Thursday, 3 January 1889
Yesterday Mr. Wynne E. Baxter, the Coroner for the South-Eastern Division of Middlesex, resumed his adjourned inquiry at the Town-hall, Poplar, respecting the death of Catherine Millett, aged 26, whose dead body was found in Clarke's-yard, High-street, Poplar, on the 20th of December.
Mr. St. John Wontner watched the case on behalf of the Treasury.
Mrs. Margaret Millett, widow, of 16, Pelham-street, Whitechapel, stated that deceased was her daughter and was 26 years of age. Her name was Catherine Millett. Witness had been told that deceased was married, but deceased herself never told witness that she was. She once saw a man with deceased and believed him to be her husband. Witness knew deceased had one child, but she could not say whether she had more than that one. Witness last saw her alive on the Monday or Tuesday before her death, when she called at her house. Deceased then arranged to meet witness at the top of Brushfield-street the following Thursday at 4 o'clock. Witness did not get there to time, and did not see her again. She never told witness where she was living. She told her she had been ''hopping'' with another woman. Deceased also told witness her child was in Surrey. Witness had no idea how she was getting her living. She left witness six years ago to go and live at Bow.
By Mr. St. John Wontner - Witness knew that she was very much given to intemperance.
By the Jury. - Deceased's child was born at Bow. Witness did not know that she lived with any other man but her husband.
Mrs. Elizabeth Usher, nurse at the Stepney Sick Asylum, said she had seen the body of deceased in the Poplar mortuary, and recognized it as that of a former inmate. She knew her under the names of Rose Millett and Rose Davis. She had been in the asylum several times. According to the books, her age was about 28. She was admitted as a single woman, and was last in the asylum in March, 1888. She had been there then since January. Witness knew deceased had a child seven years of age, and when she was discharged she said she was going to get her mother to mind it.
By the Jury, - Deceased was in the asylum four times, and witness knew her well.
Sergeant Golding, recalled at the request of the jury, stated that when he found the body there was a spotted handkerchief round the throat, which he now produced, It was not tightly round the throat, and was not tied at all. It did not appear to have been tied or pulled tightly round the throat.
By Mr. St. John Wontner. - There was no sign on the handkerchief of there having been a struggle. When witness found the body it was lying parallel with the wall, and the head was about a foot from the wall. Witness's first impression was that deceased had been leaning against some posts near the wall and had fallen down. The yard was not paved, but was composed of earth, and would show signs of a struggle had once taken place.
Mr. George James Harris, 170, East India-road, Poplar, deposed that he was a surgeon and acted as assistant to Dr. Brownfield. On Thursday, December 20, witness was called by the police at 4:30 a.m., and was taken to Clarke's-yard. He there saw deceased, who was dead, and was lying with her left cheek on the ground. There was a little blood-stained mucus issuing from the nostrils. The head was lying over the jacket, but he did not think it was in such a position as to cause strangulation. The collar of the jacket was quite loose. Her lips were livid, the mouth closed, and the eyes were normal. The left arm and leg were stiff. Witness assisted Dr. Brownfield to make the post-mortem examination, and with regard to the internal examination he agreed with Dr. Brownfield's evidence. With regard to the cause of death, witness noticed a mark which commenced at the spine and passed round the neck to the ear. There was a space of two or three inches at the back of the neck which was not marked. That mark might be produced with a piece of string. He did not see any other way by which the mark could be produced. In his opinion it was not possible for the collar of the jacket to have produced it. It was a much finer mark than he thought the collar could have produced. There were five superficial abrasions on the left side of the neck and three on the right side. Witness was of opinion that they were caused by finger nails, resulting from an endeavour to remove something from the neck. On the left side of the jaw there was a small bruise. In his opinion the cause of death was asphyxia, from strangulation.
By the Jury. - Witness believed the string was crossed over, and used in a way similar to the way used when soap was cut. The marks on the neck could not have been caused by a man's hand.
By the Coroner. - Witness examined the windpipe and found no foreign matter in it.
By Mr. St. John Wontner. - The mark on the neck was above the necktie. When witness first saw the body he did not notice the mark and did not then suspect foul play. He then thought deceased had died from asphyxia, from drunkenness or natural causes. Death would be brought about very quickly if the string was used in the way he described. The deceased's tongue was not protruding, nor were the eyeballs. He should have expected that the face would have been more disturbed had the strangulation been slow.
Dr. Thomas Bond, 7, Sanctuary, Westminster Abbey, F.R.C.S., stated that he was asked to examine the body by Mr. Anderson, Assistant Commissioner of Police. Witness examined the body on the 24th of December. Mr. Hibbard, Demonstrator of Anatomy at Westminster Hospital, had examined the body on the Saturday with Drs. Brownfield and Harris, and he supplied witness with his notes. On the Monday witness had the body reopened, and compared his notes with his (witness's) observations. He and the other doctors agreed, with the exception of the mark on the throat. At the date of his examination the mark, which had been described as the mark of a cord, had disappeared. The other marks, which were described as finger marks, witness saw. He also saw in front of the larynx three extravasations of blood, where incisions had been made, and found blood effused around the larynx and deep congestion of the mucous membrane of the larynx. Witness took possession of the contents of the stomach and had what remained analysed. Witness could find no injury to the skin where the mark had been. He agreed with the deductions of Drs. Brownfield, Hibbard, and Harris that the deceased died from strangulation, but his opinion was that it was not murder. The amount of violence which would be required to rapidly strangle an able-bodied woman would leave such a mark on the neck that it would not disappear even during the five days that had elapsed. Witness should have expected to find injuries to the skin and tissues under the skin. The woman's skin was of such a nature that it would take a mark like wax, and from previous experience witness knew that strangulation might occur through a tight dress or a collar and leave deep marks. His opinion was that the woman, in a state of drunkenness, fell down and the larynx was compressed against the neck of the jacket, and that the mark described as the mark of a cord must have been produced by the rim of the collar, either while she was dying or while she was dead in the interval between the finding of the body and its being undressed.
By the CORONER. - The injury to the larynx must have been caused before death, but the mark above that might be caused before or after dearth.
By the Jury. - The collar of deceased's jacket measured 14 in. Witness did not think the collar of deceased's jacket was stiff enough to strangle her. He thought it was possible that the woman made the finger marks herself. Had it been a case of quick strangulation he should have expected to find more contortion of the face.
Mrs. Mary Smith, of 18, George-street, Spitalfields, deposed that she had had a lodger who went by the name of Lizzie Davis. The photograph produced (that of the deceased) was that of her. She also recognized deceased's clothing. On Wednesday, the 19th of December, between 7:30 and 8 o'clock, deceased left the house and never returned. She was sober when she left, and was wearing the neckerchief produced by the police-sergeant. Witness was not alarmed at deceased not returning, as she believed she was locked up. She had been sentenced to five days' imprisonment during the three months she was with witness. Deceased was more often drunk than sober. When she left witness's house she told her she was going to Poplar, where she went every night.
Lizzie Hanlon, of George-street, Spitalfields, said she had known deceased for three months as a fellow lodger. She last saw her alive on Wednesday, the 19th ult., when she left the house to go to Poplar.
Elizabeth Griffen, of 18, George-street, gave corroborative evidence, and said the deceased had drunk with a man called Ben Goodson, who was present at the court.
The case was again adjourned.