Strangest Case In Court

Posted: September 16, 2009 in Chief Inspector John George Littlechild
Henry Llewellyn Winter, stage manager at the Garrick Theatre, was charged on remand, before Sir J. Bridge, Bow-street, on Friday, with wilful and corrupt perjury. Mr. Blanchard Wontner appeared for the prisoner, and Mr. Angus Lewis prosecuted for the Treasury. The perjury is alleged to have been committed in a petition by which prisoner obtained a divorce from his wife. Mrs. Winter was called, but Mr. Wontner objected that she could not legally give evidence against her husband. Sir John Bridge overruled the objection, inasmuch as she had been divorced, and the decree having been made absolute, was no longer the prisoner’s wife.
Mrs. Winter said that she was married to the prisoner in March, 1872, at Streatham, and lived with him at various places. A child was born in 1872, and another in 1875. In 1877 they went to live at Stanstead-road, Forest Hill. The prisoner did not live with her there, saying it was more convenient for him and his pupils, he being a teacher of music, to live at Blackheath.
He visited her, however, at frequent intervals, and in 1880 she gave birth to a child. About five weeks later she met her husband in London, and he told her to register the child in the name of Weston, as it would be a great benefit. She objected, but a few days afterwards consented, and registered the child as Edith Florence Weston, giving the name of the father as Henry Weston. Early in 1881 prisoner, who was still living at Blackheath, told her that she would receive some papers, and instructed her to forward them to him without looking at them. Soon afterwards some papers arrived, and she put them into an envelope and forwarded them to her husband without reading them. The furniture at Stanstead-road was seized and she went with her youngest child to live at Crofton-road, Camberwell. The prisoner visited her there on several occasions, but never stayed the night. On one occasion he made her copy and sign the statement he had written out to the effect that he was not the father of the third child. She remonstrated with him, saying it was untrue; but he told her the paper would do him a lot of good, and she consented, therefore, to sign it. Until today she had not seen the prisoner for twelve or thirteen years. He eventually went to America, but for some time sent her £5 a month, but the payments became irregular. and ceased in August, 1883. In August, 1884, she received a newspaper cutting stating that a man bearing her husband’s name had committed suicide. The address on the envelope was in a disguised handwriting, and she came to the conclusion that her husband wrote it. She afterwards wrote to him, but received no reply. Until Detective-inspector Littlechild called on her in 1886 she had not the slightest idea that she was divorced. In 1881 she had seen a paragraph in the newspapers as to a report of divorce proceedings in which her husband’s name was mentioned, and he told her it had nothing to do with him, but referred to a man of the same name. It was not true that in 1880 she committed adultery. It was not true that in 1876 she informed the prisoner that her child, Sidney Herbert, was not his child. It was not true that he did not cohabit nor reside with her after 1876. The third child died in 1882, and she registered the death in the name of Winter. Mr. Wontner reserved his cross-examination.
Mary Ann Winter, prisoner’s sister, deposed, that prisoner’s brother George – with whom his wife was alleged to have committed adultery – died in Cursitor-street, Chancery lane, when six years old. Witness had seen a report of divorce proceedings in a weekly paper. Her brother told her that he had seen the report, and that someone had congratulated him upon being divorced. He added that it had nothing to do with him, but referred to someone of the same name. She had never heard the slightest whisper as to the chastity of her sister-in-law. – Rhoda Rose, formerly in the prisoner’s employ, was called to prove cohabitation with his wife at a period when he swore he was living apart from her. – Sir John Bridge remanded the prisoner, commenting on the laxity of the proceedings which had enabled him to obtain a divorce unknown to his wife, and said that it was such a strange and mysterious case that he must increase his sureties to two in £1,000.
Source: Hawke’s Bay Herald, Volume XXX, Issue 9946, 23 March 1895, Page 6

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