Trial Notes

[These are the official Bury trial notes. Lord Young is the judge who oversaw the trial.  —Steve Earp]

Case of William Henry Bury tried at Dundee on 28th March 1889 for murder

Copy Notes of evidence taken at the trial by Lord Young

Margaret Corney, 3 Stanley Road, High Street, Stratford-le-Bow, London E.  Aged thirty seven.  I am married.  Ellen Elliot was my sister. She was thirty three years of age on 24th October last.  She had been in service before her marriage.  About seven years ago an Aunt of ours died and left her £300.  She (my sister) had it invested in Shares before her marriage.  She kept and managed it herself.  I identify the Prisoner as Ellen’s husband.  They were married on Easter Monday 2nd (2nd April) last.  They were married at Bromley Church, London.  He was a saw dust and sand hawker.  He hired a horse and van.  After marriage he and his wife lived in Bow, London—in Campbell Road.  In August they went to Wolverhampton.  They returned to London in about a fortnight and lived in apartments 3 Spanby Road Bow.  Ellen told me she gave the Prisoner money at different times,—that she bought a horse and van for him.  She told me he pressed her for the money.  I used to visit them.  They seemed comfortable and happy.  When we were alone she told me they were very unhappy—that he was very unkind to her.  She was taken very ill in August and the Prisoner came to me on a Wednesday morning about six o’clock and said she wanted to see me.  I went and found her in bed, very ill from his ill treatment of her on the Monday before.  We were alone.  She told me he had knocked her on the nose and it bled.  I saw the blood in the passage where she said it happened.  She said he struck her on the mouth also.  It was I saw much swollen and disfigured.  Prisoner was not present.  The same day I saw the Prisoner and said to him—“don’t ill use the poor girl.”  I told him what I had heard, but did not say she told me.  He denied it.  When he came to me in the morning he said his wife was very ill, but did not say the cause.  In October last I went to see my sister, and saw her alone.  She said Prisoner had on several occasions gone to bed with a knife under the pillow, sleeping in same bed with her.  She said she discovered it when making the bed in the morning—a pocket knife—She said she had asked him why he put it there and that he denied it.  She said on more than one occasion that he had struck her.  Shortly before Christmas last she came to see me.  She brought a basket with her jewellery in it.  She said she was obliged to bring it as Prisoner was drinking and she was afraid he would break the drawer open and take it to raise money.  She did not leave it with me.  She said he had the previous night asked her for money to go to a smoking concert—that she refused and that he went behind her and took her purse out of her pocket.  She had several times before told me he took money out of her pocket when she refused to give it.  She old me he was very unkind to her.  I advised her to leave him and go before a Magistrate and state her case against him.  She said she would.  She only waited for him to mark her again.  She said he was always drinking and would let some one else do his work while he staid in the public house.  She told me he had got all her money but a very few pounds.  On New Year’s day between three and four afternoon she and Prisoner came to my house to see me.  She had got my New Year’s Day card.  They seemed very friendly.  They remained an hour or an hour and half.  I next saw her on Friday 18th January.  She and the Prisoner called at my house then and told me they were going to Dundee.  Prisoner began by telling me he had signed an Agreement with a Jute firm in Dundee for seven years, for £3 a week.  That he was to get £2, and his wife £1 if she liked the work.  Shown Agreement (Label 1).  It is signed by Prisoner.  My Sister’s name is also written on it, but it is not her writing.  She could not write much.  Not so well as that.  He said he was to begin work at Dundee on the following Monday.  I asked how he came to get employment in Dundee, and he said—“by enquiry.”  He had never named Dundee before.  He said he was to leave next morning by the steamer Cambria from the Dundee dock, and that his wife was going with him.  I told her that I should not have gone.  On the Saturday morning I saw them both on board the Cambria.  I saw my sister alone in the cabin.  I said to her why did he not go by himself? And she said she had asked him to go alone first and he had answered what could he do without her.  I thought it a strange thing they were doing, and tried to persuade her not to go.  I asked her if she was sure he had got a situation in Dundee and she said only by what he said—unless he was telling her falsehoods.  I thought she would rather not have gone.  I told her I should never see her again.  I said so because seven years is a long time and she was a delicate girl.  Shewn Box (Label 2)—I saw it put on board among their luggage.  Shewn letter (2 Inventory)—it has Dundee post mark of 21st January 1889.  It bears to be from my sister to me, but is not in her writing—it is in Prisoner’s hand, and is dated from Union Street Dundee.  My Sister was wearing in the Cambria—a brown dress-figured black velvet jacket and above it a small woolen tucker.  Shewn part of a tucker—Inventory 5/2—It is part of the tucker she was wearing.  It is partly burned.  I was shewn it by the police in Dundee.  I never saw my Sister alive again.  I came to Dundee to identify the body.  I went with Lieut. Lamb to Mortuary on 15th February and identified the body.  Shewn Label 8—Ulster.  It is my Sister’s.  My Sister was not left handed.

At times Prisoner was bad-tempered—at others not.  He was always pleasant to me.  She (his wife) told me he was violent.  She said he was cunning and concealed his temper before people.  After his marriage I often saw him the worse of drink.  My sister told me he was scarcely ever sober.

Cross examined.  My Sister was out of service four years before her marriage.  She lived at Oldford London East end in a room in a house.  She was a needle woman and made waterproof cloaks and then she went to a Jute factory in London (East end).  About two years ago she went to live with a woman Elizabeth Haynes (List of Witnesses No. 4).  She had a room in Haynes’ house.  I know James Martin (List No. 3).  My sister used to visit him.  A woman Kate Spooner lived with him.  They keep a brothel.  I have been in it.  It was there the Prisoner first met my sister.  I have seen him twice in her company there before their marriage—only times I saw them together.  After marriage they took the ground floor of a house in East Spanby road and furnished it with my Sister’s money.  I don’t know Quicket Street.  I never heard the name.  It was two or three weeks after her marriage that I first saw my sister—when she and her husband came to see me.  I was not present at the marriage.  My Sister’s money was in Union Bank shares.  There were two ponies bought with my Sister’s money.  I sometimes saw her in her house—sometimes often and sometimes seldom—not for a month or two at a time.  I saw her oftener in my house than her own.  She took the basket with jewellery home with her again.  Before January she told me that he was always speaking of going away—that he would like to go abroad.  My sister was always delicate and had not much schooling.  She wrote ill, and never when she could help it.  The tucker round her neck was her own knitting.  She had several.

Re-examined by Advocate-Depute.  Shewn Articles.  Inventory 6.  These were all my Sister’s,—most of them long before her marriage.

By the Court—I never knew Prisoner or saw him before I met him in Spooner’s (Martin’s) house with my Sister.  The first time was about a month before marriage and the second time about a fortnight after the first.  My sister introduced him to me.  She said she was going to get married to him.  This introduction took place in my Sister’s room in Haynes’ house—only a few days before the marriage.  When I saw them in Spooners I did not know they were corresponding.  She did the general work of the house and it was a bad house, and she knew it.  She might have been six months there.  It was known to the people in Spooners that she had money, and they talked about it.  It was said she had £250.  She herself made no secret of it.  I never knew anything of Prisoner before and never heard my Sister say anything.  I live with my husband—no family.  He is a railway labourer.  He earns £1 a week.  I don’t work.  Prisoner told me on the Saturday he sailed for Dundee that if he did well there he would write for me and my husband.

James Martin, general dealer, 80 Quickett Street, Bromley-by-Bow, London.  Aged thirty nine.  I first came to know Prisoner two years ago.  He came into my employment in October 1887 as a hawker of sawdust.  He hired a horse cart and stable from me at 16/ a week; and I supplied sawdust to him at a price he was to pay me.  Any profit was to be his—Ellen Elliot entered my service two years ago.  Prisoner made her acquaintance and for a time lived in my house.  He slept in the stable except when I was from home when he slept in the house.  Ellen Elliot left my service about the middle of March last and she was married to Prisoner in beginning of April.  Prisoner and I parted in March because he brought in no money.

I have seen Prisoner assault his wife on two or three occasions.  The first time on Wednesday after marriage, he punched her face in my house.  She was going to pay me the money he owed (£13—17/) on which I was to take him back.  He was tipsy and struck her on face.

The second occasion was outside a public house in Whitechapel in June.  He gave her a blow on the mouth and she would have fallen had I not caught her.  He wanted money to drink and she would not give it.  He was drunk.

The third time was in end of December (28th) in Campbell Road.  He had not been home for two nights.  She told me—It was from half past five to six o’clock in the morning.  I was in a public house and—Prisoner’s wife came in looking for her husband.  I then saw him on the Street making for the public house.  He looked in at the door and saw his wife and asked “what are you doing here”—and he hit her two or three times on the face and she fell.  He had been drinking, but was getting better.  I have at other times seen her with bruises on face which she said he gave her.  The Prisoner has lived a very drunken life since his marriage.  A great deal worse than when he first came to me.  He always got drunk when he had money.  She told me that whenever she gave him money to buy dust he got drunk with it.

Cross-examined—On the third occasion I have mentioned, the Prisoner’s wife and I were having drink together in public house.  His wife was about two years continuously in my service.  She did not live always in my house when in my service.  She would go home occasionally of a night to sleep.  She had a room first in Bromley and afterwards in Haynes’ house (No. 4).  For a time five months before marriage Prisoner slept in my kitchen even when I was at home.

By the Court—It was known that Ellen Elliot had money.  It was once supposed that she had £600.  It was spoken of.  The Prisoner knew of it after he had been working with me a little.  When he was drunk he was always talking about what he would do if he got money.  That he would take my business away and start for himself.  I have often heard Ellen speak of her money.  I always understood she had £600.  I asked her why she did not draw it out and buy a machine and start in business.  She said she would not draw it till she got married.  She and Prisoner were bitter against each other—Always in front of me they were.

A woman Spooner lived with me.  She is dead.

Elizabeth Haynes, 3 Swaton Road, Campbell Road, Bow, London.  Aged fifty.  Married.  Husband employed in a colour work.  I knew Ellen Elliot.  I remember Prisoner’s marriage to her.  I was present.  She had a room in my house for twelve months before her marriage, and lodged there regularly for one month.  On first Saturday after marriage Prisoner and his wife were in my house.  He was not sober.  She told me he wanted money and she would not give it.  They were living in my house.  About eleven at night I heard her cry out in bed room.  I went up and into their room.  She was in bed.  He was also.  He was kneeling on top of her with a table knife in his right hand.  She was continuing to cry out, and said he was going to kill her.  He came off the bed when I went in.  I said I would send for the police.  He asked me not and said he would not do it again.  I took the knife from him and put it down.  She asked me to take away the key of the room so that he could not lock her in, and do something to her in the night.  She seemed very frightened.  I told her if she cried out I would come up to her.  Prisoner heard all she said.  He was drunk but not very.  He knew what he was doing.  In the morning she told me it was all about money.  That he was calling for it and she would not give it, and that was how he was threatening her with the knife.  It was a few minutes after the crying began that I went up.  I had not gone to bed.  They were both undressed.  Lamp burning in room.  I knew she had money.  She told me.  He was always on about it—he wanted her to sell her shares so that he should have the money.  They remained in my house for three weeks.  I refused to keep them longer owing to his ill conduct and language.  He used to push her and knock her about.  It was always about money.  I never saw him sober.

C.H.R. Wollaston, 2 Princes Street, London, EC.  I have seen Ellen Elliot.  I am Secretary, Union Bank, London.  Elliot had six shares of the Bank.  They came to her through an Aunt in 1881.  Actual price in 1888 was £40 per share.  On 28th April 1888 she came to the Bank and told me she had got married and asked me to sell a share.  I got it sold and she received £39—7/6 after paying charges.  There was a man with her—not unlike Prisoner, but I cannot identify him.  On 7th June the remaining five shares were sold by her order.  After charges the free price was £194—7/.  She got it on 8th June.  The same man was with her.

William Smith, builder, 3 Spanby Road Bromley-by-Bow, London.  Aged twenty seven.  In January I was living in Spanby Road.  I knew Prisoner and his wife.  In January last Prisoner came and asked me to sort a packing box for him.  He said he was going with his wife to Adelaide.  He brought the box and I sorted it for him.  Identifies box (Label 2).  I asked him what he wanted with such a big box, and he said he had more things to put in it at the dock.  There were some bed sheets and waste paper in it, but it was almost empty.  I asked him what dock he was leaving from.  He said “I will be back in the evening and perhaps let you know.  I don’t want everybody to know what dock I am leaving from.”  This was on the day before he sailed.  The box was removed from my place by some one sent by man—same afternoon.  Prisoner did not return.

Jane Guild, 58 Watson Street, Dundee.  Aged twenty seven.  Stewardess in Cambria from London to Dundee—leaving London Saturday (19th January) morning.  Prisoner and woman, his wife were passengers—2nd cabin.  We reached Dundee on Sunday night.  Passengers generally landed on arrival.  Prisoner and his wife landed on Monday morning.  Wife told me that husband had got a situation in Dundee.  Lieutenant Lamb took me to mortuary in February and I identified body.

Cross-examined.  There were four ladies in 2nd cabin.

David R. Malcolm, Merchant Netherlaw, Albany Terrace, Dundee.  Aged thirty nine.  Partner of Malcolm Ogilvy + Co.  I never saw Prisoner before.  Shewn Agreement produced.  It is a forgery if Malcolm Ogilvy + Co meant for us.  There is no other firm of same name.  We never advertise in London papers.  Only two ways occur to me in which Prisoner may have heard name of our firm.  The one is that—

By the Court.  In middle of January we bought some new works in Dundee and the fact was announced in some of the London papers and the Prisoner may have got our name in that way.  The other is that there is a jute work in the east end of London and workmen go there from Dundee.

Margaret Robertson, 43 Union Street Dundee.  Aged twenty six.  I live with my mother at 22 Union Street Dundee.  Prisoner and his wife came to lodge on Monday 21st January.  They remained with us till following Tuesday week (29th January).  Box No. 2 part of their luggage.  Prisoner and two men took it away.  They said they were going to Princes Street with it.  When with us Prisoner was very quiet but several times worse of liquor.

Cross-examined.  On the Tuesday—the day after he came—I heard Prisoner tell my Mother that he had come to Dundee to look after a situation.  His wife was present.  (I saw and identified her dead body in the mortuary)  She said he had a horse and cart in London.  They seemed very affectionate.  With the exception of twice they always went out together.  One evening they came home both worse of drink.  He said he had come by steamer from London and that his name was Bury.

Re-examined.  Identifies knife (Label 3) as one Prisoner had in our house.  Also Ulster (Label 8).

James Lynn, Clerk, 11 Dudhope Road, Dundee.  Aged thirty.  In employment of House Agents.  On Monday 28th January, Prisoner called to enquire for houses of two rooms.  He took the house 113 Princes Street.  A sunk flat of two rooms.  He took possession next day.

Cross-examined.  He came twice about it.  The second time he wanted key to let his wife see it.

By Court.  He took it as weekly tenant at rent of 2/6 a week.

Marjory Smith, Aged fifty.  Husband a broker 113 Princes Street.  My house flat is above Prisoner’s on other side.  He first came to his own rooms on Monday and came there to reside on Tuesday.  The box (2) was brought by men on Tuesday.  He bought a grate and some little things—bed pillows from me.  I saw him occasionally going about.  He brought his wife to my shop with him.  He was in my shop daily buying trifles.  I asked her when alone one day—“whatever induced you to come here”? and she answered “I will tell you—he goes out at night and stops with his palls and I thought he would be better to come here.”  I went down to their house on Saturday night between seven and eight.  They were at tea.  He did not look like sober.  He was not very civil.  She was perfectly sober.

Cross-examined—They seemed friendly together.

Mary Lee, 113 Princes Street, Dundee.  Aged sixty or so.  Lived at 113 Princes Street.  Prisoner and his wife came to live there on a Tuesday.  During the first week he did not lock the door when he went out.  In the second he did.

Blind of back window kept up first week and down second—till he got into hands of police.  Broken pane in that window.  It looks into back green.  Prisoner wore slippers first week.  In second week he had shoes or boots on when I first saw him on Wednesday of that week.

Cross-examined.  My room is on ground floor to the back with partition wall between it and the Prisoner’s back room.  Cannot hear through it what is said in Prisoner’s room, or even talking at all unless the doors are open.  Could not hear poking fire.

Janet Martin, provision merchant, 125 Princes Street, Dundee.  Aged fifty.  Prisoner living at 113 Princes Street.  He was in my shop several times.  His wife once.  On Monday 4th February he came to shop between twelve and one and asked if I would give him a bit of cord.  I gave him that now shown (Label 6) and said “If that does not suit—I’ll give you a bit more.”  He unloosed it and said it would do nicely and took it away.  William Mathers saw him get it.

By the Court.  Cord was knotted (had knots in it) like that shewn, but I did not count the knots.

William Mathers, potato salesman, 51 Lochee Road, Dundee.  I was present in Mrs. Martin’s shop on Monday 4th February.  Prisoner was there and examining cord very like that shewn, which he said would do nicely.

David Duncan, Labourer.  Aged forty four.  Live at 101 Princes Street Dundee.  Went to bed on night of Monday 4th February.  Ann Johnston is my landlady and she slept in same room.  I got up for a purpose in the night between two and three (judging from state of fire) and heard a woman scream three times—in distress.  I wakened Ann Johnston.  I asked if she heard it.  She said no.  Screams quite close on each other.  Window of my room looks into back green adjoining the Prisoner’s.  Distance between windows twenty nine yards.  Sound of screams came from that direction.

Cross-examined.  A good many people live about in one room houses.

Ann Johnston, Millworker, 101 Princes Street Dundee.  Aged forty six.  I am landlady of last witness.  He wakened me between two and three in morning and asked if I had heard screams.  I guessed time from the state of the fire.  I heard no screams.  I was asleep and Duncan woke me.

David Watson Walker, painter, 19 Crescent Lane, Dundee.  I was painting a public house in Dundee and got acquainted with Prisoner there.  On Sunday 10th February in forenoon, he called for me in my own room I was still in bed.  He took up a paper—the people’s Journal.  I asked him to read something about Jack the Ripper.  He put down the paper.  He remained about an hour and a half.  At dinner time he said he would have to go or he would be late.  He said his wife had a rabbit and a piece of pork ready for him—always something nice on Sunday.  He returned in about an hour and proposed a walk.  We went a walk together.  He spoke about boats and trains to London and said he wanted back among his old friends.

He also asked about when vessels sailed for Glasgow Hull and Liverpool.  We parted about six.  He was sober.  We had a bottle of beer together.  He seemed restless.

James Parr, Lieutenant, Dundee Police.  I was on duty in head office on Sunday evening 10th February.  The Prisoner came to the office a few minutes before seven.  Quite sober and apparently sensible.  He said he wanted to speak to me in private.  I took him into a private room and he told me that on the day the City Charter came to Dundee—the day the flags up (Monday 4th February) that he and his wife had been drinking.  That he did not remember when he went to bed.  That on getting up in morning he found his wife lying on the floor dead and a rope about her neck.  That he got frightened that he would be apprehended as Jack the Ripper and he cut up the body and packed it in a box where it was still to be found.  He told me his name and that he came from London about three weeks before.  He said the box with body would be found in his house 113 Princes Street one stair down.  He said he had been stopping in the house occasionally since then.  He said he could not get peace in his mind till he informed the police what had happened.  Lieutenant Lamb was then in another room at police office, and I took Prisoner to him and repeated his story in his presence to Lamb.  Prisoner was asked for and gave key of his house to Lamb.

David Lamb, Lieutenant of Police.  Confirms last witness as to Prisoner being brought to his room and what was said.  The Prisoner said it was ten o’clock forenoon when he wakened and found Wife’s dead body on floor.  He said he gave the body one stab and then put it into a box.  I got key and went to house about half past seven Sunday night.  Found box and body in it in back room.  The right leg was broken in two and doubled back under lid of box.  Left leg bent back so that the foot was over right shoulder.

The box was nailed up except one board in the centre.  The board was there but not nailed on.  Chemise only on body.  I left Campbell in charge and went for Dr. Templeman and brought him to house.  I went to police office and told Prisoner he was to be locked up on charge of murdering his wife.  He said “no” nothing else.  Shewn whole articles in Inventory 6.  I took all these out of Prisoner’s pockets in police office.  I also took 13/ off him.  No other money—none in house.  Shewn Label 3 [this refers to Bury’s knife. —Steve Earp].  I found that in window of room where body found.  There was blood on it and some flesh and hair.

Shewn rope.  It was lying on floor near box.  There was some hair on the rope.

Found charred remains of clothing in fire place.  Articles noted in Inventory No. 5.  Label 8.  Ulster.  It was part of the packing of the body in box.  Rest of packing was books and clothing and paper.

Found agreement produced and identified in pocket of man’s jacket in a portmanteau.  We saw the body taken to mortuary.  Dr. Templeman took chief part in taking body out of box.  I shewed the body to the witnesses who identified it and I was present at post mortem examination by the Doctors.  There was a broken pane in the back window of the room where body found.

Cross-examined—Outside stair down to Prisoner’s house of ten or twelve steps.  Floor of both rooms wood.  There was a rug in the front of the fireplace of back room.  It seemed the only room used.  Front room empty.  I saw one spot of blood on floor near box.  I saw a basin in the room.  Examined it—no blood.

There was a shorter wooden box in room.  A leather waist band with marks on it—cannot say of blood—apparently grease.

Lot of woman’s clothing in the house and a woman’s hat.

Re-examined.  I had no doubt floor of the back room had been washed.

By the Court.  There was a nail in the wall—a pretty strong nail—between door and the head of bed—but it was eight feet 4 inches up and a woman could not reach it.  There were two chairs in room.  I examined it (the nail) to see if any marks on it.  There was a small piece of string on it and it and nail both white washed over, when wall whitewashed.  Quite satisfied nothing suspended from it.  I saw nothing that a woman could have hung herself from.  The bed an ordinary iron bed frame—no posts on top.

Kitchen empty.  Only piece of rope is that produced.  No mark of breakage.

Peter Campbell.  Detective in Dundee Police.  Corroborates Lamb as to finding body in box and as to his charge of body during Lamb’s absence till Doctors came.

Cross-examined.  The wall between Prisoner’s house and John Lee’s is lath and plaster.

Charles Templeman, M.D.  8 Airlie Place Dundee.  In practice seven years.  I was called to house at time and as stated by police Dr. Stalker and I made post mortem examination.  Reads and swears to report.

I think the strangulation was homicidal.  In the first place,—Suicidal strangulation is very rare—especially when ligature only once round the neck.  In the second place.  The small mark on the left side of the neck shews that the direction in which violence applied was downward outward and backward.

The bruises mentioned in report are consistent with struggle and indicate it.  The mark on left temporal muscle indicates a blow or fall before death.  A stick or poker is more likely than fist to have caused it.  Such a blow would probably produce unconsciousness.  The incised wounds are not necessarily fatal—but would certainly cause very great shock to system.  Shewn knife (3) that is such as wounds were likely to be inflicted with.  Saw rope found.  It would have caused the mark round the neck and the suffocation.  Wounds in abdomen were probably inflicted either immediately before or immediately after death.

Cross-examined.  The wounds on left shoulder, I should be surprised to hear had disappeared on being washed and proved to be dirt.  Same of bruises below jaw—Incised wound on nose from right to left.  No smell of alcohol.  Some partially digested food.  Referred to passages read from 2 Taylor Medical Jurisprudence page seventy five.  Agrees with Taylor.

There was no blood on the feet of the corpse.  They were very dirty.

Again referred to passages read from

2 Taylor page 67

2 Taylor page 44

2 Taylor page 61

I accept Taylor’s views.

The blood on the Ulster was on left sleeve and back.

In homicidal strangulation hands of victim may be clenched or not.

Two of the wounds in front of abdomen were inflicted after death.

Rigor mortis present in head neck and extremities.

After death skin loses elasticity.  The edges of the wounds were not discoloured by action of air.  There must have been great bleeding from wounds if inflicted either before or immediately after death.  If an hour after death little or none.

I adhere to my opinion that it is impossible that the woman should have strangled herself.

Re-examined.  From what was in stomach she must have taken food not more than three or four hours before death.

Dr. Alexander Mitchell Stalker, M.D.  140 Nethergate, Dundee.  Made post mortem examination with last witness and concurred with him.  I concur in all he said.

Dr. Henry Duncan Littlejohn, M.D., Royal Circus, Edinburgh.  I have heard the Medical Report read and the evidence of the two Doctors who made it and also the whole evidence in the case.  I carefully read and considered report before today.  I agree generally with the Medical men’s evidence.  My opinion is that a struggle having taken place a blow was struck on left temporal muscle.  It is in a hollow and not so likely to have been caused by a fall.  This blow would render deceased either wholly or semi-unconscious.  I think the application of ligature to neck followed producing suffocation and that while deceased moribund the various wounds on the belly and elsewhere inflicted.

I agree that strangulation was homicidal—not suicidal.

I found opinion on

First.  direction of cord.

Second.  marks of violence under these extravasation under skin.  On right side of neck beneath the skin and in substance of muscle the effusion of blood shews that ligature applied with great violence.

The rope produced used by another on the victim might undoubtedly have caused the suffocation.  I hold it utterly impossible that woman could have committed suicide with that rope.

The shock from the wounds would make less pressure on rope suffice.

Wounding extends to twenty six and a half inches.

The wounds are all of a most extraordinary kind.

Cross-Examined.  The everted edges of wounds shews that life not extinct when inflicted.  Ligature round neck by a cord placed by person herself would leave mark.  Very little pressure produces unconsciousness and then the sufferer can produce no more and there is no mark left.

I think it most unlikely but quite possible that wound on left temporal muscle could have been produced by fall on back of a chair.

After heart comes to a standstill there is no bleeding.  After asphyxia blood in veins remains fluid a long time.

Re-examined.  All the signs of strangulation are very well marked in this case.  It is in my opinion a typical case of homicidal strangulation.  Eversion of wounds would disappear after a few days.

Declaration of Prisoner read and case for Crown closed.



Hay for the Prisoner called.

The Revd. Edward John Gough, Incumbent of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Dundee.  I have seen Prisoner and his wife twice since they came to Dundee.  They came to service in my Church on Wednesday 24th or Thursday 25th January.  I had previously received a letter from him from 23 Union Street and dated 23rd January asking if I could find him employment.  Reads letter.  After service that evening I saw him and spoke to him.  She was standing by his side.  I advised them to apply for work at the docks.  I saw them about ten days after on the Street in Union Street.  She was a quite (sic) like person—not very animated and spoke very little.

Dr. David Lennox, M.D.  In practice about nine years.  Large experience in post-mortem examinations.

I have seen several cases of attempted suicide by strangulation.  In two cases the attempt was made with a cravat with a slip knot—one by a man and one by a woman.  On 14th February I made examination of deceased’s body along with Dr. Kinnear.  We made a report in which we concurred.  Reads the report.

My reasons for suicide are:

First.  Only three bruises one on nose and two on anterior belly wall, which might have been accidental.  Second.  In homicidal strangulation almost inconceivable that no marks on neck except that made by rope.  No excoriation of skin, no extravasation of blood in cellular tissue, no laceration in the deeply seated structures of neck.

Third.  Suicide by strangulation is possible and has in fact occurred.

There are more bruises described by the Crown Doctors than by us.  I washed carefully.  None on left eyebrow.  No external mark of bruising on left temporal muscle—but the place had been somewhat lacerated by removal of skull cap.  The cuts on body were I think inflicted after death.

I think the wounds must have been inflicted at least four minutes after death i.e. after cessation of heart action.  Found no eversion of wounds.  I agree with Dr. Littlejohn that appearance of eversion would cease after a few days.

Dr. William Kinnear MD.  I made the examination with last witness and made report with him.  I agree with his evidence.

Suicide by strangulation as distinguished from hanging is very rare.  I have not met with one.  In some cases an instrument and in others a round knot.

A homicide almost always uses too great force—so as to make sure of killing.

Susan Duffy.  I live at 109 Princes Street immediately above Prisoner’s house.  Heard no noise during night between fourth and fifth.  A black watch dog in room.  He did not bark.

Jessie Gibson, 105 Princes Street.  Aged twenty four.  House on left hand of Prisoner’s on back.  Heard no noise that night.


The Advocate Depute addressed the Jury for the prosecution and Mr. Hay for the Prisoner.  I then summed up.  The Jury having retired to consider their verdict returned into Court after an absence of about half an hour, and by their Foreman announced that they unanimously found the Prisoner guilty of Murder, and strongly recommended him to mercy.  I asked the Jury on what ground they recommended him to mercy.  The Foreman gave no answer, but on the question being repeated one of the Jurymen said; “Partly from the conflicting medical evidence”—I said that if this conflict raised a doubt in their minds as to the Prisoner’s guilt, it was their duty to acquit him, and that if it did not, it could be no ground for a recommendation to mercy, and that their verdict of guilty and recommendation to mercy being in this view, inconsistent, I could not receive the verdict and must therefore desire them to retire again, and reconsider the case.  They retired again accordingly and after an absence of about five minutes, returned to Court with a unanimous verdict of guilty without any recommendation to mercy.