On Wednesday the 22nd of April 1891, a murder took place in Bermondsey, on the south side of the River Thames, for which the motive was quite plainly jealousy.
The Sheffield Evening Telegraph broke the news of the crime in that day’s edition:-
MURDER IN LONDON
CULPRIT CAUGHT REDHANDED
Early this morning a well-to-do Irishman, named Jas. Hickey, was shot dead by Franz Munch, a German baker, who had concealed himself in Hickey’s house, Lucey Road, Bermondsey.
Hickey lately came to London from Manchester, and excited the jealousy of Munch by paying court to a Mrs. Konrath with whom the German was also in love, and for whose bakery business he acted foreman.
ARRESTED AT THE SCENE
Munch was arrested red-handed, some policemen happening to be close to the scene of the tragedy.
The still smoking revolver was knocked from his hand, and a long-bladed knife, which he had in the other hand, was wrested away.
HE GAVE HIM “GERMAN BEANS”
The murderer shows not the least concern.
When told that Hickey was dead, he said, “it is a good job. He called me a German bastard and threatened to give me Irish beans. But I have given him German beans instead.
MUNCH THE DOCK
On Thursday the 23rd of April 1891, The Northern Whig published the following brief article on Munch’s first court appearance:-
Munch was brought before the magistrates at the Southwark Police Court today, charged with the wilful murder of Hickey.
The prisoner, on being placed in the dock, smiled and looked round as if expecting to see someone. He then placed his back against the dock rail and extended his feet to one of the lower rails, and, having made himself comfortable, quietly folded his arms.
JOEL DIAMOND’S TESTIMONY
Joel Diamond said that he went home with Hickey just after midnight.
Hickey had just opened the door and was taking the key from the lock when the witness heard the report of a pistol.
Hickey staggered into the road, and when the witness turned round he saw the prisoner in the passage. He had a revolver in the right hand and a knife in the other.
Hickey staggered across the road and was removed to the Lord Palmerston public house, where he expired almost immediately.
The witness, in reply to the prisoner, said, “I heard nothing about a row on Saturday or yesterday.”
CONSTABLE HAMILTON’S EVIDENCE
Police Constable Hamilton, who gave evidence as to seeing the deceased staggering on the road, said he had never heard the deceased call the prisoner a German in the public house.
The prisoner was remanded for a week on the application of the Criminal Investigation Department.
THE ALLEGED MURDER BY A GERMAN BAKER
The Greenock Telegraph and Clyde Shipping Gazette covered his next court appearance in its edition of Thursday the 30th of April 1891:-
At Southwark Police Court today, Franz Joseph Munch was charged with the wilful murder of James Hickey by shooting him in the back on April 20th.
The prisoner, who was much more subdued than at the former hearing, was again remanded.
NOVEL DEFENCE TO A CHARGE OF MURDER
Under the above headline, The Yorkshire Evening Post provided an update in its Friday the 8th of May edition:-
At Southwark, Franz Joseph Munch, a German baker, was again brought up on the charge of murdering James Hickey, a native of Manchester.
The murder was perpetrated in a very deliberate manner, and the defence will be that the prisoner had been “irritated” by certain expressions used by Hickey.
The case was again adjourned.
RESUMED POLICE-COURT PROCEEDINGS
His next court appearance was reported in The Manchester Courier on Friday 15th May 1891:-
At the Southwark Police-court, yesterday, Franz Joseph Munch, 31, baker, was brought up on remand and charged before Mr. Slade with the wilful murder of James Hickey, formerly of Manchester.
Mr. Angus Lewis prosecuted on behalf of the Treasury, and Mr. Lovett, solicitor, appeared for the accused.
The facts of the case have already been reported.
LOUISA MARCHANT’S EVIDENCE
Upon the prisoner being brought up yesterday Louisa Marchant, a girl of 15, deposed that she was a servant to Mrs. Konrath, and she knew the accused.
She remembered the deceased man coming to stay with Mrs. Konrath.
At first the deceased and the accused were friendly, but a short time after the deceased had been in the house she noticed they did not speak to each other.
On the Saturday prior to the murder, she heard the deceased call the German “a German bastard” two or three times, but the prisoner made no reply.
She heard Hickey also say he would “break the prisoner’s snout.”
Later she saw the accused speaking to several policemen.
On Sunday, the 19th of April, she saw Hickey threaten the accused with his fist.
Afterwards, the accused said to her, “If Hickey had laid his hand on me I would have got him into trouble. I am a funny fellow, and I can do people a lot of harm if like.”
KASPER FROUENDORF’S TESTIMONY
Kasper Frouendorf, a baker, employed by Mrs. Konrath, said that he lived on the premises. He had known the accused for some years.
On the Tuesday night, he heard the prisoner say that he meant “to kick up a row that night,” and later he heard the report of a pistol, and, on going to the door, he saw the prisoner in custody.
At that moment Mrs. Konrath came down the stairs and the accused said to her, “It is all through you.”
The accused told the witness that he found that the deceased had got the potato masher (a long piece of wood used to crush potatoes) and was going to smash his (prisoner’s) brains with it.
The accused was further remanded.
HIS OLD BAILEY TRIAL
On Thursday the 28th of May Munch was committed to stand trial at the Old Bailey for the wilful murder of James Hickey.
On Tuesday the 30th of June he was found guilty, albeit the jury made a strong recommendation of mercy.
However, the judge, Mr. Justice Hawkins, sentenced him to death.
The Taunton Courier and Western Advertiser, in its edition of Wednesday the 29th of July 1891, carried the following report of his execution:-
“Franz Joseph Munch, a baker, convicted of the murder of James Hickey, a fellow workman, by shooting him, was hanged in Wandsworth Gaol on Tuesday.
The convict had slept but little the previous night.
He partook of the sacrament in the morning, and prayed earnestly with the priest. He ate very sparingly at breakfast.
He quietly submitted to the pinioning without making any remark, and when asked later if had anything to say, he replied in broken accents, “No, thank you all.”
He walked with a firm step to the scaffold, and stood motionless until the drop was drawn.
He fell five feet six inches, and death was instantaneous.
About 200 persons gathered outside the gaol to witness the hoisting of the black flag.”