and this gruesome episode of the case ended.
"A large quantity of strychnine was found in the unfortunate girl's body. Dr. Stevenson at his laboratory administered some of the blood found in the stomach to a frog, with the result that it died instantly.
"In the meanwhile we had vigorously prosecuted the search amongst the women, hoping by this means to get into touch with the man "Fred," who always sent out for bottled beer and tinned salmon for the suppers of his companions. The reason for the "supper" was obvious. The beer and the tinned fish delayed the action of the poison, and enabled the murderer to get clear away before the agony of his victim caused her to shriek for help.

"Complete success at last attended our plan, and "Fred" was found with a girl in a public-house near Westminster Bridge one night by the late Detective-Sergeant Ward. He was followed home with the girl, and observation was kept till he left the house. He was then followed to his lodgings in Lambeth Palace-road. It was then discovered that he lived in the same house as young Dr. Harper, who had been anonymously accused of the Stamford-street crime, had lived. We found that "Fred" was known in the house he lodged at as "Dr. Neill."
"Neill from this time was kept under the closest observation, and every effort was made to get him satisfactorily identified as the man concerned in the Stamford-street case, but without success.
"At this period Neill - whose real name was Neill Cream - became aware he was being followed by detectives through the over-anxiety of one man. The result was that he had the assurance to go to Kennington-road station and complain of it. Soon afterwards we found that he was the companion of a man named G----, who was a prominent figure at the Law Courts in the Piggot and Parnell "Times" case. G----was an Irish-American, and known to the late Inspector McIntyre, of the Special Branch. Through Inspector McIntyre we got G----, the Irish-American, to obtain some of Cream's writing. Cream, at his friend's request, wrote a letter for him. Having obtained this, we found the paper was of foreign manufacture, with the watermark "Fairford Vale" thereon. On inquiry at Stationers' Hall, we were informed that the paper was not manufactured in England, but probably in America.

Woman's Great Help.

"The woman whom Sergeant Ward found Cream with in the public-house in Westminster Bridge-road was seen by myself and Inspector Harvey and taken into our confidence. She was told whom we believed Cream to be and to act guardedly, which she did, and honestly told us all that transpired between Cream and herself, which was of very great help to us.
"We were at this time pretty sure that Cream was the poisoner, but in the absence of any evidence bringing him on the spot at either Stamford-street or Lambeth-road or any identification, there was nothing on which to arrest him with any chance of success.
"About this time Cream asked the girl who was in our confidence to get some supper, ordering, as usual, bottled beer and tinned salmon. The supper came off. Cream endeavoured to get her to take some pills afterwards, but she refused. This, of course, confirmed our belief that Cream was the murderer. The same process as in the other cases had been observed, first the beer and tinned salmon and then the offer of pills, or, strictly speaking, capsules, the contents of which were to do the girl "a great deal of good." But, as I have said, the evidence of fact was not such as could be acted upon.
"It also transpired that Sir William Broadbent, the eminent surgeon, had received blackmailing letters respecting the deaths of Marsh and Shrivell. The writer asked for an appointment in the advertising column of the "Daily Chronicle." The advertisement was replied to and the appointment kept, but Cream did not turn up.
"As every source of inquiry had been exploited, I at this time recommended that an officer should proceed to Barnstaple to interview Dr. Harper, sen., to ascertain if he had received any anonymous letter similar to Dr. Broadbent, in order that we might compare it with the letter we had in our possession which we knew to be actually written by Cream. This suggestion proved the turning point in the case.
"Neither myself nor Inspector Harvey was allowed to go to Barnstaple, being kept in town to follow up the inquiry. Inspector Tonbridge, from Scotland Yard, was sent to do this, and on interviewing Dr. Harper, sen., the latter produced a letter accusing young Dr. Harper of having committed the murders. It called attention to the fact that he left his lodgings the next day, and the letter demanded money for the writer's services.

Witnesses Come Forward.

"The writing in this letter proved to be identical with that obtained from Cream by G----, the Irish-American. The notepaper was also the same, and it bore the same watermark, "Fairford Vale."
"With these facts in his possession Inspector Tonbridge returned to town, and an application was made at Bow-street Police Court for a warrant against Cream for demanding money by menaces from Dr. Harper. It was now determined to search him and his lodgings. Cream was arrested on the warrant, and on searching him we found a pocket-book with entries in his writing giving the initials of the girls he had poisoned and the dates of their deaths.
"This was sufficient to add the charge of murder to that of blackmailing. Cream was identified in the Clover case, and witnesses now readily came forward. A girl named Loo Harvey, whom Cream had met on the Embankment, and other women gave us most valuable information respecting him and his attempts to induce them to take his "pills."
"Cream was committed on several charges of murder, but was tried on the case of Matilda Clover. He was found guilty, respited for a short time, and eventually hanged in November, 1892.
"During the inquiry, and while following Cream, I once had a drink and a talk with him in the public-house at Westminster he was located in by Sergeant Ward. He had a drug case with him, and informed me he was a traveller in drugs. He told me that he had studied medicine at a hospital, but failed in his examinations. He had not the slightest suspicion that he was talking to a police officer who for some considerable time had had him under observation on suspicion of being the South London murderer.
"Cream, it was proved, had been to America and back between the date of Matilda Clover's death and that of the girls Shrivell and Marsh in Stamford-street. He had also resided in America some years, had been arrested for murder there, tried, and sentenced to death, a sentence which was commuted to imprisonment. He was in gaol for two years. There was a suggestion that he was "Jack the Ripper," but it was proved that he was in America during the period covered by the Ripper crimes in England."
"Yes," I said, as Mr. Mulvany finished his interesting reminiscence of the "capsule" miscreant, "I remember the suggestion being made at the time. But it was absurd. The methods of the poisoning doctor, Neill Cream, and the homicidal maniac - who was also a doctor - responsible for the Ripper cases, were utterly dissimilar, and all criminals, of his type especially, commit their crimes on one regular plan. They never vary their methods."
"That is so," replied the Superintendent, "and this was strongly marked in Neill Cream's case. He had been a writer of blackmailing letters and a false accuser throughout his career, and in connection with his South London atrocities he was constantly writing blackmailing anonymous letters, making false accusations, and demanding money for his silence. You know that one of the parties he accused in an anonymous letter to a police magistrate was Mr. F.D. Smith, of the firm of W.H. Smith and Sons."
"Yes, but tell me, is it not true that Neill Cream used to buy "Lloyd's News" in order to read about his own crimes?"
"Quite true. We ascertained that on the Sunday after the murder of Emma Shrivell and Alice Marsh he asked the daughter of his landlady in Lambeth Palace-road to send out and get him "Lloyd's Weekly News," as he wanted to read the full particulars of a poisoning case in Stamford-street. He read the paper, and then discussed the affair with the young woman. She asked him why he was so interested, and he replied that the case was so cold-blooded that it fascinated him."
"Reverting to the Ripper crimes, was not the constable who was properly credited with having actually seen the mysterious miscreant, killed while you were at Leman-street?"
"Yes," replied Mr. Mulvany. "You are referring to the case of Constable Ernest Thompson, who joined the service on the 29th of December, 1890. On the 13th of February, 1891, he was on night duty, this being the first night of his beat by himself. While he was passing through Chamber-street, close to Swallow Gardens, a man came rushing out of the "Gardens," which was simply a dark railway arch, and, seeing the officer, went off in the opposite direction.
"The young officer, taken by surprise, did not follow, but went into Swallow Gardens, and there found the body of Frances Coles, murdered and mutilated. That was his first experience of night duty. His last experience, poor fellow, cost him his life.

Stabbed to Death.

"At 1:20 a.m. on the 1st of December, 1900, he was on night duty in the Commercial-road, when he had occasion to order Barnett Abrahams, aged forty-one, a cigar-maker, who was in company with two women, to move away from a coffee stall.
"Abrahams obeyed, and went along Commercial-road, the constable going in the same direction. At the corner of Union-street, Abrahams stopped. The constable also stopped, to speak to a coffee-stall keeper for a few minutes.
"At the same time P.C. Tittle, who was on his way to Arbour-square police station, saw Abrahams go up to Thompson, raise his right hand and strike the constable on the left side of the neck. They both fell to the ground. When Tittle arrived, Thompson said, "I'm done; he has stabbed me. Hold him." Thompson was conveyed to the London Hospital, but he died before reaching it. Two wounds were found on the left side of the neck, and both had penetrated the jugular vein.
"Abrahams was tried at the Central Criminal Court on the 5th of February, 1901, when the jury returned a verdict of manslaughter, and the prisoner was sentenced to twenty years' penal servitude. He died in prison.
"It was, indeed, a tragic experience of police service. Thompson discovered a murder the first time that he went on night duty, and the last time that he went on night duty he was murdered himself."

[To be continued in next week's "Lloyd's News.]

Source: Lloyd's Weekly News, December 31, 1911, Page 13

Last edited by Karen on Wed 14 Sep 2011 - 2:13; edited 2 times in total

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Re: Reminiscences of Superintendent Mulvany

Post by Karen on Tue 13 Sep 2011 - 19:31



"You were the chief officer of the H Division for fifteen years, were you not? and in such a district you must have investigated many murder cases?" I said to the Superintendent, when he had concluded his reminiscences of Neill Cream.
"Yes, but the total is not so large as you might suppose, seeing that the area has of late years become the haunt of so many desperate foreign criminals. As a matter of fact, during the fifteen years that I was superintendent, forty persons met their deaths by acts of violence in the division, and out of the number of murderers whom we succeeded in arresting, only eight suffered the extreme penalty of the law. In many cases the crime was reduced to manslaughter.
"In one instance, after a man had been sentenced to death, his life was saved by the efforts of the police who had secured his conviction. It is, perhaps, a unique incident, and as such the story is worth telling.
"A woman was found late one night murdered in a court that had earned an unenviable renown in connection with the Ripper crimes.
"The weapon with which the crime had been committed, a double-bladed ordinary pocket-knife, was lying by the body. All the inhabitants of the court were questioned. They had seen nothing and had heard nothing. Exhaustive inquiry was made in the district, but nothing could be ascertained. Every person who had been on friendly terms or acquainted with the woman was found, and all were able to prove that they were elsewhere on the night of the murder.
"An inquest was held, and a verdict of "Murder against some person or persons unknown" was returned. We came to the conclusion that it was a stranger whom the woman had brought to the place and robbed, that the man in a rage had stabbed her in the neck, and then, realising that he had inflicted a fatal injury, had walked quietly away and hidden himself in the maze of the East End.
"Shortly afterwards a man aged twenty-seven, a labourer of no fixed abode, went to the Central Police Office, Bristol, and confessed to the murder.

Death For Would-be Thief.

"The Bristol police communicated with the Metropolitan police by telegram, and Detective-Inspector Wensley and another officer went to Bristol, and brought the man back to London.
"On the journey he gave a long account of himself. He was brought up in a workhouse at Manchester, and sent out as a lad to America. He was, however, of a roving disposition, and had, he said travelled nearly all over the world. In Johannesburg a woman robbed him of all he possessed. He came to England, and was admitted to the Seaman's Hospital at Greenwich suffering from an internal injury. From the hospital he went to the Salvation Army Shelter, and there he found the knife with which the crime was committed.
"His statement completely bore out the theory of the police. He had detected the woman robbing him, and, remembering his former experience, he had in a fit of rage seized her by the throat and stabbed her.
"He was tried at the Central Criminal Court, and sentenced to death. He did not, however, suffer the extreme penalty of the law, as a full report of the circumstances, together with my view of the crime endorsed by the Assistant Commissioner, led the Home Office to commute the death sentence to penal servitude for life."
"You have mentioned Detective-Inspector Wensley as the officer who brought the murderer back. Is not that the same officer who, when he was a constable, arrested a man after an exciting chase over the roof of a house?"
"You are quite right," said Mr. Mulvany.
"That was the case of William Seaman. It occurred just after I had been appointed superintendent. On the morning of Saturday, the 4th of April, 1896, Sarah Gale, servant to Mr. John Levy, an old gentleman of seventy-five, living at No. 31, Turner-street, E., came out as usual to open and fasten back the shutters of the lower windows. Mr. Levy and his servant were the only occupants of the house.

Leap from a Housetop.

"About an hour afterwards a young fellow in the neighbourhood saw a man trying to get over the wall of the garden at the back of the premises. He shouted out, and the man at once ran back into the house. Detective Wensley and Police-constable Richardson came along a few minutes afterwards, and hearing of the occurrence, at once knocked at the door, found it fast, and got in another way. They heard noises above, went upstairs, and found that the man had made a desperate attempt to escape by boring a hole in the ceiling of a room on the top floor and getting out on to the roof.
"The officers climbed through the hole and got on to the roof, and there found a man crouching by a chimney-stack. They attempted to close with him, and were on the point of securing him when he made a sudden rush, and, leaping over the parapet, fell a distance of nearly forty feet on to the pavement below.
"He was badly injured and was unable to move, and was carried away in custody to the hospital.
"The officers, on searching the house, discovered the body of old Mr. Levy in one of the lower rooms. He had been brutally murdered. In a bedroom on the top floor they discovered the body of the servant, who had also been killed. The crimes had been committed with maniacal violence.

Trapped by a Door Latch.

"On the prisoner a good deal of jewellery was found, but no money. It transpired afterwards that there was a good deal of money in the house, but it was kept in a safe which was draped as an ottoman, and this had caused it to escape the search of the burglar.
"The injured man was identified as a desperate criminal named William Seaman, a convict out on licence. He had served altogether twenty-eight years' penal servitude, and always for acts of violence. There were several interesting features in this case. The man had evidently planned the crime some time beforehand, and had watched and noticed that every morning the servant came out, leaving the front door open, while she went to fasten back the shutters. On the Saturday morning he had watched till the woman came out, and had then slipped into the house unnoticed by her. After fastening the shutters back she had re-entered the house, and closed the door after her, at the same time letting down the inside latch.
"This latch was of a peculiar character. No one could lift it without knowing the secret.
"It was this that brought the murderer's plans to grief. After murdering the inmates of the house and securing his booty, he had attempted to leave by the front door.
"Had he been able to get it open he would probably have slipped away without exciting attention, and the crime might have been another unsolved London mystery. But all his efforts to find the secret of the latch failed. As a matter of fact, I was in the house shortly after the discovery of the murders, and neither I nor the officers with me could find out how the door opened. It was not until a relative of Mr. Levy, who knew the secret, arrived that we found out how to do it.

If He Had Had His Hammer!

"Seaman, not daring to attempt to break the door open with his jemmy, as that would be sure to attract attention, had tried to get away at the back. He was observed by a neighbour, and he knew that an alarm had been raised, and the police would soon be on the spot.
"So he rushed upstairs, and with the hammer he carried - it was the weapon with which he killed the two unfortunate people - he attacked the ceiling, putting a chair on the bed to get at it, and made a hole big enough to enable him to get through on to the roof. But after he had made the hole he had to hoist himself through it, and in his eagerness to get through he dropped the hammer on the bed.
"The first time he saw Wensley after he was in custody he said to him, "You can thank your luck, mate, as I hadn't got my hammer with me when you came after me on the roof. You wouldn't be here now if I'd had it."
"Seaman, as soon as he had recovered sufficiently, was placed on his trial at the Old Bailey. He was convicted and sentenced to death. He was executed at the same time as Milsom and Fowler, the Muswell Hill murderers, and placed between the two on the scaffold.
"Fowler had attacked Milsom fiercely in the dock at the Old Bailey for making a confession in his own interests, and Seaman knew this. When he found that he was to stand between the two men he said to the Governor of the gaol, "I suppose I'm to be put between 'em to keep 'em from having a go on the gallows," or words to that effect.
"Seaman was a ruffian of the worst type, but there was something of the homicidal maniac about him. Every crime he committed was accompanied by the most brutal, and in some cases, frenzied violence."
"The majority of murderers are, in a sense, homicidal maniacs," I ventured to suggest.
"That may be," replied Mr. Mulvany, thoughtfully, "but when a maniac's motive is to get possession of his victim's property there is a good deal of method in the mania. But soon after the Seaman affair we had to deal with an extraordinary case in which the murderer was undoubtedly in a state of mind bordering on insanity at the time the crime was committed.
"One evening in February, 1898, a great commotion was caused in Brick-lane by the sound of a succession of revolver shots. The sounds came from a small Russian restaurant, and, on the police rushing in, the place was found to be in an uproar.
"A police-sergeant ran up the stairs and seized a man with a smoking revolver in his hand. To get at him the officer had to step over the body of another man who lay on the staircase.
"The man with the revolver was arrested and brought to the police-station, while a complete search of the house was made by a number of officers who had been hastily summoned.
"On entering a room at the top of the house one woman was found lying dead on the floor, and another who was lying near her seriously wounded was at once conveyed to the hospital.
"Both the women were Russians, and from the wounded one no information of any kind could be obtained.
"In the house we found a man lying senseless from a wound on the head, and this man we eventually discovered was a Russian named Karaczewski. A further search of the premises resulted in the police forcing open a locked door of another room. In this two men were discovered trembling in a corner. They had rushed into the room and locked the door on hearing the shots.
"Our difficulty in endeavouring to get some idea of how the affair had happened was great. Though all the persons in the house were Russians, they came from different provinces, and although several interpreters were quickly summoned, they declared that they could get nothing like a connected story from the excited and terrified inmates.
"The man Karaczewski was conveyed to the station and immediately attended to.
"We now had two men at the station - the man who had been arrested with a smoking revolver in his hand and Karaczewski, a wounded man, and we had not the slightest idea which was the murderer of the two victims - namely, Clemens Smithlovitch, the man found dead on the stairs, and the woman Olga Wisorski, found dead in the room.

Innocent Though Apparently Guilty.

"The first man, Theodore Zcerneiski, when arrested was stooping over the dead body of Smithlovitch and, as I have said, had a smoking revolver in his hand. That was pretty good evidence that he was criminally concerned in the affair.
"But, as we gradually succeeded in getting something like a straightforward narrative, we ascertained that the man with the smoking revolver was perfectly innocent.
"What had happened was this: Karaczewski had been paying attention to the woman, Olga Wisorski, and wanted her to leave the man who was residing at the restaurant, and marry him. Karaczewski and the woman had been out in the afternoon and he had bought a wedding ring and other presents for her, because she had at last agreed to marry him. As a matter of fact, the woman was already married, having a husband in Russia.
"Karaczewski had arranged to come to the restaurant at eight that evening and fetch Olga away.
"She and another woman were in their room with several men when they heard Karaczewski coming up the stairs. Wisorski, it afterwards transpired, had told these men that she had got all she wanted out of Karaczewski, and when he came they were to attack him and pitch him out of the place.
"The man Smithlovitch went out of the room and down the stairs to meet Karaczewski and stop him coming up. He attempted to do so and the man who had come to fetch the woman away from company in which it distressed him to see her was furious.
"A struggle took place between the two men. Smithlovitch tried to push Karaczewski back, the latter at once drew a revolver and shot him dead, his body falling across the stairs. The two women, who had been watching the struggle from above, saw the man fall, and rushed back shrieking to the room.

Killed Through a Door.

"Karaczewski stepped over the fallen body and made his way upstairs, mad with fury at the treatment he had received.
"The women closed the door of the room, and placed their shoulders against the panels to prevent the now maddened Karaczewski opening it.
"Finding it impossible to force his way in the madman fired through the panels, killing Olga Wisorski and severely wounding her companion Ada Korinski.
"The door then yielded, and Karaczewski burst in, revolver in hand. The man who was in the room rushed at him, struck him between the eyes, and knocked him down. In his fall he cut his head severely by bringing it into contact with a portion of an iron bedstead.
"Zcerneiski then took the revolver, still smoking, from the wounded man, and ran down the stairs, on which the body of Smithlovitch lay. He was stooping over it to see if the man was alive or dead, and had the revolver in his hand when the police rushed up and seized him.
"At the trial it was contended that Karaczewski had received great provocation, and the charge against him was reduced to manslaughter. He was sentenced to ten years' imprisonment."
"I remember the trial," I said. "It was a sordid story, and a revelation of a certain phase of life among the foreign population of the East End. But all your exciting experiences have not been murders, I suppose?"
"Oh, no," replied the Superintendent. "I have had some dramatic experiences in which there has been no question of the loss of life. For instance, the capture of the famous gang of German burglars. That was a remarkable case in more ways than one.
"We succeeded, by the police getting a hint, in making a complete haul of a notorious gang of foreign burglars, whose exploits had been carried on for a long time with perfect immunity in all parts of London. The gang, when we laid its members by the heels, was found to consist of twelve men and one woman, and they were all Germans.
"During the summer and autumn of 1901 numerous cases of burglary and housebreaking were taking place in the suburban parts of London. In several instances property of considerable value was stolen. All efforts to trace the perpetrators were unavailing until the early part of October, when we ascertained that there were a number of Germans residing in various parts of the East End, who were frequently to be seen together, and were apparently following no honest employment.
"It was determined to keep them under observation, with a view to locating their addresses and meeting places, and this was done. We then got in touch with a woman whom we could trust, and who had been seen in the company of some of the men. The result was that we were satisfied that these men were responsible for many of the burglaries that were being committed.
"The woman, who would have nothing to say except to one of the officers, Detective Wensley, suggested that the proper time to raid the premises would be on the early morning of the 28th of October, and I accordingly made arrangements to carry this out.
"But on the evening of 27th of October it was brought to my notice that Wensley's father was dying, and he was anxious to visit him. So I gave the necessary permission, and the raid was postponed until the early morning of the 31st. It was most effectually carried out. Inspector Dival and Detective Wensley taking a prominent part, and the whole gang was arrested, and an enormous amount of stolen property recovered. As a matter of fact, the proceeds of thirty-six cases of burglary and housebreaking were found in their possession. These burglaries, which had been committed in various suburban parts of London, including a burglary at Dollis Hill House, Willesden, occupied at that time by Sir Hugh Gilzean Reid, and a burglary at Brent Lodge, Hanwell, a house in the occupation of Mr. Montagu Sharpe, Chairman of the Middlesex Sessions.
"In the latter case a magisterial badge, being one of only three of its kind in existence, was stolen.
This was recovered, having been traced to one of the gang named Wald. Wald, who laid claim to being a professional wrestler, had had his photograph taken wearing the magisterial badge. He had told his German friends that he had won it in a wrestling contest.

Fight in Court.

"The case was heard before the Common Sergeant, at the Central Criminal Court, and eleven of the prisoners were sentenced to five years' penal servitude each, one to seven years, and one to twelve months' hard labour. The scene that followed is never likely to be forgotten by those who witnessed it. Several of the prisoners made desperate efforts to get at the officers, and resisted all efforts to get them in the prisoners' van. This was only accomplished after reinforcements had arrived in response to the sounding of police whistles.
"This, so far, is the largest number of criminals that have ever stood in the dock together in London and been convicted on criminal charges."
"You broke up another notorious gang of criminals soon after, if I remember rightly?"
"Yes. During the year 1902 between thirty and forty Russian foreign criminals and bullies banded themselves together in the East End of London, and were known as the Bessarabians.
"They obtained their living by thieving, and blackmailing their fellow-countrymen and a certain class of foreign women. They frequently assaulted persons who, for various reasons, would not invoke the aid of police.
"The leaders were Max Moses, a pugilist, Samuel Oreman, and Barnett Brozishewsky. There was not the slightest doubt that they were perfect terrors to the foreign inhabitants of the district; so much so, that another band, known as the Odessians, was formed. This was composed of a similar type of men, though, perhaps, not quite so aggressive. Frequent battles were fought between them, and many serious injuries were inflicted, but it seldom resulted in criminal proceedings being taken, as it was impossible to get reliable evidence to place before the court, and when any member was charged, it generally ended in his being discharged or acquitted, owing to the unsatisfactory evidence.
"On the 3rd of July of that year, Detective Inspector Wensley (then Sergeant) arrested Moses, Brozishewsky, and another man, Joseph Weinstein, for highway robbery with violence, the victim in this case being a Russian police officer here on a holiday. The Bessarabians got to know what he was, and they brutally assaulted him and robbed him of all he possessed. The prisoners were formally remanded, pending their committal to the Central Criminal Court, but the Russian police officer failed to appear to give evidence. The prisoners' friends had so terrified him that he returned to Russia before his holidays had expired. Moses was simply fined 3 pounds for the assault, and the other two discharged, the magistrate remarking that the prisoners could be re-arrested should the prosecutor be found.
"About 4:25 p.m. on the 4th of October, Max Moses, Samuel Oreman, alias Monje, Barnett Brozishewsky, and a number of their companions, went to the "York Minster" Music Hall, Philpot-street, E., and commenced an onslaught on a number of men whom they believed to be members of the Odessian gang. They were wrong. The men they selected were perfectly respectable, and quite inoffensive. These men became alarmed, and ran out of the building. They made good their escape, with the exception of Brodovitch, whom the three men overtook. Oreman held Brodovitch, Moses fatally stabbed him with a knife in the stomach, and Brozishewsky assaulted anyone who made the slightest effort to assist the victim. Brozishewsky was arrested on the spot, the other two made their escape. Three days later Detective Wensley traced and arrested Moses at a house in Wharfdale-road, King's Cross, Oreman surrendering himself.
"The Bessarabians were tried before Mr. Justice Bigham at the Central Criminal Court on the 24th of November, 1902. The case occupied two days. The prisoners were found guilty of manslaughter. Brozishewsky was recommended to mercy. Moses was sentenced to ten years' penal servitude. Oreman to five years' penal servitude, and Brozishewsky to six months' hard labour.
"It was the breaking up of one of the most dangerous gangs that ever terrorised the East End.
"The worst of these people is, that though they come here, many of them, with a criminal record, our police are not, as in the case of native criminals, familiar with them or with their ways.
"Where our own habitual criminals are concerned in an affair our task is easier. We are able to get on the track of the men we suspect and locate them much more easily.
"The murder of Miss Farmer in Commercial-road, by Wade and Donovan, in December, 1904, is a case in point."

[To be continued in next week's "Lloyd's News."]

Source: Lloyd's Weekly News, January 7, 1912, Page 15

Karen Trenouth
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Author of: "Jack the Ripper: The Satanic Team"

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Re: Reminiscences of Superintendent Mulvany

Post by Karen on Wed 14 Sep 2011 - 2:11



Directly Superintendent Mulvany mentioned the case of Wade and Donovan the story of the crime came vividly to my mind.
On the morning of the 12th of October, 1904, a Miss Emily Farmer, a middle-aged lady who lived alone at No. 478, Commercial-road, where she carried on the business of a newsagent and tobacconist, had been found dead in the first floor front room. A cloth which had evidently been forced into her mouth had suffocated her.
"The police were very soon in possession of a clue, were they not?" I asked as I recalled the incidents.
"Yes, but we kept our knowledge to ourselves for a good and sufficient reason, though our silence on this point led to the usual contention, when there is any delay in bringing a murderer to justice, that English methods of criminal investigation leave much to be desired.
"From almost the first," continued the Superintendent, "there was very little mystery, and the police were only silent because they were anxious that the guilty men and their friends and companions should not find out that they were suspected, and make their arrangements accordingly.
"As a matter of fact, very shortly after the discovery of the crime I was interviewing a man who had seen two young fellows loitering about outside the shop early on the morning, and one of whom he knew by name.
"When we came upon the scene," said the Superintendent, reverting to the discovery of the murder, "we had no difficulty in coming to a conclusion as to the circumstances in which it had been committed.
"Miss Farmer had been alone in the shop early in the morning when she was attacked. There were signs that she had made a certain amount of resistance. She had been forcibly overcome, carried upstairs and thrown on the bed, a piece of cloth being thrust into her mouth to stifle her cries.

Suspicion Falls on Stepbrothers.

"It was pretty clear that robbery was the motive, as the unfortunate woman was reputed in the neighbourhood to be a person of means."
"Is it not a matter of fact," I inquired, interrupting, "that about a month before the crime a man had attacked her in the shop, and her screams had reached the ears of the police?"
"That is quite true. We investigated the affair, but Miss Farmer declined to make a specific charge, and we had to let the matter drop. She was advised that it was not safe for her to be on the premises alone, but she declared that she had no fear, and she paid for her courage with her life.
"After the most careful examination of the premises we could find nothing to furnish us with a tittle of evidence as to who the perpetrators of the crime were. But the method convinced us that it was the work of two men, and that both were professional criminals.
"We made active inquiries in the neighbourhood, and at last we found a man who was able to describe the young fellows whom he had seen on several occasions hanging about outside the premises in the early morning. Two men answering the description given us had, we found, been seen outside the shop early on the morning of the crime.
"The description given us fitted in certain particulars two convicted criminals, Conrad Donovan and Charles Wade, who were stepbrothers.
"The address of Wade and that of his parents were located, but at first we could not find that of Donovan. There were circumstances in the case which made it desirable that we should go to work cautiously, and so after a conference with the Assistant Commissioner it was decided that our suspicions should be kept strictly secret and that a surprise visit should be paid to these addresses early on Sunday morning, when all would be at home. This was done. Wade was arrested, and the friends and relatives were all conveyed to the station and their statements taken there and then.

Rose Early for Once.

"This wholesale proceeding had a twofold result. It prevented the friends concocting an alibi as to the whereabouts of the men on the morning of the crime, and it put me in possession of certain information with regard to Donovan.
"The address of Donovan was eventually obtained from one of the persons who had been brought to the station, and the officers, passing through an empty house next door, were able to gain access to Donovan's bedroom before he was aware of their presence, and to arrest him in bed.
"We had so far no further clue than the fact that Wade and Donovan had been seen loitering near the shop on the morning of the crime. We knew, as a matter of fact, that the man who had attacked Miss Farmer on the occasion when she refused to make a charge was Wade, but we had no proof that he was actually inside the shop on the morning of the murder.
"But we went to work, and gradually the chain of circumstantial evidence was, after many difficulties, tightly wound round the necks of the two men. One of the things brought in evidence against them was rather peculiar. Neither of them rose, as a rule, till after ten o'clock in the morning, but on the night before the murder they had both impressed upon the landlord of the house they lodged in their desire to be called not a minute later than six.
"On the 21st of November, 1904, they were tried at the Central Criminal Court before Mr. Justice Grantham. They made no real defence, and were condemned and executed."
Harking back for a moment from native to foreign crime in this area, I asked Mr. Mulvany if he was not at one time pretty busily engaged in raiding foreign gambling hells in the district - bogus clubs, where faro was played night after night.
"Yes, and as fast as we put one lot down another sprang up. However successful a raid is, it never breaks up the business. The modus operandi is peculiar. The real proprietor of the establishment is never caught. A man takes a place, he "lets" it to another man who is merely his servant, and manages the establishment. But the "Manager" only runs the actual gambling through deputies, and these are the men we catch.

Raiders in a Pantechnicon.

"There was a gambling den which had been in existence for twenty years. It had been well conducted at first, but we began to hear bad reports. We discovered that soldiers were admitted, and this suggested an opportunity of getting our men in to see the aliens gambling, and seize the gambling apparatus and the money as evidence for the magistrate that gambling was going on.
"Inspector Wensley took the matter in hand, and arranged to enter the "club" disguised as a soldier. He obtained a full uniform, and got himself up in such genuine military style as a soldier of the Queen that - but I must tell you exactly what happened. Late one Saturday night Wensley swaggered up to the well-guarded door, a cigar in his mouth, and a regulation cane in his hand, and was duly passed in.
"He had arranged that his men, who were carefully concealed outside, should "rush" the place at a certain hour, but which time he would have got the evidence he wanted, and we prepared for a coup.
"When the time arrived Wensley suddenly leapt on the table, and seized a quantity of gold and silver, announcing at the same time that he was a police officer.
"There was a lot of noise at the moment, and the company, not understanding him, thought he was laying violent hands on the bank. One of the club officials, a powerful fellow, seized him, wrenched the regulation cane from him, and gave him such a "caning" with it that poor Wensley smarted for days afterwards. To add to the trouble some of the men who burst in had not previously seen Wensley's military get-up, and took him for one of the gamblers. Fortunately, other officers came to the rescue, and the company, the gambling implements, and the money were secured and brought to Leman-street.
"On another occasion I had a number of my men put into a pantechnicon van and driven to the immediate neighbourhood of a club.
"The van pulled up near the front door. But it was no good our attempting to enter that way, because we knew the door was well guarded, and that there was a secret communication with the next house, through which our "prey" would escape at the first warning sound.

Drinking Spirits of Wine.

"Earlier in the evening I had had long house ladders taken down a narrow court and put up at the back of the club premises. These created no suspicion, as another house in the neighbourhood was being rebuilt.
"We had found out that if we got in through a window of an attic on the roof we should be able to descend the stairs leading to the gambling room without exciting suspicion, as the members of the club constantly used the stairs going up and down to a refreshment room on the top floor.
"We got on the roof, but before we descended into the premises gave an agreed signal to a man in the front street below.
"At that signal he was to undo the pantechnicon doors and the men were to rush into the club and cut off all attempts to escape into the street.
"But the outer bar fastening the door of the van had got jammed and the man couldn't raise it. The men inside were beating at it in their eagerness to get out, and the more they beat the tighter the bar became. They only got out just in the nick of time to enable us to arrest the bulk of the company.
"These clubs are some of them drinking clubs, of course, but not those frequented by the foreign Jews. They are inveterate gamblers - it is in the race - but they are a sober people.
"In some of the low clubs frequented by Russians there is a good deal of drinking. There is one club - you have been in it, I believe - in which the favourite drink is spirits of wine. It is sold to the members and their friends at a penny a glass as a cheap substitute for their beloved Vodka.
"As to the gambling in this area, it is general, and it ranges from the familiar pitch and toss to faro."
"You may see quite little lads in the doorways up the courts or open spaces on the side of the markets and even on the doorsteps playing the games of their fathers with penny packs of cards. I believe if the sale of these penny packs of cards, which are, of course, evasions of the stamp duty, were vigorously suppressed, it would tend to bring about a better state of affairs. With the cards the children are initiated into gambling games and acquire a taste for them at the most impressionable age.
"There is a certain element of romance," said the superintendent, in reply to a remark of mine, "in raiding gambling houses, because we are pitting our wits and our fertility of resource against a set of people who, though we may object to their pastime on moral grounds, are not concerned in murder and violent crime. Of that we have had more than our share lately in the part of the metropolis that for fifteen years was under my supervision.
"One of the most sordid and brutal crimes that I was ever called upon to deal with was the murder of William Sproull, a ship's engineer, by the brothers Reuben. At 1:40 a.m. on the night of the 16th of March, 1909, a bitterly cold morning, a man of about thirty-five, was found by a watchman lying dead in the road in Rupert-street, outside the blank wall of the Co-operative Stores. The watchman at once gave information to the police at Leman-street Station, which is close by.
"Chief Inspector Laughlin and Detective-Inspector Wensley were soon on the spot, and it was apparent that the deceased had been assaulted and that robbery was the motive, as his trousers pockets were turned inside out and some small coins were lying close by his side, but there was no perceptible injury to account for his death. There were spots of blood in the road from the body to No. 3, Rupert-street; and on the outside of the street door was a large patch of blood. The house was at once surrounded, and entrance was gained after a considerable delay. On Laughlin going upstairs he met a young man, Marks Reuben, who showed fight. Declining to give any explanation of his presence, he was promptly overpowered and taken to Leman-street Police Station. On the way he dropped a wet blood-stained handkerchief, which was picked up by the officer. Further investigations had meanwhile revealed the fact that the deceased man had been stabbed to the heart.

The Brothers Reuben Convicted.

"In the front room on the ground floor was a young woman, who appeared to by drunk. The room was in some disorder.
"Thinking the murder must have been the work of more than one man, a thorough search of the house - which was a large tenanted one - was undertaken, and in the first floor back room, which was only opened after threats to force it, we found Morris Reuben trembling from head to foot, and a young woman. They were both taken to the station, when Morris said to the officer, "This is what you want," and took the deceased's watch and chain from his stocking.
"The inquiry showed the crime to be a particularly brutal one. The girls had picked up with the deceased and his friend, and the men had treated them handsomely. The prisoners, who were in the house where the men came with the girls, thought that the visitors, just off a voyage - they had only left their ships that day - had plenty of money on them. They attacked them with fierce brutality. One man succeeded in getting away. The deceased, who resisted the attack, was stabbed to the heart by Marks. He staggered across the road to the spot where he fell, and while he lay dying he was robbed by Morris.
"William Sproull, the victim, was second engineer of S.S. Dorset, which arrived at the Victoria Docks from Australia on the 15th of March. About 9:30 p.m. the same day Sproull and Max Echarn, the second mate, left the ship, and came to Aldgate. They had supper at the Three Nuns Hotel, and afterwards visited several public-houses. They met the girls Brooks and Allen, who were strangers to them, in Houndsditch, and had more drink with them, and then went with them to the house where Sproull met his fate.
"On the 24th of April the two young assassins were convicted, and sentenced to death. No evidence was offered against the girls, who were acquitted, and gave evidence against the men.

First Clue to Morrison.

"And now I come to the two important cases which made the last year of my service a memorable one.
"They are the Sidney-street affair and the capture of Morris Stein, or, as he called himself when arrested, Stinie Morrison.
"As Morrison committed his crime on the last night of the old year, and the Sidney-street siege did not take place till Jan. 3, we will take Morrison first.
"The Clapham Common murder is so recent, and made such a profound impression by the sensational events which followed it, that there is no necessity for me to repeat the story. The work of finding the criminal fell largely on us, because we had a strong suspicion that the murderer of Leon Beron was the man who had set out with his victim from a restaurant in Whitechapel where they had frequently met each other.
"It was our task to find out all we could concerning the movements of the suspected man prior to the date of the murder, and to get some clue to his proceedings after the date named in order that we might effect an arrest.
"The first valuable information we received came from a married woman, who, late on the night of the 31st of December, had seen Leon Beron, whom she knew, walking with a young man who was a stranger to her.
"When the fact that the man found murdered on Clapham Common had been identified as Leon Beron was published in the newspapers the woman came at once to Leman-street Police Station, and stated that she had seen Beron, whom she knew personally, late on the fatal night, in company with a stranger, walking along Whitechapel.
"She gave us a description of the man. We speedily acquired information that Beron had spent the evening of the 31st of December at the Warsaw Restaurant, and had left it late that night with a man who was only known to the proprietor and the frequenters of the restaurant as "The Australian."

Tracking the Suspect.

"The description given of the Australian by the restaurant people was the description given by the woman of the stranger with whom she had seen Beron.
"We were not long in discovering that the description tallied in a remarkable way with that of a convict on licence, a Russian, whose last conviction had been in the name of Morris Stein.
"The usual course was taken. We sent to the address last given by Stein when reporting, and found that he was not there.
"He had failed to notify the police of his change of address according to the terms of his licence to be at large. From that moment Morris Stein was a wanted man, and the offence for which he was wanted was that, being a convict on licence, he had failed to notify his change of address.
"We had up to that time all the addresses at which Morris Stein had lived since his release. It is a police theory, and is pretty well borne out by facts, that criminals cling to their old haunts, and if by circumstances they are compelled to leave them they may pay surreptitious visits to them.
"Every former address of Stein's was kept under observation, and in the meantime a considerable amount of information concerning the doings of "The Australian" who frequented the Warsaw Restaurant was obtained.
"It transpired that a foreigner who dealt in jewellery, and occasionally visited the restaurant, had actually at one time called at Commercial-street Police Station to inquire if he could have "police protection" if he went late at night with an "Australian" he had met in this restaurant, and who had offered to take him to a man who would do some good business with him.
"At that time nothing was known concerning "The Australian," and the cool request of the foreign dealer was looked upon as that of a crank. He was told that if policemen were told off to do duty of that sort the Force would have to be quadrupled, and he was advised not to do business with strangers except in the ordinary and legitimate way.
"The Clapham Common case was in the hands of Inspector Ward, in whose division the crime had occurred, and of Inspector Wensley, who was following up the tracks of Stein in the East End. Wensley was the only one of our officers who knew Stein by sight. He had had Stein through his hands.
"A good deal of valuable information concerning Stein came to us during the Sidney-street affair - with which, by the bye, he was in no way connected - and we learned, among other things, that he carried a revolver, and would not hesitate to use it.
"It was about nine a.m. on Sunday, the 8th, that a man answering the description of Stein was seen to enter a house at which he formerly resided. The officers, acting on their instructions, communicated with Inspector Wensley. In the meantime Stein left the house, and was shadowed until he entered a little restaurant in Fieldgate-street to have his breakfast. As soon as he had seated himself comfortably at a table, and ordered his food, Inspector Wensley and Sergeant Brogden and other officers walked in. Sergeant Brogden seized Stein in a way to pin his arms to his side, and a hand was thrust into his pocket to secure the revolver which we expected he would have about him.
"No revolver was found. As a matter of fact, he had deposited it at the cloak room of St. Mary's Station, Whitechapel, the morning after the murder.
"There was absolutely no charge against the man at that time except, "not notifying," and when Inspector Wensley said, "Stein, I want you," he made no reference to any other charge.

One Man Still At Large.

"The statement that at the police-station an officer told Stein he had been arrested for murder caused considerable sensation during the progress of the trial at the Old Bailey.
"I am satisfied that no such communication was ever made to the prisoner. But he might very naturally have come to the conclusion that he had not been arrested with such a show of force merely for "not notifying." Moreover, it is quite possible that some of the people in the crowd which quickly gathered in Fieldgate-street might have hazarded the conjecture in Yiddish that the man who was being taken away by several police officers was wanted for the Clapham murder. That murder was at that time in everybody's mind, especially in this neighbourhood.
"I have very little doubt in my own mind that in "Stinie Morrison" we only secured one of the men concerned in the murder of Leon Beron. There were probably two. After Beron had been murdered and robbed the men separated and left the Common by different ways, agreeing to meet at Kennington Gate.
"Who the other man was time may tell.

[To be concluded in next week's "Lloyd's News."]

Source: Lloyd's Weekly News, January 14, 1912, Page 15

Karen Trenouth
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Re: Reminiscences of Superintendent Mulvany

Post by Karen on Fri 16 Sep 2011 - 1:09


Reminiscences of Ex-Superintendent Mulvany as told by Geo. R. Sims.

"And now, said Mr. Mulvany, "I come to the famous affair which, I think, entitles me to say that my last important experience as Superintendent of the H division was an experience unique in the annals of the Metropolitan Police."
"You mean, of course, the battle with the Russian Anarchists wanted for the Houndsditch murders - the Sidney-street siege?"
"Yes. The circumstances which led up to an event which will be ever remembered in the annals of London crime. I had, as you know, a very long experience of the foreign criminals who of late years have made the East End their headquarters, and, naturally, I had been always more or less in touch with what I will call "sources of information." But between the night of Friday, the 16th of December, when the burglars assembled in 11, Exchange Buildings for the purpose of breaking into a Houndsditch jeweller's shop, of which 11, Exchange Buildings stood in the rear, and two o'clock on the afternoon of Tuesday Jan. 3, when the dead bodies of the two "Terrorists" were discovered among the ruins of 100, Sidney-street, my knowledge of the ways of foreign desperadoes was very considerably added to.
"The scene of the first affray is within the City boundaries, and the three victims belonged to the City police.
"But the criminals, who had then escaped amid the confusion caused by the revolver firing, and carried their wounded comrade, Gardstein, with them, speedily crossed the boundary into the area under my control, and from that moment we were busily engaged with the heads of the City police in endeavouring to run the gang to earth."
"With regard to Gardstein, the burglar who was shot and carried dying to 59, Grove-street, Commercial-road," I interrupted, "he told the doctor that he was accidentally shot by a friend. Do you think that was true?"

Man Who Shot Gardstein.

"The investigation of the circumstances attending the Exchange Buildings event did not come within my province," replied Mr. Mulvany, "but we, of course, acquired a considerable amount of information as to those concerned in it. My own opinion is that the shot that killed Gardstein was not fired by one of the Russian gang, but by a man hired by them to assist them. He was, I believe, an ex-convict, and a skilled mechanic.
"The burglary was planned long before it took place. The Russians had been in Exchange Buildings longer than they wished to be. They were waiting to get a skilled "crackman" for the safe business. This man - he is well known to some of my officers - succeeded in making his escape and getting abroad. But it was he who killed Gardstein. He was working at the back of the premises when the police arrived at the front and were immediately attacked by the Russians. Hearing the firing the man took alarm, and seizing his pistol rushed out. He saw Gardstein faced by the constable and fired at the constable. He missed his aim and shot Gardstein."
Again I interrupted. "You say you know this man. But it has never yet been proved who the men were who were actually concerned in the crime? The dead man we know was, but all the other men and women who were arrested in "the Houndsditch case" were discharged."
"That is true," said Mr. Mulvany; "the witnesses were not able to prove the complicity of the accused men and women in the murder of the police, but we had a good deal of valuable information concerning the affair that was not the sort of evidence we could produce. And we had very good information as to the man who shot Gardstein."
"You mean, I expect, that he was given away by a "pal"?"
"Well, there is generally someone in all these criminal organisations who sooner or later finds it expedient to be communicative. We should have found it difficult to locate Fritz Svaars and his companion in their hiding-place in Sidney-street, but for "information received." As I told you, when we were discussing the foreign criminal gangs, our officers cannot be expected to be familiar with the features of recently imported Russian criminals."

Svaars and His Companion.

"You mean to say that the hiding place of Svaars and his companion was given away by someone of their own set?"
"You must draw your own conclusions. At any rate, if was "from information received" that about midnight on the 2nd of January we knew that Fritz Svaars and another man who was suspected of being concerned in the Houndsditch police murders were in hiding in an upper room at 100, Sidney-street. The men had been traced to that address by some one who was familiar with their appearance, and who knew them sufficiently well not to make any mistake as to their identity. We were pretty confident that the plans we had laid would have a successful result. It was only a question of time.
"At midnight on the 2nd of January we were absolutely certain that the men we were in search of were where we could go and lay hands upon them. But we were also then in possession of the information that they were "Terrorists," and that they were not likely to be taken alive. We had information that they were armed with weapons of the most deadly character, and that any attempt to arrest them in the ordinary way would entail a considerable sacrifice of life."
"You mean that for police officers to enter the house where the men were would be ---?"
"Brave fellows had already been shot down by the desperadoes at Exchange Buildings. They would not hesitate to repeat the murderous tactics to which they owed their escape on that occasion."
"Then you made your plans in order to avoid in every possible way a further sacrifice of life?"
"That was the view taken by myself, my own chief officers, and our colleagues of the City Police. With this idea I got a number of my own men together, and Superintendents Stark and Ottaway and Chief Inspector Willis, of the City Police, did the same, and shortly after midnight we had the buildings in Sidney-street surrounded in a way that made it impossible for the men to escape us. A certain number of officers had the ordinary revolver, and a few were armed with rifles, in case the men, finding themselves caught, came out and endeavoured to make their escape by firing right and left with the deadly Mauser."
"You knew they had Mausers?"
"Yes, and I am not by any means sure that had they come out in the street they would not have been able to shoot our men down right and left and get away.

Early Morning in Sidney Street.

"This idea was in my mind when, after consultation with Chief Inspector Willis, of the City Police, and Divisional Inspector Wensley, we decided to get the people out of No. 100, and as speedily as possible get possession of the next house, and then wait till daylight before we took any further steps towards securing the two armed desperadoes.
"The night was bitterly cold and the snow was falling, and our task, which in ordinary circumstances would have been no light one, was made doubly difficult by the weather conditions.
"Our first task was to get into communication with the people who slept in No. 100 and get them to a place of safety without arousing the men.
"We had to wake the people on the ground floor, a Mrs. Fleischmann and her husband. She was asked to come to a neighbour whose child had been taken ill. No Jewish woman will ever refuse such a request.
"Mrs. Fleischmann was at once informed that there might be trouble, and she was asked who the occupants of the house were in addition to herself and her husband. She described the occupants of her own rooms and those on the first floor. She did not know of any men, only of a Mrs. Gershon on the upper floor.
"Questioned closely, she said that when she came to think of it she had on the previous Saturday afternoon smelt tobacco-smoke in the house, and she thought it curious because her husband didn't smoke on the Jewish Sabbath. But she had certainly not seen any men about.

Getting the People Out.

"She was requested to go to Mrs. Gershon and ask her to come down as her husband had been taken suddenly ill. Mrs. Fleischmann went upstairs to Mrs. Gershon's room and knocked at the door. She had hardly knocked before she heard someone coming towards her. She turned, and to her surprise saw Mrs. Gershon coming out of the stock-room; which was on the same floor. Mrs. Gershon said she had been sleeping in the stock-room.
"Mrs. Fleischmann told her the story we had arranged, and Mrs. Gershon at once came down and was brought to us.
"She wore no jacket, no boots, and no hat. These, it appeared, had been taken away from her in order to prevent her going out, by the two men who had installed themselves in her room - one said he was a friend of her husband who was in Russia.
"She admitted that two men were occupying the room at which Mrs. Fleischmann had knocked.
"We expected developments when we heard of the knock. But none came. The men had heard the woman asked to come to a case of sickness, and had evidently accepted the situation as a natural one.
"As soon as we were sure that we had everybody out of the house except the two desperadoes, I went into the house next door, which was an exact counterpart of No. 100, and measured the staircase and the landings, and ascertained exactly the position we should be in next door if we went up the stairs and the armed men commenced a fusillade from above. With the weapons they had they could have shot down every man who attempted to climb those stairs in order to secure them.
"We could not creep up and enter the room they were in noiselessly. We ascertained that the door was locked. The slightest sound of an attempt to force the door would have been instantly to arouse armed and desperate men, with fatal results to all of us outside.
"It was when we fully realised the situation that I determined not to sacrifice my men, but to wait till daylight.
"The Russians, seeing the houses surrounded, would recognise the hopelessness of the situation. They would at least have an opportunity of throwing up their hands and surrendering.
"And so through the wild, dark night we waited patiently for the dawn that must develop the situation.
"Shortly after daylight a number of officers, including Divisional Inspector Wensley and Inspector Willis, took up a position in a gateway exactly opposite No. 100, and the question of attracting the attention of the beleaguered men was debated.
"It was thought that a stone thrown at the window might cause one of them at last to look out. We decided to throw at the window of the room in which we knew they were, and in which we believed them to be still asleep.

Sergeant Leeson Hit.

"The officers stepped forward to carry out the idea.
"Sergeant Leeson was one of them. He couldn't find a stone. I stepped back and stooped to kick up a pebble from the roadway, and that action probably saved my life.
"One of the officers had found some loose gravel, and had flung it. At that moment a shot came through the centre window. It struck Sergeant Leeson, and he fell. The bullet had passed through both his lungs, and within an inch of his heart. But for stooping to kick up the pebble I should have been by his side, and could hardly have escaped.
"Leeson was picked up and carried away, the desperadoes firing at the group of officers assisting him all the time. The men had fired through the curtains and through the window-panes, and from that moment it was "war."
"The officers - all except Leeson - had fortunately managed to get out of the line of fire before he was hit, but the situation had become as dangerous as it was exciting.
"It soon became evident that such weapons as we had were useless against the arms of precision that the desperadoes were taking their terrible revenge with.
"Under the King's Army Regulations the authorities have a right, in case of violent crime, to call upon the military authorities for assistance.
"After consultation with the chief officers of the City Police present, I went to the Tower, told the officer in command of the extraordinary situation which had arisen in the heart of London, and he at once selected a number of marksmen from the Scots Guards, and, in command of a lieutenant, they returned to Sidney-street with me. The battle between Law and Anarchy took place in the presence of the Home Secretary, the Chief Commissioner of the City Police, our Assistant Commissioner, Sir Melville Macnaghten, and other officers, and the rest is history.

The End of the Two Ruffians.

"Whatever may be thought of the methods employed, the fact remains that we secured the downfall of two reckless ruffians, who were prepared to shoot down everyone who approached them, and we did so without sacrificing the life of a single man on our side."
"And the two men who were killed in the house, how did they meet their death, do you think?"
"One was killed by a bullet fired by the soldiers, and the other, when he saw the end was near, shot himself."
"And the famous Peter the Painter, who was at first supposed to be one of the men who perished at Sidney-street - what do you think became of him?"
"If you ask me for my own private opinion," replied Mr. Mulvany, "I will give it. I do not think that Peter the Painter was in the Houndsditch affair at all. You will not hear, I fancy, of any further inquiries as to his whereabouts. It is most likely that on the occasions he was known to have mixed with those people he was engaged in his legitimate business."
"That of a painter, you mean?"
"No - but we will leave it at that."

"This," said Mr. Mulvany, "was my last exciting experience."
"You certainly wound up with a display of red fire," I remarked.
"Yes, and it was the most anxious time I ever had in the whole of my forty years of service. But you must not imagine because at your instigation I have only given you the more distinct features of my experience in the force, there is not another side to an officer's experience - especially to the experience of a superintendent. We have duties to perform which are far more agreeable than running thieves and murderers to earth, investigating the mysteries of crimes and building up the evidence against those it is our duty to deliver to the law for punishment.

Last Thoughts.

"The well-being and goodwill of a district are the concern of its local police, and the superintendent is brought into constant touch with all classes of his fellow citizens, for they look to him and the men under his command not only for protection in their dwelling houses but for help in the conduct of their affairs.
"Among the chief characteristics of my district are its open markets. "The Lane" is world-famous, and at one time it had anything but a first-class reputation. There were frequently scenes of disorder, and breaches of the peace were not unknown. Their methods of forcing their goods on the attention of the crowd which purchased, at one time did not make for the preservation of good order. I tackled the Lane trouble very soon after my appointment, and I am proud to say that I completely reformed its methods without any unnecessary harshness to the street traders.
"In fact, among the most prized souvenirs of my years of office are the kindly letters written to me by members of the Street Sellers' Union and others engaged in open-air trade.
"They were written in consequence of my always being averse to prosecuting for obstruction, and to the best of my ability facilitating the business of poor people honestly attempting to get their living in the streets."
Mr. Mulvany showed me the letters, and from that of the President of the Street Sellers' Union I persuaded him to let me give the following passage: -

Whilst you have been in charge of the H division of police the relations between officers and men of the force and the public have been of the best. Mutual goodwill between the two bodies has become strengthened, and if any of our people have been able to assist a constable in difficulties, it has been a pleasure to render the service - for your sake.
It is of the humbler class of folks that I speak, and although, no doubt, your attitude will still be continued, I can assure you they express sincere grief at your relinquishing duty. We should have liked you to have been Superintendent Mulvany as long as you lived, not for any favouritism shown or favours expected, but because you and those acting under you have never been anything other than fair, considerate, indulgent, and helpful to the poor. You take with you their sense of deep gratitude and the hope that you will sometimes come and see them.

"And now, before you close your notes there is one thing you must let me say. I desire most heartily to offer my thanks to Detective-Inspector Divall, now of Scotland-yard; to Divisional Detective-Inspector Wensley and his officers; and to Inspector Richardson, late of the H division, for their valuable services, and to the officers and men of the H division for their loyalty and their united efforts to carry out their multitudinous duties to the credit of the force and the satisfaction of the residents and traders of the district.
"If I can carry with me into my peaceful retirement many memories of evil deeds, I shall always have the happy memory of the loyal and devoted support given to me by the officers and men with whom it was my privilege to be associated as superintendent of the H division."

My friend, Superintendent Mulvany, has carried away with him not only the happy memory of the loyal support of all who had the privilege of serving under him. In his rural retreat far from the "evil behaviour of men," he can look back upon the closing scene of his official career and see the officers and men of his division gathered together in cheery comradeship to present their departing chief with a charming testimonial and to wish him good health and long life and every happiness in the years of well-earned leisure that lie before him.
On the 1st of January, when the New Year Honours were announced, it was recorded that the Police Medal had been presented to Superintendent Frank Froest, of Scotland Yard, and to Mr. John Mulvany, ex-Superintendent of the H Division.
The authorities at Scotland Yard had the highest opinion of the administrative abilities and the professional acumen of Superintendent Mulvany. He was the happy combination of the suaviter in modo and the tortiter in re, and possessed in a remarkable degree those qualities which have made the officers of the London Police and the men under their command an ideal force, and one regarded as such in every part of the civilised world.


Source: Lloyd's Weekly News, January 21, 1912, Page 15

Karen Trenouth
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