Date: 27 Mar 1903
Samuel Pender was stabbed at his house in Bo'ness.
A woman was tried but a verdict of not proven was returned.
It was heard that Samuel Pender and the woman had been drinking at a neighbour’s house on 30 January 1903 and that after, whilst Samuel Pender was assaulting the woman that she stabbed him.
However, the defence said that the stabbing had been done by a little boy aged 12, the woman's son, accidently as he was struggling with Samuel Pender.
At the trial the boy was questioned. He said that he had gone out to look for Samuel Pender earlier that night as he had had to go to work but didn't find him and that when he later got home he found Samuel Pender sitting by the fire with his mother.
Q: Pender had drink?
Q: Was he bad?
A: Stupid. (laughter)
Judge: It is really most disgraceful at a trial of this kind to give way to laughter. This is not a theatre for your amusement.
It was then heard that Samuel Pender had wanted to smoke and that the woman cut him some tobacco with a 'wee knife', which was described as an ordinary tobacco knife with a curved point. The boy said that after the woman cut the tobacco for Samuel Pender that she folded it closed and gave it back to Samuel Pender and that Samuel Pender began to smoke but dropped his pipe and it broke. He said that he then went out and when he came back half-an-hour later that his mother had to drag him in.
The boy said that he saw Samuel Pender abusing his mother that night, saying that Samuel Pender started arguing with her about a lodger that had gone away without paying his board. He said that Samuel Pender held his mother over the table with a knife in his hand and that he was hurting his mother who was crying out. He said that Samuel Pender knocked the table over whilst trying to get to his mother but had done her no harm with the knife as far as he could tell.
The boy was then asked whether he saw his mother do anything to Samuel Pender.
Q: Try to remember?
A: No. I remember fine. My mother never done it.
Q: What did she do when held over the table?
A: She was telling him to leave her alone. I got up on the table, catched him by the neck, and dragged him down. (slight laughter).
Q: Pender was a good big man?
A: No, very big. (laughter).
Q: Did you see your mother do anything to Pender?
A: (impatiently) No.
Q: Did you hear her say, 'Take that'?
Q: You saw Pender after a while lying on the floor?
Q: And a mark on his breast?
A: Yes, but my mother never done it.
Q: Who did it?
A: When I flung him down the knife went into him. (sensation).
Q: When your mother was done cutting the tobacco with the knife, I thought you said she gave it back to Sam?
Q: Where did he put it?
A: In his pocket.
Q: And was it closed?
Q: If it was closed how did it happen to go into his breast?
A: He took it out to stab my mother. (sensation).
Q: Was it not the big knife that he was chasing your mother with?
A: No, it was the wee one.
Q: He had a knife in each hand, had he?
Q: Did you see him catch her by the throat?
Q: How did he manage to catch her by the throat with a knife in each hand?
A: He put it into the other hand.
Q: Did you see your mother wipe a knife with a cloth?
Q: Do you think Sam got hurt in the house?
Q: Where do you think he got hurt?
A: I think outside.
Q: You said the knife went into him when you flung him to the ground?
A: That is all I mind, my mother never done it.
Judge: Boy, you are not speaking the truth?
A: I am.
Judge: Don't contradict me. You have told two different stories about this. You said Pender threw over the table to get at your mother, and you pulled him down, and the weight of the knife made it go into him and cause the wound. That is one story. You now say that it was after he went out of the room to the closet that he fell upon the knife. Which of these is true?
A: The first one.
Q: It was in the house it happened?
Q: Did you see your mother wipe the knife with the cloth?
Q: Try to remember.
A: I mind well. My mother never did such a thing.
Q: Do you remember picking up the knife and throwing it below the dresser?
A: I know I lifted it, but I don't know where I flung it. I don't mind where I got the knife, but I got it someplace. (slight laughter).
Q: Did you get the knife after it had been wiped from your mother?
A: No. It was not wiped.
Q: Did you see your mother use a cloth to the knife at all?
Q: Tell me this, did your mother say to you that if anybody asked you about this, you were to say that it was a big man that did it?
A: No, she never told me that.
Q: Wait a moment, that it was a big man that did if after he was out in the water closet?
A: No, she never told me that.
Q: You said that Sam got hurt when you were in the house?
Q: Did you mother drag Sam into the house that night?
A: I don't mind.
Q: When Sam fell down you saw he was hurt?
Q: What did he do?
A: He fell down on his back.
Q: So that, after he got hurt, he was never outside at all, was he?
Q: Where you told at any time to say that a big man had done it outside?
A: No, they never told me nothing.
Q: Is it true to say that Pender was holding your mother by the throat?
Q: Did you say to him, 'I'll kill you if you strike my mother'?
Q: Did you use the knife upon Pender at all?
Q: You are quite sure of that?
A: Yes. If he had done it to my mother, I would have done it to him. (and here the boy broke into tears and showed signs of impatience to get out of the witness box).
Q: Do I understand that you never struck Pender that night at all?
A: I struck him with my hand, but I never used a knife upon him.
Q: Was it just after he was holding your mother by the throat that he fell upon the floor?
A: Yes, when I knocked him down.
The defence then rose to cross-examine the boy, but before beginning said, 'Don't be frightened, dry up your tears'. The boy then said that he had seen Samuel Pender abuse his mother before the Friday night and that he had had to interfere on one occasion and protect his mother with a poker. (laughter).
Q: This was before this night?
A: Yes, and that night too.
Q: What did you do with the poker?
A: I struck Pender with it when he was abusing my mother.
Q: Where did you strike him with it?
A: On the head. (slight laughter). I would have done it to you if you were cruel to my mother.
Q: I suppose you were the only man about town to protect your mother, and you did your best?
Q: Was he a very violent man, Pender, when he was drunk?
A: Yes. That is all I know about it.
Q: Do you remember after the accident happening your mother telling you to bring the pillow?
Q: What to do with it?
A: To put it under his head.
Q: Did your mother bathe him?
Q: And was very kind to him?
A: Yes. I don't think if she had done it, she would have sent for the policeman. She never done it.
Q: She sent for the neighbours too, and you went with her?
A: Yes, I went every place she went.
Q: Did you run outside to the back window after the accident happened?
Q: I suppose you were very much frightened at the time?
Q: And you just remember some things?
A: I just remember what I have said and that is all I know. My mother never done it.
Q: Do you remember you got up on the top of the chair?
A: Yes. I was trying to save my mother.
Q: Did you seize hold of Pender?
Q: After you got up on the chair and interfered. Pender let go of your mother?
Q: Do you remember Pender saying anything?
A: Yes. He said, 'That wee ---- has done for me'. I don't know what he meant.
The pathologist that carried out the post mortem on Samuel Pender said:
'The body was that of a well-nourished man, apparently about 40 years of age. Post-mortem rigidity was present in the limbs, and the dependent portions of the body were livid in colour. There was an abrasion of the skin over the left temple, about the size of a shilling. Below this, and one inch from the angle of the left eye, there was a linear abrasion half an inch in length. There was a similar linear abrasion on the left side of the chest, one and a half inches from the middle line of the body, and at the level ot the interspace between the third and fourth ribs there was a gaping linear wound half an inch in length, which ran obliquely in a direction from right to left downwards. The left side of the chest, as well as the abdomen and left thigh was smeared with blood.
On removing the sternum, together with the cartilage of the ribs, the wound of the chest above mentioned was found to pass obliquely downwards and inwards through the cartilage of the fourth rib close to its attachment to the sternum. The internal mammary artery was found divided at this level. In the pericardial sac there was a wound corresponding in position and size to that in the rib above it. The pericardial sac was full of clotted blood, and on removing this, a wound half an inch in length was seen in the wall of the heart. About one inch above this wound there was another, a quarter of an inch in length, which did not penetrate the whole thickness of the heart wall.
The heart was empty, and firmly contracted. It was otherwise normal and healthy. The left pleural was full of coagulated blood. The left lung was collapsed, but was uninjured and healthy. The right lung presented a firm appearance.
The stomach contained some solid food matters which gave out no distinctive odour. The mucous membrane was slightly congested. The liver, spleen and kidneys and other abdominal organs were pale and anaemic, but otherwise normal and healthy. The air passages contained some frothy mucus, and were normal in appearance. The left parietal bone was indented as a result of an old fracture of the skull and there was a corresponding depression of the brain substance, but with these exceptions the skull and brain were healthy and normal.
From the foregoing examination, we are of the opinion that death was due to haemorrhage, the result of a wound penetrating the chest and right ventricle of the heart'.
When the pathologist was asked whether he thought that the boy could have committed the injury he said, 'It is quite impossible. He could not reach up, and he had not the muscular strength to inflict such a wounds' He added that a man suffering from such wounds would not be capable of such exertion and that there were marks on his face that appeared to have been caused by fingernails.
He added that he had tested the boys strength and said that he did not think it was abnormal . He added that he had not known that the boy had got up on a chair, and said that if that were so then he might have been in a position to inflict a wound in the direction which in Samuel Pender's case it had taken.
When the pathologist was asked whether after the first sight wound had been inflicted whether there was anything to prevent it being enlarged and completed by the lurch of a drunken man or by a struggle the pathologist said that it was possible if the knife had remained in the same position.
When the woman gave evidence, she said:
On Friday night, when the thing happened, Samuel Pender went out about a quarter to four to go to Bo’ness. It was just within a few minutes of eight o'clock at night when he came back. Just as he got to the door he met a man he works with, and his two neighbours. Johnny said to him it was not very fair of him to go out and get drunk and not be able to go out to take his shift with his mate. He said he would make it all up afterwards. When he came in he said he was going to see the man's wife and I said if he was going I would go with him.
We went to the woman's house and would be there fully half an hour, and then we returned to our own house. When we got in, he asked me to fill his pipe for him. I filled it and held a match on the top of it to light it. He just took two draws, and then put the pipe on the mantelpiece. He then asked me if a man had been down with the money. The man and his drawer lodged with us, and the man had gone on the Thursday to get some soldier money and he did not come back.
When I told him that the man had not come with the money, this angered him, because the man had been a fortnight with us without paying any money. He flighted for a while, and he lifted two jugs which were on the table and flung them. I do not know whether they were aimed at me or not. One of them caught the corner of the room door and was broken in pieces. The other was broken into pieces against the wall. I went to the fireside and told him not to be flighting because it would make people talk and that perhaps the man would come with the money the next day.
He said I was too simple with the lodgers and just let them pay what they liked. I said if I was clear of them they would be no longer here. At that he rose up, got me by the throat and nearly choked me. The little boy was sitting on a chair close to the fire and when he saw him catching me, he climbed up on the chair and took the little knife off the mantlepiece, that is the little knife that he had been cutting his tobacco with and I saw him with it in his hand coming down in the direction of his chest, but whether he struck him or not, I did not know at the time.
Whilst the boy was bringing the knife down towards Pender's chest, as Pender was holding me back by the throat, the boy said, 'I will kill you if you strike my mother'. After the boy done it he jumped off the chair and ran out. Pender ran after him.
I did not know for a few minutes where the boy went, but Pender ran round towards an outhouse, and I went out to see where they were, and to hear if there were any voices. I saw something like a vision standing at the out-house door (wc) and I called out, 'Is that you, Sam?' and he walked from the door to a square bit of iron where they turned on the water, and he fell to the ground there, saying that young ---- has done for me this time. He never spoke after that.
I thought it was just the drink that made him fall. I did not know at the time that he had been stabbed. I put my arms under his two arms and dragged him round to our house. I was not fit to do it any other way. When I brought him into the light of the lamp, I saw that his shirt breast was all dyed with blood. I tore his shirt and semmit breast open, and there I saw just a small hole in the breast. As soon as I saw that I ran up to a woman and told her to come down. She came down, and as soon as she saw what it was she ran out. I then ran to the next door neighbour and asked her if she would send her man for the doctor. She said 'Yes'.
I then asked her to come and sit beside me until they came back, but she said she could not leave the children. I am not quite sure if Pender's boots were off or not. I think they were off, but I had better not say, as I am not certain. I then ran down to a woman's and I told them to come up beside me. They came up and brought another man with them. They were not many minutes in when the police came. Some police went away, but one police and a man remained in the house until the rest of the police and doctor came.
But as for stabbing him, I am as innocent as any of the gentlemen sitting here. I knew nothing about it until I got him dragged into the house and saw the blood. He was good and kind to me and the children when he was sober. That is all I wish to say. I am not able to write at present. All which is truth.
When the defence gave evidence they said that the boy had lifted a coal box weighing 20lb and was quite strong enough to have inflicted the wound.
A doctor agreed that the boy had been capable physically of inflicting the wound. He also added that it would have been possible for Samuel Pender to have walked the 26 yards distance to the water closet after receiving his wound.
The Public Prosecutor said that he would not ask for a verdict on the capital charge and during the judges summing up the woman fainted.
However, the jury eventually returned a verdict of 'Not Proven' after 20 minutes of deliberation.
After the verdict was returned the judge addressed the woman and told her that he was very glad that he was in a position to release her from the bar, stating that because whatever rashness she might have been guilty of, he thought that everyone that had heard the case was satisfied that she had had no intention of taking Samuel Pender's life. He said that he hoped that it would be a lesson to her and tha she would abstain from drink and from giving way to violence of temper.
see National Records of Scotland - AD15/03/1
see Leominster News and North West Herefordshire & Radnorshire Advertiser - Friday 27 March 1903
see Linlithgowshire Gazette - Friday 20 March 1903