Franz Müller.

Trial of Franz Muller online

. (page 5 of 22)
Online LibraryFranz MüllerTrial of Franz Muller → online text (page 5 of 22)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

appearances would indicate that the murderer, whoever he
was, had taken Mr. Briggs to the window opposite the door
and thrown him out. It would be more convenient to throw
him out at that side, because he would fall between the rails,
where he would not so soon be discovered. This, however,
is not a matter of proof. It may possibly be that Mr. Briggs,
although bruised and stunned, may have had sense enough to
move himself, with a view to getting up or out. The doors,
I am told, are not locked on either side.


Franz Muller.


solicitor- Now, gentlemen, you may be disposed to ask me if I can
. . .

inform you whether this murder was committed by one

person only or by more than one person. It would
appear, I think, more probable that the violence was
committed by one person. If it was committed by a
number of thieves Mr. Briggs's pockets would have
been rifled, and his snuffbox would have been taken out;
whereas if the murder was committed by one man alone he
would take the watch and chain and leave the body, and the
marvel is that he did it in so short a time. You may ask
with what weapon the blows were inflicted, for, beyond all
doubt, the blows were inflicted by some blunt instrument.
I have been shown the stick of Mr. Briggs. It is a formidable
weapon a large, heavy stick, with a handle at one end. The
stick was covered with blood, and it is now covered with blood.
It is possible that the stick might have become blooded in the
carriage without having been used as a weapon ; but you will
see it, and you will judge, assuming the murderer to have
been on the opposite side, whether the wounds might
have been produced by that weapon. But whether produced
by that weapon, or a life-preserver, or other weapon, it is a
matter on which I am not able to give you any distinct infor-
mation. Gentlemen, you may be disposed to ask w~hether,
on the part of the Crown, we are disposed to represent this
as a premeditated murder or a fortuitous one. On that point,
again, I cannot offer any distinct information, but it would
appear to me that the murder was the result of some sudden
determination. It may be that the murderer, seeing Mr. Briggs
in the carriage, and being able to get in, or being in that
carriage alone with him, he might have been seized with the
sudden impulse to possess his watch. I am told a person
with a second-class ticket might have got into that carriage,
because, the train being late, the tickets were not examined.
Any one with a second-class ticket might have got in and might
have got out without his ticket being examined at Bow. How-
ever, these are matters into which it is not requisite for me
to enter. I have described to you the state of Mr. Briggs's
person. I have described to you the state of the carriage,
and I have told you what was found in the carriage. There
was found Mr. Briggs's bag, and there was found Mr. Briggs's

The Solicitor-General's Opening.

-stick. There was also found in that carriage a hat, and that Solieitor-


is a circumstance of the utmost possible significance. Gentle-
men, that that hat was not Mr. Briggs's is beyond all doubt.
The hat was crushed, apparently as if it had been trod upon
in a struggle, and Mr. Briggs's hat was not found. The con-
clusion appears to me inevitable that the murderer, in the
hurry and excitement of the moment, took the wrong hat.
He took Mr. Briggs's hat with him and left his own. I
venture to think that one point in this case which may not be
disputed is this, that the man, whoever he was, who robbed
and murdered Mr. Briggs left his hat in that carriage. If
you discover with certainty the person who wore that hat on
that night you will have the murderer, and the case is proved
almost as clearly against him as if he was seen to do it.

It is now proper for me to give some description of the prisoner
at the bar, and to state the circumstances which point to his
guilt. The prisoner, Franz Miiller, is a German. He came
to England about two years ago, and worked as a tailor for
aeveral employers, the last being Mr. Hodgkinson, Great Queen
Street. Miiller had been out of employment for about a week
before the murder, and he appeared to have been very poor.
He wished to make his fortune in America, and had no means
to pay his passage, which amounted, I am told, to about 4.
It is fair to state, however, that before the murder Miiller
contemplated going to America, and therefore the fact of his
going there is not the slightest evidence against him. Miiller
had a watch and chain of his own, which he was very fond of
displaying, but his necessities were such that he was obliged
to pawn this watch and chain. He pawned the watch for
3 and the chain for 1. Miiller lodged at the house of a
Mrs. Blyth in the Victoria Park, and it is a fact not altogether
undeserving of consideration that the railway station would
be on his way home or, at all events, would not be out of
his way home. Now, what were his whereabouts on the
Saturday night of the murder? After he left his employer,
Mr. Hodgkinson, he was in the habit of passing a good deal
of time at the house of Mr. Repsch, a tailor living in Old
Jewry Street ; and on this night he was at Mr. Repsch's. He
left there about half-past seven o'clock, saying he was going


Franz Muller.

Solicitor- to see some girl of the town with whom he was acquainted.
He did not return to his lodgings until late at night. The
landlady sat up until one o'clock, and he had not returned then.
But he afterwards went home, and let himself in. He re-
mained all the Sunday at his lodgings. On Monday morning
at ten o'clock Muller was in possession of Briggs's chain. Of
that there is no question whatever. At ten o'clock on the
Monday morning he took this chain to the~shop of a jeweller
in Cneapside, of the name of Death. He asked Mr. Death
what he would give in exchange. Mr. Death valued the
chain at =3 10s., and he gave Muller another chain, which he
valued at 3 5s. Muller said he would take a ring for the
difference, and he took a gold ring with a white stone in it
of the value of 5s. Muller then left Mr. Death with the
chain and ring, the chain he took being in a small box, with
the name of Mr. Death inside, which was a circumstance of
some importance 'uf'EnTs case. Muller went to Mr. and Mrs.
Repsch's with the chain. He was asked where he had got
it, and he said he had bought the chain off a man at the
London Docks that morning, and had given 3 15s. for it.
Now, that was clearly an untruth, for he had got it in ex-
change. He also said he had bought a ring, which was like-
wise untrue. On the same day he goes to Mr. and Mrs.
Matthews, friends of his, and shows them the chain, and give?
them an account of it. He shows the ring, and says it had
been sent to him by his father from abroad. This is the
account he gives of it, and, at the same time, having no further
use for the box in which Mr. Death had put the chain, he left
the boi, and gave it to Mrs. Matthews 's little girl.

Now, gentlemen, Muller therefore clearly had Mr. Briggs's
chain on Monday morning at ten o'clock, and exchanged it for
another. It may be proper for me to state to you what he did
with the chain which he got, and what further transactions took
place with reference to this murder. The next thing he
appears to have done was to pawn this chain that he had got
at Death's. He pawned it for 30s., and he contrived to raise
10s. more; he borrowed 6s. off Mrs. Repsch, he received 4s. 6d.
from Mrs. Matthews in payment of a debt she owed him;
and with that, making 2 10s. 6d., he goes to the pawn-
broker and redeems his own watch. The next thing to do

The Solicitor-General's Opening.

is to get his chain out of pawn, which, as I have told you, he Soliettor-

pawned for <!. He does that by borrowing the money. What

he does subsequently is this. Having got his own watch
and chain out of pawn for 3, he takes them to another pawn-
broker's, of the name of Cox, who will advance more than
that who will advance 4. At the same time he sells the
ticket to a man of the name of Glass, in whose name he had
pawned the watch and chain. By this means he makes about
4: 5s. What does he do with this? Why, having got this
money, he goes to the London Docks that was on Wednesday
he secures a passage by a vessel which was to start next
day, but did not start till Friday. Now, that is the account
I have to give you of Muller before he left this country, with
respect to Mr. Briggs's chain. And, gentlemen, I think you
will be satisfied that at this time, before he left the country,
Muller had not only Mr. Briggs's chain, but Mr. Briggs's watch.
The watch is never seen in England. He says nothing about
the wateh to anybody. When he got it what he did with it
does not appear, but when he was arrested in America the
watch of Mr. Briggs was found in his trunk, sewed up in a
piece of canvas. The account Muller gives 'of the watch is
this, that he had the watch for two years. Therefore it can
hardly, I suppose, be suggested that he had taken this watch
on the passage. That is not his own suggestion. He said he
had had it two years. I think, therefore, you will come to
the conclusion that Muller had the watch and chain before he
left England. Now, gentlemen, how did he get them? Of
course, on the part of the prosecution, I am willing to try any
supposition that is consistent with innocence. He may say
he bought the chain which he exchanged with Mr. Death at the
docks on the Monday morning. He may say that he bought
the original chain, which belonged to Mr. Briggs. Then it
will be a matter for consideration whether Muller was in
possession of Mr. Briggs's chain, and gave 3 for it. The
evidence will satisfy you that Muller was in great distress,
and, if he was unable to raise the money for his passage,
where was he to get the money to buy a chain ? Would he not
have got his own watch out of pawn? And if he could buy
a chain, where could he have got money to buy a valuable
watch? This, I think, will be one of the greatest difficulties

Franz Muller.

Solicitor- my learned friends will have to contend with in this part of

the case.

Before I pass to another part of the case let me
remind you that the stolen property is found on Muller shortly
after the robbery, and that Muller gives a false account of the
manner in which he came into possession of it. Now, in
ordinary cases of felony such evidence, I think, you will hear
from the learned judges, is submitted to juries, and forms
evidence which makes a strong case against the prisoner. If
Mr. Briggs had been robbed and not murdered it would have
been a strong case. I am not aware that the law requires
stronger evidence in a case that is attended with violence than
in a case that is not attended with violence ; but I can quite
understand that juries may require stronger evidence to satisfy
them. Gentlemen, that strong evidence I mean to give you.
I now refer to the hat which was left in the railway carriage
(hat produced). Gentlemen, this is the hat which was left
in the railway carriage, and beyond all doubt it is not Mr.
Briggs's hat. The hat bears the name of " H. Walker, 49
Crawford Street, corner of Seymour Street, Marylebone."
The lining is a peculiar one, which you will have the oppor-
tunity of examining. We have got, then, as far as this, that
the murderer, whoever he was, wore a hat of this kind on the
night in question, which was left in the carriage. Now, gentle-

Smen, I believe I shall be in a position to satisfy you that this
was the hat of Muller, and that he wore this hat on that very
night. I will very shortly state to you the evidence which
will be laid before you on that subject. I believe I shall be
able to show you under what circumstances this hat was bought.
The circumstances are these. Muller was acquainted with a
cabman of the name of Matthews. He became acquainted
with him, having worked some time with Mr. Waugh, who was
a relation of the cabman's wife. He observed the hat which
the cabman wore, and said, "That is a nice hat; where did
you get it? " And he said, " I got it at Walker's, in Craw-
ford Street." He tried it on, and found it would not fit
him. So he said to Matthews, " I will be much obliged if you
will get me a hat a size larger, and then it will fit me." It
was more convenient for the cabman to buy this hat, the street
being in his beat, than for Muller to buy it himself. The

The Solicitor-General's Opening.

cabman bought this hat for him for 8s. 6d., and Miiller paid Solicitor-
him in kind by giving him a waistcoat and some other clothes.
That is the account Matthews gives of this hat. It came out
in this way. It appeared, as I before said, that Miiller on the
Monday, not wanting the box, gave it to Matthews's little
child. Matthews observed on it the name of Death. He
saw a placard' announcing that the murderer of Mr. Briggs had
exchanged Mr. Briggs's chain with one Death. He then
gave information to the police about the hat, and said, "You
will probably find the hat to be Mliller's," and he gave a
description of it. One side of the brim was worn slightly
down; he had seen it often; and he will identify this hat as
clearly as it is possible to identify a hat. But the evidence
of the identity of this hat does not rest upon the cabman
alone. I shall call Mr. and Mrs. Repsch, and Mrs. Repsch
will tell you she observed the prisoner wearing this hat. She
observed him several times put off this hat, and put letters
in the lining. This was the hat he wore on the Saturday
night. In Muller's room after he left was found a hatbox
with the name " Walker & Co." on it, so it is quite manifest
he had a hatbox of Walker's. Now, the counsel for the
defence may say that Walker may make hats for some other
men than Miiller, and the murderer may not have had a hat of
Walker's. Gentlemen, Miiller had a hat of Walker's, and if
not in the box, where is this hat of Walker's? This will be
a question the defence will have to answer.

Gentlemen, the case does not rest here. The murderer,
whoever he was, not only left his own hat behind, blrtrhe took
away Mr. Briggs's hat. Tou would therefore expect to find Mr.
Briggs's hat in his possession. Gentlemen, I believe I shall be
able to show you by evidence peculiarly striking that Mr.
Briggs's hat was found in Muller's possession. It was found in
his possession when he was apprehended in America. Miiller
himself told Mrs. Repsch that Matthews had made him a
present of the hat. The hat was found in Muller's box in the
ship in which he was apprehended in America. Gentlemen,
Mr. Briggs dealt, and dealt only, with hatters of the name of
Digance & Co., and there was the name of " Digance & Co.,
Royal Exchange," in the hat. When young Mr. Briggs saw
this hat first he expressed doubts of its identity, because he


Franz Muller.

Solicitor-! said, " My father's hat was higher in the crown than this."
j He was perfectly right. This hat has been cut down an inch
I or an inch and a half. I will call before you the man who
I made this hat, and, as Mr. Briggs was in the habit of ordering
his hats, it would be made to order. This hat was ordered in
September, 1863, and it has been well worn since then. Mr.
Briggs wore what is called a bell-crowned hat. I will call the
man who made it, and he will say this is the hat he made. I
will further say that Mr. Briggs complained that this hat was
too large for him, and some silver paper was put in under the
lining. Now, some of that paper has been taken away, but
not completely taken away, and you will see pieces of silver
paper still remaining there. The man who made this hat will
tell you it has been cut down an inch or an inch and a half,
and he will further tell you it has not been cut down by a
hatter. He will say that a hatter would have used varnish
and a hot iron, and he will tell you that this has merely been
pasted on and sewed and sewed very neatly and regularly.
It has therefore been cut down, not by a hatter, but by one
who understood sewing. In fact, it has been cut down
by a tailor, and not a hatter. Now, you may ask, why did
Muller cut down the hat? Had he a fancy for a low-crowned
hat? Why, no; for his own hat was not low crowned, and
he wore that. The maker of the hat, a man of the name of
Thorn, will tell you when he made this hat he wrote the name
of Mr. Briggs inside the lining, as it was the rule to do with
all customers. That part of the hat on which Mr. Briggs's
name was written is that part which has been taken away.
That Muller had this hat in his possession is beyond all doubt.
Then, gentlemen, you will say whether the evidence leads you
to the conclusion that on finding the name of Mr. Briggs in
the hat Muller made this alteration. Muller, on being ques-
tioned, said he had this hat a year. This hat is clearly found
in Miiller's possession when he is apprehended in America, and
I think the evidence will lead you to the conclusion that he
wore it on the Monday morning after the murder, and not
before that, because Mr. and Mrs. Repsch will tell you that
upon his coming to them on the Monday morning after he had
exchanged Mr. Briggs's chain for another, which he got from
Mr. Death, they observed that Muller had a new hat, clearly

The Solicitor-General's Opening.

different from the one he had on Saturday. They called Solicitor-
attention to it, and said, "You have got a new hat." He
said he had had it two months. " Why," Mr. Repsch said,
" this is a guinea hat." "No," Miiller said, " I gave
14s. 6d. for it." You, gentlemen, will judge of the value of
this evidence. I will further observe that, on Miiller 's effects
being examined, a portion of his dress was missing. A portion
of the trousers he wore on that Saturday night, and some
other clothes, were missing. I have before told you the
watch was found in the box. These, then, are the principal

Undoubtedly the evidence in this case is what is called
circumstantial evidence chiefly, but I may remind you that
it is" "by circumstantial evidence that great crimes are most
frequently detected. Murders are not committed in the
presence of witnesses, and to reject circumstantial evidence
would be to proclaim immunity to crime. There is a descrip-
tion of evidence which I may be allowed to call evidence of
facts. Such is the evidence of the watch and chain, such is
the evidence of the hat cut down, and such is the evidence
of the box with Mr. Death's name on it. There are circum-
stances which give evidence which cannot be false and which
cannot be mistaken. Gentlemen, without again repeating the
many details of this case, the main facts may be summed up
thus Mr. Briggs is robbed and murdered in a railway carriage ;
the murderer takes from him his watch and chain, and takes
from him his hat ; all the articles taken are found on Miiller ;
he gives a false statement of how he got them, and the hat
left behind is the hat of Miiller. Gentlemen, I venture to
think that if these circumstances are proved to you by wit-
nesses, a stronger case of circumstantial evidence has rarely, if
ever, been submitted to a jury. If, indeed, after hearing the
whole case, you can entertain a reasonable doubt of his guilt
you will acquit him, but if, on the other hand, the evidence
amounts I will not say to demonstration, for demonstration
is a species of proof not to be found in cases of murder but
if the evidence leaves no reasonable doubt of the prisoner's
guilt, I am sure you will not hesitate to perform the duty which
is cast upon you.


Franz Muller.


David Buchan DAVID BucHAN, examined by the SOLICITOR-GENERAL
I reside at 23 Nelson Square, Peckham. Mr. Briggs, the
deceased, was a relative of my wife. His age was about sixty-
nine, his height 5 feet 9 inches. I remember his coming to
visit us on the 9th of July. He came about five o'clock. He
had a black bag with him. He dined at my house that day,
and left about half-past eight. I accompanied him as far as
the Lord Nelson in the Old Kent Road, and saw him to an
omnibus, which would take him to King William Street, for
the purpose of going to Fenchurch Street railway station.
When I parted with him he was in his usual health and spirits.
I knew that he wore a watch and chain, the watch in his
waistcoat pocket, the chain being attached to his buttonhole.
He had a small seal and two keys attached to his watch. He
had the watch that night; he referred to it to see whether he
was in time for his train. The next morning I went to the
railway, and then to Mr. Briggs's house between ten and
eleven. I saw him, but he was at that time insensible, and
did not recover up to the time of his death. I left before he

Cross-examined by SERJEANT PARRY Was he perfectly
sober? Yes.

Was he in good spirits? Yes.

He was in perfect self-control? Yes.

You are quite sure of that? Yes; I am quite certain of that.

Is your wife here? Yes.

Was she examined before the coroner? Yes.

Do you know whether he had more than one hat? I should
think he had.

Was he a gentleman well off in the world? I believe so.

And lived in a fair and reasonable style? Yes.

You say that this omnibus that he got into goes up the Old
Kent Road? Yes; through the Borough and over London

And from London Bridge to King William Street? Yes.

Where did you part with him? At the Lord Nelson, Old
Kent Road. The 'bus started from there.

Mr. Serjeant Ballantine.

Evidence for Prosecution.

Are you aware that any threats had been held out against David Buchan
Mr. Briggs? Not to my personal knowledge.

Not to your personal knowledge? Have you heard some say
BO? I heard my wife say so.

I believe your wife was examined before the coroner? Yes.

But not before the magistrates? No.

Mrs. BUCHAN, examined by SERJEANT BALLANTINB I am the Mrs. Buchan
wife of the last witness. I am a relative of Mr. Briggs. He
was at our house at dinner on the 9th of July. He was in
his usual health and spirits. He was perfectly sober. I
never saw him again alive.

Cross-examined by SERJEANT PARRY I was examined before
the coroner, but not before the magistrate. I believe that
my evidence was not considered of any importance ; it was
simply corroborating my husband's statement.

Have you ever heard any one use any threats towards Mr.
Briggs ? Not personally.

What do you mean by not personally? Not from any one's
lips, but I have from a third person's lips. The coroner
asked me that question.

Was it a person to whom he objected to send money?

The SOLICITOR-GENERAL objected to the question.

SERJEANT PARRY I am only in the exercise of my rights in
asking it.

The SOLICITOR-GENERAL would not press his objection if his
friend wished to put the question.

SERJEANT PARRY I don't want the slightest favour, but only
my right, and especially in a case of this kind.

The question was not repeated, and the witness retired.

THOMAS FISHBODRNB, examined by Mr. HANNBN I am a ticket T. Fishbourae
collector at Fenchurch Street station on the North London
railway. It is my duty to mark the tickets. I stand at the
bottom of the stairs leading to the platform. There is a
considerable flight of stairs up to the platform which passengers
have to pass after they leave me. I knew the late Mr. Briggs
o 17

Franz Muller.

T.Fishbourne by Bight. He was in the habit of travelling by the North
London railway. On the night of the 9th of July last I saw
him. He presented his ticket in the ordinary way. It was
a quarter to ten o'clock. There was a train to start about
that time. He presented his ticket in time to start by that
train. It was to start at 9.45, or about that time. I
don't know whether it was a minute or so late. He spoke
to me, and I answered him; I marked his ticket. I heard
of his death about twelve o'clock the next day. I went to
his house and recognised him.

Cross-examined by SERJEANT PARRY I only look at the
tickets to " nip " them. I " nip " all for the North London

Henry Vernez HENRY VERNEZ, examined by Mr. BEASLEY I am a clerk in
the employment of Messrs. Robarts <fe Co. On Saturday, the
9th of July last, I went to the Hackney station of the North
London railway. It was about ten o'clock. I was in com-
pany with Mr. Jones, a clerk in the same employment as
myself. I took a first-class ticket for Highbury. Upon the
arrival of the train from Fenchurch Street I went to the door
of a first-class carriage. I opened the door of the carriage,
which was empty. I and Mr. Jones got into it. I sat on

1 2 3 5 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22

Online LibraryFranz MüllerTrial of Franz Muller → online text (page 5 of 22)