Symud i'r prif gynnwys
Cuddio Rhestr Erthyglau

1 erthygl ar y dudalen hon

ACTION AGAINST DR. J. G. LOCK…

Newyddion
Dyfynnu
Rhannu

ACTION AGAINST DR. J. G. LOCK OF TENBY, COLLAPSE OF THE PLAINTIFF'S CASE. HONOURABLE ACQUITTAL OF THE DOCTOR. At the Glamorganshire Assizes at Swansea on Tuesday (before Mr Justice Field and a special jury) Benjamin Griffiths, livery stable keeper and cab proprietor, Tenby, sued Dr. Lock, practising at Tenby, for £2,000 damages for slander and false imprisonment. Mr Clement Higgins, Q.C., and Mr Abel Thomas appeared for the plaintiff, and Mr Bowen Row- lands, Q.C., M.P., and Mr Arthur Lewis repre- sented the defendant. Mr Abel Thomas stated that the plaintiff sued for damages for slander, which consisted in a statement to the effect that he was insane and it was necessary that he should be placed under proper control. In the second place, he sued for false imprisonment. The defendant denied that he was the cause of this or that he laid the infor- mation. He also denied that the plaintiff was examined before the magistrates, and he said the plaintiff had not been injured. What information he did give he denied that he did it falsely or maliciously. CASE FOR THE PLAINTIFF. Mr Higgins, Q.C., in opening the case, said the plaintiff claimed on three causes. First of all, he said that the defendant had slandered him, had caused him to be imprisoned improperly, and also that the defendant was the prosecutor. For some years Dr Lock had been the medical attendant of the plaintiff's family, and in June, 1887. certain circumstances arose which interfered with this connection. The plaintiff had aroused in his mind certain suspicions respecting Dr. Lock, which dated so far back as 1884. He did did not wish the jury to misunderstand him. It was not a part of his case that these suspicions were necessarily well founded. It might be they were, or it might be they were not. Anyhow, he would tell them the ground of these suspicions. It appeared that some- where about 1884 Mrs Griffiths was very ill. She was apparently quite well when her husband left home in the morning, but he was sent for. Dr. Lock was with her when he arrived, and a conversation took place. The defendant said he did not then know what was the matter with her. He afterwards sent for Dr. Griffiths, of Swansea, and also another doctor. A person named Sarah Evans, who had formerly attended plaintiff's wife in her confine- ment, was sent for to look after her. Afterwards defendant said she was suffering from tumour. There were certain indications in the house, how- ever, and certain conversations which took place which led the plaintiff to believe that his wife had had a miscarriage, and that it was sought to .conceal the fact. His Lordship How is this relative to the issue ? Mr. Higgins I will show that. His Lordship You know how soon the reputation ,of a medical man is damaged ? Mr. Higgins I do, my lord. His Lordship I know you would not lend your- self to anything of that sort. Mr. Higgins, continuing, said the defendant went to the acting head-constable, and there laid an information to the effect that the plaintiff was a person of unsound mind and should be placed under proper care and control. Thereupon, Carr, the man referred to, swore an information before the justices, and the plaintiff was taken before a magistrate. He was on that occasion examined by Dr. Hamilton, the result of which was that no order was made. Upon that occasion the plaintiff was represented by a Mr. Stokes, who called attention before the magistrates to the fact that there was really no case against his client, and he offered to personally become responsible for him. On a subsequent occasion, when plaintiff's solicitor was not present to represent him, an order was made consigning him to a lunatic asylum. In the first instance, he said the law was set in motion by Dr. Lock improperly and maliciously, for a reason which he would explain to them. It was bad on the face of it, because the Act of Parliament was not complied with. After the order was made an undertaking was given by the plaintiff's brother to the effect that he would provide an able-bodied man who should be in constant attendance on plaintiff and not allow him to wander abroad, but that he should be kept in the house, except when in the country taking necessary exercise. His Lordship said they must first prove that the order was made upon Dr. Lock's statement, and then they must prove that the information was malicious. Mr Higgins said these suspicions had been excited in his mind, and he was fully persuaded that there had been improper intimacy between his wife and Dr Lock, and there was no doubt he stated those suspicions, which must naturally have been a great cause of annoyance to Dr Lock. It so happened that the plaintiff, at the end of June, met Dr Lock in the street, and he used some strong language against the doctor at that time, and also threatened him with his whip. He held up the whip as if to strike him, and said he would give him "a good tanning." That being done, he maintained that the proper course for the doctor to have pursued was to have had the plaintiff brought before the magistrates and bound over to keep the peace. If there was « any slanderous statements made about intimacy with the wife he had his remedy, but, instead of that, lie made this communication to the head-con- stable and, what was more, when Dr Hamilton gave his opinion and declined to certify that the plaintiff was of unsound mind, Dr Lock communi. cated with Dr Reid, and also had conversations with Dr Hearder, about the same time. The result ot this was that, by the assistance of these two gentle- men, an order was ultimately made to remove the plaintiff to an asylum. Now he wanted to show them the kind of thing which had been going on. Some statement was made by the plaintiff with respect to the wife, and a statement was made about there being a crack in the wall of the watercloset in plaintiff's garden, which was next door to the de- fendant's garden. Plaintiff had said that he had seen something like a hand come through that wall and this was the statement made use of by Dr Lock to Dr. Hearder, and then, these two gentlemen having put certain specific questions to the plaintiff the order was made. The plaintiff's solicitor was subsequently instructed to take proceedings, and when the solicitor wrote to the defendant he said Sir,—My reply to your letter of the 13th inst. is that you can take what proceedings you like." In the certificate of committal the statement appeared duration of the existing attack of lunacy, one year," so that according to this the plaintiff had been a dangerous lunatic for the whole year before. THE EVIDENCE. The first witness called was Police-sergeant Carr, of the Pembroke Constabulary, who said that in June last he was acting head-constable for the borough of Tenby. In June Dr Lock came to him and said he was afraid of the plaintiff. Witness told him he had better take out a summons, and get him bound over to keep the peace. He did not reply to that. Defendant came to him three or four times altogether. The first time was in January, 1888, and the last time on the 25th of June. On the latter occasion defendant met him in the street, and told him he had again been insulted by the plaintiff, and he was afraid of him. That was all that took place. Mr Francis John Carter said he was the solicitor to the plaintiff in this action. He took a state- ment from the last witness, and asked him how he instituted the proceedings. He replied: "Dr Lock called on me and said that Benjamin Griffiths was a person of unsound mind, and that he had threatened him in the street." Carr told him that the defendant said if he did not act as he wished he was liable to a penalty of £5 for not acting, he being borough constable. He told witness that the defendant subsequently brought Dr Reid to him to confirm his statement. He was present when shorthand notes were taken by his clerk of the in- terview. By Mr Rowlands He also said that a man named John Davies and a man named Mathias had also been threatened by Mr Griffiths. Police-sergeant Carr, called by Mr Bowen Row- lands, said that at this time Dr Reid was attending the plaintiff's family. Before he took any pro- ceedings at all he Wet Dr Reid in the street, and he asked him about plaintiff's state of mind. He would not have laid the information only on the strength of what Dr Reid told him. Witness was not present when the order for confinement was made. He had been called in by the neighbours, in consequence of disturbances in Griffiths' house, three or four times, and on one occasion when he went into the house, plaintiff and his wife were in the passage perfectly quiet. Griffiths's brother was present, and requested witness to lock plaintiff up, because he was afraid he would murder his wife. Witness, however, saw no reason to do so, and he took no action. Mr Charles Wm. Rees Stokes, solicitor, Tenby, said he acted as solicitor for the plaintiff in the lunacy proceedings, and he was present at the first inquiry, which took place upon information laid by Police-sergeant Carr. This was on the 28th of June. Mr Robert Lock, a brother of the defen- dant, was the magistrates' clerk. He did not hear any evidence given before the magistrate. Witness suggested that another medical man should be called in, and the inquiry was adjourned until Dr. Hamilton had been consulted. Dr Lock was present at the inquiry, and he took part in the proceedings, but he could not remember what he said. On the 5th of July he heard of further pro- ceedings, but he was in London at the time, and he had not had any notice of them. He was not present when plaintiff was examined by Dr. Hamilton. Cross-examined by Mr Bowen Rowlands: He knew Dr. Reid very well. He had had conversa- tion with him recently, but he had no recollection that he told Dr. Reid he knew that plaintiff was wrong in his head. If Dr. Reid said he had said so he would admit it. He had stated that the accu- sations made by the plaintiff must be correct or incorrect, and, if incorrect, he must have a "bee in his bonnet." The plaintiff said he had seen a hand pass through the floor of a closet in his own garden, which he believed to be Dr. Lock's. He said he knew it was Dr. Lock's hand by the rings on it. Witness went to look at the floor, and plaintiff showed him a hole. Witness, however, did not think it possible that a man's hand could be inserted through this hole. There was a thick wall between Dr. Lock's garden and this closet. Plaintiff told him that notes passed in that way between defendant and his wife, and witness might have expressed his belief that that also was impossible. He did not tell witness that Dr. Lock's eyes bad been fixed on him in the street, and made him ill. Plaintiff told him that Dr. Lock had bought this garden two years ago in order that he might be next to the closet, and he said that he had once caught hold of the hand as it appeared through the hole. Plaintiff told him that his wife had tried to poison him, and had bought a teapot on purpose. He said that a man named Harlow had drugged him, and he had been ill ever since. He never said he meant to put a bullet through the defendant. He, however, said he should chastise him some day. Witness did not remember plaintiff saying that he first became aware of his wife's infidelity through reading it in the Tenby Observer. He had also said his wife had been unfaithful with James Griffiths, his brother. Witness knew plaintiff's wife, and believed her to be a very respectable woman. Benjamin Griffiths, the plaintiff, said he lived at 2, Lexden Cottage, Tenby, and was proprietor of livery stables. In June last year he was living at home with his wife. He was jealous of Dr. Lock. He had met the defendant on several occasions, and on one of these he said to him, "If you come down to my house messing about my wife I'll give you a good thrashing." Defendant made no reply. Witness never threatened him on any occasion, and never threatened to shoot him. On July 2nd he was sent for to go to Mr Stokes's office, and from there he proceeded to the Town-hall. The Mayor and Mr Laws were sitting in the council chamber. Subsequently he had a conversation with a gentle- man named Hamilton. He believed the defendant purchased the next garden to his three or four years ago. He had on several occasions seen the defen- dant in the garden, and the closet in witness's gar- den adjoined the partition wall. The defendant's garden was 3ft. or 4ft. lower down than this closet, and, the wall being very old and dilapidated, some of the stones had fallen out. On one occasion, when he went to the closet, he noticed through the flag floor something similar to a man's hand. He stooped down, and struck a match, and when he did so the hand, or whatever it was, moved away. He went upstairs immediately, and on looking through the window he found Dr. Lock was in the garden. Since July 4th last year his business as a livery stable-keeper had fallen off considerably. On a Tuesday in July a man named Pope came to the house, and he went away with him on the fol- lowing Sunday. He was away a fortnight, and it cost him about £ 3. By Mr Bowen Rowlands: He believed it was a hand that appeared through the hole. He dropped a match down immediately, but he did not know whether it burned the hand or not. He did not think he told Mr Stokes that the defendant had purchased the garden in order to be near his wife. On one occasion he saw a statement in the Tenby Observer which he thought related to Dr. Lock and his (the plaintiff's) wife. Dr. Hearder asked him whether he had seen the paragraph in question in the paper, and witness replied that he had, but he did not know to whom it referred. Witness had heard an electric bell ring in the defendant's garden, but he had never seen it. He believed he had spoken to his wife about it. He never stated that the defendant kept a cuckoo in the garden in order to call his wife. He did not remember getting up once in the night when the bell rang. His wife did not give him anything to make him sleep while she was away. He did not believe that he had made such a statement to Dr. Hearder. He believed defendant's coachman used to keep watch so that his wife might go and meet Dr. Lock. Defendant's wife used to go every day to feed a pony with corn in a field about a mile away. He never told Dr. Hearder that defendant used to send for his (plaintiff's) wife while his own was away feeding the pony. Witness received a letter by post when his wife was ill. The letter made cer- tain accusations against his wife and Dr. Lock, and said that if he wanted to know more he was to go tt) a shed in his field, and he would obtain further particulars. He went several times' to the field, but he could find nothing. He afterwards fastened up the hole in the closet with cement. Somebody took away all his razors about ten or twelve years ago. Defendant's eyes never made him ill, and he never said so to anybody. He had suspicions that his wife bought a teapot to poison him. The cause of this was that they had been having their tea out of the same pot for about 22 years, and then his wife bought this small one and put it for his own use. He had it for about ten days, and then he broke it. The circumstance was strange, and, coupled with other incidents, it made him sus- picious. Three or four times a fortnight his wife used to put a pi!l-box in front of him to annoy him. She never said anything about it, but it was done so often that he thought she did it to irritate him, and so make the neighbours think he was not right in his mind. This commenced about 1887. He believed the defendant always knew when he was away from home. He used to make a point of knowing in order to take advantage of his absence to see his wife. He never put two knives in his pocket and said one was for Dr. Lock and the other for Sailor Jack." Dr. Reid advised him to go to the Wells, and gave him a black draught before he started. (Laughter.) He quarrelled with his brother for having him sent up to the Wells in the height of the season. He had no suspicion that his brother was guilty of improper intimacy with his wife. He might have told Dr. Hearder that people were talking about his wife and Dr. Lock. He remembeved showing Pope—his yardman—the Tenby Observer which contained the paragraph which had been reforred to. By Mr Higgius He first had suspicions about his wife and Dr. Lock when she was ill about five years ago. He asked the doctor several times what was the cause of his wife's illness, and he eventually said he thought it was a tumour. On one occasion Dr. Hearder came to see him and said, What is this fine bother you have with Dr. Lock ? and asked whether it was true that plain- tiff said that his wife had had children by Dr. Lock. Witness replied that it was so, and the children were alive for anybody to see. He saw Dr. Hearder again about July, 1888. It was before Pope came to his house. On this occasion Dr. Hearder advised him to go to a solicitor. Captain Brook, a justice of the peace for Tenby, said he had known the plaintiff for several years. He had had conversations with him occasionally. He had never noticed anything strange in his be- haviour, and he had not seen him atthe stables since May, 1888. Mrs Jane Griffiths, the wife of the plaintiff, said she never had had occasion to send for the police, and had never applied to the magistrates for pro- tection. She had had quarrels with her husband. Pope came to the house on July 4, 1888. Witness kept the books for her husband. Since that time the business had greatly fallen off. Twelve months ago she had twelve livery horses in the stables, and now she only had two ponies there. By Mr Rowlands: There was not the slightest occasion for the constable and neighbours to come to the house. Robert Clarke, publican, Tenby, said he had known the plaintiff for six years. He knew him intimately, but had never noticed anything strange in his behaviour. Dr. Hamilton, of Tenby, said he attended at the Town-hall on July 2, 1888, at the request of Police- sergeant Carr, to examine the plaintiff. Witness told him to state his grievance. He said he was tormented by boys about pills. He said Dr. Lock had been intimate with his wife, and that two of her children were by Dr. Lock, as they were diffe- rent in appearance to the other members of his family. He also said that, being suspicious, he went to the closet one morning, and while there a hand came through a hole. The hand had a note in it. He said he caught hold of it. Witness asked him why he did not keep hold of it, and he said he could not. He also stated that the note was making an appointment with his wife. He after- wards burnt it. Witness came to no definite con- clusion about plaintiff's sanity, and he refused to sign the certificate that he was insane. If he had not been in a position to prove these statements, witness would have undoubtedly pronounced him to be insane. Witness, however, on that day said to the magistrates that he believed the plaintiff was" cranky" and-on the "borderland." Dr. Venour, Deer Park, Tenby, said he had known the plaintiff since 1873. Witness was in India in June, 1888, and had been there since 1877. Defendant was perfectly sane before he went away, and he was the same now. THE DEFENDANT'S CASE. Mr Bowen Rowlands submitted that there was no case. They were charged with "falsely and maliciously and without reasonable or probable cause." There was no evidenee of any of that, and he, therefore, said there was no case. The defendant was alleged to have caused and pro- cured Carr to give information upon oath, which led to an order being made for plaintiff's confine- ment in the Carmarthen Asylum. There was no evidence of this, and the information complained of was not put in evidence. There was no evidence of want of reasonable or probable cause there was no evidence of malice there was no evidence that the justices dismissed the first action which was brought to obtain an order there was no evidence that defendant caused Pope to imprison the plain- tiff, and there was no slander and there was no evidence of special damages. His lordship said he should not stop the case on these grounds. Mr Rowlands said he was very glad that the case was not going to fall through on technical grounds, because that would have prevented him putting the defendant and his witnesses into the box. In the interests of his client it would be desirable that the case should go before the jury, because what had been presented to them was the merest rag of a case that ever went before a British jury. He then dealt with the witnesses and their evidence, and said the plaintiff had proved by his own case that his friends and acquaintances con- sidered him to be a bit "cranky" and on the "borderland." This was one of the thousands of cases which were brought against men in prominent positions. The plaintiff evidently thought the defendant would never come into court to answer such a charge as this, because of the fear that it would all get into the papers. He evidently thought the defendant would pay a sum of money to settle it. But they were mistaken, and they had even subpoenaed his wife, who knew nothing whatever about the matter, in order to try and humiliate her. He, however, knew that such an act as this would receive the treatment it deserved at the hands of a British jury. He should call evidence before them which would entirely disprove what had been said, and explaain to them the history of the plaintiffs unfortunate delusion for the last two years. The court then rose. The case resumed at ten o'clock on Wednesday morning, when Mr Bowen Rowlands, Q.C., on the suggestion of his lordship, decided to call as his first witness the defendant, in order that, as his lordship put it, he might have the first opportunity which could be afforded him of denying on oath the imputations against him. His lordship said the defendant would at this stage be examined only on the alle- gations of misconduct. The defendant, Dr. Lock, was then called. In examination by Mr Rowlands, he said lie had been in practice for over twenty years in Tenby, and in 1870 he commenced attending the plaintiff's family medically, and continued to do so up to the time of the plaintiff's suspicions against him. Plaintiff's wife was suddenly taken ill in June, 1885, and he was called in. He discovered a tumour in the abdomen. In August Dr. Griffiths, of Swansea, was called in in consultation. There was no foundation for the statement that Mrs Griffiths had had a miscarriage. It was absolutely untrue that he had been more intimate with her than was proper, and he never concealed anything from the husband. Mr Higgins was proceeding to cross-examine the witness, when his Lordship asked if he would, under the circumstances, examine now upon other points than as to the allegations against him. Of course, he (the judge) had no control over Mr Higgins' action. Mr Higgins I don't wish to make the imputation that Dr. Lock had connection with the plaintiff's wife. His Lordship But you have in opening. Do you or do you not continue to do so ? Mr Higgins My lord, it is no part of my case to prove the truth of these suspicions. His Lordship Then you don't withdraw them ? Mr Higgins: I said in opening that I did not intend to set up these allegations. His Lordship: No, you did not; and when a counsel for the plaintiff says I don't know whether he is guilty or not guilty," I feel it is my duty to put this gentleman in the box that he may state upon oath whether there is any foundation for the charges against him. Cross examined by Mr Higgins, witness said there were no indications that he saw about the room that a miscarriage had taken place. Sarah Evans was there as nurse. He did not send in any account to the plaintiff, because he never charged the family for attendance. Mr Higgins Why was that: The Judge: Do you mean to impute, because a gentleman does not send in his bill, that he is guilty of such misconduct ? Mr Higgins: I impute nothing The Judge: Yes, sir, you do, or else your cross- examination is of no value and perfectly irrelevant. Mr Higgins was then about to put a question with regard to Dr. Hearder, when His Lordship interposed and asked him to post- pone it. Mr Higgins: My lord, I bow to you, but (with vehemence) it puts me under a very great dis- advantage. His Lordship: Well, you bow to me, that's enough. Go on. gentlemen, please. Dr. Reid said he was asked by the brother to examine the plaintiff as to his state of mind, as he was ill-treating his wife and was acting im- properly to Dr. Lock. who was a good friend to the family. He had a great many conversations with him in the course of which he made several extra- ordinary statements. He said the four youngest children were not his, but Dr. Lock's. He also said he had seen a hand come up through a seat in the closet, and that he took hold of it and it was Dr. Lock's. He recognised it by the rings on the finger. He also said he had received anonymous letters as to the conduct of Dr. Lock. Witness asked to see them, and plaintiff pulled out, not letters, but some cuttings from newspapers not bearing on the subject at all. He said his servant and Dr. Lock met on the Castle Hill every morning at seven o'clock to arrange their plans for the day, by which his wife could see Dr. Lock; also that his wife had tried to poison him, and had bought a teapot for that purpose that a man named Harlow had tried to drug him, and he had never been right since From these assertions he (witness) concluded that he was not of sound mind. The Judge In your judgment at that time was the plaintiff fit to be at large ? Witness No. The Judge You think that he should have been put under control ? Witness: Yes I think so. I considered him dangerous with regard to Dr. Lock, because he threatened to "put a bullet through him." My suggestion was that he should be put into a private asylum. The Judge Why was not that done? Witness Because his nearest relatives would not agree to it. Witness (continuing) said that in 1888 he was called in to see the wife, and found her suffering from the ill-treatment of her husband. On one occasion plaintiff came in in an excited state and repeated his suspicions. He afterwards received a written order from Mr Roch, a magistrate, to inquire into plaintiff's condition. He saw plaintiff, who again threatened to shoot Dr. Lock, and said Dr. Lock and Sally Evans had conspired to procure (For contin-uatioit see page 8.)