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The Evidence of Levi Welch

Levi Welch [QGV10/4/150]
Levi Welch [QGV10/4/150]

The Bedfordshire Mercury of 31st March 1868 continued its account of the trial of William Worsley for the murder of William Bradberry.

Levi Welch, the prisoner who had been found Not Guilty of the charge, was next called, and was removed from the cells to the witness-box, and his appearance was looked forward to with considerable interest by the court. He was a decently-dressed man scarcely of middle height, with a dogged demeanour, regular features, with compressed mouth and an ample beard. Having taken the oath, he gave the following evidence in an unhesitating manner, and without the least pressing on the part of Serjeant Tozer, who examined him: I was with prisoner on the night of the 3rd August at the Royal Oak. I come now from the Prison, and I was charged as an accomplice for the murder. Worsley, me, and Day were at the Royal Oak, and we left at 12 o'clock; we went towards Hitchin. We had got about 50 yards from the Royal Oak, and Day said he dropped a sixpence. I said, "You will find it in the morning". Worsley and me went along the road, leaving Day to look for his sixpence. Worsley and me got about a few yards further, when I passed by a man standing by the side of the road. I passed by him about two yards, looking to see if he was going the same way as we was, when I saw Worsley strike the man and saw him fall. Worsley called, and said, "Come back". I said, "Come on". He said, "You silly b -, come back". I then went back, and the man was laying on the left side of the road, on his back. Worsley had his hand in his right hand pocket, and he said, "See if he has anything in the other pocket". While I was doing so Worsley kicked the man on the neck or head. I aid, "Don't act that". He then stooped down, took hold of the man's head and jolted it on the road. He said, "Here's the b -'s basket; see what's in it". We both put our hands in the basket together. Worsley pulled out a little bundle from it and gave it to me. He said, "There lays something else; collar it and hook it". I picked it up, went down the road and hid it. I went back to where the man was knocked down; Worsley drew him across the road. The man was carried to the Jolly Topers, and I got some water and washed his face. I got some cobwebs to stop the bleeding. The doctor came then. I and Worsley went to White-hill and laid on some straw. He pulled the winch out of his pocket. I asked him if he had hit him with that. He said, "Yes"; and hunched me, and said, "Don't ley him hear you". We then went away. Worsley said he wanted a pair of trousers, and would have them he took. He said, "You can have the 4s. 6d., and the other little bundle". We left the straw about four o'clock and came on towards Round Green. About a quarter of a mile from there he pulled the winch out of his pocket and said, "I shan't take this with me; there are sure to be two or three bobbies up there, and if they found this on me they are sure to say I did it". He hid it in a hedge. We came a little nearer, and his wife came up and said, "The policemen are at Round Green". He said, "There, I told you they'd be there". We came on to Round Green, and we found Day's sixpence. I had a knife, and I can't say I had it from Bradberry - I expect I did. Worsley said, "Don't have the b - on you; throw it away". I threw it in the fields. We went along the lane towards Nether Crawley and sat on a gate. Worsley said, "Where have you hid the things?" I said, "In the hedge against the road and close to an ash tree". He said, "All right". Worsley said, "I'll have the trousers; you can have the 4s. 6d. and the bundle. Do you think that little b - will say anything about it? I believe he will cackle about it". That was Day. We parted between six and seven in the morning. He came to my house about ten in the morning, and said, "That silly b - is dead up at Round Green. There will be more row about him than if both of us were dead. Come on, and let us go up that way, and see what people talk about". We went out of the backway, and then in the passage he said, "We must stick to what we said last night. I told Day that I fell over him". I said, "All right". We went to Round Green. I was passing his house afterwards, and he said to me, "It strikes me they mean screwing us next Thursday". I said, "I can't help it if they do; I'm very sorry its happened". He said he would not have done it if he hadn't been drunk. He said, "There was a party told me they were sure if you was took up you would tell all about it; if you do, it will be all up with me". I said, "You have no call to be afraid of that". He said, "Do you mean what you say?" I said, "Yes". Then we parted.

Cross-examined: I was examined before the Coroner upon oath. I said I walked along the middle of the road and Worsley was behind me. I was first a little. I did not say, "Halloa, here's a drunken man". I said Worsley said he nearly fell over him. I never said anything about his striking or kicking Bradberry - not likely. I never told anything about my cutting his pockets out; I did not until Worsley said I did. I have not a copy of what I said to the police; my statement has been taken down by Mr. Roberts, the Governor of the Prison. This is not the first time I have been in trouble; I have been in Bedford Prison six or seven times - once for 15 months for night-poaching at Beechwood. That was when the gamekeeper was knocked about a good deal. I was not convicted upon that, but I was there at the time. I have been in Saint Alban's gaol once; I have been in Hertford Gaol three or four times. I have tried no other: that's pretty fair, I think. I don't know that there is a warrant out against me for assaulting the gamekeeper Revell. I met Revell there in August last. He attacked me with a gun first, and I defended myself; I hit him on the neck with a gun barrel; if I had not hit him he would have hit me. The gun stock was in my pocket, and the barrel I carried in my hand: that's how we do it. I didn't hit him on the back of the head - it was at the side of the neck; the blow did not fell him to the ground. I have been accustomed to gaols for ten years; the first time was in 1851, 17 years ago; I have not been in every year. I make mats when I am in gaol, and I am rather handy at it. I have not made any machine for making mats at home; nobody else was trying to make a machine that I know of. I don't recollect that I had any pieces of iron about the house. I had a bedwinch about that much in length (showing the length of his fore-finger) in my pocket on the night Bradberry was killed; I didn't say that when my statement was taken down. I hid it when the other things were hid; I took it away on the Tuesday morning after. I went with Worsley, and he took his winch away on the Saturday week. I borrowed the winch that I had on the Saturday night at the Royal Oak; I cannot say who gave me leave to take it, but it was either Gazeley, his wife, or his daughter.

By his Lordship: I was going to Lilley on the Saturday night. Worsley said he knew a person who wanted half a dozen fowls, and he was going fowl-stealing. We borrowed the winch to get into them; Worsley said the winch would get the screws out. We were not going poaching; we had no stakes, no sticks, no nets.