Unsolved Murders

Martin Savada

Age: 33

Sex: male

Date: 15 Aug 1900

Place: Bute Arms Inn, Horse Street, Dowlais

Martin Savada was stabbed with a chisel at the Bute Arms Inn in Dowlais on 15 August 1900.

A Spanish man was tried for his murder but acquitted.

Amongst other things, including certain people going missing, it was noted that no one saw the fatal blow struck or saw the Spaniard with the chisel in his hand.

Martin Savada had been stabbed in the left thigh with a carpenters chisel that had been taken from a workshop at the back of the house.

There had been four people near the kitchen at the time Martin Savada was stabbed and the prosecution only managed to find one of them at the time of the trial. The landlord of the lodging house himself had also gone to America.

Martin Savada was Spanish and had been hired by the Dowlais Iron Company and had taken up his lodgings at the Bute Arms Inn on Horse Street in Dowlais.

The landlady of the Bute Arms Inn said that both Martin Savada and the Spaniard had lodged with her for the previous three months, occupying the same room and bed, and that they were both under the Dowlais Iron Company.

She said that on 15 August 1900 that both men went off to work together at 6am and later came home for dinner at 2pm after which Martin Savada went back to work, but the Spaniard told her that it was a Catholic holiday in Spain that day and that he was not going back to work and didn't go, although he left her house at about 3.30pm.

She said he returned later that night with another Spaniard between 9pm and 10pm who was known to them and they had a pint of beer each at the bar. She said that they stayed in the bar a short time after which the other Spaniard went home and the Spaniard went into the kitchen, taking his pint with him.

She said that Martin Savada came back from work at about 6pm, but that she didn't know what he did after that, but noted that he didn't change his clothes and that she next saw him about 8pm on the doorstep smoking and then after that in the kitchen at about 9pm.

She said that soon after she saw the Spaniard go into the kitchen that she heard the smash of a pint, noting that as you entered the house that the door leading into the bar was on the left and that you had to go through the bar and then through another room, the middle room, to get to the kitchen. She noted that there was no passage in the middle room and that as such, a person in the middle room would see any person going from the bar into the kitchen.

She said that after hearing the smash of the pint glass that she went into the kitchen and saw the Spaniard standing up and on the other side of the kitchen Martin Savada standing up and that she asked what the noise was but didn't understand what they said, although they both made motions, but she didn't understand them either.

She said that the Spaniard had been standing by the table and that at that time there didn't seem to be anything wrong with him.

She noted that the broken pint glass had been underneath the settle near to where the Spaniard was standing.

She said that she then went back into the bar and shortly after heard them both speaking loudly in the kitchen and that when she went back in she saw the Spaniard leaning over the table with Martin Savada, who was much bigger than him, beating him about the face. She said that she tried to stop them and that they stopped.

She said that the Spaniards eyes were closed up and his nose bleeding and that the table was much covered with blood and that there was not a scratch on Martin Savada.

She said that she then brought water for the Spaniard and washed his face after which she went back into the bar.

However, she said about ten minutes later she heard more loud talking, but not as loud as before, in the kitchen and she then saw Martin Savada rush out through the bar past her and into the street.

After Martin Savada rushed out of the Bute Arms Inn he went across the street and was then carried into 1 Nell Street.

The landlady then went in to the kitchen where the Spaniard was sitting and asked him if he had done anything to Martin Savada, but said that he just shrugged his shoulders and said, 'No'.

She said that she then went back into the bar and that someone then came in and told her that there was something wrong with Martin Savada and that she then went over to 1 Well Street where she saw her brother holding Martin Savada's head. She said that his trousers were down and she saw the wound, noting that there was blood about his leg and all over his clothes.

She said that she then went back over to her own house where she found the Spaniard sitting in the same place as before and that she said something to him that in effect asked him whether he had done anything to Martin Savada and that he replied, 'Me no no', and that shortly after that the Spaniard was taken away by the police.

She noted that prior to that that the Spaniard and Martin Savada had always been on good terms and that as far as she knew that there was no first quarrel that they had had.

The landlord of the Bute Arms Inn said that he went home on 15 August 1900 at about 10.30pm and that as he was going up the street he saw Martin Savada coming out of the house and staggering across the street. He said that he then caught hold of him and he fainted and he called for assistance and he sent for a doctor and took him into 1 Well Street.

The landlord noted that he was a carpenter by trade and had a carpenters shop in his back yard and that the width of the wall between the back door of the house and the door of the shop was 10 or 11 yards. He said that he had been working in his shop up until about 7pm that night and didn't lock the door, noting that there was no lock and that there was only a catch that he tied with a cord. He noted that he had in his shop a carpenter's chisel.

He said that later he saw the inspector in 1 Well street at about 11.15pm and that they then searched the Bute Arms Inn for a knife, but didn't find anything and that they then went over to the court called Bute Gulley which adjoined his backyard and found a chisel there which he identified as belonging to him and which had blood on it.

He said that it had been a sharp chisel, about a quarter of an inch wide and that he had been using it earlier in the evening and had left it on his bench. He noted that both Martin Savada and the Spaniard had previously been in his workshop several times.

A man that had lived at 72 Wells street said that on Wednesday 15 August 1900 he had been in the Bute Arms Inn around 7pm and went into the kitchen where he sat down by the fire and that later on Martin Savada and the Spaniard came in and that a little after 9pm they had a struggle and went out of the back door and that the Spaniard came back in shortly after with blood on his face and that he didn't see Martin Savada after that. He noted that he had been out of the kitchen once or twice that evening to the back.

A labourer that lived in High Street said that he had gone to the Bute Arms Inn with a friend on 15 August 1900 at about 9pm and went into the middle room and had something to drink and that after some time he went out to the back to make water and that when he came back he saw Martin Savada and the Spaniard fighting over the table and that the landlady and her father then came in and that he grabbed Martin Savada's hand and he stopped beating the Spaniard.

He said that he then went back into the middle room and shortly after saw Martin Savada walk out to the bar and then back again several times, smoking a cigarette and that the last time he saw him he was rushing out, that being about 10.30pm. He said that he didn't see him again and heard no noise before he saw Martin Savada rush out.

A police inspector said that when he was called to the scene at about 11pm that he first went to 1 Well Street where he saw Martin Savada and then went into the Bute Arms Inn where he saw the Spaniard sitting in the kitchen in his shirt sleeves. He said that when he searched him he found 2 pence and a purse, two watch keys and three pocket handkerchiefs, but no sharp instrument. He noted that he appeared to have been badly knocked about and that his face and head was swollen and his eyes blackened, his nose swollen and some small pieces of skin off his nose.

He said that the Spaniard was then taken to the police station and that they then searched for the weapon and later found the chisel in the back gully and found that it was wet with blood and that the landlord confirmed that it belonged to him.

The Spaniard was tried at the Glamorganshire Assizes on Monday 19 November 1900.

It was noted that the landlord had since gone to America following the police-court hearings and when it was asked why he had gone, the judge rule that the question was not permissible and said that the jury would have to draw their own conclusions. When it was later asked why the landlord had 'absconded', the judge interrupted and said:

There is no evidence that he absconded. You must not say that. He is not here, that is all.

When the defence summed up they submitted that it was not the Spaniard who inflicted the wound, adding further that neither was it for the defence to suggest who had. The defence then submitted to the jury:

With so many lights wanting, so many persons disappearing, and such mystery about the whole thing, were they going to send a man to his doom on the gravest charge known to the law?

When the judge summed up, he noted that he had emphasised to the jury from the outset that they should give weight to all reasonable doubt and not any fanciful doubt in reviewing the evidence and pointed out two important points against the Spaniard, namely his disappearance, undoubtedly into the back yard where the chisel was kept, and his attitude whilst he was sitting in the kitchen when he was told that something had happened to Martin Savada.

He then noted the absence of blood spots, and noted that the jury were just as able to express an opinion on the matter as the doctor and drew attention to the fact that when Martin Savada rushed from the kitchen his clothing had been saturated with blood.

He then asked who killed Martin Savada and put forward the landlords name and then asked, 'What for?', noting that it had been put forward that he had 'absconded', but submitted that that might have been because he didn't want to appear against one of his own faith.

The judge then noted that the evidence pointed to nobody but the Spaniard.

The judge also pointed out that the jury could, if they decided that the Spaniard had stabbed Martin Savada in self-defence, reduce the verdict to one of manslaughter, although noted for his own part, he thought that the deliberate fetching of the chisel would be inconsistent with the lesser verdict.

However, after a retirement of twenty minutes the jury returned a not guilty verdict and the Spaniard was acquitted.

The Bute Arms Inn and Horse Street has since been demolished, but was approximately where the end of Bryn Carwyn is today.

*map pointers are rough estimates based on known location details as per Place field above.

see www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

see National Archives - ASSI 72/26/2

see Cardiff Times - Saturday 24 November 1900

see Sheffield Daily Telegraph - Friday 24 August 1900

see Glasgow Herald - Friday 24 August 1900

see South Wales Echo - Saturday 17 November 1900

see Western Mail - Tuesday 20 November 1900

see National Library of Scotland