Early on the morning of Saturday the 15th of January, 1870, an “unfortunate”, whose name was Cecilia Aldridge was murdered at a private hotel in Finsbury Square, by a porter at the establishment whose name was Jacob Spinas.
The hotel in question may well have been the hotel where, in September, 1888. Charles Ludwig would cause consternation at the height of the Jack the Ripper scare.
The Glasgow Herald published the following account of what had happened in the case of Cecilia Aldridge in its edition of Monday, 17th January, 1870:-
SHOCKING MURDER IN FINSBURY SQUARE
“A shocking murder was committed on Saturday morning, about five o’clock, at Buecker’s private hotel in Finsbury Square, the victim being a female who is at present unknown.
The police were called to the hotel and told that one of the porters; named Jacob Spinas, had murdered a female whom he had brought into the house with him.
Spinas, who was very much the worse for liquor, was taken into custody.
A constable on proceeding to the kitchen found a woman lying inside the door dead. Her head was battered in, her clothes were covered with blood and it was evident that she had struggled severely before she met her death.
The bed clothes were also covered with blood.
Under the bed was found a brass candlestick, which was bent, and had on it blood and hair.
The prisoner and the unfortunate woman had been drinking together. He was taken to the Old Street police station.”
EXAMINATION OF THE ALLEGED MURDERER
The Nottinghamshire Guardian Friday, 28th January 1870
At the Worship-street Police-court, on Saturday, Jacob Spinas, 23, described on the police-sheet as a porter, a native of Switzerland, was placed at the bar before Mr. Newton, charged on remand with the wilful murder of Cecilia Aldridge.
Mr. Poland, barrister, instructed by Mr. Pollard, the Solicitor to the Treasury, conducted the prosecution on behalf of the Crown; Mr. B. J. Abbott, solicitor, appeared for the prisoner.
Addressing the magistrate, Mr. Poland said that he should not be able to complete the case that day, and therefore, after having some new evidence adduced, he should have to apply for a further remand. The investigation that was now being carried on would require additional time.
CONSTABLE SAGE’S EVIDENCE
The first witness called was Police-constable Robert Sage, 98, N, who deposed:- About a quarter to one o’clock on the morning of the 10th inst. I was on duty near the Vinegar-ground, so called from being situated contiguous to some vinegar works, in the City-road. I heard cries of “Police and Murder!” from a house in Francis-street.
I went there, and saw the prisoner and a lot of women. He complained that he had given two shillings to one of the women, and she had left him. I advised him to go away, or he might be roughly used. I told him that I could not do anything for him. He was very excited, and said he would not go away.
I left expecting that he would follow me. I went into Old-street, and he followed me, but I could not get rid of him, and had to take him to the station. Then the inspector saw him, and had some conversation with him. The prisoner wrote his name in a book.
After that he was let go. I followed him along the Old-street-road into the City-road. He turned to the left, towards Finsbury-square, where the hotel is. I did not see him after.
THE FRANCIS STREET BROTHEL
The house in Francis-street is a brothel.
One of the women, the keeper of the house, complained to me of having been knocked about by the prisoner. He was upstairs when I first went there. I did not go up.
The woman he complained of is known by the nickname of “Madame Rachel.”
CONSTABLE HEARNE’S TESTIMONY
Edward Hearne, police-constable 247 G, deposed that he had seen the body of the deceased, and recognised it as that of a woman whom he took into custody on the 6th of January for being drunk and incapable.
She gave her name as Cecilia Aldridge, and said she was an ” unfortunate.”
ELIZA WARD’S EVIDENCE
Eliza Ward testified that:- I live at 56, Flower and Dean- street. I am the wife of George Ward. He is a bricklayer.
I have seen the body of the deceased. It is that of the person who lived in the same house as myself. I knew her by the name of “Cecy.”
I last saw her alive on Friday.
She went out at nine o’clock. She was in the habit of going out at that time, returning between two and three as a rule. She was an “unfortunate.”
By Mr. Abbott:- I had some tea with her before she went out at half-past eight on Friday night. I saw her at nine o’clock in the kitchen in Flower and Dean-street just as she was going out.
BRIDGET MARTIN’S EVIDENCE
Bridget Martin:- I live at 56, Flower and Dean-street. I work at a white lead factory.
I knew the deceased woman. I have seen the body, and I identify it. I knew her by the name of “Cecy.” I bought a brown dress for her some time ago, and I identify the dress.
Coroner:- Do you identify her by that dress.
Witness:- Yes, sir.
MARY JAMES’S TESTIMONY
Mary James:- I live at 33, Great Arthur-street, St. Luke’s. I am an unfortunate woman at present.
I knew the deceased woman by the name of “Cecy.” I have seen the body in the dead-house, and I identify it.
I have known a porter at Buecker’s hotel twelve months.
The deceased and myself frequently walked in company.
I have on several occasions been into the hotel at night with the porter for immoral purposes.
THE SURGEON’S EVIDENCE
George Eugene Yarrow, divisional surgeon to the police, said:- I was called to the deceased about half-past six on Saturday morning, the 15th inst. She was quite dead. She had been dead about two hours.
The body was fully dressed, and the clothes were thrown up, exposing the legs. It was about five feet in height, and about 26 years of age. In the left hand, between the thumb and forefinger, I found several short curly brown hairs.
There were a number of scratches on the thighs. The right knee was very much bruised.
INJURIES TO THE HEAD
On the top of the head there was a scalp wound about an inch in length; there was an incised wound on the left eyebrow, about an inch in length, as if done by a sharp instrument. The eyes were severely contused. The right eye was disorganised, and partly dislodged.
The bones of the nose were both fractured; there was a lacerated wound on the right side of the head, involving nearly the whole of the face, fracturing the temporal bone and jaw bone; the plate on which the eyeball rests was hanging by a piece of muscular tissue, and the cheek bone and lower jaw were fractured in a similar manner.
In the temporal bone there was a piece driven in, and a fracture, an inch and a half long, communicating with the brain. From this wound I removed a number of small pieces of green glass, corresponding with an ordinary wine bottle, and a number of small fragments of resinous substances.
THE BRASS CANDLESTICK
I compared the brass candlestick referred to with the substance removed, and I found at the base of it a small quantity of brain substance, indicating that the candlestick had been used in striking the head.
On the right hand were five incised wounds, such as might be caused by glass. The left hand was very much contused, and had four incised wounds.
THE CAUSE OF DEATH
Upon taking off the scalp I found a great deal of blood suffused, and a hole in the membrane corresponding with the external wound.
The lungs were adherent, the heart was healthy. The liver and other organs were also healthy, and the stomach contained three-quarters of a pound of undigested food, which consisted principally of potatoes and potato peels. There was also a quantity of claret.
Death was caused by fractured skull.
A VERDICT OF MURDER
This closed the evidence, and the Coroner summed up the case, in the course of which he said a dreadful murder had undoubtedly been committed, and if the Jury were satisfied after the evidence that Jacob Spin was the man who committed that murder, they would return a verdict accordingly.
After a short deliberation, the jury returned a verdict of Wilful Murder against the said Jacob Spinas.”
SPINAS SENTENCED TO DEATH
The trial of Jacob Spinas took place at the Central Criminal Court (The Old Bailey) on Wednesday the 2nd and Thursday the 3rd of March 1870.
Found guilty of murder, he was sentenced to death.
However, his sentence was commuted to one of penal servitude for life.