The next witness called to the box was Samuel Wilkinson who was an Inspector with the Nottingham Police. He explained how he came to meet then arrest the prisoner.
“There was a great disturbance in Wood Street in consequence of the people thinking Saville had destroyed his wife and family and I was sent to quell it. When taking the prisoner to the lock-up he had said , “If my wife has drowned herself and the children I suppose I must suffer for”. I said I hope not, let us hope she is found. On reaching the lock-up the prisoner was searched and found some string in his pocket. On the Thursday I went to Suttons to search the prisoner’s box and found two razors, a shirt front marked GAI. I subsequently received a shirt from a person named Knight.”
Inspector Wilkinson now held up the shirt in his hands and there were gasps all round the spectators gallery; this was the bloody shirt which the papers had previously reported.
“I also examined the prisoners trousers at the Police Office on the Thursday afternoon. I discovered three small spots of blood on the right thigh and found the left knee discoloured as if it had been leaning on wet grass or soil.”
Defence Counsel Mr Flowers now stepped up to cross examine the witness and wanted to be sure that the spots or marks on the trousers really were blood. Inspector Wilkinson replied calmly;
“ I am quite certain they were spots of blood, they were quite perceptible at the time.”
The next witness was Francis Wright, assistant clerk to the magistrates. He produced the statement taken down on the Thursday afternoon in the Police Office and explained it was a voluntary statement and to which the prisoner had added his mark. The statement was read out to court and it was pointed out in doing this that the prisoner had not said anything of an angry nature to his wife, that he had left her near Mr Beardsley’s shop and he had not seen her since.”
Christopher Swann, one of two County Coroners for the shire of Nottingham was next in the box. He was examined by Mr Miller for the Crown and produced and read out a statement made by the prisoner at the Inquest. He pointed out it was a voluntary statement.
George Lynch of Arnold followed the County Coroner. He explained how the prisoner had lodged with him from the age of 12 until he married. He had a razor which the prisoner used to borrow. The one produced in court was indeed the one the prisoner was in the habit of using. He had missed it when the prisoner ceased to lodge with him, about eight or ten years ago. Ann Ward, later Ann Saville also lodged with the witness. Part of the haft of the razor was broken off and a mark appeared up the blade which he called a stag. The witness claimed he had described this razor particularly to the Coroner before he had seen it.
At this point Christopher Swann was recalled to the box and asked by Crown Counsel if he could confirm the final remark of the last witness. Christopher Swann replied;
“The last witness properly described the razor before it was shown to him.”
John Buchan was the next witness called and explained how the deceased woman washed for him and a young man named Attenborough who lodged with him. He recalled that a shirt and shirt front were wanting when a bundle of clothes came home on the Thursday before Christmas
Mary Ann Buchan followed her husband into the box. She explained that it was she who received the bundle of clothes and pointed out that a shirt and two shirt fronts missing belonged to George Attenborough. A shirt front was taken up to the witness and she confirmed this was Attenborough’s. Counsel for the Crown advised the jury that this shirt front was found in the prisoner’s box.
Next to testify was George Attenborough. He explained he now lived at Bingham but had been staying with the Buchans over Christmas. On being questioned by Crown Counsel the witness confirmed the testimony of the foregoing two witnesses. He was now shown the bloody shirt and said that he believed the shirt he was being shown was his.
John Woodward a Joiner of Fisher Gate explained how he had discovered the bloody shirt. He had found a parcel in the new canal on Whit Monday. A man named Rice had come up at that time. On opening the parcel they found it contained a shirt saturated with blood, tied up in newspaper within brown paper.
Clement Rice was called to the box and confirmed the testimony of the previous witness.He said that as he was going out of the town on the same day he had left the shirt at home in a pancheon.
Harriet Knight, sister to the previous witness was called to testify and explained how she had given the shirt to Mary Brickley to wash and then handed it over to a constable.
Mary Brickley confirmed the events stated in Harriet Knights testimony
John Heathcote was next called to the box. He explained that he knew Saville and had seen him on the night of the murder. At about a quarter to eight he noted Saville near Sneinton Hermitage and heading towards Nottingham. Crown Counsel pointed out to the jury that the Hermitage is on the road from the spot where the murders took place and is only six to seven hundred yards from the new canal.
The next witness was of great interest to many watching the events in the court room. It was someone they had heard of yet never seen as he did not appear at the Coroner’s Inquisition. Henry Freeman, soldier in the 32nd Regiment of Foot took his place in the box. He explained how he had quarrelled with a person named Goodhead on the Wednesday and then was taken to the lock-up. On the Thursday he was transferred to a lock up adjoining the magistrates room and found the prisoner there. He knew Saville from his line of work, working in the employ of Mr Taylor collector of small debts. The prisoner had come to the office about a debt the owed to a person named Martin. He asked him why he was there and the prisoner replied “It was a curious case and some people called it murder”. He asked the prisoner who had been murdered and he replied his wife and children. He also stated ;
If he were in the market place or had three yards start they would not catch him again. Also if Wilkinson the policeman had been half an hour later he would have given him leg bail as he was in that morning in pretty good trim for running.
The witness then told the prisoner that he had heard from another person in the lock up it was reported they were drowned. The prisoner replied “It is a lie, they are murdered.” Their conversation was then interrupted by someone being fetched out, and then the prisoner continued;
“On the Tuesday I took my wife and children to Carlton to see my brother and some friends of his. When they came to a valley I set the children to gather flowers, pulled a razor from my pocket and cut my wife’s throat with it. I didn’t have time to conceal it before the little children came up and began screaming and I thought I heard someone coming. I was obliged to serve them with the same sauce for being caught in it.”
The witness then said the prisoner told him he was the only friend he had trusted with this and hoped he would not betray him. The witness had told John Fox a policeman what he had heard as he was taken out of the police office and also told his father when he was at liberty.
Counsel for the Defence Mr Flowers had a good number of questions for this witness. What was he doing in the lock-up? “I was in custody for assault”. How many times had he been in prison? “ It was the first time he had been in prison.” How long had he known the prisoner? “Had known the prisoner three or four months.” Who else had heard what the prisoner had told him? “The prisoner said he was the only friend he had told after a few other men left the room.” Was the witness present when the prisoner was examined before the magistrates? “He was not present” Had he heard of the bodies being found before he spoke with Constable Fox? “He had not”. At what time had he spoken with Constable Fox and his father about this matter? “Told the policeman on the same day at three o’clock and my father at five o’clock.” Had he ever been a witness before in court? “Never appeared as a witness before except for small debts.” Mr Flowers then reminded the witness that he was under oath and would he swear that everything he had spoken was true? “He would swear solemnly that what he had narrated was true.”
This was Mr Flower’s final question for the witness but now the crown counsel had a final question, asking him if the prisoner said anything as he left the lock up? “When the door was unlocked for the prisoner he said now I will go before the magistrates as bold as a lion.”
There was a good deal of noise in the courtroom as this witness left the box. This was the first time anyone had heard such a detailed description of events in the Colwick Spinney. Few people present realised the points the defence counsel was trying to make; there were no witnesses to the conversation and he wanted the jury to know this.
Stephen Cockram was the next witness called and he was examined by Crown Counsel Mr Wildman. He explained how he had been placed in the watch house before the prisoner on the day in question. The prisoner asked what he was there for and he replied it was for stealing brass. The prisoner then wished his case was no worse as he had been taken up on suspicion of drowning his wife, that he had parted with her on the previous day when she had threatened to destroy herself and the children. He had spent the night with the prisoner who woke up several times and asked how long they could keep him if they did not find his wife; or if they did not find her whether they could do anything at him? The next morning at the police office lock-up Freeman was brought in. Freeman seemed to know the prisoner and asked him what brought him there? He replied for the murder of his wife and children. The witness said he understood she was drowned. The prisoner replied she’s not drowned and if she was alive and knew I was here, she would soon come and relieve me. He then wished he was in the market place. The witness asked if he was at the top of Tollhouse Hill how would that be ? He replied never a man in Nottingham could catch him. The witness was then taken before the magistrates and heard no more.[i] / [ii]