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SWINDLED TO DEATH., Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2206, 22 August 1889
SWINDLED TO DEATH.
The London papers give tho following details respecting the sulolde of WV H. Lewis, late of Otago, . brlely reported In our telegraphic news yesterday :—''■• " Can we not instruct the publio prosecutor In this matter ?" asked a live juror at, the Ci'y Mortuary on July sin a rotaa tremulous with Indignation. This oftrepeated question waa this time suggested by the recital of one of the moat painful stories ever heard even m that sepulchral place, the coroner's court at the City Mortuary. On May 15 we ("Financial News ") gave a brief history of tt_a Gtaat Britain Co-operative and Industrial Printing and Pabllshlng Company, Limited —a company eonoelved m sin and born In Iniquity. It has now orowned Its career with a tragedy. The subatanoe of oar story was th« Mr Bison James Humphreys, the prime mover In the foundation of the company, had by fraudulent representations become the possessor of £419 belonging to three individuals, who had been lnduoed by the promise of remuhera'iva situations to deposit that money with Mr Humphreys and his confederates. One of these victims was a Mr William Barry Lewis, who figured In our narrative as Mr " Monk." Mr Lewis was victimised to tbe aum of £158, the greater part of It deposited with Mr Humphreys and tho remainder a loan made to the same lndl^ vidual. This money practically represented the whole of bis means. Mr Lawls was a simple minded man of about 40, who had made a little money In New Zealand* When business beoame stagnant m the colony he came home, with his wife and and his little savings, and looked round for some occupation, Towards the oloae of January he saw this advertisement In the " Dally Telegraph " ;— <• Clerk and assistant seoretary required. Must Invest -.100 to £200. Salary, £2 10 j per week, prograsslve."— Address O. 0," &.. He replied, and was asked to call on "Frederick and Co," at 164 Qaeen Viototlastre.t. Tbere he met Mr Bison James Humphreys and there the first aot In the tragedy was played, 14 * 9 needless to rehearse each step In the deception praotised by Humphreys on pocr Lewis, The victim was appointed assistant secretary to the "Great Britain Co-operative and Industrial Printing and Pablishlng Company" at a salary of £2 10s a week, and was asked to deposit £150 as security for large sum? of money which he was told would be under hist oharge. All the documents In oonneo.'.Oß with these transactions were signed by Bison James Humphreys, and by him alone. Falsehood after falsehood waa told by Humphreys, somp_Vin.es about the company, sometimes c; oout0 out Its pretended officials, occasionally about property alleged to belong to Humphreys, and now and then ibout his family affairs. Mr Lewis, .received two or three weeks salary, | and then the supplies stopped. One Saturday Humphreys borrowed £10 froip j Mr Lawls, and of that loan only £2 was j returned. Poor Lewis thus lost £168, 1 whioh represented his whole available funds and got no salary. From April until his death he divided his tlma between trying to obtain employment, m tbo city — no easy teak for a man of 40 — and attempting to obtain back some of the money of whioh be had been defrauded Both efforts were vain. If he oalled at the office of the pretended printing oomptny, be wm met with the f e^m ft «JJ
on Mr Humphreys at hia house m Fulbam and there In torn he was referred back to the offioe. To keep a roof over his head, and to keep hia wife and himself from starvation, Lewis parted with his furniture, till latterly he had to sleep on on the floor. He bad no friends In (hia country ; but the kindness of some neighbours helped to keep the wolf a little distance from the door. But at last swindled out of hia meagre means, pushed from pillar to post by tbe authors of hia mlefcrtuoes, starving and In despair, poor Lewis rhot hlmaoif throogh tno head. Tho coroner's jury whioh Invo.t'gated the clroumatacoea under which Lewis took his life has p'acod the responsibility In tho right spot. The verdict : • That tbe deceased took his life during a fit of temporary Insanity, and that he was driven to this aot by the conduct of Bison James Humphreys. And the jury would add a rider that the public prosecutor be oalled on to take aotloo In the case." This verdict ia possibly a little Irregular, but never was there one more just. The tone of the exculpatory letters whioh Humphreys wrote to this journal and his oonduot at tbe Inquest yesterday were sufficient to ahow tbe stamp of the man. He Is one of those sordid adventurers who form one of the greatest peats of the city of London, and, sad as It Is, Mr Lewis' death may not be unavailing to others. We have times without number expoied tho doings of men of the same type is Humphreys, who ruin the pooreat class of Investors and wreck their households. We have begged the publio prosecutor to oome to the aid of these uphappy tlctlms. While In one Integral part of the United Kingdom the Crown finds Its highest duty to protect Its ■nbjeots from fraud, In England the poor man seeks redress In vatn. Unless he can prosecute at his own expense the awlndlera go free. Possibly Lewis' death may stir the publio proseoutor and the Government to put an end to such Intolerable soandali. A oonitable produced at tbe ir quest doouments found on the body of the poor fellow. The firit was a memorandum of tbe purohase of a revolver and cartridges, "to be used through that Immaculate liar, thief, and drunkard, Elion J»m**s Humphreys." The next doonment was as f Hows :— " I am Impelled to this aot simply beeaute I have been praotfcjlly ruined by Bison James Humphreys, of 11 Bar day road, Fulbam, who baa swindled me out of a large sum, and left my fu y ore, so far •a I oan see, a blank and bopelen one. The circumstances of his action are partially dlaoloaed m the * Flnanoial 3Sews ' of May 15 m an artiole headed •* Finance that looks like a swindle,' Thia •only deats partially with It. I have found bint to be tbe most unprincipled sooundrel •nd unmitigated liar I ever met, a man whose previous reoord will not bear scrutiny, aa this fa only one of tbe frauds m which he has been engaged— witness the Beaoonsfield Atberw.m, eto. I trust the others he has defrauded will stop hia career; Documents .nbatantlatlcg tbe above are In the possession of Soelleon jatd Greenup, aolicitora, George street, Mansion House, B.C. Another month of tfc. anxiety and worry I have had during the past three months wonld drive me toad, so I haaten to get away from it, 1 hope some one will break this gently to my poor wife ; sbe knows bow troubled I have been, but not that I contemplated Ibta act. I desire that my body may go to one of the medioal lohoola. It may be of me there. W. H. Lewis
SWINDLED TO DEATH., Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2206, 22 August 1889
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