William Simpson

Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 6.0, 19 December 2011), September 1910, trial of SIMPSON, William (32, clerk) (t19100906-67).

Dated: 6th September 1910

SIMPSON, William (32, clerk) . Feloniously shooting at William Samuel Frost with intent to murder him.

Mr. Travers Humphreys and Mr. Oddie prosecuted; Mr. Roland Oliver defended (at the request of the Court).

GRAHAM WITHERS , 29, Westow Road, Upper Norwood, said that on August 5 prisoner purchased the revolver (Exhibit 1) and case produced for 25s.

HARRY COX , of Charles Lankester and Co., gunsmiths, Haymarket. On August 5 prisoner called at our shop and asked for a box of cartridges for a revolver; he said it was of English make, a Colt. I sold him 50 cartridges. Next day he came back and said the cartridges did not fit; he showed me the revolver (Exhibit 1) and I exchanged the cartridges, giving him 50 others in the box produced (Exhibit 13); they are expanding cartridges.

Cross examined. Any normal revolver will take expanding cartridges. Prisoner did not ask for “expanding” cartridges.

FREDERICK BROOKES WEBB , manager to Stevens and Company, chemists, Borough, proved that on August 9 prisoner purchased two drachms of chloroform.

WILLIAM SAMUEL FROST. I live at Ruislip, and have a business in London. I have a season ticket between Ruislip and Bishopsgate on the Metropolitan Railway. On August 9, returning home, I caught the 2.15 p.m. train from Baker Street; I got into an empty first-class carriage at 2. 5; I took a corner seat; I had with me a leather bag; it contained nothing of value; I placed it on the seat at my side. About 2.10 prisoner entered the carriage and sat opposite me. When the train started I was reading a journal; prisoner appeared to be reading a morning paper. Within a few seconds the train entered a tunnel, and prisoner, without saying anything, produced a revolver, pointed it at my head, and fired two shots; I think neither of these hit me. I commenced to grapple with the prisoner; a third shot caught me in the chin. Prisoner had opened both doors; the revolver having fallen to the floor in the struggle, I managed to kick it out of the door. I called loudly for assistance and tried to find the communication cord, but there was none. Prisoner was trying to push me out of the carriage. As the train slowed down into Swiss Cottage Station prisoner got out into the tunnel. At that station I was attended to and sent to the hospital. I had never seen prisoner before. I was wearing a gold watch and chain and a pearl pin.

Cross-examined. The revolver was held quite close to my head, so that I was absolutely at prisoner’s mercy. The shot that actually hit me was fired at very short range; the grains of powder had to be picked out of my skin. I do not adopt the suggestion that prisoner, finding I was more than a match for him, simply wanted to push past me and get out of the train; he was, in fact, doing his best to push me out.

WILLIAM S. HANKINS. I was travelling in the adjoining carriage and heard three revolver shots and a cry. I tried to attract attention as the train passed through St. John’s Wood and Marlborough Road Stations. As the train was slowing down to stop at Swiss Cottage Station I saw a man get out into the tunnel and run back in the direction of Marlborough Road.

FREDERICK W. DEAN. I was on the platform at Marlborough Road Station when this train passed through. I noticed that the door of a first-class carriage was open, and I saw two men fighting. I called the attention of a porter and the train was signalled to stop at the next station.

WILLIAM CURTIS. I was guard in charge of the 2.15 train; it does not stop between Baker Street and Kilburn. There are no communication cords on the train. After passing through Marlborough Road Station I noticed the train slow down and heard some shouting; looking out, I saw a man running along the tunnel in the direction of Marlborough Road; he had no hat on. At Swiss Cottage Station we stopped; on going to the carriage I saw Frost, who was bleeding and seemed quite dazed. In the carriage were two hats (the prosecutor’s and prisoner’s). Prosecutor’s bag was under the seat. There was blood about the carriage and evident signs of a struggle.

FREDERICK J. CHAMPION , signal fitter. On this afternoon I went into the tunnel below Marlborough Road and Swiss Cottage Stations. I found prisoner standing in a manhole; I said to him, “What are you doing here?”; he said, “I fell out of a train. “When we got him to Swiss Cottage Station I heard him say: “The bastard; the first shot misfired; he attacked me first and I did it in self-defence. “

ALFRED BURROWS , assistant linesman, was with the last witness when prisoner was caught in the tunnel. On being searched a phial of chloroform was found on prisoner. To witness prisoner said, “I wish the bastard was here who sold me this pistol.”

FREDERICK TAYLOR , porter, spoke to searching prisoner and taking from him the revolver case and a number of cartridges.

Sergeant AVORY, 83 S, who arrested prisoner, said that on the way to the station prisoner said, “He attacked me first; then I attacked him; he pushed me out of the open door on to the line. “

Sergeant WALTER BEX, S Division. At the police station when I told prisoner the charge he said, “He attacked me first before I attacked him.” On examining the revolver I found it contained six cartridges; the first had been fired; the second and third had misfired; the fourth and fifth had been fired, and the sixth remained.

Detective-Inspector HENRY BROOKES, S Division. On my reading the formal charge to prisoner he made no reply. He was searched and in addition to what has been spoken to there were found upon him some pieces of window blind cords, 5d. in money, and two out-of-date railway tickets. In the railway carriage I found two bullets and a portion of a third, a journal, and a newspaper.

GEORGE GRIFFIN , permanent way inspector, proved the finding of the revolver in the tunnel.

WILLIAM CARTER , coach builder at the Neasden works of the Metropolitan Railway, spoke to finding a bullet imbedded in one side of the carriage.

Dr. JOHN CLARK WILSON , 18, College Crescent, N. W., said that he attended prosecutor at Swiss Cottage Station. He had a wound in the chin, from a bullet which had been fired at very close quarters; the bullet had expanded and torn its way out at another place. Prosecutor made a satisfactory recovery and there will be no permanent injury, except the scar.

HENRY A. ROBINSON , divisional surgeon. I examined the prisoner on the afternoon of August 9; he was quite calm and rational; he had a few cuts and scars on his hands and a slight wound on the chin, an abrasion over his left knee and a slight cut on the left shin; they were such injuries as might have been caused by tumbling out of the train.

THOMAS POPE. On August 10 I was at Marylebone Police Court charged with housebreaking. I was in a cell with prisoner and a man named Young. Young asked prisoner what he was there for. Prisoner replied, “It was for shooting a man; he followed a man to Baker Street; the man got into a first-class carriage; prisoner followed; as the train went along prisoner pulled out a revolver and shot at the man from under his newspaper; the first two shots misfired; the third shot hit him in the chin; if he had overpowered, the man he would have gone through his pockets and put him underneath the seat”; he also said that if when he got out at the station the people in the other carnages had tried to stop him he would have shot at them. He said that he had got out of the carriage door on to the line and got an electric shock as he was going through the tunnel.

Cross-examined. I have heard it said that when prisoner got out of the carriage he had no revolver on him.

Verdict, Guilty, the jury adding a rider as to the absence of communication cords in the carriages on the Metropolitan Railway.

Prisoner (whose real name is Walter Terris) had had several previous convictions for burglary, housebreaking, etc.; the last was in December, 1908, with a sentence of 21 months’ hard labour. While serving that sentence he was discharged from prison to a criminal lunatic asylum, suffering from mental delusions; from there he was discharged in July last.

SIDNEY REGINALD DYER , medical officer of Brixton Prison. I have had prisoner under observation since August 10 and have discovered no sign of insanity or delusions about him.

Sentence, 12 years, penal servitude.


(Saturday, September 10.)