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INQUESTS., Issue 8004, 5 September 1889
Mr Coroner Carew conducted two inquests to-day. The first was held at 12.15 at the South Dunedin Council Chambers, touching the death of an infant named Alfred Henry Ernest Grant. Elizabeth Grant, living in Argyle street, deposed that she was the wife of John Grant, blacksmith at Greenfield station. The deceased child was sixteen monthsold. It had had a cold for about a month. Witness took it to the hospital a month ago. Dr Copland said he did not think there was much wrong with the child, beyond its teething, and witness did not go back to the hospital. It was last Monday night when the child next showed bad symptoms. Next morning witness took it to Mr Dutton, chemist, who said he thought it was mostly teething that was the trouble, and gave her a bottle of syrup, and advised her to keep the child warm. The child rallied during the day, but at night took a turn for the worse. She called in a neighbor —Mrs Power—and told her that she was afraid the boy would not pull through the night. Mrs Power said she did not think he would. Witness said that she would take him to the hospital in the morning. They gave the child a drink of milk, and it became composed and went off to Bleep. Witness fell into a kind of dose, and on awaking at break of day found the child was dead. When witness's husband went up country three weeks since he left her without any money. He had none. The child had suffered from diarrhoea since Sunday, and for the last fortnight had refused anything in the way of solid food. Peter Dutton, chemist, Kensington, said that when the child was brought to him it was exhausted and cold, though properly clothed. It seemed in pain from its teeth. Witness advised that the child should be wrapped up in a warm room with hot bottlss to its feet, and he gave witness a bottle of teething By rup of his own make. It was specially intended to relieve the diarrhoea. The child did not seem very seriously ill, though it appeared to have been convulsed. He did not think the child required medical attendance just then. It was unfit to be out in the cold air, and it was better to take it home than to take it through the weather to the hospital. To the Jury: Witness considered himself able to judge as to what was wrong with the child. It was the custom to prescribe in simple cases. To the Coroner: He had had twenty-five years' experience in the trade, a large portion of the time in the manufacturing districts of Lancashire, and it was the custom there also for chemists to give medicine in simple cases. In serious cases he would certainly recommend the procuring of medical aid. He was not paid for the medicine, and did not ask for payment. Mrs Power deposed that about a week ago she told Mrs Grant that she ought to take the child to the hospital. She would have done so, but the day that she was going turned out wet. Witness thought that the mother had been kind and careful to the child.
Sergeant Macdonnpll said that there were no marks of injury on the body of the child. Mrs Cairns, widow, deposed that on Monday week Mrs Grant was at her house with the child. It reached for a piece of bread on the table. Witness asked her if she had no milk, and she said she had not, adding that the child was starving and Bhe had nothing to give it. Witness said she would send her a fortnight's milk. The child ate the bread greedily. Mrs Grant came back next d»y and said that the child was sick from eating bhe bread the night before. She asked witness what she thought of the child, to which witness answered that she thought it was dying. Mrs Grant screamed out, and said it would not die. Witness saw the child on the Wednesday, and it was no better. She saw it again on Monday. Mrs Grant asked her if she did not think it was teething that was the trouble, and witness again said that it was dying. The child was a delicate one. The mother was very fond of it. Witness often told her to see a medical man. The child rallied from time to time.
The jury returned a verdict of l ' Death from natural causes."
An inquiry into the circumstances attending the death of Charles Roberts, who was found dead yesterday, was held at deceased's residence this afternoon. Mr Gilmour was chosen foreman of the jury. Max Mendershausen said that the body shown to the jury was that of Charles Roberts, who was, witness thought, a Londoner, who had been in the colony about eighteen years. He had been in witness's employ about sixteen or seventeen years, and was a single man, aged about thirty-seven years. Witness did not think he had any relatives in the colony. Witness thought that deceased was not in good health lately, as he seemed morose and lowspirited. He was sometimes absent-minded, more especially of late. Witness was not in deceased's confidence, and ould not explain the reason of the change in his demeanor, but he thought that he had lost some money recently, and that seemed to worry him. His mind was easily upset. The Coroner : Had you any doubt as io his sanity ? Witness: Well, I am not so very much surprised at what has taken place. The Coroner: Will you say why ? Witness : He was so desponding, and used to be of a very bright disposition. The Coroner: Have you ever heard of bis having threatened self-destruction ? Witness : Never. From what I know of him, he must have been insane when he committed the act.
Fanny Radcliffe, keeper of the boardinghouse, gave evidence as to deceased's return to lunch, as to hearing a fall, and as to Messrs Mitchell and Cole bursting open the bathroom door. Deceased did not have his lunch that day. He was latterly not quite so cheerful as usual, and said that he was not very well; but she had noticed nothing to indicate that he was out of his mind.
Arthur Richard Cole, a boarder in the house, said that just before one o'clock yesterday he, at Mrs Radcliffe's request, went up and knocked at the door of the closet and bathroom. He called out three or four times, and getting no answer thought that Mr Roberts was in a fit. Five or ten minutes afterwards Mr Mitchell came in, and he and witness went up together, and after calling out again forced the door. Deceased was lying on the floor. There was blood on one of his shirt sleeves. Witness believed he was dead. Deceased had been a little quiet lately ; nothing more than that. John Mitchell said that when he returned with Dr Brown they went upstairs together, and Dr Brown examined the body as it lay. Witness did not know until some hours afterwards that there was a bullet wound. When the door was burst open Mr Cole remarked that there was a smell of powder. Deceased had been rather quiet of late. He was not easily put out.
Constable Patterson said that when he was shown into the bathroom there was a large pool of blood around deceased's head. There was also a small quantity of blood in the bath and on one side of it, as though he had stood over the bath when he shot himself. Witness was informed that Dr Brown had been to the house. The doctor told him he had just called in and found that Roberts was dead, and, having two patients waiting, he would get Dr Ogston to go down. Dr Ogston went to the house with witness. The room was small and dark, and Dr Ogston could not make an examination, so the undertaker was sent for, and the body removed to a bedroom. On lifting it, witness found a recently-discharged pistol lying on the floor.
A. R. Barclay, solicitor, said that deceased had recently made several alterations in his will, and' the one that he finally assented to was executed on Friday last.
Deceased also instructed witness to draw up a power of attorney, leaving the date blank. He said that he did not feel very well, and might be laid up, and if anything happened to him he desired that the power of attorney should be given to the person named therein. Latterly deceased had becojie taciturn and morose. Witness did not know of any cause for self-destruction, except this might be one: that witness gathered from what he said that he had lost some of his money ; and, furthermore, deceased said that he had been some time in the doctor's hands, and was exceedingly unwell. Dr Ogston said that on examining the body he found a hole in the palate, which on being probed was found to extend to the brain. The hole corresponded to a bullet such as the pistol produced would have held. The pistol had evidently been fired in the mouth. The wound could have been self-inflicted.
The jury's verdict was that deceased shot himself while temporarily insane.
INQUESTS., Issue 8004, 5 September 1889
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