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The Times (London).
Tuesday, 24 February 1891.


Yesterday, Mr. Wynne E. Baxter, the East London Coroner, resumed his inquiry at the Working Lads’ Institute, Whitechapel, into the circumstances attending the death of FRANCES COLES, aged 26, who was found dead in Swallow-gardens, Whitechapel, early on the morning of the 13th inst. James Thomas Sadler, a ship’s fireman, now stands remanded from the Thames Police-court, charged with causing the death of the deceased.

Mr. Charles Mathews, appeared on behalf of the Treasury, and Mr. Lawless again watched Sadler’s interests. Superintendent Arnold and Inspectors Reid, Flanagan, and Moore represented the police authorities.

Charles Littlewood, a waiter, employed by Stephen Longhurst, at 73, Whitechapel-road, a coffee house, said, - About 6:30 on the morning of the 13th I remember a man coming into the shop and asking for some cocoa. I noticed some blood on the left wrist. He then sat down and asked for another cup of cocoa, and remarked that his ribs hurt him. I did not serve him with a second cup as he was drunk. I noticed a peculiar smell about the man, as if he had been in a doctor’s shop. Mr. Longhurst came down and spoke to the man, who remained in the shop till about 7:30. During the latter part of the time the man employed himself reading the paper. I noticed no blood except that on his wrist. He had a scar over the left eye. He walked straight when he left the shop, and I do not think he was drunk then.

Stephen Longhurst, manager of the above-mentioned coffee tavern, said, - I noticed a man in the shop about 7:30, whom I have since identified as the man in custody. His clothes were very dirty, and he appeared to be drunk. He left the shop at about 8:30.

Frederick Smith, of 23, Osbourne-street, a waiter at Lockhart’s, on Tower-hill, said, - On the early morning of the 13th inst. I was at work in the bar, between 1:30 and 2:30. As I was at work I remember hearing a man groaning, and this caused me to look through the shop window facing the Tower. I saw a man coming from the Mint-pavement about two or three yards from the shop window. I could see him pretty plainly. It was about five minutes to 2 as near as possible. The man complained to two constables who came up that he had been knocked about. He walked away towards the Minories. I cannot fix the time of his leaving, but I am certain he was not there more than five minutes. I heard him walk away. One of the constables was a sergeant. I do not know their names. Edwards and another constable came up at the same time. I did not see a third constable. When the man walked away the constables walked in the other direction towards Upper East Smithfield. Before this the two constables remained in the same spot all the time.

Mr. Lawless. - Did they walk about 20 yards?

Witness. - Not that I know of.

Mr. Lawless. - Were they there ten minutes?

Witness. - I do not think it possible. I could not swear to five or ten minutes. I was not taking much notice.

By the jury. - I heard one constable say, "Let’s feel."

Mr. Lawless. - Could you see them when they were talking to the man?

Witness. - No, but I could hear them talking.

Joseph Haswell, a fish porter, 91, Wentworth-street, Spitalfields, said, - In the early part of this month I was working for Mr. Shuttleworth. I knew as a frequent customer there a woman known as Frances. I identify the body in the mortuary as that of Frances. About 1:30 on the morning of the 13th she came into the shop and asked for 1½d. worth of mutton and bread. She was served, and sat in the shop and ate it. She paid for it with a penny and two halfpennies. She was in the shop about a quarter of an hour, and I had to ask her to go, as we wanted to shut the door. She told me to mind my own business. I took her by the arm and put her out of the shop. I saw her turn to the right towards Brick-lane.

By the CORONER. - I am sure it was half-past 1 when she came in and a quarter to 2 when I turned her out. There is a clock in the shop. She left alone. The customers in the shop were all women. She was tipsy.

Mr. Lawless. - How often is the clock set right? - Witness. - Once a week. It loses about a quarter of an hour in the week. I last saw Mr. Shuttleworth put it right on Tuesday last.

A juryman. - If the clock was a quarter of an hour slow it would be 2 o’clock when the woman left. - Witness. - I am sure it was right, as it was timed by a publichouse clock the night before, at 11.

Duncan Campbell, a sailor, said, - I am now staying at 55, Leman-street. On Friday, the 13th of February, I was staying at the Sailor’s Home, Well-street. Between 10:15 and 10:30 I came down from my bedroom and stood by the fire in the hall. A man came in at that moment and sat on a seat by the fire. He got up and said, "Mate, I am nearly dead. I have been out all night and I got robbed. I am dying for a drink." He produced a knife.

Mr. Mathews. - Is that the one? Witness. - Yes. He said, "Will you buy it?" I gave him a shilling and a bit of tobacco for it. That was what he asked for it. He took the knife out of his right-hand pocket. I took the knife and looked at it, and said, "This is not an English knife." I opened the big blade. He said, "No, I bought it abroad." I said, "Where?" and he replied, "In America." I kept the knife and put it in my pocket. He went straight out into Leman-street. There were two doors, one leading into Dock-street and one into Leman-street. He was only with me about five or six minutes. About 11 o’clock I heard that a murder had been committed. After hearing of the murder I opened the big blade, but noticed no blood. I washed it in a basin of clean water and then wiped it on a dirty towel. I looked at the water and found it was slightly salmon coloured. I put the knife in my pocket and then went up to bed and slept till half-past 3. I kept the knife until Saturday afternoon, and then, being short of money, I went to Mr. Robinson in Dock-street, and asked him to lend me 6d. till the Monday, when I would pay 9d. for it. He replied that he would buy the knife for 6d. and sell it back again on the Monday for 9d. I gave him the knife and took the 6d., and said I would buy it back on the Monday for 9d. When the man sold the knife to me on the Friday he said, "It has cut many a model," and I thought he meant ship’s models. On Sunday evening I was talking with some sailors in the home and told them about buying the knife. I then went off to the Leman-street police-station, arriving there after 10 o’clock. I saw two police-sergeants, and gave a description of the man I had seen on the Friday morning in the hall. I then went with the two sergeants to Mr. Robinson’s. He produced the knife to the police immediately, and Sergeant Ward took possession of it. We then went back to Leman-street station, and I was taken downstairs to a cellar lighted with gas. There I saw 15 or 16 men, mostly sailors. I was told to pick out the man who had sold me the knife. The men were ranged in a semicircle, and I started from and found him on the left-hand corner. I went up to him and looked at the peak of his hat, and then saw the scar over his left eye. The man who sold me the knife had a scar over his eye.

By Mr. Lawless. - The hall is dark by the fire. The man had a cap on and kept it on. The sergeants asked me a great many questions. They did not ask me whether he had a scar or not; I told them that myself. They asked me how tall the man was, and I said a little taller than myself. My eyesight is not very good, and the light in the room was bad when I picked the man out. The man had a cloth peaked cap, which was right down over his eyes. I am sure it was not a glazed peak. The scar on the man was over the right eye. When I saw the man on the Friday morning he did not take his cap off. I could see the scar when he had his cap on. I was not sure it was the man until I saw the scar. There were other men there with the same sort of beard, which is a very common one amongst seamen. It is the American style. I had a doubt about the man until I saw the scar. No one told me the man had a scar before I saw him at the station.

By the CORONER. - I did not think the water was coloured with blood.

By Mr. Mathews. - I did not use the knife from the time I bought it till I washed it.

By the CORONER. - If the knife had been rusty it would have made the salmon colour that I speak of.

Thomas Robinson, a marine store dealer, of 4, Dock-street, Whitechapel, corroborated Campbell as to the sale of the knife, and added, "When I saw the knife, I said it looks like ‘Jack the Ripper’s’ knife."

The CORONER. - So you have seen Jack the Ripper’s knife?

Witness. - On Sunday I cut up my dinner with it.

Mr. Lawless. - Was the knife very blunt when you had it first?

Witness. - Yes. I had to sharpen it on our whetstone. I could not have cut the bread and meat with it before I sharpened it.

Edward Gerard Delaforce, deputy-superintendent at the shipping-office, Tower-hill, stated, - On the morning of the 13th inst. a man came into the office at 10:30 and presented an account for wages in the name of T. Sadler, ship Fez. The amount was £4 15s. 1d. There was some blood on the back of the paper. He said he had been in a row in Thrawl-street, Spitalfields, and was knocked about by some old hags, and he was robbed of a watch valued at £2 10s. That was all he said. The man was in the office about 20 minutes, and was then paid.

John Swanson, chief inspector, Criminal Investigation Department, Scotland-yard, said, - On the 14th inst. I was at Leman-street police station at noon, when Sadler was brought in by Police-sergeant Don. One of the officers who brought him in said, "This is the man Sadler who was with the woman in the lodging-house." I asked him to be seated, and he said, "Am I arrested for it?" I said, "No, certainly not, but it is necessary to take a statement from you to help us to throw some light upon the matter." I took his statement down in writing. It was read over to him, and he said it was correct.

Mr. Mathews then read the following statement, which was checked by Chief Inspector Swanson:-

"Metropolitan Police, Criminal Investigation Department, Scotland-yard, Feb. 14, 1891. - James Thomas Sadler, of Dann’s Boarding House, East Smithfield, says:- I am a fireman and am generally known as Tom Sadler. I was discharged at 7 p.m. on the 11th inst. from the steamship Fez. I think I had a drink of holland’s gin at Williams Brothers’, at the corner of Goulston-street. I then went, at 8:30 p.m., to the Victoria Home. I then left the Home and went into the Princess Alice opposite, and had something to drink. I had no person with me. While in the Princess Alice, between 8:30 and 9 p.m., I saw a woman (whom I had previously known) named Frances. I had known her for 18 months. I first met her in the Whitechapel-road, and went with her to Thrawl-street, to a lodging-house and I stayed with her all night, having paid for a double bed at the lodging-house. I don’t remember the name of the lodging-house where I then stayed with her. I think I then took a ship, the name of which I do not remember. I did not see this woman again until I saw her in another bar of the Princess Alice, and recognizing her, I beckoned her over to me. There was nobody with her. She asked me to leave the publichouse, as when she had got a little money the customers in the publichouse expected her to spend it amongst them. We left the Princess Alice, and went round drinking at other publichouses. Among other houses I went into a house at the corner of Dorset-street, where another woman named Annie Lawrence joined us. Frances stopped me from treating this woman, and we then went to White’s-row-chambers. I paid for a double bed, and we stayed the night there. She had a bottle of whisky (half-pint), which I had bought at Davis’s, White Swan, Whitechapel. I took the bottle back yesterday morning, and the young woman (barmaid) gave me two-pennyworth of drink for it. Frances and I left White’s-row-chambers between 11 and 12 noon, and we went into a number of publichouses, one of which was the Bell, Middlesex-street. We stayed there for about two hours drinking and laughing. When in the Bell, she spoke to me about a hat which she had paid a shilling for a month previously. We then went on the way to the bonnet shop drinking at the publichouses on the way. The shop is in White’s-row or Baker’s-row, and I gave her the half-a-crown which was due for the hat and she went into the shop. She came out again and said that her hat was not ready; the woman was putting some elastic on. We then went into a publichouse in White’s or Baker’s-row, and we had some more drinks. Then she went for her hat and got it; and brought it to me at the publichouse, and I made her try it on. I wanted her to throw the old one away, but she declined, and I pinned it on to her dress. Then we went to the Marlborough Head publichouse, in Brick-lane, and had some more drink. I was then getting into drink, and the landlady rather objected to Frances and me being in the house. I can’t remember what the landlady said now. I treated some men in the house. I can’t say their names. I had met them previously in the same house. From there I had an appointment to see a man Nichols in Spital-street, and I left her there to see Nichols, arranging to meet her again at a publichouse - where I cannot say now, and I have forgotten it. We came down Thrawl-street, and while going down a woman with a red shawl struck me on the head and I fell down, and when down I was kicked by some men around me. The men ran into the lodging-houses, and on getting up I found my money and my watch gone. I was then penniless, and I then had a row with Frances, for I thought she might have helped me when I was down. I then left her at the corner of Thrawl-street without making any appointment that I can remember. I was downhearted at the loss of my money, because I could not pay for my bed. I then went to the London Docks and applied for admission, as I wanted to go aboard the steamship Fez. There was a stout sergeant inside the gate and a constable. They refused me admission, as I was too intoxicated. I cannot remember what hour this was, as I was dazed and drunk. There was a metropolitan police officer near the gate, a young man. I abused the sergeant and constable because they refused me admission. There were some dock labourers coming out, and they said something to me, and I replied abusively, and one of the labourers took it up, saying, ‘If the policeman would turn his back he would give me a good hiding.’ The policeman walked across the road, across Nightingale-lane, towards the Tower way, and as soon as he had done so the labourers made a dead set at me, especially the one who took my abuse. This one knocked me down and kicked me, and eventually another labourer stopped him. I then turned down Nightingale-lane and the labourers went up Smithfield way. I remained in Nightingale-lane for about a quarter of an hour, feeling my injuries. I then went to the Victoria lodging-house in East Smithfield, and applied for a bed, but was refused, as I was so drunk, by the night porter, a stout, fat man. I begged and prayed him to let me have a bed, but he refused. To the best of my belief I told him I had been knocked about. He refused to give me a bed, and I left and wandered about. I cannot say what the time was. I went towards Dorset-street: I cannot say which way, but possibly Leman-street way. When I got to Dorset-street I went into the lodging-house where I had stopped with Frances on the previous night, and found her in the kitchen, sitting with her head on her arms. I spoke to Frances about her hat. She appeared half-dazed from drink, and I asked her if she had enough money to pay the double bed with. She said she had no money, and I told her I had not a farthing, but I had £4 15s. coming to me. I asked her if she could get trust, but she said she could not. I then went to the deputy and asked for a night’s lodging on the strength of the money I was to lift the next day, but I was refused. I was eventually turned out by a man, and left Frances behind in the house. I then went, to the best of my belief, towards the London Hospital, and about the middle of the Whitechapel-road a young policeman stopped me and asked where I was going, as I looked in a pretty pickle. I said that I had had two doings last night, one in Spitalfields and one at the docks. I said I had been cut or hacked about with a knife or bottle. Immediately I mentioned the word knife he said, "Oh, have you a knife about you?" and then searched me. I told him I did not carry a knife. My shipmates, one Mat Curley and another named Bowen, know that I have not carried a knife for years. The policeman helped me across the road towards the hospital gate. I spoke to the porter, but he hummed and hawed about it, and I began to abuse him. However, he did let me in, and I went to the accident ward and had the cut in my head dressed. The porter asked me if I had any place to go to, and I said no, and he let me lay down on a couch in the room where the first accidents are brought in. I can give no idea of the time I called at the hospital. When he let me out, somewhere between 6 and 8 o’clock in the morning, I went straight to the Victoria Home, and begged for a few halfpence; but I did not succeed. I then went to the shipping office, where I was paid £4 15s. 3d. Having got my money, I went to the Victoria, Upper East Smithfield, and stayed there all day, as I was miserable. The furthest I went out was the Phoenix, about 12 doors off. I spent the night there and I was there this morning. I had gone to the Phoenix this morning to have a drink, and I was beckoned out and asked to come here (Leman-street) and I came. As far as I can think, it was between 5 and 6 that I was assaulted in Thrawl-street at any rate it was getting dark, and it was some hours after that that I went to the London Docks. I forgot to mention that Frances and I had some food at Mr. Shuttleworth’s, in Wentworth-street. My discharges are as follows:- Last discharged 11-2-90 in London ship Fez. Next discharge 6-9-90, London. Next 15-7-90, London. Next 27-5-90, Barry. Next 1-10-89, London. Next 2-10-88, London. Engaged, 17-8-86; next, 5-5-87; engaged, 24-3-87, London. The last I had seen of the woman Frances was when I left her in the lodging-house when I was turned out. The lodging-house deputy can give you the name. The clothes that I am now wearing are the only clothes I have. They are the clothes I was discharged in and I have worn them ever since. My wife resides in the country, but I would prefer not to mention it. The lodging-house I refer to is White’s-row, not Dorset-street. It has a large lamp over it. Passing a little huckster’s shop at the corner of Brick-lane and Brown’s-lane I purchased a pair of earrings, or rather I gave her the money and she bought them. I think she gave a penny for them. (This statement was read over to Sadler, who said it was correct as far as he could recollect.)

"DONALD S. SWANSON, Chief Inspector.

"T. ARNOLD, Superintendent."

Detective-sergeant Don, having corroborated the evidence of the witness Harris as to the arrest of the accused at the Phoenix publichouse, added that Sadler said, "I expected this. I am a married man, and this will part me from my wife. You know what sailors are. . . . . I have known Frances for some years. I admit I was with her, but I cannot account for my time. I have not disguised myself in any way, and if you could not find me the detectives in London are no good."

Police-sergeant Ward, having described how the witness Campbell called at the station, continued:- I afterwards said to Sadler, "Sadler, have you sold a knife lately, or at any time to a sailor at the Sailor’s Home?" He replied, "No, certainly not; I never had a knife to sell; the only one I had was an old one, worth about 2d., that I used to cut tin with years ago." I said, "You answer the description of a man who has sold a clasp knife to a sailor on Friday morning, and you will have to stand for identification." Campbell afterwards identified Sadler and said, "I could pick you out of a hundred." Sadler made no reply to that remark.

Frederick John Oxley, M.R.C.S., of 1, Dock-street, described the position of the body when he was called to see it, and said he did not think a drunken man would have been capable of inflicting the wounds.

George Bagster Phillips, M.R.C.S., divisional surgeon, also described the condition of the body when found, and said, - On Saturday morning I made a minute examination of the incision in the throat. There was an external wound, the edges of the skin being not exactly cut through, there being a portion of about an inch long undivided. In my opinion, there were three distinct passings of the knife across the throat - one from left to right, one from right to left, and the third from left to right. Below the wound there was an abrasion, as if caused by a finger nail. Above the wound there were four abrasions, possibly caused by finger nails. From the position of these marks I opine that the left hand was used. There were some contused wounds on the back of the head, which I am of opinion were caused by the head coming into violent contact with paving stones. I came to the conclusion that death had been almost instantaneous, occasioned by the severance of the carotid arteries and other vessels on the left side. In my opinion, the deceased was on the ground when her throat was cut. I think that her assailant used his right hand in making the incisions in the throat, and that he had used his left hand to hold her head back by the chin; that he was on the right side of the body when he made the cuts. The tilting of the body to the left was to prevent the perpetrator from being stained with blood. There was a complete absence of any struggle or even any movement from pain, but it may have arisen from the fact that the woman was insensible from concussion. The knife produced would be capable of inflicting all the wounds found on the neck. It was not a very sharp knife that caused the wounds. On Monday, the 16th, I examined the sailor’s cap produced. It was saturated with blood. The left and right cuffs of a shirt were stained with blood. The coat had two spots of blood on the right breast and two drops on the right sleeve. There was also a deposit of blood inside the right sleeve. The boots had no blood on them. On Monday, the 16th, I examined Sadler at Arbour-square police-station. I found two wounds on the scalp, and the appearances of the blood on the clothes were consistent with its having come from either of these wounds.

By Mr. Lawless. - I do not think the murder was done by a skilful person. From the appearances after death the woman could not have been drunk at the time of her death.

The inquiry was then adjourned till Friday next, when the coroner will sum up.

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