Suffragist outrage

Extracts from The Times, 8 March 1913 (HO 144/1205/221873)





At the Central Criminal Court yesterday, before Mr. Justice Bankes, Olive Wharry, otherwise known as Joyce Locke, 23, student, on bail was indicted [charged] for setting fire to the refreshment pavilion at Kew Gardens. She was found Guilty and sentenced to pay the costs of the prosecution, to be imprisoned for 18th months in the second division, and to find two sureties in £100 each to be of good behaviour for two years.

The defendant pleaded “Not guilty”.

Mr. Bodkin and Mr. Travers Humphreys prosecuted for the Director of Public Prosecutions: Mr Langdon K.C., and Mr. R.D. Muir defended.

A number of women were present in Court during the hearing of the case, orders having been given by Mr. Justice Bankes that women should be admitted.

Mr. Bodkin, in opening the case, said that the indictment charged the defendant with setting fire to the refreshment pavilion at Kew Gardens on the early morning of February 20. The whole building and contents were destroyed, and upon the two ladies who held the refreshment contract from the Crown a heavy pecuniary [financial] loss had been thrown by this act which the prosecution said was clearly the act of the defendant. The building which was estimated to be worth £900 was insured for £500. At about a quarter past 3 on the morning of February 20 an employee of Kew Gardens noticed a light in the refreshment pavilion, and saw two forms in the darkness. He gave the alarm and also got out the hose and tried to extinguish the fire. Two policemen named Relf and Hill, noticing a reflection of fire in the sky, ran towards the Gardens and saw the defendant and another woman running away. The officers pursued the women, each of whom threw away bag or portmanteau [square bag]. Police-constable Hill ran after the other woman while Relf caught the defendant. The officer told her he should have to take her to the police station and she rejoined, “Don’t hold me; I will go quietly”. One of the portmanteaus contained a saw, hammer, and bundle of tow [rope] smelling of tar. On the way to the station the defendant said, “I wonder what the men on duty in the Gardens were doing that they did not see it done”. At the police station the other woman gave the name of Lilian Lenton, but she was not before the jury as she was too ill to appear before the justices on remand day [date she was called back for trial], and they were not now concerned with her. The defendant gave the name of Joyce Locke, but subsequently when applying for bail she gave her true name of Olive Wharry. They were charged with the offence of setting fire to the building and the defendant said “Yes, that is right”



Continuing her statement, the defendant [Olive Wharry] said it was not Mrs Pankhurst who incited [called them to commit these attacks], it was the Cabinet Ministers. She was very sorry that the two ladies had sustained loss, as she had no grudge against them. At the time she believed that the Pavilion was the property of the Crown. She wanted to make the two ladies understand that they were at war, and that in war even non-combatants [people who were not fighting] had to suffer. They were very careful to find out that nobody was in the place. Morally she was not guilty. She did not deserve to be punished, and she should not submit to punishment. She would go on “hunger strike”.

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