James SARGINSON says:-
I am a locksmith carrying on business at 86 and 88 Dale Street. On Monday the 26th January I received the rim latch, produced, from Ch.Inspr.Roberts. I have examined it and found it very dirty and rusty. The springs were missing from two wards and were not to be found in the lock, they had been broken off for some considerable time. The lock was full of dirt which had not apparently been disturbed for years, and this was the cause of the stiffness in working. There had been no recent damage to the lock. The pin hole was worn big, the key is worn and the part of the lock which operates the latch, and which is operated by the key was also worn and this allowed the latch to slip back to a normal position after the key had been turned just over half way round. Owing to the dirty state of the lock the wards were in a neutral position.
On Monday the 16th February I received the back kitchen door lock (produced) from Inspr.Gold. I examined it and found it very rusty. The locking bolt was in good working order but stiff for want of oil.
The spring bolt was very stiff to work owing to the crank which operates the spring bolt binding on the case of the lock. A loose spring was inside the lock, probably put there sometime (not recently) for the purpose of helping the fixed spring to shoot back the spring bolt. When the knob was turned with difficulty the spring bolt remained inside the lock and the knob returned to its normal position. A knock was necessary to return the spring bolt to its normal position.
JAMES SARGINSON SWORN. EXAMINED BY MR WALSH.
1685. Is your name James Sargent? It is.
1686. You are a locksmith carrying on business at 86 and 88 Dale Street, Liverpool? Yes.
1687. And you live at 10 Larkfield Road, Aigburth? Yes.
1688. On the 26th January, were you handed by Chief Inspector Roberts that lock? (Indicating). Yes.
1689. Did you examine it? Yes.
1690. What did you find? I found that it was dirty and rusty. I took the back off the lock, and on examining the wards, I noticed that the little springs which should have pressed the wards down were missing. I also noticed that the wards were stuck in a neutral position: that is, they had been lifted at some time and remained in that position.
1691. What do the wards do? They had security to the lock. If the wards are not lifted up to a certain height, you cannot open the lock.
1692. What kind of lock it is? It is a two-lever night latch.
1693. Can you tell whether that has been damaged recently, or has it been like that for a long time, or what? In my opinion, it has been in that condition for a long time. I also noticed that the pinhole at the back of the lock is worn, that the part which is operated by the key is also worn, and that when you insert the key into the lock and turn it instead of stopping just over halfway it goes a complete revolution and that allows the latch to slip back again.
1694. Have you the key there? Yes, the key is here.
1695. Just show the jury? When you put the key in and turn it, it goes right round: this is due to the wear of the lock.
1696. And not to any recent damage, or anything like that? In my opinion, there is no evidence or recent damage at all.
1697. It has been like that for some time? Yes.
1698. For anyone who knew that lock was like that it would be perfectly easy to open the front door? Yes.
1699. MR JUSTICE WRIGHT: Because he would stop at the proper, time and hold it? Yes. Anybody familiar with it would hold it like that, but a stranger who did not know it would turn the key right round.
1700. And he would have to start afresh? Yes.
1701. MR WALSH: On the 16th November [WRONG DATE], did Inspector Gold hand you another lock? Yes, he did.
1702. That is Exhibit 22. Did you examine it? I did.
1703. What did you find? I found that the locking bolt was rusty, but in good working order. It was stiff for want of oil.
MR JUSTICE WRIGHT: Where was Exhibit 22 from?
MR WALSH: Detective Inspector Gold handed it to the witness, my Lord.
MR JUSTICE WRIGHT: What part of the house?
MR WALSH: I beg your pardon, my Lord – the back door.
THE WITNESS: It would be from the back kitchen door, my Lord.
1704. MR WALSH: You say the locking bolt was rusty? Yes, but it was in good working order; and then the spring bolt, the crank which actuates the spring bolt, was grinding on the base of the lock, so that when you turned the lock the spring bolt remained in. It required pressure to open it.
1705. Apart from being rusty there was nothing wrong with it? Nothing else wrong. I also found a spring inserted in the lock, and that had evidently been put in at some time to assist the original spring, to force back the spring.
1706. MR JUSTICE WRIGHT: Was the condition in which you saw it of long standing or only recent? It was long standing, my Lord.
CROSS-EXAMINED BY MR ROLAND OLIVER.
1707. Is there any means of securing that latch on the inside when it is open? The night latch?
1708. On the back door? Only by locking the locking bolt.
1709. What happens? You insert the key and turn it and it shoots out the locking bolt, and it must be opened again either from inside or outside by the key.
1710. But you cannot secure that latch in any way? No.
1711. Is this the position with regard to that; it is exceedingly stiff? A portion of it is stiff.
1712. Is it very stiff? It is erratic in its operation and sometimes goes stiffer than at others? It has been like that for some considerable time.
1713. I am sure of it. I want to get this from you: is it in a condition in which it would open sometimes easier than others? Not always, because the crank is grinding against the back of the lock.
1714. It would be always the same every time you opened it? Yes, in my opinion it would.
1715. There are cases, are there not, where latches will open easily and sometimes with great difficulty: sometimes they feel stiff and sometimes they do not? That would be in most cases due to rust.
1716. That is rusty, is it not? Yes, it is rusty.
1717. The fact that a latch would sometimes open easily and sometimes stick is a possibility with regard to a lock? In this lock, no, because the crank which operates the spring bolt is grinding against the case of the lock. To make that work freely it would have be eased off by a file.
1718. I thought you said it depended up on whether it was rusty or not whether it worked freely or stuck? Not with this particular lock. I have only examined this lock.
1719. Does it sometimes depend upon what the thing is which it fits into? Into the strike of the lock, the part that fits on to the door?
1720. Yes, that is the strike? Yes.
1721. Does it depend sometimes on the condition there? Yes. I had one on my own shop door like that and I had to lift the door to turn the key.
1722. Do you know what the position of this door was? No.
1723. With regard to the possible grinding effect of rust or anything else on the strike, that might have the effect of making it sometimes difficult and sometimes easy? I do not think so in this case.
1724. Why? Because the stiffness is due to the internal workings of this lock.
1725. Leave them out and say to that extent it is always stiff? Yes.
1726. Now will you add to that the possibility that there may be something wrong with the fit in the strike? I cannot say that, because I have not seen it.
1727. That is a thing which will produce difficulty sometimes. I think you have said it. I am trying to find out, as you know, about these things. I thought you told me that sometimes the fitting of the latch into the strike is a thing which may produce stiffness by the latch grinding upon the strike? That is possible.
1728. Is not that a thing which is erratic sometimes and its operation stiffer than at others? Yes, that may be, but as regards this lock I cannot say anything about it. I have not been on the premises.
1729. MR JUSTICE WRIGHT: All that is suggested to you is that there might be sometimes some extra stiffness because of the adjustment of the strike? Yes.
1730. You say it must always be stiff, and you cannot say whether sometimes there was a little extra stiffness? I could not say because I have not seen it.
RE-EXAMINED BY MR HEMMERDE.
1731. So far as that particular lock is concerned, would there or would not there be difficulty with a person who is used to it? No, because they would know it required a little extra pressure and they would use that extra pressure.
Evidence disputed by charwoman Sarah Draper who attended the home once a week for a period of 9 months:
1) “As far as I know there was nothing the matter with (the) lock on the front door of 29 Wolverton Street.” (Note: Does not say whether she has personally attempted to lock/unlock it)
2) “The catch on the back kitchen door was defective. When the knob was turned either from the inside or the outside, it would not bring the bolt back from the lock socket. This happened pretty regularly and on many occasions I have had to ask Mrs Wallace to open the door for me and she used to do it by gripping the spindle close to the door. There did not seem to be any spring in the lock.”
William Herbert Wallace:
1) “I tried my key in the front door again [front door second visit] and found the lock did not work properly. The key would turn in it, but seemed to unturn without unlocking the door.”
2) “I took my latch key from my pocket, and tried to open the door [front door first visit], and found the latch would not turn. I knocked at the door gently and waited a moment or two, and hearing no movement inside walked round to the back door. I found the back (yard door) latched but not bolted. I entered the yard, walked up to the back kitchen door [back door first visit], and tried it. I could not get it to open. I then again went to the front door [front door second visit] and again tried it with my key. This time the latch worked, but the door would not open, and on using some pressure I decided that the door must be bolted. I then began to be alarmed.”
3) “I went to back door of the house [back door first visit] and I was unable to get in, I do not know if the door was bolted or not, it sticks sometimes, but I think the door was bolted, but I am not sure.“