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Alleged Socialist Plot

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Alleged Socialist Plot

Post by Karen on Tue 7 Jun 2011 - 15:04


At the Old Bailey, on Monday, William Woolf, aged 24, described as a chemist, and Edward Bondurand, 24, baker, were indicted for having in their possession a large quantity of explosive matter for the purpose of using the same to destroy buildings and to endanger human life. They were also charged with conspiring to commit the same acts at the German Embassy. Both prisoners pleaded "Not guilty." Woolf was undefended. As the latter only understands English imperfectly, and Bondurand not at all, the evidence was interpreted to the prisoners by M. Albert.
The Solicitor-general, in opening the case, explained to the jury that the charge was preferred under the provisions of an Act of Parliament that had been recently passed, called the Explosives Act, and said that he believed it would turn out that the intention of the prisoners was not so much to do mischief as that by means of an explosion they should be able to obtain a reward by giving information to the authorities upon the subject of the explosion, and by this means fraudulently to obtain some large sums of money. The Act of Parliament he referred to was specially passed for the purpose of meeting the case of any persons who might conspire together to provide a quantity of explosive matter for an unlawful purpose, and a brother of the prisoner Bondurand, named Louis Bondurand, was, no doubt, engaged in the conspiracy, but he had contrived to make his escape. The Solicitor-general then narrated the facts of the case.
Thomas Chancy, of 172, Vauxhall-bridge-road, assistant to an oil and colour man, proved that on Nov. 26 Woolf purchased for 1s. 9d. a tin cooking kettle. A hole had since been made in the side.
Walter Brown, of 90, Rochester-row, said on Nov. 20 Woolf, whom he knew as living in Vincent-square, purchased a zinc pail for 8-1/2d., taking it away with him. He identified the prisoner and the pail, which also had a hole made in it near the bottom.
Henry William Davids, assistant to Blanche and Son, 29, Gracechurch-street, gunmakers, proved the purchase by Ferrall of the gunpowder (14lb.) on Nov. 20. The powder was in pound canisters with labels, of which sufficient remained to identify the powder found at Vincent-square. Witness also identified Ferrall as the purchaser.
Herman Balterman, constable 109, T division (through Mr. Poland), proved that on the night of Wednesday, Nov. 21, he was on duty outside the German Embassy on Carlton House-terrace, and there saw Leon Ferrall, the approver, go to the door of the Embassy, speak to the hall porter two or three minutes, and then go away.
William Crews, the hall porter at the Embassy, No. 9, proved Ferrall's going there about half-past eight p.m. on Nov. 21, and asking whether the German Ambassador lived there. Witness told him "Yes," and then the prisoner asked to see him, but was told he could not at that time of night. He then said he would write, and went away.
Inspector Greenham, of the Criminal Investigation Department, deposed that on Nov. 20 he had a conversation with Louis Bondurand, the brother of one of the prisoners, and afterwards with Ferrall, who made a statement to him at Scotland-yard. He afterwards had an interview with Louis Bondurand and Ferrall, and the latter made a statement which witness took down in writing. On the same evening witness went to Vincent-square, accompanied by Louis Bondurand, Ferrall, and several policemen. Louis Bondurand pointed out Woolf's house, and witness then went towards the Vauxhall-bridge-road, where he saw the prisoner Edward Bondurand standing on the pavement. Witness spoke to him, and in reply he said that witness would find the explosives in a top room in a cupboard at Woolf's, and he also said everything was ready. Woolf came up at this moment with Louis Bondurand, and he walked a short distance, looked round, and then ran away, but witness pursued and apprehended him. Witness went to the house where Woolf lived, and found 14 empty canisters that had contained gunpowder. The prisoner Woolf then said the thing had all been got up by Louis Bondurand, and that it was a swindle. In the cupboard he found a pail containing gunpowder, with a number of pieces of iron, with a fuse passed through a hole in the pail, and surrounded with the gunpowder. These articles were afterwards shown to Colonel Majendie, the Government inspector. In another room, in a drawer, he found a piece of paper, on which there was writing in red ink, addressed to the German Ambassador. The writing on the paper was in the following terms: - "If you will have freedom you must give us equality." This was signed "Proletariat."
The witness, in reply to questions by Woolf, said he had been in communication with Louis Bondurand several times with reference to this matter, and had received letters from him. He said that he had understood some time before the apprehension from Ferrall that there was a quantity of gunpowder at Woolf's lodging, and he also understood from Louis Bondurand that it was intended that the explosion at the German Ambassador's should take place on Nov. 22.
Woolf then asked Inspector Greenham what his opinion of Louis Bondurand was, and whether he considered him an honest man. Inspector Greenham replied certainly not. He knew him to be the associate of swindlers and dissolute characters.
The witness was cross-examined at great length by the prisoner Woolf, apparently for the purpose of damaging the reputation of Louis Bondurand, and of showing that he was a man who was utterly unworthy of credit.
Mr. Justice Hawkins interposed, and said he was desirous to give the prisoner the fullest latitude, but he considered that he was going into many matters that had nothing to do with the inquiry.
Inspector Greenham, in answer to further inquiries by the prisoner Woolf, said that Superintendent Williamson ultimately gave him orders to apprehend the two Bondurands, and he sent several officers to take Louis Bondurand into custody, but he contrived to get away before the officers could secure him.
Woolf: So I understand that Louis Bondurand disappeared on the very day that you were ordered to apprehend him.
Inspector Greenham: Yes, he got away before we could apprehend him.

On Tuesday the cross-examination of Chief-inspector Greenham was resumed by Mr. Keith Frith. He said he had made inquiries among the French police at Besseges respecting Edward Bondurand, and there was nothing against him.
By the Judge: I have had no communication with Louis Bondurand since the warrant was issued for his arrest. I do not know where he is now.
Inspector Henry Marshall, B division of the Metropolitan Police, stated: I have known Woolf for about a year and a half, and first saw Louis Bondurand in the year 1881. Woolf gave information last October about a robbery in New Cavendish-street, which turned out to be correct, and the persons apprehended were convicted. On November 14 I met Woolf in Rochester-row, and he told me that five men had been sent over to this country to blow up foreign tyrants by dynamite, and that they had asked him to prepare the stuff for them, as he was a chemist. He told me they had been sent by Nihilist and Socialist societies abroad, and that they were to be paid by a Socialist society in Featherstone-buildings, City-road, receiving a lump sum if they brought it off successfully. He said he did not know them, except the one who had asked him to prepare the stuff, and who was to be found at the Cafe de L'Etoile, Leicester-square. Louis Bondurand was present with Woolf when this conversation took place, and sometimes they spoke together in a foreign language which I do not understand. I next saw Woolf on the night of Nov. 21, in Rochester-row. Woolf told me that Bondurand had ascertained the men were going to blow up the German Embassy either on the Friday or Saturday night. He did not know who they were, except that one of them lived in a room at Leicester-square. Next morning I made a communication to Superintendent Williamson; afterwards I went down to Brighton on other business. When I came back Woolf had been arrested.
Cross-examined by Woolf: You gave me information about a robbery in Great Portland-street, and on that information a lodger named Genin was arrested in your house in Vincent-square.
Jacob Kallborn, alias Leon Ferrall: I became acquainted with Louis Bondurand and Woolf about last September, and Louis Bondurand and his brother Edward came to lodge with me at 20, Panton-street. On Monday, Nov. 19, I was at Woolf's house with Bondurand. Woolf told me there that they were going to have an explosion at the German Embassy in order to get a reward, saying, "There was 1,000 pounds offered for the explosion in the Underground tunnel, but for this there will be 2,000 pounds." He said there were five persons engaged in it - namely, Louis Bondurand and his brother, Woolf himself, and two police officers. I said, "You had much better leave it alone; you will get into difficulty over it." Louis Bondurand replied, "Oh, there is no danger about it; we have got the police with us"; and Woolf said to me, "As for you, there is no risk at all; all you have got to do is to take a piece of crumpled paper and leave it at the house of some German, and when the explosion takes place and the reward is offered this German will be arrested." Woolf said that if I did this I would get 100 pounds. Although I knew that he never meant to pay me, I replied that 100 pounds was a nice sum to get, and that I would do it. Woolf also told me to take the German to a park the night the explosion was to take place, but not to go to a public-house, so that he would not be able to set up an alibi when the police arrested him. He explained that the explosion at the Embassy was to be caused by infernal machines, that Woolf and Louis Bondurand would carry them to the place, and that Edward Bondurand would set fire to them with the end of a cigar. He also said that the police officer who was in it with them would be secreted near the place, and would pick up a letter which one of them would throw down at the explosion. The following morning Edward Bondurand and I went to Gracechurch-street, in the City, and bought 14 pounds of powder, for which I paid 35s. Edward Bondurand gave me the money and waited outside the shop while I went in and made the purchase. Edward told me that the powder was to "set fire" to Bismarck" (laughter). We carried the powder between us to 20, Panton-street. Edward took the bag into the house. Woolf and Bondurand were in the street. When he saw me Woolf turned as pale as death and asked me if I had got the powder. I said, "Yes, my commission is done." That same night I went to the German Embassy, but could not see the Ambassador, and then went direct to Scotland-yard, where I saw Inspector Greenham, and gave him information about this affair. On Thursday, the 22nd, in the morning, Louis Bondurand, in presence of Edward, gave me some pieces of paper with writing in red ink on them, and a bottle of red ink. Afterwards, on the same day, Woolf asked me if I had hid the crumpled paper. I replied that I had. He told me that I must take the German with whom I had hidden the paper into the park that night, and keep him there from 10 o'clock till midnight, as between these hours the explosion would take place. He inquired with whom I had hid it, and I gave him a fictitious name. That same night I and Louis Bondurand went to Scotland-yard, and I made a statement to Inspectors Greenham and Von Tornow, which was taken down in writing.

On Wednesday Jacob Kallborn, alias Leon Ferrall, cross examined by Woolf: He was a riding-master by trade, and had worked at that business. He had been nine months in one place, but that was in 1873, after he had deserted from Metz in the July of that year. He had deserted because he did not like military life, and also because his captain had found him to be a liar. He had been sentenced to three years' imprisonment in France for travelling with false papers. He left prison in July, 1881, and came to London. He had made several mistakes in his statement, but they were merely mistakes, and not made purposely. The witness was under cross-examination the whole of the day.

On Thursday the cross-examination of the witness Leon Ferrall was continued by Mr. Keith Frith, on behalf of the prisoner Bondurand. The witness stated that he had never said that if these two men were convicted he should get 10 times more than if the scheme had been carried out. He denied having stated at the police-court that he did not know where Edward Bondurand lived, whereas that statement appeared distinctly in his cross-examination.
Colonel Majendie was then examined, and described the contents of the cooking-pot and pail found in Woolf's house. They contained gunpowder, which, if exploded, would have caused serious injury to passers-by.
This concluded the case for the prosecution. Mr. Justice Hawkins, in reply to Woolf, said he might call his wife or give evidence himself through the interpreter.
The prisoner then addressed the jury, stating that he intended to prove that he had no idea that the powder was in his house. He was the victim of the revenge of Louis Bondurand.
He called Superintendent Williamson, who detailed the circumstances of the arrests.
Woolf then proposed to call his fellow-prisoner, Edward Bondurand, as a witness, but the judge ruled that this could not be done. If the prisoner himself chose to be examined, he could do so.
Woolf then said that he proposed to give evidence upon oath, and he was sworn and examined from the dock. After giving an account of his movements since his coming to London, and explaining how he became acquainted with Louis Bondurand, he said that Louis Bondurand occupied the room in his house in which the explosives were found, and kept the keys. He also occupied the house next door, the cupboard keys of which would fit the cupboard in his house.
In reply to questions put by the learned judge, the prisoner said that Louis Bondurand used to come to him every day, and they generally went out together. They had been to Rochester-row police-station only a few minutes before he purchased the pail. All he suspected at this time was that Louis Bondurand was engaged in some important business under the authority of the police.
The prisoner then, with great vehemence, said, "I swear before God that I never was a member of any revolutionary club."
Mary Webster, who had assisted Woolf and his wife in their shop, said the only foreigners the prisoner Woolf associated with were the two Bondurands, and all his other friends were Englishmen.
The prisoner Woolf then called a young woman named Mary Roach, who was in his service at the time of the arrest, and he examined her at considerable length, apparently for the purpose of showing that on the day the gunpowder was found in the cupboard, after the pail and the cooking pot had been purchased, he had no opportunity of placing the gunpowder in these articles.
The witness, in reply to questions put to her in cross-examination, said that she had never seen either of the Bondurands carry anything into the room where the powder was found, but she had on previous occasions seen Louis Bondurand and Woolf go into this room, and she said that they frequently remained there for a considerable time.

On Friday Mary Rouse, formerly a servant to Woolf, deposed that some days after Edward Bondurand's arrest she saw Louis Bondurand in Jermyn-street.
Ellen Turner, of 24, Catherine-street, Buckingham Palace-road, deposed that she was Woolf's sister-in-law. On the night of the arrest, at about eight o'clock, she was at Woolf's house, and in the room where the gunpowder was found, she saw Woolf fitting up a bedstead.
George Turner, of 24, Catherine-street, Buckingham Palace-yard, deposed that he kept a lodging-house. Woolf had lodged at his house, and had never had any companions while he was there. He had become engaged to witness's daughter, and had subsequently married her. Upon the night of the arrest he had seen Louis Bondurand and Ferrall at Woolf's house. After the arrest a man named Theodore Gabeler called at Woolf's house and offered his services as a witness against Bondurand.
George Verney, examined by Woolf, deposed that he knew Bondurand, and had seen him during the first or second week in December in Soho.
George Thompson, a furniture dealer in Vauxhall-bridge-road, deposed that he had frequently bought goods from Woolf, the last transaction being upon the morning of his arrest. Upon that day he had called at Woolf's house, and saw a bedstead in the room in which the powder was found. There was a bedstead in the room which was partly put together, and another in pieces.
Woolf's defence having been concluded,
Mr. Keith Frith examined Edward Bondurand as a witness. He deposed that he had never heard of any plot to blow up the German Embassy either from Woolf or from his brother Louis. He had never been with Ferrall to the City to buy the gunpowder. He had only been once to Scotland-yard, and was not aware that there was anything explosive in Woolf's house. At about six o'clock on the night of the arrest his brother Louis told him to go to Woolf's house and wait there until he arrived. When he came, which was about a quarter past eight, he told the witness to go for a walk in the Vauxhall-bridge-road and wait for him (Louis) and Chief Inspector Greenham. Upon seeing Inspector Greenham, whom he afterwards met, he told him that he would find the two infernal machines upon the third floor in a cupboard. His brother Louis told him to say that, and also directed him to point out Woolf to Inspector Greenham. After Woolf's arrest he had gone back to Panton-street with his brother. Between that time and his own arrest he had seen his brother every day. When arrested he was taken to Scotland-yard and shown into a little room, where he was asked to wait for his brother. He was waiting for him now (laughter). He knew his brother was a police spy.
Woolf then proceeded to sum up his case to the jury. After referring his lordship to a portion of the evidence, the prisoner requested M. Albert, the interpreter, to read his defence, which he had written in German. M. Albert thereupon stepped into the dock and read the manuscript. The accused repeated that the entire thing was got up against him. At the police-court he placed all his hopes in Inspector Marshall, who, however, gave evidence against him. By a system of tricks the police brought evidence against him, but he protested his innocence.
Mr. Keith Frith next addressed the jury on behalf of Bondurand, urging that the prisoner did not have under his possession and control the explosives in question. The evidence of Ferrall, a man of profligate and infamous character, was not to be relied upon; and if they took that view there was no evidence that Edward Bondurand took any part in the alleged conspiracy. The trial was adjourned.

Source: Lloyd's Weekly London Newspaper, January 20, 1884, Page 3

Karen Trenouth
Author of: "Epiphany of the Whitechapel Murders"
Author of: "Jack the Ripper: The Satanic Team"

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