Skip Navigation

Welcome to Bedford Borough Council

Home > Community archives > Bedford > The Defence Case

The Defence Case

William CraddockRobert Jordan
William Craddock and Robert Jordan in the Bedford Gaol Register [QGV10/4]

“Mr. Metcalfe then proceeded to address the jury on behalf of the prisoner Jordan, and in doing so characterised the case as a very distressing one, which needed no exaggeration on the part of the prosecution. It was impossible for anyone to be acquainted with the circumstances which led to the death of the unfortunate deceased, without having their sympathies excited. He was quite sure that he, as well as his learned friend for the other prisoner, sympathised as much as any one with the poor woman whose husband had been struck down and deprived of his life in a manner the most painful that it was possible to conceive. He would however remind the jury that the question they had to consider was whether the two prisoners were guilty of the violence which caused the death of deceased, and if so whether the offence amounted to murder or manslaughter. He should endeavour to direct their attention on those points that he considered had a bearing upon the case. Was the man Jordan guilty of violence? In order to show the difficulty of arriving at such a conclusion he called attention to the broad contradictions abounding in the case throughout. Perhaps in saying this he was doing the soldiers an injustice. He believed all the soldiers told their story fairly; but, with this exception, and the testimony of the two medical gentlemen, every person called had given a different account of the transaction. He thought he might say that the circumstances which caused the death of the deceased were amongst the most extraordinary that had ever come to light, that in the middle of the town of Bedford a man should be knocked down and beaten in the way described by the witnesses, and not one human being interfering on his behalf in any way whatever. They had evidence that the wife appealed, as well as the deceased himself, to persons for aid, yet no one came forward and responded to the appeal made to their humanity. Had it not occurred to the jury that the violence might have been committed by other parties, and not by the prisoners at the bar, and that the prisoners were not there at all. He earnestly requested the jury to consider the conduct of the three men upon whose statements the prosecution wholly depended. According to their evidence they stood by and saw the violence going on, saw the deceased knocked down and beaten; but instead of interfering on behalf of the unfortunate gentleman, they all ran away like dastardly cowards. A great deal of evidence had been given in the case, but no human being had spoken to a tittle of evidence fixing the offence upon the prisoners, except the three men who acted the cowardly part of running away. Before the jury came to the conclusion that the two men at the bar committed the violence imputed to them he hoped they would well consider the evidence. He wished to be particularly understood that he cast no imputation upon the soldiers, nor said one word respecting them, only this – that it did appear extremely odd that the three soldiers, who knew that Mr. Budd had been grossly assaulted, should not have informed the police-officer of what had occurred when he spoke to them a few minutes after they had parted with the unfortunate gentleman, and when the prisoners were present. One would have thought that men in the Queen’s service, above all men in the world, would have interested themselves on behalf of a fellow-creature under such distressing circumstances. He next called attention to the evidence of Mrs. Budd and the statements of the deceased made in the presence of Mr. Boultbee and police-officer Pedley. The deceased stated repeatedly that he had been assaulted by soldiers; and he urged upon the jury the importance of taking this part of the case into their consideration. He would remind them that the three soldiers who appeared as witnesses had been taken into custody upon the charge. He believed them to be innocent men; but if they had been put upon their trial, and the jury were satisfied that the statement of the deceased, that only soldiers attacked him, was true would it not have gone very hard with those men? He meant no reflection upon the soldiers, but he mentioned the circumstance as on of the many difficulties surrounding the case, and to point out the danger of implicitly trusting to evidence of so conflicting a nature as that which they had heard to-day. He then alluded to the conduct of the two prisoners, as contrasted with that of the black man, Keeler, and Hatton, and would put it to the jury to say whether it was likely the prisoners, if they had committed the offence, would have remained in the street so long, first talking to the soldiers, then to the police, and even addressing words to the deceased. Had there have been anything to show that when Craddock and Jordan followed the three soldiers, the deceased, and Mrs. Budd up St. Cuthbert-street. That the deceased turned round and accused them of having assaulted him? The conduct of the prisoners was altogether the conduct of innocent men. He pointed out many other discrepancies in the evidence. He said it was his duty to do this, otherwise the consequences might be of a very serious character to the prisoners; and he was quite sure the jury would be sorry to act upon false evidence, which if believed implicitly might have the effect of consigning these two unfortunate men to the scaffold. Having commented upon the statements of the other witnesses he concluded by stating that he had the fullest confidence that the jury would acquit the prisoners”.

 Thomas Jenkins QGV10-4-63
Thomas Jenkins in the Bedford Gaol Register [QGV10/4]

“Mr. Serjeant Tozer, in an able speech, addressed the jury on behalf of Craddock. He regretted that the jury should have the infliction of two speeches, but circumstances rendered it necessary that he should make a few observations. The jury were aware that there had been a great deal of discussion about the case. He did not wonder at this when the circumstances were taken into account. Mr. Budd was comparatively a young man, and he had a fair right to expect that many years of health and enjoyment were before him, whilst his wife on her part, had a fair right to expect that she would have her husband’s companionship for many years. There could be no doubt that an event of this kind was calculated to seize upon men’s minds and produced a large amount of discussion and sympathy; particularly when the sufferers happened to be persons removed far above what is called the humble sphere of life, and who from that very fact were not likely to place themselves in positions to incur injuries such as those of which they had heard so much. He was quite sure however that the jury would not allow themselves to be influenced by anything which might have been brought to their notice concerning this case, but that they would come to a conclusion upon the evidence alone. With regard to the character of the offence with which the prisoners were charged, the learned counsel for the prosecution had not explained the difference between murder and manslaughter; but he was fully persuaded that his lordship would set clearly before them the law upon the subject, and therefore he would only say that in order to make out a case of murder there must be an intention on the part of the accused to commit some felony, but not necessarily murder, any kind of felony would be sufficient. He left this subject to the direction of his lordship, but to make out a case of murder, there must be an intention on the part of the person charged to commit a felony, or inflict some grievous bodily harm. The evidence of four or five witnesses had been brought before them in order to make out a case of murder of manslaughter against the two prisoners, but the testimony of the various witnesses had been so contradictory that he thought every person of calm judgement would reflect a long time before convicting the prisoners. The conduct of the prisoners on the nigh tin question, except from the evidence of three men whose behaviour had been so pointedly and properly commented on by his learned friend, did not present the indications generally associated with person of violent characters. No weapons of an offensive character were found in their possession, nor did the clothes present any marks showing that they had been engaged in a violent attack upon anybody. The learned serjeant analysed the evidence, and called attention to the remarkable circumstance that the first three soldiers met by Warner and his companion had never been accounted for. These three soldiers were not known to Warner and Berridge, and the question occurred, what became of them after they were seen with the two prisoners? The absence of all information on that point, particularly after the statements of the deceased and Mrs. Budd with regard to soldiers, was sufficient to throw doubt upon the whole case. Apart from this consideration let them look at the conduct of the three men upon whose evidence they were asked to convict the prisoners. The deceased was lying on the ground having received considerable injury, yet not one of the three men offered to render the least assistance or interfere to prevent violence. Who was the man named Keeler? He told them that he came from Dover, and was a diver. He has always looked upon that class, engaged in a dangerous and hazardous employment, as brave-hearted men, who were always ready to encounter the perils of the ocean, and rendering assistance whenever their services were required, and he had often admired their manly conduct and fine muscular appearance; but here they found a person calling himself one of that noble band, a big fellow enough to have wrung the necks of both men at the bar without the slightest difficulty, looking on whilst a most outrageous assault was being committed, and then sneaking off, leaving the deceased on the ground in a state of insensibility and at the mercy of his brutal assailants? Then who was the black man? There was no difficulty in forming a correct opinion as what sort of creature he was. He was a person who went about the country exhibiting marks on his back, representing that he was an escaped slave from the Southern States of America, perhaps one of the victims described in that most exaggerated picture of slave life, “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” (laughter) . He had no doubt that the fellow’s back had often been under the lash, and that he had been punished under circumstances differing widely from those to which he had referred. He had told them that he had been a ship’s cook, but so long a time had elapsed since he was connected wit ha ship, that he had forgotten how long ago he made his last voyage. There was no doubt that this black man was a perfect vagabond, but a cunning fellow nevertheless, and a capital witness (laughter). On a full consideration of the case, he thought the jury must come to the conclusion that it was more probable the assault was committed by strangers rather than by the persons living close to the spot, and who, from all that had transpired, have had no possible motive for committing so gross an outrage. He would leave the case with the jury, hoping that they would allow the two young men to return to their families”.