Hardiker One Name Study
See also
Joseph LESTER's sister: Ann Amelia LESTER (1864?- )

Joseph LESTER (1861- )

Joseph LESTER , son of Joseph LESTER (1842?- ) and Ann Louisa (LESTER) (1840?- ), was born in 1861 in Birmingham, Warwickshire, England. 1 In 1871 he was resident in Birmingham, 7 Poplar Place. In 1881 he was resident in Aston, Warwickshire, England, 7 Albert Place. In 1881 he was a Gold Locket Maker. In 1901 he was resident in Birmingham, 47 Villa St. In 1901 he was a Gilt Jeweller (Gold).

 

Accused of murder

The Times, 9 Mar 1887

The inquest on the body of Colonel Fendall, of Shrewsbury, who met his death at a house in Bagot street Birmingham, under suspicious circumstances, was resumed yesterday before the Birmingham Coroner.

The first witness called was Henrietta Hollingsworth, a waitress at the Great Western Hotel, Birmingham She stated that she knew Colonel Fendall by sight. On Saturday, the 26th of February, he went to the Great Western Hotel about ten minutes past 7 and ordered some dinner and a pint of claret. After that he had two glasses of port wine. He left the hotel at five minutes to 8 after expressing his intention of going back to Shrewsbury by the 9 45 train.

Arthur Digman, barman at Redpath's liquor vaults, Bull-street, said that on Saturday, February 26, Theresa Rooney came to the bar at about ten minutes past 10 accompanied by a tall gentleman about 55 years of age, with a grey moustache. The gentleman called for port wine for himself and lemonade for Rooney. Rooney went out and left the gentleman at the counter. She returned in about two minutes and rejoined him, and directly afterwards Lester, the other prisoner, and another man came in and passed up the shop without speaking to Rooney. The gentleman and Rooney left the house shortly afterwards, followed in about half a minute by Lester and his companion.

William Reddall, jeweller, said he was in company with Lester at the Dolphin beerhouse, Steelhouse lane, when Theresa Rooney came in and called Lester out about ten minutes past 10 o'clock. Lester came back into the Dolphin about two seconds after and proposed to go to Redpath's. Witness assented. At Redpath's they saw Rooney and a gentleman with her. When Rooney and the gentleman went away Lester said he should go home, and witness accompanied him some distance. Lester, however, did not go in the direction of his house bat towards Bagot street, where Rooney lived.

A cabman gave evidence as to driving Rooney and a gentleman from Redpath's to Bagot street. They stopped and visited Fox's stores on their way. The manageress at Fox's identified Rooney as the woman who had called there on the night of the 26th with a gentleman. She obtained a bottle of champagne, which she took away with her, the gentleman paying for it.

A neighbour of Rooney's named Sarah Perkins saw her about half-past 10 on the same evening taking a strange gentleman up the court to her house. The man was not sober.

Susanna Jones, who lives next door to Rooney, heard people through the wall talking and singing about 11 o'clock. She afterwards heard some angry talking and two men's voices. The furniture was pushed about as if people were quarrelling. This was followed by an exclamation, " Oh, my God ! ' as if somebody were hurt. Then everything was silent, and some one passed up and down the entry It was impossible for any one to have fallen down Rooney's stairs without her hearing it, as the partition wall was thin.

William Reddall, recalled, said that after parting with Lester he returned to Redpath's. A few minutes before 11 Rooney came to him there without her hat and said, "I've pushed a man downstairs; he is nearly dead, and I cannot make anything of him." [The prisoner Rooney at this point raised her voice from the dock and said, "I never did." She afterwards broke into tears.] She wanted witness to fetch a cab and go with her to her house but, he observed that there was blood on her hands and declined to accompany her.

Emma Hill, another neighbour of Rooney's, said she was crossing the yard between 10 and 11 on the night in question to get some water when she saw Lester cross from Rooney's house to procure water several times. He seemed anxious to avert his face. Just previously witness heard a loud exclamation from Rooney's house as if some one had been hurt there.

John Hardiker, the brother-in-law of Lester, said that the prisoner's father lived close to him. On the night in question Lester came to his (the witness's) house about a quarter to 11 o'clock to see witness's wife, who was unwell. He stayed about 25 minutes or half-an-hour. Lester returned about two hours later and called for witness, who went out to him and saw that he had Rooney with him, with a coat over her head. She asked witness to take care of the coat and 2, for which she would call in the morning. The things were applied for on Monday by Lester's mother.

Detective-sergeant Dobbs said, "I went on Sunday morning to the house in Bagot street and was let in by the prisoner Rooney, who was in her nightdress, Seeing a, man's hat on the table, I asked " Who have you got upstairs?" Rooney said, "You know." I said, "Joe Lester? " and she said " Yes." I said, " I am told that a man has been taken to the hospital from your house badly hurt. What account do you give of it?" Rooney replied, "No man has been taken to the hospital from here. I was coming from the Aston tavern and I saw a man lying in the gutter in the Lichfield-road, by the kerbstone. I thought he was drunk. I hailed a cab and took him to the General Hospital. He has not been here at all." Upon subsequently confronting Rooney with the cabman she made another statement. She said, 'I will tell you the truth. I met him as I was coming home from Aston, and I brought him here. He said he should stay the night with me. I went upstairs to make the bed and left him below. While I was upstairs I heard him come a few steps up and then fall back. I came downstairs and found him lying on the floor (pointing to the place). I lifted him up and he began to stagger. I said "You had better sit down on the sofa for a few minutes and then you will be better.' Perhaps I laid him on the sofa. I saw he was bleeding and got frightened, and went for a cab. I told the cabman to say that he brought him from the Aston-road, as I did not want people to know my business and get such a blowing up." Witness subsequently went upstairs and arrested Lester, on whom he found several coins, one apparently bloodstained. Lester had a recent cut on his hands, which he said was caused in picking up some broken glass. After describing the sitting room and furniture witness produced the broken leg of a sofa which he found in the room, a broken champagne bottle, and part of a pair of braces.

The following statements, which had been voluntarily made by the prisoners, were handed in.

Lester said:

"I asked a police-sergeant belonging to Kenion street Division for a match at the top of Wells street and Bridge street west about 11:30. He knows me and said, 'Good night, Joe.' I came along Bridge street and Wheeler street. I saw two plain-clothes policemen standing by a shop, and I went in and bought a pennyworth of apples. A girl served me. I came along Bridge street, Hospital street, and William street north, and met Rooney in William street north. She told me what had happened. I can account for my time from 10 to 12, and will tomorrow morning."

Rooney's statement was as follows:

"I met him (deceased) in Corporation-street. From there we went to the Court Restaurant, Corporation street, and from there to Redpath's, Bull street. Joseph Lester and William Reddall then came in. I did not speak to them. From there we had a cab to Fox's, and had a small bottle of champagne. We drove along Lancaster street to the corner of Bagot street. I went home with the gentleman. He sat on a chair by the door. I left him in the dark while I went upstairs and made the bed. He stumbled and fell. I came downstairs and left him there as he fell. I went into Bull street to find Joe Lester. I did not find him in Bull street. I got into a cab in Bull street, and was driven to Lancaster street, between Canal street and Bagot street. When I got home Joe was in the house; the gentleman was on the sofa. Joe said, 'I have wiped the fellow where the blood was.' I handed him three sovereigns I had taken from the gentleman in the house before I went upstairs. Joe said, I will get a cab and go down home. Don't say I have been here. 'I fetched a cab from Lancaster street and helped the cabman to get the gentleman in and went to the hospital with him. I met Joe Lester in William street north as I came from the hospital, and we came home together. When we got home I noticed the gentleman's overcoat hanging on the cellar door. Joe said, 'There's his overcoat. Why didn't you put it in the cab' I said, 'I didn't notice it before.' He said 'Slip it over your head, and take it to Jack Hardiker's.' Joe came with me. Hardiker was not in when we first went. He said he would leave it in his father's house. We then came home and remained in the house until we were locked up."

The medical evidence was to the effect that besides the fracture of the skull, which was the immediate cause of death, there were several bruises and abrasions about the head and body, and that the injuries must have been caused by violence. Some of them were such as might have been caused by the sofa leg. There was mammalian blood upon the halfcrown which had been produced by the police for examination.

The cabman Vernon said the champagne bottle was broken by Rooney in his presence iu order to give him a drink.

The Coroner having summed up, the jury returned a verdict of " Wilful murder " against both the prisoners.

 

Charged with Murder

At Warwick, before Mr. Justice Hawkins, THERESA ROONEY and JOSEPH LESTER, the younger, were charged with the wilful murder of Colonel George Newton Fendall on February 26 last and JOSEPH LESTER, the elder, and ANN LESTER, the parents of the younger Lester, were charged with being accessories after the fact to the murder. Mr. Etherington Smith and Mr. Colmore instructed by the Solicitor to the Treasury appeared for the prosecution, and Mr. Young and Mr. Cartland, instructed by Mr. Hebbert, of Birmingham for the defence. The deceased gentleman was in command of the regimental district at Shrewsbury, and on Saturday, February 26, he went to Birmingham with the intention of attending a performance of the Carl Rosa Opera Company there. Previously, to leaving Shrewsbury he drew a sum of 18 from the paymaster, 15 of which he left behind him, but as far as could be ascertained he was in possession of some 6 or 7 when he went to Birmingham.

He dined at the Great Western Hotel, and paid for his dinner with half a sovereign, receiving the change. He left the hotel shortly before 8 o'clock, being then perfectly sober. Nothing was known of his movements till shortly after 10, when he and the girl Rooney went together into Redpath's liquor, bar in Bull street, and were served with a glass of port each. Colonel Fendll was then still sober. He paid for the wine with another half sovereign, and as he was getting the change Rooney left the shop. She was absent for about two minutes, and then returned and joined Colonel Fendall. Almost immediately after her return, the prisoner Joseph Lester and a friend of his named Reddall entered the shop, but did not speak to her. Colonel Fendall ordered another glass of port; but did not drink it as it was accidentally upset. Colonel Fendall and Rooney soon left, and were followed out almost immediately by Lester and Reddall. It appeared that when Rooney left Redpath's she had gone to another public house, the Dolphin, 100 yards or so away, and had there spoken to Lester, who had consequently left the Dolphin and come to Redpath's.

On leaving Redpath's Colonel Fendall and Rooney were driven in a cab to Fox's wine vaults in Corporation street, a distance of some 250 yards. They both got out of the cab and went into Fox's, where a pint bottle of champagne was purchased, and paid for by Colonel Fendall with another half sovereign. He was then intoxicated. They took the bottle with them and got into the cab again, and were driven to Lancaster street, where they got out and walked up Bagot street to an entry leading to the house occupied by Rooney and the younger Lester. The cabman said that Colonel Fendall did not appear to be sober then. After some apparent hesitation, Rooney persuaded Colonel Fendall to go into the house, and no eye-witness could, of course, be called to say what took place there.

A Mrs. Jones, however, who occupies the adjoining house - the intervening wall being very thin - heard first singing, then the sound of angry voices talking and the moving of furniture, and then an exclamation of "Oh, my God." After that there was silence, and then she heard footsteps going down the entry. The next thing that was known was that shortly before 11 o'clock Rooney went to the Dolphin, without her hat and shawl and with blood on her fingers, and said to Reddall, "Have you seen Joe?" Reddall replied "No; what is the matter?" and she then said " I've pushed a man downstairs; he's very near dead, I can't make nothing on it." She wanted Reddall to go to the house wvith her, but he refused, and she left him. About half past 11 she hailed a cabman named Vernon in Lancaster-street, near Bagot street, and took him to her house. There Vernon found Colonel Fendall lying insensible and bleeding from the ear. He had on neither coat nor waistcoat nor braces, and his shirt was torn and bloody.

She told Vernon she did not know what was the matter with the gentleman, and said to him, " Don't you say where you've brought him from; say you found him in the Aston or the Lichfield road." She and Vernon got Colonel Fendall to the cab and took him to the General Hospital, where she repeated the story that she had picked him up in the road. She also gave a false address. After she had gone away the authorities at the hospital found Colonel Fendall's injuries to be serious, and the police took the matter up. About 4 a.m. two officers called at Rooney's house, and there found her and Lester. They told her, "A man has been taken from here this evening badly injured." She said, No one from here. I picked up a man in the street and took him to the hospital.' Vernon, the cabman, was sent for and confronted with her, and then she said, " I'll tell you the truth. He fell down the stairs."

The house was searched, but had evidently been tidied up before the police came. Colonel Fendall's overcoat and braces were missing, and in the ashes under the grate was found the brass part of a pair of argosy braces such as he had been wearing. Rooney and Lester were arrested. It was subsequently ascertained that earlier in the night, about 1 30 a.m., she and Lester had gone together to the house of a friend of theirs named Hardiker at Hockley, some mile and a half away. Rooney had a dark overcoat over her head and gave it to Hardiker with two sovereigns, saying "Here, take care of this; it's Joe's coat." Lester stood by and said nothing.

There was nothing to show where Lester had been between, the time when he left Redpath's just after Rooney and the time when he was with her at Eardiker's, except that he had told Reddall he was going home and had gone in that direction when he left him. When arrested he said he had not come home till close on 12.

Colonel Fendall died at 7 a.m. on the morning of Sunday, the 27th, having been insensible from the time he was taken into the hospital. The case against the elder prisoners, as accessories after the fact, was that they two days afterwards got from Hardiker the money and coat, and made away with them, so that they could not be traced.

The Court adjourned before the case was finished.

 

Convicted of manslaughter

'THERESA ROONEY and JOSEPH LESTER, the younger, convicted on Thursday of the manslaughter of Colonel Fendall, Commanding the Shropshire Light Infantry, and JOSEPH LESTER, the elder, and ANN LESTER, parents of the younger, Lester, found guilty of being accessories after the fact were brought up yesterday morning at Warwick Assizes before Mr.Justice Hawkins for sentence. His Lordship said he had, after the verdict returned the previous night, with which he then expressed dissatisfaction, considered seriously whether he should act upon the jury's finding. He thought, however, it would be more constitutional to do so. The jury had acquitted Rooney and Lester of murder and also of assaulting and robbing Colonel Fendall with violence, and as they did not believe that he was wilfully pushed downstairs it was difficult to understand on what they based their verdict. Perhaps they thought there was some roughness or brutality used to the Colonel while in the house without any criminal intention. Had he thought that there was he should have passed severe sentence.

As they had been in gaol some considerable time he should only sentence Rooney and Lester, the younger, each to three months' imprisonment, and the elder Lesters each to one week. The result would be that the two latter would be immediately discharged.

Sources

11861 Oct-Nov-Dec Birmingham 6d 184.