The History of Wandsworth Common

12th March 1900

George Neal jailed for the manslaughter of Lottie Crump

GEORGE NEAL was indicted for and charged on the Coroner's Inquisition with the manslaughter of Lottie Crump.



I am a horse-keeper, and between 6 and 6. 10 p.m. on February 20th I was in York Road, Wandsworth — I saw a hansom cab being driven by the prisoner — there was a stationary tram, and in front of the tram I saw a little girl and a little boy crossing the road in front of the horses — I saw the little girl knocked down by the cab, which came along on the near side of the tram — that would not be the proper side, in my opinion — there was no traffic on the other side — he ought to have gone on the off side — he was going between seven and eight miles an hour, and the same way as the tram — I saw the off-side wheel of the cab knock the child down and pass over its chest; the boy was a little in front of the girl, and he escaped — I held my hand up and shouted to the prisoner to stop — he turned round and looked, and then went about three times as fast as he was going before — I gave chase to him, and then took his number — he was in a stooping position, leaning over the cab — I gave his number to a policeman, whom I took back to the spot where the child was run over — the policeman sent me for a cab; I went, and then saw the prisoner's cab, and caught hold of his horse, and gave him in charge of another policeman.


My judgment was that the prisoner went three times as fast as he was going at first, when I shouted at him; that would be 24 miles an hour — it was dark then — I do not know that the prisoner suffers from an internal disease which prevents him from sitting — he had a fare in the cab at the time — he came back to the same road afterwards — it is very unusual for cabmen to go on the near side of a tram-car when it is stationary — if there is traffic coming on the off side the vehicle must wait — I was standing just opposite to where the accident happened, on the near side — I do not think the driver of the cab could have seen the children till he had passed the car.


The whole road was clear, with the exception of the car and the children.


Produced and proved the plans of York Road.


I am a tram-driver, No. 22455 — on February 20th I was driving my tram towards Wandsworth; I stopped to set down some passengers just before I reached Bridge End Road — I saw several little children standing on the off side of the road, waiting to cross, and seeing me stop, they ran across the road — at the same time a hansom cab came on the near side — the little boy let go of his sister's hand, and he cleared the cab, but the little girl ran into the off side wheel, which went over her, and the driver went on as if nothing had happened — he was going about eight miles an hour, leaning forward on his cab — he had not got his horse under proper control — his reins were slack — I did not see him stopped.


I believe the driver could see the children, but I do not think the children could see the cab — I know that cabmen pass on the near side of the car when it stops — there was plenty of room to pass on either side of my car — there was no traffic at that time.

The child was run over about eight yards from my car — there were other children crossing at the time, but I cannot say the number — I saw the cabman just before the accident happened — I saw him leaning forward at the time of the accident — I did not see him much before that, because he came from behind the car — he was in a leaning position when he passed my horses.


I am a painter, living at 66, Wharton Place, Wandsworth — on February 20th, about 6 p.m., I was at the end of Bridge End Road, and saw two children crossing the road, holding each other's hands — when they got to the centre of the road the little boy let go the little girl's hand, and he got across to the other side leaving the girl alone — a hansom was coming, and I shouted to the cabman to pull up, but he did not seem to take any notice — he was about eight or nine yards from the girl, and was driving quickly — he was leaning over the top of the cab — the little girl ran into the cab, and was knocked down by the off side wheel — I do not think she touched the horse — I called again to the driver, but he only went on faster — I picked the girl up and took her to a doctor's opposite.


As the girl was going across she could not stop herself, and she ran into the hind quarters of the horse, and the wheel knocked her down — the boy was older than the girl, and could run faster — they ran across to avoid the other traffic — I suppose there was other traffic, but I did not see any.


The child could not help herself; the cab was going too quickly — I do not think the cabman saw the children, but I think he could if he had been sitting on his box properly.


I am about 11 years old, and live with my father at 39, Brier Street, Fulham — a little after 6 on February 20th I and my sister Lottie went out to buy something — we went into York Road — we began to cross the road — I saw a tram-car standing there, and we passed in front of it — when we started we were hand in hand, but when we got to the tram-car we let go and ran — I did not see a cab — when I got to the other side I turned round to look for my sister — she was lying in the road — I did not see a cab then — she was taken to a doctor's — it took me a very short time to get from the point where I left my sister to the pavement.


It was not very light — I looked round while I was running with my sister — she was five years and five months old.


On February 20th, about 6. 20, I was on duty just beyond the railway station — I saw a tram-car and also a cab being driven very fast — I shouted to him to stop, but he only drove away faster — I ran after the cab — a short time after I saw Lucas, who made a statement to me — I took the number of the cab — I was soon afterwards called to a cab bearing the number which I had taken — that was about 130 yards from where the accident took place, and about 8 or 10 minutes after I first saw it — nobody was in it; the driver was on the box — Lucas was there — I told the driver to get down — I noticed he was staggery — when I asked him where he got his fare from he made no reply — he did not seem to recollect anything — I asked him where he was going wich the fare; he said to High Street, Wandsworth — he smelt strongly of drink — Police-constable Turpin came up and took him to the station — the cab-horse was very hot, and sweating immensely — I asked the prisoner if he knew anything about the accident which had occurred down the road; he said, "I did not know anything about it until a few minutes ago. "


It was after the accident that I shouted at him, and when I saw him the second time he was coming back.


On the evening of February 20th I came up to the spot where Welton was talking to the prisoner — I took the prisoner into custody — he was drunk — he staggered, and smelt of drink, and his speech was thick — I took him to the station — he said he did not know if he had knocked anybody down — he denied being drunk, and a doctor was sent for.


The station is nearly a mile from the spot — it was about an hour after I first saw him that the doctor came — his horse was rather a spirited animal.

CHARLES COLDON (Police Inspector):

On February 20th Turpin brought the prisoner into the station at Wandsworth, about 6. 30 — he was charged with being drunk, and recklessly driving a hansom cab — something was said about a child being run over — the prisoner was drunk — he made no reply — when I read the charge over to him he said he did not remember running over anybody — there were other cabs in the road at the time — he asked if he could see a doctor, and I sent for one — he could not stand upright in the dock, and had to have the assistance of the rails of the dock — about an hour and a half afterwards I heard that the child was dead, and I charged the prisoner with manslaughter — I saw the horse; it was very restive in the station yard, and it took two men to hold it — I should say it had been driven rapidly, from its state.


I should not say he was in a beastly state of intoxication.


I am a registered medical practitioner and acting divisional surgeon of police — I was called to the station about 7 p. m. on February 20th, where I saw the prisoner — my opinion was that he was then the worse for drink — his state was not one in which he ought to have had charge of a vehicle in the streets.


He was unsteady at 7 o'clock.


I am medical superintendent at Bolingbroke Hospital, Wandsworth Common — the deceased was brought in about 6.40 p.m. on February 20th — I heard that she had been run over — she only lived for 15 minutes — I made a postmortem examination — there were no external marks, but I found that the liver had been lacerated, and also one of the kidneys — the cause of death was shock and haemorrhage, due to ruptured liver and kidney — being knocked down by a rapidly driven vehicle and run over by the wheel would account for the injuries.


I am a smith's hammerman, and am the deceased's father — on February 20th she and her brother went out to buy something — I afterwards went to the hospital and saw her dead body — she was aged 5 years 5 months; the boy is 11 years old.

THE PRISONER, in his defence, on oath, said that he did not see the child, and did not know he ran over her; that he was not drunk, that he did not hear anybody call out to him to stop, and that the reason he was leaning over the top of his cab was, that he had an internal complaint which prevented his sometimes sitting down.

DR. ROE (Re-examined):

I asked the prisoner if he was suffering from anything, and he said from piles — I did not examine him — I have no doubt that he was the worse for drink.

The prisoner received a good character.

GUILTY of culpable negligence. Strongly recommended to mercy by the JURY.

One Month in the Second Division.*

[Old Bailey Proceedings Online March 1900, trial of GEORGE NEAL.]

[* A more lenient form of imprisonment than "first division", say, with hard labour. "One month in the Second Division" described in 1923: Historic Hansard: Prison Treatment Second Division.]