In January, 1889, the name of “Jack the Ripper” was turning up in all sorts of places, both in Britain and abroad.
There were, for example, reports in many of the newspapers throughout the month that the murderer had actually been arrested in Tunis.
Then there were the inevitable drunks who were turning up in the courts on an almost daily basis having been arrested for having, in their cups, claimed to have been the perpetrator of the Whitechapel murders. In addition there were those of unsound mind who were making similar claims.
The South Wales Echo, on Monday, 21st January 1889, carried a report on one such miscreant who had appeared at the police court in Bristol:-
TRACKING “JACK THE RIPPER”
“The most serious case investigated by Messrs W. H. Budgett and A. Robinson, the sitting magistrates, at the Bristol Police Court on Saturday morning, was that where a young man named William Hicks was charged with being disorderly in the Mall, Clifton, on Friday morning, with assaulting several constables, and damaging a window at the police-station.
The prisoner, who, during the last few months, has several times appeared at the court to answer various charges, went into the Mall on Friday morning, where he met a wheel chair man named English.
This man he charged with circulating a statement through Clifton to the effect that he ( the prisoner) was of unsound mind, and was connected with the Clifton Park Bank Robbery.
HE ATTACKED ENGLISH
English denied this accusation, and then the defendant struck him several times in the face.
To escape from further assault the wheelchair man took refuge in the rest; but he was not safe there, as Hicks burst open the door. He continued to behave in such a violent manner that P.C. Shorter was called to protect English.
The prisoner would not go away, so he was taken into custody.
He thereupon kicked the officer many times, and also bit a piece out of a finger on his right hand. Several other constables were called to the scene, but they failed to remove the prisoner till they had the assistance of the stretcher.
HE DENIED THE CHARGES
The prisoner denied that he assaulted either the policemen or English, and said that they made a brutal assault upon him and nearly killed him. Some of them jumped upon him till he was nearly as flat as a pancake
They had brought a false charge against him, had committed perjury, and were guilty of false imprisonment.
For the past four months he had been followed all about Clifton.
HE HUNTED JACK THE RIPPER
He hunted “Jack the Ripper” to Bristol, slept with him for eight nights, then communicated with the police, who let the man go. He had done what no other man in Europe had done by tracing “Jack the Ripper,” and was entitled to the whole of the reward.
He declined to be dealt with by the magistrates, and demanded to be tried by a judge and jury.
OF SOUND MIND
It was stated that the defendant had been examined by a doctor, who certified that he was of sound mind.
The prisoner was sentenced to four months’ imprisonment with hard labour.”