It seems that rarely a week passes in London at the moment without there being a report of a stabbing or shooting involving young people. Gangs, drugs, turf wars and postcode territorial disputes are often blamed and carrying a knife for ‘self-defence’ seems to be endemic.
As with many things in history, especially it seems the history of crime, none of this is very new. In September 1893 the newspapers carried several stories of knife related incidents prosecuted at the capital’s Police Courts.
At Greenwich Alfred Lewis (a 43 year old coach maker from Deptford) was charged with ‘maliciously cutting and wounding’ James Good. Both men fought and both ended up in the Miller Hospital. The fight had happened at a coffee house in Watergate Street and a policeman had been fetched by a distressed onlooker.
Charles Townsend had picked up e bloody knife Lewis had used on Good and handed it over to PC James (512R). The copper went to the café and found Lewis being restrained by two men. The prisoner asked, “is he dead?” and then added, “I meant doing for him. I should like to see him in e mortuary to-night”.
A crowd had gathered outside the coffee house, upwards of a 100 people who seemingly wanted to deliver their own ‘justice’ to Lewis. The policeman had great difficulty in getting Lewis away from those that wanted to Lynch him.
Back at he police station the prisoner told the desk sergeant he had acted in self defence. It seems an unlikely plea, especially given what he had said at the scene. Good was badly hurt:he had four stab wounds in his chest, and one on his cheek. Lewis had a fractured rib where Good had tried to resit him.
The magistrate heard from a doctor that the victim’s wounds were very serious and he was unable to attend court. Lewis was remanded in custody to await Good’s return to some degree of health.
[from Daily News, Thursday, September 21, 1893]