11 December 1894
THE HOLLAND-PARK-ROAD CRIME.
The inquiry into the painful circumstances connected with the murder of Augusta Dawes in Holland-park-road, Kensington, on Sunday night, November 25, was resumed and concluded yesterday before Mr. C. Luxmoore Drew, the West Middlesex coroner, and a jury, at the Kensington Town-hall. The court was crowded. Mr. Horace Avory, barrister, appeared for the Public Prosecutor; Superintendent Ferrett, Chief Inspector Swanson, and Detective Inspector Smith watched the case for the police. Colonel Saunderson, M.P., accompanied by Mr. Llewellyn Saunderson, the father of the young man who is charged with the murder, was present during the inquiry.
Walter Knee, a baker, of Chelsea, identified the deceased as his cousin. She was about 29 years of age and was the daughter of a wine merchant's manager, of Bristol, who was dead.
T.G. Foreman, a riding master, of 25, Holland-park-road, said he was in bed on the night of the murder at 11 45. He heard a scream in the street, and directly afterwards a thud, and then heard two people running. Ten minutes afterwards he heard the police whistle blown.
William Case, groom, of 27, Holland-park-road, said that at 11 30 he heard a man and a woman talking under his window. They were not quarrelling. He heard no scream, but heard two people running.
Valetta French, a barmaid at the Holland Arms, said the deceased woman was in that house alone at 11 o'clock on the night of the murder.
Richard Stubbles said he saw the deceased woman about 11 30 in Holland-park-road. She was with a gentleman, and they were walking together. The man's back was towards him and he did not see his face. He was tall and smart-looking, and was wearing a long overcoat and a hard felt hat. He was leaning on a walking-stick with a crooked handle. The stick which was found and now produced was similar to the one he saw. Witness was chasing his old cat in the road, and was quite close to them. They moved off in the direction of Addison-road. He often heard noises in that neighbourhood, so he took no notice of the row he heard on the night in question.
Herbert Schmalz, an artist, of the Studios, Holland-park-road, deposed that he was going to post a letter on the night of November 25, when he saw a man and a woman. The man was on the footpath and the woman was against the wall. Afterwards he was asked to make a sketch of what he saw, and did so. But the man's face was in shadow, and he could not, therefore, well remember it. As he returned from the pillar-box he saw them again. The woman was still leaning against the wall and the man was close to her. They got closer together, and then they both fell down. He did not hear any scream.
Mr. Avory.-What next attracted your attention?-I heard something about "brutes." That is all I can recollect. It was the woman's voice I heard. I hurried forward and said, "What the devil are you doing?" I picked up a stick. When I got 15 or 20 yards from them the man jumped up and ran away in the direction of Addison-road.
Continuing, the witness said he ran after the man, but lost sight of him in High-street, Kensington. In his pursuit he passed the woman, who was on her knees, exclaiming, "O Christ!" Having lost sight of the man, he returned to his house. A little later, after he had gone to bed, he heard a police whistle blown.
Counsel.-Do you think you would know the man again?-I am unable to say that, to be on the safe side. The man was a very fast runner.
Evidence as to the finding of the knife having been given,
Francis Rollison, one of the masters at Eastcote, Hampton Wick, said Reginald Saunderson was one of the pupils there, and he was well acquainted with his writing. He had no doubt that the letter and envelope produced, and dated November 27, 1894, had been written by Saunderson.
Mr. Avory.-The letter is signed "Jack the Ripper," and is addressed to "The Police Station, Kensington, London, W., England."
The witness went on to give details as to Saunderson's escape from Hampton Wick, and as to his possession of a knife similar to that found.
Mrs. Mary Langdon-Downs, of Eastcote, wife of Dr. Langdown-Downs [sic], said Saunderson had been a resident there for six years. He had absented himself many times for short periods without permission, and had had to be brought back, but not within the past two years.
At this juncture Mr. Llewellyn Saunderson interposed, in response to an inquiry by the coroner as to whether there was anybody present to represent the accused, and said he felt it his duty to give the Court information as to his boy's past history. It was now six years since he discovered that his son's mind was defective, and he was advised to put him under medical care.
The CORONER.-The question of insanity is not a matter for this Court to inquire into.
Mr. Saunderson, continuing, said his residence was in Switzerland, but he was now living at Kington. His son's full name was Reginald Traherne Bassett Saunderson, and he was 21 on November 23 last.
Mrs. Eliza Ahrens, of St. Albans-place, Haymarket, W.C., said she had known Reginald Saunderson for about one year. He had stayed at her house. He called on her on Sunday, November 25, about 10 o'clock at night, and asked for a room for himself. He also said he should want one for his brother on the following day. His brother, he added, had come from India, and was at that moment at the Constitutional Club. She told him she was unable to let him have a room that night, but that she would accommodate his brother on the following day. Saunderson complained of having been very ill with rheumatic fever. She advised him to go back to the Constitutional Club and stay there. He asked how far it was to Tottenham-court-road and to Euston. He did not say where he was going to sleep that night.
William Hollier said he was a fishmonger's assistant at Harrow. On November 26 he was driving form London to Harrow. About 8 15 a.m., when he was at Stonebridge-park, six miles from London, he picked up a gentleman who asked him for a lift. That gentleman was the prisoner Saunderson. On the journey the gentleman said he had seen a dreadful murder on Sunday night near Holland-park-road. He said it was a woman who had been murdered. In reply to a question he told the witness that he was going to see a Mr. Davidson, an assistant-master at Harrow School. He added that he had come from Guildford on the Friday. Asked how he was going back, he said it would be all right when he had seen his friend. He had, he said, been walking the whole of the night before. Witness noticed that he walked lame when he got down opposite the King's Head Hotel, Harrow, at 9 5. He was dressed in a dark suit, but had no great coat, gloves, stick, or umbrella.
Mr. Davidson, said that Saunderson called upon him a little after 9. He said he had ridden on his bicycle from Portsmouth, and that while he was stopping at a house in Willesden the bicycle was stolen. He had spoken to the police and they had advised him that it was no good troubling about the matter any further. As he had no other friends near, Saunderson said he had walked into Harrow to see him. He asked for a loan to enable him to get back to Portsmouth, where his aunt resided. Witness knew he had been in charge of a doctor near London, but did not know where. He lent him a sovereign, and found out when he could return to Portsmouth. He also telegraphed to the address which Saunderson gave him, but the telegram was returned as the address was not known. Saunderson told him of a lot of dreadful things that, he said, had occurred lately, one being that a fire had broken out at a hotel in Switzerland in which a young girl was burnt to death. Also, he said, that as he was passing through London a policeman near Westminster-bridge asked him to help to lift up a murdered woman, whose throat had been cut. He said his glove had thus got covered with blood. He left at half-past 10, but returned half an hour later saying that the money he had received was not enough, and that he wanted half-a-crown more. Witness lent him 3s. more. Saunderson said he was going to stay in London that night at the Arundel Hotel, where he expected to meet his father.
Detective-inspector Smith, of the F Division, said he received a letter at Kensington Police-station on November 28. It was sent from Dublin, and the envelope bore the words, "Police Station, Kensington, W., London, England." The letter ran as follows:-"Dublin, Nov. 27th.-Dear Sir,-The murder that was committed I did it. I did it just to the right of the door of a gentleman. I got her by the throat and tried to choke her, but without success. I got her on the ground and cut her knife with a sloid knife. It was a very good cut. When I had cut her a fellow was coming along, so I flew for my life, but left the stick, and the knife was thrown away in the back lane in a back street. I did the murder at 12 30. So good bye. On the job. From Jack the Ripper. You will find my name is well known at certain places round there. I am now at------." That was the letter which had been identified as being in Saunderson's handwriting.
Thomas Thompson, Detective-sergeant, of the F Division, said he and Sergeant Dyson took Saunderson over from the custody of the Royal Irish Constabulary.
The CORONER.-Has the accused made any statement?-No, Sir.
The CORONER, before summing up, asked Mr. Llewellyn Saunderson whether he would like to call any witnesses, and received a reply in the negative.
The jury found that the deceased woman was murdered, and that the cause of her death was hemorrhage from wounds in the throat inflicted by Reginald Saunderson. They added a rider calling attention to the insufficient lighting of Holland-park-road, and suggesting that the road could be improved so that it might not be a harbour for questionable characters.
The inquest lasted nearly three hours.