Convicted of Manslaughter in killing William Goodman, who had been detected in robbing a fishery, October, 1808
AT the assizes for Hertford, 1808, James Inwood was indicted for the wilful murder of William Goodman, by giving him several mortal wounds with a cutlass, at Rickmansworth, in this county.
Mr Common Serjeant, as counsel for the prosecution, stated that the prisoner rented a fishery at Ricksmansworth, and on the morning of the 6th of October the deceased William Goodman went to the water, no doubt for the purpose of illegally taking the fish. The prisoner and four other men were on the watch, and about four o'clock in the morning they discovered the deceased, who, finding that persons were there, plunged into the water and swam up the stream to a little eyot, or osier bank, where he evidently meant to land. At this time some of the party were on one side of the stream, and some on the other; and the prisoner, with a cutlass in his hand, ran round to the osier island. As it was dark, the rest of the party could not see what passed; but it seemed that the prisoner gave the deceased several wounds, notwithstanding which he escaped, and got home to his own cottage, when he expired on the following Saturday.
Thomas Tochfield said he was a labourer at Rickmansworth. On the night between the 5th and 6th of October he and the prisoner, together with Davy, Ellingham, and two others, went to watch the fishery of the prisoner. About four o'clock in the morning the prisoner, who was outside the weir-house, gave them notice that someone was near the wheels, and desired them to wait until he should get to work. As soon as they thought the man had begun, they all sallied out, and the man, finding himself discovered, plunged into the middle of the stream and swam up against it. Inwood, Davy and Ellingham were on the north side of the river, and two others on the south side; they called to him to surrender, but he made them no answer. Inwood, the prisoner, said he would run round the osier island, to prevent his escaping that way. In a short time he heard a splashing in the water, and Inwood called out that the man had got him in the water, and would drown him if they did not make haste to assist him. They went round and found that the prisoner had been in the water, but the man had escaped. They then went back to the weir-house, and there they found the jacket which the man had left behind him, with a basket and a bag. By the jacket they discovered that the man in the water must have been Goodman, as they had often seen him wear it.
Ellingham, Davy and Walker, other persons on the watch, gave the same account of the transaction; but it also appeared that the eels were confined in baskets, and that the deceased came not to catch fish, but to take away those already caught.
The learned judge here observed that it made a considerable difference in the case, as it was clear he came to commit not merely a trespass but a felony.
The prisoner, being called upon for his defence, said that the deceased, in getting up the bank, pulled him into the water, and he was afraid he would be drowned, and that what he did was in his own defence.
The learned judge stated the law to the jury to be, that if anyone person suspected a felony about to be committed on his property, he might take to his assistance a peace officer, as was done here; and the wrongdoer, if he did not surrender when called upon, might be killed if he could not otherwise be taken. If they thought the prisoner could not take the deceased without killing him, it would be justifiable homicide.
The jury found him guilty of manslaughter, and he was sentenced to one month's imprisonment.