We’ve mentioned several times in our reporting on the Whitechapel Murders that the women of the East End used to arm themselves lest they be approached and attacked by Jack the Ripper in the autumn of 1888.
We’ve given details of several men who came to see the Whitechapel Murderer as some sort of heroic figure and, as a consequence were imitating him.
JAMES WOODS AND ELEANOR CANDY
One such case, that occurred in Portsmouth in late September 1888 was reported by The Daily Telegraph and concerned a youth, aged eighteen years, by the name of Joseph Woods, who appeared at Portsmouth Police Court on a charge of indecently assaulting Eleanor Candey, whom the newspaper described as “a single woman.”
ASSAULTED ON COMMERCIAL ROAD, PORTSMOUTH
According to the statement given to the police by Miss Candey, she had been walking along Commercial Road, Portsmouth, in the early hours of Tuesday 25th September 1888, when Woods and another man approached her. Woods proceeded to take hold of her roughly by the waist and he then grabbed her by the throat, breaking the necklace that she was wearing in the process.
ONE OF THE WHITECHAPEL MEN
He then threw her to the ground and assaulted her. She remonstrated with him, at which point he pulled out a clasp knife and, threatening her with it, exclaimed, “Look at this. I’ll put it right through you!”
The terrified Eleanor asked him, “Are you one of the Whitechapel men?,” to which he replied “Yes, I am.”
It transpired that, since the onset of the murders in East London, Eleanor had been in the habit of carrying a whistle with her at night and, at this point, she managed to take it out and blow it, bringing Police Sergeant Brading running to the scene.
She accused Wood of assaulting her and denounced him as the Whitechapel Murderer.
WOOD’S TAKEN INTO POLICE CUSTODY
Seeing that he did, indeed, have an open knife, the officer took him to the police station. As they were walking Wood’s stated to Brading, “That woman is drunk; I did tell her I was the Whitechapel murderer, but I did not touch her.”
A JOCULAR COURT APPEARANCE
At the subsequent court case, which appears to have been quite jocular, Brading was asked if he thought Woods was, in fact, the Whitechapel Murderer, and his response of “No, sir” caused the court to erupt into laughter.
Brading went on to state that Woods was most certainly drunk, whereas Eleanor Candey was “quite sober.”
HAD SHE ACCOSTED HIM?
Although it wasn’t openly stated in court, it seems that the consensus was that Miss Candey was a prostitute and the defence argued that she had been the one who had accosted the prisoner, Woods. Maintaining that the charge against him was totally unfounded Woods argued that what had in fact happened was that, having approached him, Candey had mentioned that since the murders she had carried a whistle, to which Wood’s had replied, “and I always carry a knife. If you want to know who I am, I am the Whitechapel murderer.”
ONLY MEANT IN JEST
It was, he said, a throwaway comment, meant in jest and he had been extremely surprised when she duly called the police and alleged that he had assaulted her.
ASSAULT CHARGE DISMISSED
The magistrate sided with Woods and dismissed the charge of assault against him.
He was, however, bound over to keep the peace in the sum of £10 and was duly ordered to find a surety for a like amount.