One of the problems that blighted the lives of many of the residents of Victorian London was the anti-social behavior of the gangs of London.
The York Herald, in its edition of Saturday, 15th February 1862, reported on an incident when gang activity had ended in tragedy:-
SHOCKING MURDER IN MARYLEBONE
Yesterday week, an inquest was opened on view of the body of James Wincott, a wealthy butcher in South Street, Marylebone, London, aged thirty-six.
Joseph Phar, assistant to Mr. Wincott, said:-
“On Monday evening last, I was in the shop, while a man named Byles was packing some bones on a cart outside.
Four men were coming up the street, and went to a greengrocer’s shop, where they broke and threw about some of the goods.
They then came up to Byles’s cart, when one of them stood on the wheel and upset the basket of bones into the road.
CHASED INTO THE SHOP
The others threw the bones about, and Byles, to defend himself, struck one of them.
Then they pursued Byles into the shop, and Mr. Wincott came out to prevent their entering the premises.
QUAIL STRUCK MR. WINCOTT
One of the men, named Quail, was the first to strike the deceased, who, in self-defence, struck him again, when all the others struck M. Wincott.
THE KNIFE ATTACK
One of the men took up a chopper from the board, and flourished it round his head, and he called out “Rip his bowels open.”
The prisoner, Quail, took up a knife from the board, with which he stabbed Mr. Wincott in the abdomen.
The stab was given upwards.
Quail made then a second attempt to run the knife into the deceased, but the latter avoided the blow.
GIVEN INTO CUSTODY
The gang then went away, and I followed them into East-street, where I gave them into custody.
They were apparently under the influence liquor.
There was only one other person in the shop beside myself and the deceased when the gang entered, and we were unable to render any assistance.”
THE SURGEON’S TESTIMONY
Mr. Tims, surgeon, said that when he was called he found Mr. Wincott suffering from an extensive cut in the abdomen, which produced internal hemorrhage.
All the usual remedies were applied, but without success, as death ensued from loss of blood and the internal injury.
He had since ascertained that the liver had been penetrated.
The butcher’s knife produced would inflict such a wound.
The coroner then adjourned the inquiry to give time for the accused men to be brought before the court on a warrant to be obtained from the Secretary of State.
On Tuesday, the jury returned a verdict of “Wilful Murder” against the four prisoners, three of whom had been sentenced to six weeks imprisonment by one of the magistrates for assaults on the above occasion.
QUAIL ON TRIAL AT THE OLD BAILEY
On the 3rd of March, 1862, twenty-two-year old Henry Quail stood trial at the Old Bailey charged with the wilful murder of James Wincott.
He was, however, found guilty of manslaughter, and the judge sentence him to six years Penal Servitude.