The case of this detestable villain is extraordinary in many respects, but particularly on account of the determined and effectual resistance offered by a young woman to the savage attacks of the prisoner, whose original intention was to violate her person, an object which he subsequently changed to that of robbery. The circumstances of the case as they were detailed by the prosecutrix, whose name is Charlotte Smith, exhibit a wonderful degree of perseverance on the part of the prisoner to secure his desires, and on the part of the young woman in resisting his foul attempt.
The case came on at the Taunton assizes, held on the 30th of March 1826, when the prisoner was indicted in the usual form for a robbery. It appeared that the prosecutrix was twenty-three years of age, and was the daughter of a decent clothier, living at about a mile out of Frome, and that the prisoner was a labourer, aged eighteen years, residing at no great distance from the same place, but that they were unacquainted with each other. On the second day of the fair at Frome (26th November 1825), the prosecutrix accompanied one of her brothers to that place, in search of some other relations. They went into the Castle, public-house, and there found the persons whom they sought with the prisoner. They remained a short time, and then the prosecutrix got up to go home alone. She had not gone far before the prisoner came up with her, and addressed some conversation to her in a civil manner, and he accompanied her home to her father's house. They sat there together for a short time, her younger brother only being present, and then the prisoner asked her to return to the fair. She consented, and they walked together arm-in-arm, and while at the fair, he invited her to accompany him to the house of his aunt at Coalashwalk. She at first refused, but was subsequently induced to consent to his proposal, on his assuring her that he would see her safe home again. They proceeded on their walk together, but they had not gone far beyond the termination of the houses of the town, when the prisoner took her by the shoulders, and threw her down, accompanying this action with a very improper expression. She demanded to know whether he knew who she was, and he answered, "Yes; -- Mr. Smith's daughter, and if you don't submit I'll murder you." Her answer was, that "she would die first;" and he then proceeded to take liberties. She screamed out, on which he thrust his fist into her mouth, and grasped her throat until he had almost choked her; but being convinced of the baseness of his intentions, she resisted him for three quarters of an hour, during which she still lay on the ground. At this period a man approached them, and having disengaged herself for a moment from the prisoner's grasp, she screamed for help. The man said, "Why, you murderous villain, you have got a woman there; are you going to kill her?" upon which the prisoner jumped up, and threatened to murder him if he did not go away. The prosecutrix now got up, but the prisoner threw her down again, and, in the presence of the man, continued his brutal liberties. The latter endeavoured to force him away, on which the prisoner flew at him with his fists. The girl ran to the man for protection, but he pushed her away from him, and then, thinking he would afford her no assistance she ran off as fast as she could. She had gone more than a mile, but in her alarm towards Warminster, instead of Frome, when the prisoner overtook her. He said that she was going wrong, but she thought the contrary, and said so, and then he repeated his determination to do what he pleased with her, saying, that if she did not give up, he would throw her into the river. She, however, again resisted him, and he took her towards the river in his arms. When they reached the bank, she cried for mercy, and he put her down, but immediately dragged her up a lane, and threw her over a gate. He there pulled her through some brambles, and into a ditch of mire, and swore what he would do to her. Having detained the wretched girl here for upwards of three hours, during which he beat her in an unmanly and brutal manner, she at length found herself becoming insensible, and taking some of the blood from her mouth, she showed it to him, and asked him how he could have the heart to do it. He said that he would be d--d if he cared, and that he would murder her if she did not give up. She said that she had a shilling in her pocket, and that she would give it to him if he would let her go, to which he replied that he would be d- d if he would not have it then, and without waiting for her to get it, he tore off" her pocket, jumped upon her, and tore off her clothes. He dragged off her gown first, and then her under clothes, and there was no shape of clothes left. He then continued his barbarous treatment to her, by forcing her head under water, and keeping it there until she was nearly drowned; and while she was so defenceless, he took away one of her ear-rings. On her raising her head, she heard a dog bark, and she exclaimed, to intimidate him, "The Lord be praised, here's my father!" and he then ran off. She followed in the same direction, because she did not know her way home, and at length, at three in the morning, she reached her father's house in a pitiable plight. In consequence of the injuries which she received, she remained bedridden during three weeks; and it was much longer before she recovered her health.
This detail of the frightful barbarity employed towards her by the prisoner produced a strong impression in court, and a verdict of Guilty was returned by the jury.
The prisoner subsequently escaped the capital punishment, which he richly deserved for this offence on a point of form, but upon being indicted for the assault with intent to commit a rape, he was again found Guilty, and sentenced to two years' imprisonment.