5 June 1901
Mr. Wynne E. Baxter, Coroner, resumed his inquiry at the Stepney Borough Coroner's Court yesterday into the circumstances attending the death of Mary Ann Austin, aged 28 years, the wife of a stoker, who died in the London Hospital on the 27th ult. from stabs received in a common lodging house, 35 Dorset street, Spitalfields, the previous morning. William Austin, the husband of the murdered woman, was present in Court in the custody of two warders from Holloway Gaol, and watched the proceedings with marked interest. Superintendent Mulvaney, H Division, and Detective Inspector Divall watched the case for the Commissioner of Police; and Mr. G.Q. Roberts, house governor of the London Hospital, appeared on behalf of that institution.
Daniel Sullivan, of 4 Paternoster row, Spitalfields, a waterside labourer, deposed that he occasionally took charge of the lodging houses belonging to his brother in law, Mr. Crossingham, which included 35 Dorset street. The witness answered the Coroner's questions in such a manner that he was at last warned that the would get into trouble unless he told the truth. He then said that he went to 35 Dorset street on Sunday, the 26th ult., between 7 and 8 o'clock. Henry Moore, the deputy, subsequently asked the witness to assist in carrying a woman downstairs to a cab. This the witness did; but he had no knowledge of the reason why the woman was being removed, and he was not told to take her to any particular place. The cabman took them to the London Hospital, where the witness told the porter that he thought it was a "queer case." If the porter said that he told him it was a stabbing case he would be telling an untruth. The witness went back to the lodging house, and took no further steps in the matter. It was not a fact that he had been trying to prevent witnesses from telling the truth. Three detectives called at the house on the Sunday afternoon, and asked to be shown the room from which the witness had taken the woman. Although reminded by the Coroner that the police knew nothing of the matter until the Monday, the witness maintained that the officers called on the Sunday and said he took them to cubicle No. 44 on the first floor. He admitted that he would not be surprised to know that the injuries were not inflicted in No. 44. He first heard that the woman was not injured on the first floor on Sunday. He did not tell the deputy to stick to it that the affair occurred in No 33. He was not aware that the deceased's clothing had been destroyed. He did not know why she had been sent to the hospital on other people's clothing.
The Coroner - Personally, I do not believe half you have said.
The Witness - You can please yourself. I am telling you the truth.
The Coroner - No, you are not. You may find you will suffer the consequences.
The Witness - I do not see where I have made a mistake.
The Coroner - You have run as close to the wind as you possibly could.
Maria Moore, the wife of the deputy at 35 Dorset street, was recalled, and admitted that it was not true that she took the deceased and the man to No. 44, on the first floor. She took them to No. 15, on the third floor. The witness added that she had since recognized the man, and had so sworn at the police court. The last couple were taken up by the witness to the third floor between 1 o'clock and half past 1 on Sunday morning. At1.30 the gas was put out, and everything was then quiet. The witness still maintained that she was awake all night, and that there was no cry for assistance. The gate was opened for the lodgers to go out at about 6.30; but it was not till between 8.30 and 9 o'clock that Mrs. Davis told the witness that a woman had been stabbed in No. 15. She went to No. 15 but found nothing disturbed at that time, nor did she see any blood on the wall. The bed was bloodstained, and the woman complained of having been hurt by a man.
The Coroner - When was she moved to No 44?
The Witness - Daniel Sullivan put her there on the way downstairs.
Where was the doctor shown? - To No. 15. He is mistaken if he says it was No. 44. The witness added that Sullivan fetched the woman from No. 15, and not from No. 44. The witness had not told the truth before in order to screen Sullivan, by preventing the police from seeing the blood in No. 15. Amy Day dressed the deceased in her own clothing.
The Coroner - I am informed you are mistaken.
The witness added that a green petticoat, a green silk handkerchief, and a stocking were found in No. 15 after the deceased had been removed. The witness did not notice any blood on the walls.
The Coroner - We shall have evidence that there was blood on the north, south, and west sides of the cubicle, and also on the floor.
The witness afterwards stated that a woman named Baker brought the clothing to her, and was told to burn it on account of its dirty condition. The witness did not notice that the clothing was bloodstained. She recognized Austin when he walked into the waiting room after having given his evidence.
The Coroner - Do you see the man now?
The Witness (after a long stare round the court) - Yes; there he is between the two policemen.
Have you any doubt in your own mind at all? - No, Sir.
What was he wearing? - A navvy's pair of boots, a cord pair of trousers, and a dark navy blue coat.
You said before he had a billycock hat on? - He had a cap on.
And you said you would not know him again if you saw him. How came you, having recognized the man, to give such a description of him? You said he was short. I do not see how you can explain that.
We see so many people.
The prisoner - Did you ever see me in that street before?
The witness - Not before I let you up to that double.
The prisoner - You never let me have a double yet.
Frances Davis, a lodger, recalled, stated that she told the lie about No.44 at the instigation of the deputy Moore, who said it would save a lot of trouble.
Henry Moore, the lodging house deputy, recalled, stated that he told a lie about No. 44 as Sullivan had already misled the police. The witness told other witnesses to make false statements about the number of the cubicle. He did not think Austin was the guilty party.
The witness, while giving evidence, was suddenly taken ill and had to receive medical attention.
The evidence of the woman Baker, a bedmaker, as to the condition of No. 15 cubicle having been given, the inquiry was again adjourned, the Coroner remarking that the whole afternoon had been practically wasted through the lies and mistakes of the witnesses.
The inquest will be resumed on Tuesday afternoon next.