INQUEST ON MRS. WALSH.
DEPLORABLE STATE OP AFFAIRS. An inquest was held at Quill’s Commercial Hotel, on Thursday last, on the body of Annie Walsh, who died suddenly on the night of the 6th inst. Dr. Trevor was coroner, and Mr. Andrew Orr was chosen foreman of the jury. After the jury had viewed the body, the evidence, as under, was taken. Mr. Crisp appeared on behalf of John Walsh. Inspector Pender conducted the examination. - Robert Neill deponed—l am a constable stationed at Ashburton. From instructions received, at about 11 p.m., on Tuesday, the 6th inst., I proceeded to the house of John Walsh, in company with Dr. Ross, Constable Smart, and Michael Murphy. I saw John Walsh, the body of the deceased, and a little boy lying in bed. The deceased had on a night-dress, and her husband was also undressed and in a state of intoxication. I arrested Walsh, and brought the lad away, and left him at Mr. Quill’s. The bedding was in a most filthy state ; the worst I ever saw. Saw a two-gallon jar which contained either brandy or whisky. ‘ There was also a number of glasses and bottles about the house. Dr. Ross was with me. There was o, black mark under deceased’s right eye. By the Coroner—lt was about a quarter' to one on the 7th when we reached the house. By Mr. Quill —The jar containing the liquor was nearly full. By the foreman —Walsh told Dr. Ross his wife was dead. Michael Murphy, sworn, said—l am a laborer, living at Ashburton. Have been living at Walsh’s for tho last ten months. I am not a relative of Walsh’s, but have been workina about the place. Walsh lived near the Alfred Mill, with his wife and one child. Walsh lived on his income. The deceased and her husband lived on very good terms, but both were given to drink. I have had a nip now and then, and could get it whenever I wanted it. The weekly consumption of whisky since the cold weather commenced was two gallons for the three of us. There has only been a dozen of beer in the place during the last fortnight. Walsh and his wife did not eat much, and lived mostly on spirits. Mrs. Walsh had been confined to her bed for the last three weeks. She was always craving to wet her lips, but she did not complain of anything particular. Walsh has been about the house as usual lately. No medical man was called in during Mrs Walsh’s recent illness, nor for the last twelve months. She did not ask to see a doctor. I knew deceased had been sinking for the last three weeks. Walsh would not allow a doctor to be sent for, as he said she would be “said” by him. Deceased only had some beef tea and gruel during her illness. Walsh thought deceased was only putting on. The day before the deceased died Mrs. Griffin was in the house, and washed and cleaned deceased. For three weeks previous deceased had had no attendance, nor was her clothing changed. Walsh never gave any reason for not obtaining a woman to see deceased. ‘ I was about the house ail clay on the 6th, but deceased did not seem to bo any worse. On that day deceased had from me two drinks of whisky, but none from anyone else, to my knowledge. I should think Mrs. Walsh died about 10 o’clock on Tuesday night. She shook hands with me, and said, “ Good-bye,” and I gave her a drink. This took place twenty minutes before she died. She then kissed the boy and said “Good-bye” to Walsh. She did not say she was dying. For the last week she had been saying “goodbye” to me and her husband, and asking me to keep company with her to see the last of her, but I did not think it necessary to go for a doctor. Noticed she had a black eye in the early part of last week, but do not know how she got it. There was no quarrel. The only other people who were in the habit of coming to the house, were the butcher and the baker. Walsh is a man of means, and I believe is paying his way. Know Mrs Roberts. She came to the house on Monday, and with my assistance lifted Mrs Walsh up in bed, and put a clean night dress on her, and a clean sheet under her. Walsh was in bed at the time. Deceased was in the habit of taking whisky nearly every hour. Used to take about half-a-dozen nips of whisky myself during the day, hut have not been drunk during the last three weeks. Cannot say how much Walsh drank. There were two gallons of whisky brought in the day deceased died. The previous two gallons came about the middle of the previous week. By the Coroner—l used to give Walsh his nips about every hour. I brought the two gallons to the house about five o’clock on Tuesday afternoon. By Mr. Quill —Walsh was neither drunk nor sober on Tuesday. I used to buy the liquor by Walsh’s instructions. By Mr. Garnett—Walsh was sober when I assisted to change the clothes of deceased. By the foreman—About a month ago deceased sent me for a policeman to take her away, as she would prefer being in Addington goal again to living in her house. The policeman told me to see Sergeant Pratt. Deceased gave no reason why she preferred Addington gaol. By Mr. Quill Mr. Walsh was not always sober when he instructed me to go for the liquor. By Mr. Boyle—Walsh was quite sober when he told mo to go for the liquor on Tuesday. By the foreman-—I always felt that it was my duty to [do what my employer told me. By Mr. Puddicombe —Do not know when deceased was last out of the house. By Mr. Crisp—When she said she was craving to have her lips wet, I used to attend to her and give her whisky if it was in the house. Whisky was usually in the house. Liquor was usually locked up, but I could get at it. By Mr. Allison —I had to lift up Mrs. Walsh’s head to give her the liquor. [The jar of whisky was .produced, and it was calculated about two quarts had been taken from it.] Jane Roberts, sworn—l am the wife of Weymouth Roberts, living at Ashburton. Have seen the body lying outside. Recognized it as that of Annie Walsh. On Monday last saw her at her own house in bed. On [Sunday, the last witness begged of me very hard to come down to the house, as deceased was dangerously ill. When 1 went into the house, Murphy was under the influence of drink. Walsh was in bed, and was not sober. Deco vsed was very bad, but I do, not know what it arose from. The state of the house and clothing was very dirty. The bed-clothes were filthy ; the whole place smelt very bad. It was as much as I could do to get deceased changed, because of the dirt. Never saw such a filthy place before. There was evidently muchj neglect on the part of some one. When I went in I made up a lire and made some beef tea for deceased, as she was craving for drink, and changed her clothes with the help of Murphy. I asked last witness to go for a doctor, but he said, “ Oh, no : the doctor won’t come.” On the Sunday I also suggested to Murphy to go for a doctor, or for Sergeant Felton. I asked
Walsh why he did not get a doctor, and he said it was no use, as..the doctor would not comd. I remained in the house two or three hours and made the place quite clean. Deceased was sensible the whole time I was there, but beyond telling mo when I first went in that sho was very bad, she never afterwards spoke to mo. It is about six or seven weeks since 1 saw deceased out. Mary Griffin, sworn,-said—-! am the wife of John Griffin, laborer, residing at Ashburton. Have known the deceased for about four years past, but was never in her house until last Monday week, when I went upon some business. 1 knocked at the door, and Mrs. Walsh called out for me to come in. When I got in, Mrs. Walsh and her husband'were in bed; Mrs. Walsh asked me to stay and do some washing. The place was in a most filthy state. Saw Murphy there, he was at work washing the floor. The boy was there, but he was not very dirty. Deceased said she was very bad, and I noticed that she had a black eye. There was nothing said about going for a doctor. Last Sunday Murphy came to my house, and asked me to go and see Mrs. Walsh, as he did not expect her to live. I said I could not go as I was out nursing, but advised him to go for a doctor or the police. While I was in the house, saw Walsh get some whisky ; I. do not know how often, but he got out of bed several times for a drink. By Mr. Crisp—l did not consider Mrs Walsh very bad in health, as I thought that she was suffering from the effects of drink. The place was deplorably dirty. Sergeant Felton, sworn—l am Sergeant of Police, stationed at Ashburton. Saw John Walsh, husband of the deceased, at the lock-up before eight o’clock on the morning of Wednesday, the 7th. I said, “ Hallo, Walsh ; you’ve been drinking again.” He said, “Oh, I was not very drunk, sergeant; my missus is dead.” I took him into my office, and told him that he was charged with causing the death of his wife, and that he was in custody foxmanslaughter. I explained to him that the meaning of the charge was that he had been the cause of his wife’s death by some means. He said, “ You ought not to [charge me with that ; you ought to charge some one else ; you know I have always tried to keep her from drink.” I said, “I know nothing of the kind ; you are in a serious position, and if you want a solicitor, you had better see one.” Walsh said “ Oh, well, she died in my arms. Mr. Crisp is my lawyer.” Saw deceased last alive about three weeks ago, near the Post Office. She said she was glad to see me so well. Told her I hoped she was not going to be up to any of her old tricks again. She said she did not drink xxow. Told her I hoped it was true, aiid said that if she took to drink again , I should send her away again. She was well-dressed, and had the little boy with her, who was also looking like herself —both clean and healthy. Told her I was glad to see the boy looking so well, as I had intended if he was nut well cared for to have taken him from her. Have known both Walsh and deceased for a long time. When I fix-st knew them they were very respectable, but latterly they have been much given to drink. They were both committed once to Addington Gaol as habitual drunkards. Walsh is well off, and has been living on his means for some time. Walsh was well able to pay for medical or other attendance. Murphy has been locked up for drunkenness. By Mr. Crisp—Walsh is sodden from drink, and consequently of weak intellect* I did nokcaution him at the time I told him he was charged with manslaughter. Dr. Ross, sworn, said —At about twelve or half-past on Wednesday morning I was called upon by two constables, and went to the house of John Walsh. Found the man Walsh, with his child, and the body of deceased, in bed. I instructed the constable to take Walsh into custody. Examined the body of deceased, which was warm, but not very warm. I turned down the blanket which was over the deceased. Everything about the bed and the body was in a filthy state, from the natural discharges of the occupants. Saw a jar, and asked that it be removed into another room. The constable shook the jar, which sounded nearly full. Saw a cupboad in another part of the house, with a big padlock and chain on it. Walsh was in a state of chronic alcoholism and verging on delirium tremens. Murphy was drunk. Have made a post mortem examination of the body. Externally the only things noticeable were the filthy state of the skin, and discoloration just below the lid of the right eye—l should say of four or five days’ standing—and excoriation on tho thighs and buttocks from the natural discharges of the deceased. The condition of the heart was healthy, and full of thin dark blood. The lungs were oedematous. This was the immediate cause of death. The liver had undergone a deal of fatty degeneration, and was of enormous size. The kidneys had undergone granular degeneration. All the serus contained fluid. The disease of the liver was or old standing. The stomach and bowels were empty, the former being in a state of chronic congestion. The body was well nourished. I consider the black eye as of no consequence. The whole of the diseases were from drink. I do not think deceased had taken any great quantity of alcohol for a few hours before death, as I did hot detect the smell in any of the organs. The neglect which deceased was subject to accelerated death ; but even had she medical treatment life could not have been prolonged for a long period. She required attention and cleanliness more than medicine. By the Coroner—Under any circumstances, even had she had attendance, she must have died shortly. By Mr. Crisp—To my knowledge, the woman had the diseases about a year and a-lialf ago, and whenever she took alcohol it would make the diseases worse. The woman’s death certainly resulted from alcohol. The coroner stated that what the jury had to do was to decide whether John Walsh was guilty of manslaughter—whether the deceased died from neglect, and whether that neglect was criminal neglect. Mr. Crisp protested against the coroner making such a statement to the jury, as all that the jury had to do was to consider how the deceased came to her death. The Coroner declined to accept Mr. Crisp’s objection and went on to say that the evidence of the only medical witness was to the effect that deceased could not have lived long. The evidence went to show there was a deal of neglect, but how far that neglect was due to the deceased’s own 'fault was not stated. Walsh was, as stated by the Sergeant of Police, a man of weak intellect through his constant drinking habits, and he (the coroner) thought that Walsh was certainly not responsible for his actions. He thouglit the charge of manslaughter had broken down. But that point would have to be’decided by the jury. The Coroner deplored that such a state of things which had been revealed by the evidence should exist in any civilised community ; in fact it would be a disgrace to a heathen community, and he was very sorry that it should exist in Ashburton. , The jury then retired, and after an hour’s deliberation, returned and gave the following verdict: —“ That the deceased died from excessive drinking, and that her death was by the neglect of her husband', John Walsh, and Michael Murphy.” The foreman, in explanation, stated that the jury considered that the neglect was not intentional or criminal, but arose more from stupidity or ignorance than from anything else. A rider was attached to the verdict to
the following effect :—“That the jury are of opinion the parties are much to blame who supplied Walsh with such quantities of liquor. Mr. Parkin said it had coine out in evidence who sold the liquor—Messrs. Edmiston, Gundry, and Co.—but it was not recorded. The Coroner explained that there was no necessity for recording the fact of who sold the liquor, as it did not bear upon the case. Mr. Quill wished to state that the publicans of Ashburton, in accordance with instructions from the police, had refrained from supplying either the deceased or her husband with liquor for the last twelve months. The Coroner (after requesting, the representatives of the press to take note of Mr. Quill’s statement) called upon the witness Murphy, and severely censured him for his conduct throughout the painful affair, a course of action which showed that his (Murphy’s) conscience was in a ver}- bad state, especially when he fetched liquor for the deceased and her husband, knowing that it was killing them. Referring to Murphy’s own drinking habits, the Coroner advised him to at once relinquish them, or ere long he would be committing a greater crime—that of suicide. , The Coroner, addressing Walsh, said that the remarks which had been made to Murphy would also apply to himself, hut anything further he would refrain from saying, as Walsh would come before the Magistrate the next day. Dr. Trevor instructed Sergeant Felton to notify to the hotelkeepers and others that they were on no account to supply Murphy or Walsh with intoxicating liquors.
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Ashburton Guardian, Ashburton Guardian, Volume 1, Issue 124, 10 July 1880
INQUEST ON MRS. WALSH. Ashburton Guardian, Volume 1, Issue 124, 10 July 1880
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