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The Times (London).
Saturday 21 February 1891.

THE WHITECHAPEL MURDER.

RESUMED INQUEST.

Yesterday Mr. Wynne E. Baxter, the East London Coroner, resumed the inquiry at the Working Lads’ Institute, Whitechapel, into the circumstances attending the death of Frances Coles, who was found murdered in Swallow-gardens early on Friday morning, the 13th inst.

Mr. C. Mathews again appeared for the Public Prosecutor; and Mr. Lawless, instructed by Messrs. Wilson and Wallis, watched the case on behalf of the accused man Sadler.

Anne Shuttleworth, an eating-house keeper, of 4, Wentworth-street, Whitechapel, was the first witness called.

Mr. Mathews. - Now, on the afternoon of Thursday, the 12th inst., about 5 o’clock, do you remember the deceased woman, whom you knew as Frances, coming to the eating-house?

Witness. - Yes, she came in alone and said she was waiting for a man. She had some tea while she waited.

Mr. Mathews. - After she had waited about 20 minutes did a man come in?

Witness. - Yes, he was a stoutish man with gray goatee beard. He was dressed as a sailor, with peaked cap, pilot coat, and dark waistcoat and trousers.

Mr. Mathews. - Did they speak to each other as if in recognition?

Witness. - Yes.

Mr. Mathews. - They had something to eat and then left. How long did they remain?

Witness. - They left about a quarter to 6, the woman saying as she left that they would return later on. They were both perfectly sober.

Mr. Mathews. - Had the man any signs of injury about his face at the time you saw him?

Witness. - I did not notice any, but then I did not take particular notice of him.

Mr. Mathews. - Had his face any blood on it?

Witness. - No, not so far as I could see. When they left they went in the direction of Petticoat-lane.

By Mr. Lawless. - Are you sure it was about 5 o’clock when the deceased came into your shop?

Witness. - Yes, and it was 20 minutes past when the man came in and the woman said, "He said he would be only a quarter of an hour and he has been 20 minutes."

Mr. Lawless. - Was the man’s beard cut pointed or square?

Witness. - It was cut pointed and about 4 in. long.

A juror. - What colour was his hat or cap?

Witness. - It was blue, I think, and had a peak to it.

William Steer said, - I am head barman at the Bell, Middlesex-street, Whitechapel. On the afternoon of Thursday, February 12, the woman Frances came into the bar in company with a man dressed as a sailor. He had on a peaked cap, and his moustache and beard were gray. They had something to drink and then left, being in the house about an hour. It would be half-past 5 when they went out.

The CORONER. - There is a great discrepancy in the time of this witness and the last.

Mr. Mathews. - You cannot expect the times to be exact. It is quite near enough for our purpose. If we are to go so minutely into the times, there is an end to the inquiry.

The CORONER. - Oh, no; I only wish to have the times exact.

Several of the jurors said the coroner was perfectly right in doing so.

The CORONER (to witness). - How did you judge the time?

Witness. - It is at 5 o’clock that the other barman comes down to tea, and I take my time from that.

Mr. Mathews. - Before they left, did the man speak to you?

Witness. - Yes. He said he knew Shadwell well, and we chatted about it.

The CORONER. - There is no connexion between this man and woman and the deceased and Sadler. Have you seen the body in the mortuary?

Witness. - No.

The CORONER. - Or the prisoner Sadler?

Witness. - No.

The CORONER. - Then how do you know they are the same?

A juror. - Let the witness go to the mortuary and see the body.

The witness was then sent to the mortuary.

Sarah Treadway, wife of the landlord of the Marlborough Head, Pelham-street, Brick-lane, said that prior to Thursday week she knew a man named Thomas Sadler as a customer. He had been in the habit of coming in for about 12 months. On Thursday, the 12th inst., he came into the house between 6 and 7 in the evening.

Mr. Mathews. - Was he alone?

Witness. - No, he was accompanied by a woman.

Mr. Mathews. - You have seen the body in the mortuary. Do you identify it as that of the woman who was with Sadler?

Witness. - Yes. When Sadler came in he seemed to have been drinking; but the woman was sober. They had three quarterns of gin and peppermint. After being in the house about half-an-hour they left together.

Mr. Mathews. - Did you ever see the woman alive after that night?

Witness. - No; but the man came back, though I did not see him.

The CORONER. - Had you ever seen Sadler with a woman before?

Witness. - Yes; with his wife about 12 months ago.

Mr. Lawless. - If either of the parties had been drunk you would not have served them?

Witness. - No; we should not.

Mr. Mathews. - I may say that the prisoner has made a statement in which he says he had been to all these places, and I am calling these witnesses to corroborate that statement, with a view to its being used hereafter.

Mrs. Sarah Fleming said, - I am a married woman living apart from my husband and am the deputy of a common lodginghouse, 8 White’s-row, Spitalfields. I knew the deceased as Frances, and she has at various times during the last eight months stayed at the house.

Mr. Mathews. - Was she in the house on Thursday, the 12th?

Witness. - She came in about half-past 10 at night and soon after a man came in to her. I have identified the man now in custody as the man who came to the lodginghouse on that night.

Mr. Mathews. - You spoke to him, I believe. Did you notice the condition of his face?

Witness. - He was very dirty, as if he had fallen on the ground.

Mr. Mathews. - Did you notice any blood on it?

Witness. - No. He asked if he could go into the kitchen, and I said he could not, as strangers were not allowed. When I had turned my back he passed me and went down into the kitchen.

Mr. Mathews. - Did you see him afterwards sitting in the kitchen?

Witness. - Yes. I saw him sitting by the side of Frances. It was 11 o’clock when he came in, but I did not see him go out.

Mr. Mathews. - Did you see the woman Frances leave the house?

Witness. - Yes, she went out about 12 o’clock. I saw her go through the street door.

Mr. Mathews. - Are you sure it was Frances?

Witness. - Yes. She passed my office, and I saw her face.

Mr. Mathews. - Did you ever see her again alive?

Witness. - No, Sir.

Mr. Mathews. - Your evidence is in direct conflict with the evidence of Gyver, but is at one with the evidence of Harris. How long were you in your office?

Witness. - Till 4 o’clock, and I can see everybody who comes through the passage.

Mr. Mathews. - Did you see the man come back that night?

Witness. - Yes. He came about 3 o’clock on Friday morning. He came up to the office and asked if he could go into the kitchen, and I said "No." He said "Why not?" and I replied, "Strangers are not allowed." He then said I was a hard-hearted woman. He had been robbed of his money in Ratcliff-highway.

Mr. Mathews. - Was his face cut and bleeding?

Witness. - Yes. He had a cut on the right cheek and under the left eye. He said he had been knocked down and kicked about, and that, besides stealing his money, they had robbed him of his watch, but it was only a common one.

Mr. Mathews. - What did you say further?

Witness. - I said that if I let him stop in the kitchen they might think his injuries had been done in the house. I told him to go out, and, as he still hung about the door, I called the watchman to put him out, but Sadler then walked away.

Mr. Mathews. - You spoke of the injuries just now. Did you notice if his head was cut?

Witness. - I don’t know. There was blood running down both cheeks, but not a great quantity.

Mr. Mathews. - Did you notice his hands at the time?

Witness. - He turned his pocket out to show he had no money and I then saw blood on the palm of his right hand.

The CORONER. - What did the man say when he came back?

Witness. - He asked if the young woman Frances was in, and I said I had not seen her since she went out at 12 o’clock. It was after that that he asked to be allowed to go into the kitchen. On Sunday I identified Sadler at the Leman-street Police Station as the man who had been at the lodginghouse on the 12th inst.

Mr. Lawless. - When the man came back was he sober?

Witness. - No. He was very drunk.

The witness Steer here returned from the mortuary and was further examined. He said, - I have seen the body and identify it as that of the woman who was in the Bell with the sailor man.

Police-constable Bogan, 222 H, was next called, and said, - On the early morning of the 13th inst. I was outside the main entrance of the London Docks at 1:15, when I saw a man who looked like a sailor lying down in the gateway. He was drunk.

Mr. Mathews. - Had he any injury to his face?

Witness. - Yes, a wound over the left eye. I took hold of him by the collar to lift him up. When the gate opened the man said he wanted to get into the dock to his ship, the steamer Fez, and the "dock swines would not allow him." I said he was too drunk to be allowed to go to the ship and requested him to go away. He became abusive, and some dock labourers came up and inquired what was the matter. One of the labourers offered to pay for Sadler’s lodging for the night, but Sadler replied "I don’t want your money, you dock rats." He took off his hat and a paper dropped out of it. I picked it up and gave it to him, and he said, "That is my account of wages - £4 16s." I again requested him to go away, but he replied, "I’ll be locked up first." I said I would take him into custody if he did not go away at once. I gave him another chance and walked away, leaving him still in front of the dock gates.

Mr. Mathews. - What time was that?

Witness. - About half-past 1, but I cannot be certain within five minutes or so.

Mr. Mathews. - What was the next you saw of him?

Witness. - About 2 o’clock I saw him on the pavement opposite the Mint.

The CORONER. - This is very important. Can you be sure about the time?

Witness. - Yes, the Tower clock had just struck 2.

Mr. Mathews. - Were you in the company of Sergeant Edwards, and did you notice any further injuries?

Witness. - Yes, a cut over the right eye and his face covered with blood. He said he had been assaulted down by the London Docks by some men. He had his hand on his right hip and said he had been kicked in the ribs. Sergeant Edwards walked away with the man towards the Minories.

Mr. Mathews. - When you left the man the last time outside the Mint, could he have got to Swallow-gardens without passing you?

Witness. - He could have gone up Sparrow-court into Royal Mint-street and then up Swallow-gardens. If he had gone along the Minories he must have passed me.

Mr. Mathews. - How long would it take a man to walk there from where you left him?

Witness. - It is about five minutes’ walk.

A juror. - For a sober man?

Witness. - Yes.

Mr. Mathews. - What was the exact time when you left the man with Sergeant Edwards?

Witness. - About 10 or 12 minutes past 2 o’clock. Sergeant Edwards only walked about seven yards with the man and then came back to me.

Mr. Lawless. - When you left him at the dock gates there were men - dock labourers - about?

Witness. - Yes.

Mr. Lawless. - And he could have been assaulted between then and the time of your seeing him again?

Witness. - It is quite possible.

Frederick Session, a dock constable, said, - On the morning of Friday, the 13th inst., I was on duty at St. Katherine Docks. At 1:20 I went to the main gate to search some dock labourers as they were leaving the London Docks. The gate-keeper said, "I have got a drunken fireman outside," and I then saw a man sitting in the gateway. I ordered him away. Some labourers were going out, and they and the man got scuffling in the road. I went into the dock, and did not see what became of the man. On Sunday I went to Leman-street Police-station and picked out Sadler as the man I had seen at the dock gate.

Henry Sutton said, - I am a police-constable employed by the dock company, and on Friday morning a fireman came to the gate and said he wanted to get to his ship. I let him in and then saw he was drunk. His face was scratched and dirty, as if the man had been on the ground. I asked him what he had been doing, and he said he had got into a row in Brick-lane. I turned him out of the dock as I did not think he was in a fit state to be allowed to go to his ship. Some labourers went out at the gate, and I heard the man insult them and call them "rats." One of the labourers struck him in the ribs and he fell. He got up and went in the direction of the Minories. I did not see anything more of him.

John Dooley, a dock labourer, said, - On the 12th of February, about 1:15, I was at the entrance to the London Docks with a friend, when a man who was very drunk began to abuse us and struck at my mate, who got out of the way. I struck the man in the side with my fist, and he fell down, striking his head against the dock gate. We walked away and left the man on the ground. After we had been in the lodging-house about ten minutes the man I had struck came into the kitchen. I noticed his head was bleeding and the blood running down his face. The landlord told the man to go to the hospital and get his head dressed, and then he could have a bed. The man then left the house. I did not see him again, and I do not know if he is the man now in custody.

Mr. Mathews. - There can be no doubt that Sadler was the man.

Police-constable Edwards, 7H, said, - On the early morning of Friday week I was on duty on the Mint pavement. Shortly before 2 o’clock a man, whom I have since identified as Sadler, came up to me and said he had been assaulted by some men at the dock gates. I walked with him about 30 yards in the direction of the Minories, and when opposite Lockhart’s Coffee Rooms I examined his ribs, but could not say they were broken. I parted from him soon after the clock struck 2, and it would take him about three minutes to walk from there to the scene of the murder. It was not more than two or three minutes past 2.

Soloman Guttridge said, - I am a shunter in the employ of the Great Northern Railway. On the morning of Friday, the 13th, I left home at five minutes to 2 and went to the stables and got my horse out. I then came down Chamber-street and through Swallow-gardens to the depôt. I went right through the arch, but did not see any one lying there. I am sure the body was not there then. That was between 10 and 12 minutes past 2.

Another shunter deposed that there was no body in the arch at 2:15.

Inspector James Flannagan, H Division, said, - I am stationed at Leman-street Police-station, and on Friday, the 13th inst., from information I received, I proceeded at once to Swallow-gardens, and there found the dead body of a woman lying on the ground under the arch. Dr. Oxley was there examining the body. I gave orders for a thorough search to be made, and in the meantime Dr. Phillips, the divisional surgeon, arrived. After he had made an examination and pronounced the woman dead, the body was removed to the mortuary. I then made a search in the archway and behind an iron pipe I found a piece of newspaper in which were wrapped two separate shillings. I have no doubt that it had been purposely hidden there.

Police-constable Arthur Sharp, 522 J, said, - I received information of the murder about 3 o’clock on Friday morning, the 13th inst. About 3:30 I was on duty in the Whitechapel-road when I saw a man, having the appearance of a sailor, going along. There was blood on his face, so I stopped him and asked him what had he been doing, and he replied, "I have fallen down. I was drunk and I knocked my nose on the pavement and also hurt my ribs." He seemed to be recovering from the effects of drink. I passed my hand over his clothes to feel if he had any weapon about him, but could find none. The man said he would go to the hospital, which was right opposite, and he went across the road in that direction. I have since identified the man as Thomas Sadler.

Joseph Richards said, - I am a coffee-house manager at 19, Whitechapel-road. On Friday about five minutes past 4 a man came into the shop and I noticed he had a cut over the right eye, also on the left side of the head.

Mr. Mathews. - Did you notice his hands?

Witness. - Yes, he had a slight cut on the left hand, and both hands had dried blood on them. I have since identified him as the accused man Sadler. He asked for a cup of coffee, but said he had no money as he had been robbed of his watch and chain and purse. He took a paper, stained with blood, out of his hat and showed it to me. It was an account for wages. He produced some tobacco and wanted me to buy it, but I refused and turned him out. That would be about 4:15.

William Fewell said, - I am night porter in the receiving-room of the London Hospital. On the 13th inst. a man who looked like a sailor came in about a quarter to 5. He had a small scalp wound on the right side of the head and another over the right eye. His face was covered with blood. I trimmed his hair from the wound and washed his face. I then noticed that his hands were cut on the back, front, and between the fingers. They were covered with blood and I allowed him to wash them. I asked him how it happened, and he said, "I have been with a woman. She is a very decent woman, but she did me." I asked how much she had done him for, and he said seven or eight shillings and his watch. He was trembling very much, but said it was only from cold. I asked him where it had happened, and he said, "In a little street off the highway, at the bottom of Leman-street." After his wounds were dressed he sat on the sofa for a short time and then went away.

Mr. Mathews. - What did he say about the cut on the hand?

Witness. - He said either "he" or "she had a knife."

At this point the inquiry was adjourned till Monday at 11 o’clock, it having lasted from 10 o’clock a.m., with brief interval for lunch, till 5:15 p.m.


(Before MR. SOMES, sitting at Newington.) EDWIN COLOCITT surrendered to his bail yesterday on four charges of maliciously wounding and assault. Mr. Torr prosecuted for the Treasury; Mr. Lowe and Mr. Biron were for the defence. The assualts with which the prisoner was charged were all of the same nature, and were committed in the same neighbourhood within a few days of one another. No motive could be assigned for them. In the first case Miss Annie Elizabeth Lewis, of 7, Stockwell-park-road, a mantle show woman, deposed that about 9:45 on the evening of January 8 she was walking homewards along South Lambeth-road. Nearing the public library a man ran by her, coming from behind, and as he passed she felt a blow in the lower part of her back. She followed him a short distance, but the pain was so great that she felt sick and hurried home. She felt her clothes were wet, and when she got home she found that she had been stabbed on the back of the lef hip. The other assaults wer committed in the same neighbourhood, and the time in each case was about 9 or 9:30 p.m. The evidence of each of the young ladies assaulted was to the same effect as that of Miss Lewis. Charles Myers, furniture dealer, of 130, Clapham-road, said that in consequence of a communication which he had from a sergeant of police he kept watch, and on the evening of January 20 he saw defendant outside his shop. He was obstructing young women who were passing, and witness saw him touch the back of several of them. Witness followed him and saw him make a thrust three times at the lower part of the back of one lady. Myers then caught him by the wrist, but he cried and shouted so loudly that a crowd collected, which attacked Myers, and rescued the defendant from him. He was caught, however, further on by a constable. For the defence, Mr. Lowe urged that a mistake had been made as to the identity of the defendant with the real culprit, and commented strongly on the fact that several other ladies who had been assaulted in a similar manner had failed to identify him. The defendant's father and other witnesses to character were called, from whose evidence it appeared that the defendant was of weak intellect, and had been so ever since a fall which he had when a baby. The jury, after a short consultation, found the defendant Guilty, but recommended him to mercy on the ground that he was a person of weak mind. Mr. Somes postponed sentence until next week Sessions, that he might have the report of the prison doctors as to the state of the prisoner's mind.


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  Edwin Colocitt
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       Press Reports: Centralia Enterprise and Tribune - 14 March 1891 
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