Friday, 9 October 2015

Henry Charles Martin to Face Murder Trial

Henry Charles Martin

9th October 1915: Yesterday’s inquest into the death of Mrs.Amy Martin ended with the verdict: “The jury find that Amy Martin died from haemorrhage caused by a blow with a knife, inflicted by her husband, Henry Charles Martin, and they consider the case one of wilful murder. We wish to add, however, that we believe the man to have received very great provocation”. Gunner Martin has now appeared at Luton police court and has been committed for trial on the charge of murder at the Beds Assizes later this month.

Evidence was given by Martin, his son Charlie, his sister Mrs. Jane Barton, and Amy Martin’s father, Edwin Plummer, to the effect that Mrs. Martin had been “carrying on” with a soldier in the Lincolnshire Regiment. Tom Newbury had been billeted at Blythe Square, Luton with Mr. Plummer. There seems little doubt but that when Mrs. Martin left Barking to stay with her father an affair began between the two, which continued after Mrs. Martin took a house of her own at Queen Square. Young Charlie said that Newbury visited the house very often and “When his mother used to go and lie down in the bedroom after doing her housework Newbury used to go with her”. While at her father’s house Mrs. Martin had been caught in a compromising position with Newbury by her brother; she had admitted sending him cigarettes and handkerchiefs.

There was some suggestion that  Martin himself had engaged in a dalliance with a girl from Ilford. Miss Sarah Annie Hampshire, aged 19, was called as a witness. She described a meeting between herself and a girlfriend and Martin and a companion on Wanstead Flats, following which he asked her to write. Miss Hampshire said she had written to Gunner Martin but received no reply. A few days later she received a letter purporting to be from Martin’s sister saying “My brother … informed me of a young lady he had … I think he thinks a great deal of you, and I hope you do of him”. Evidence was given that this letter was in fact in Mrs. Martin’s handwriting.

Martin gave evidence that there had been no trouble in their marriage until his wife met Newbury. They had visited Blythe Place at Whitsun; he stayed one day but his wife stayed for a week and after her return seemed strange. She admitted giving a missing brooch to a soldier who she eventually named as Tom Newbury. She told him she loved Newbury. He went on his knees and begged her to give him up but she refused. Following this he enlisted in the Royal Garrison Artillery. On the fatal weekend they had argued. He had intended to catch the milk train back to Stratford but did not wake in time. He made some tea with bread and butter for his wife and took it to her, still carrying the knife with which he had cut the bread. When he gave her the tea she said “I wish I could get you to drink one with some poison in it”. She threw his spurs at him, hitting him in the back. He picked up the spurs and walked round the bed. Thinking she was going to throw the cup at him he hit her with the knife still in his hand. He denied intending to stick it into her. Dr. Bell of the Bute Hospital had examined the wound after Mrs. Martin’s death and stated that it could have been made by the knife produced with very little force and was a stab wound rather than a cut.

There is no doubt that however she may have behaved towards her husband and with Tom Newbury, Mrs. Martin was an attentive mother and a good housekeeper. Her son Charlie told the court that “Father was a good father, and mother was a good mother to us”, and her house was spotless.

Source: Luton News, 14th October 1915

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