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THE GEORGE STREET TRAGEDY.

-THE CORONER’HTNQtJEST

Theadjourned inquest befoba .Mr Coroner (Cumstat ccs'attending the death of Ruth Ann Clement* r who was .found dead in: a house. in ; Lethabj'a right-of-way, offQeorge street, oh the evening of Monday,-November IS, was resumed Ih the Magistrate's Court at 10.30 this morning,; InspectorPardy conducted the examination oftbe witnesses, and Mr Hanlon -appeared to : watch the proceedings on behalf of OhSrles Clements, .who was also present, ini custody, on the charge' of having murdered the deceased. -- ” ■ ■■ - 1 =

Constable Hickey (recalled) deposed thatjm Monday,’The'dSthr-at'a .quarter. .to?sfi, ; he went to Clements’s house with.Peterßoas and at bis request. They went in at the back door and through to-the bedroom. : He there saw paries Clements, deceased, and two children. They were- ’• all, in one bed. dementis was Oh the outside of the bed beside Mrs Clements,.. The children were! lying af-Yhe foot of the ■ bed, with their, heads towards the foot of the bed. When he went in he noticed blood on the floor and also on the bed cover.’ Peter Ross said to Clementsi “ What have you been doing, Charley.; have you killed her?” Clements replied ‘‘l have bad plenty of cause to do so.” That was all that took place at that time. -The blinds on the window of the room were down; He could see a cut.on Clements’s throat, and also clotted blood. There were also cuts on Ruth dementi’s throat, and she was covered with blood. Witness sent Rots away for a doctor, and while he was away witness asked Charles dements what he had been doing, as the woman was dead. Clements replied that she had done it herself with a' knife and a tomahawk. He afterwards said ho was sorry the knifg was not long enough, as he would have done for himself also., ,He said he hit the knife with the tomahawk into his own and into his wife’s throat. Nothing further was said until Dr- Fulton arrived. The doctor examined Mrs Clements, and said she had been dead some hours. He examined Clements and ordered him to be taken to the hospital. Before be was taken to the hospital Clements said: “I have plenty of cause fo: doing so, as she was going under some illegal operations with Mrs , I was always hindering her from doing so.” Just before the doctor arrived witness asked Clements where the knife and tomahawk were. He pointed under the bed, and witness and Sergeant O’Neill sub-eqaently searched for them and found them in the kitchen. They were led to the kitchen by blood-stained footmarks. • There was blood in the kitchen, and it appeared.to have been brought there by someone walking. Dr Fulton deposed that he visited Clements’s house on the 15th inst., about six o’clock in the He went into the bedroom and saw Charles Clements and Mrs Clements iu the bed. There were no children there then. He took hold of Mrs Clements’s arm and remarked that the woman had been -dead for hours. He was still of that opinion. She had been dead for more than twelve hours. Ho then examined Clements, and found an incised and punctured wound in the throat. There was -also a considerable amount of blood about the floor and bed. Ho found that t lements was not bleeding,' and that his pulse was quite strong, and ordered his removal to the hospital. In reply to a question from witness, Clements said that if the knife had been long enough ■he would have finished for himself, and that it wasn’t his fault that he was alive. Witness noticed a small wound on Clements’s wrist, and asked Clements how it came there, to which he replied “ She did it.” Witness asked him how it all came about, and ho replied : ” She did it. It’s all on account of unlegal operations. She was always carrying on with Mother .” Witness cautioned Clements about saying such things, and he replied that he would take good care it would all come out later. . Clements at no time suggestedto witness that he. had killed his wife, but several times repeated “ She did it.” He said he had put the knife into his own throat and hit it with the tomahawk. When Sergeant O’Neill arrived on the scene he washed the wounds on deceased’s neck and removed a large clot of blood. He found one very .deep wound practically severing the windpipe, and further back an incised wound and also a deep puncture. He found no sign of wound or fracture about the skull. He did not disturb the blood which was olotted on the hair. The deceased was lying with her hands clenched by her sides. Ths bead was thrown back on the pillow, with the teeth exposed and, the eyes partly open. There was some female wearing apparel neatly laid upon the foot of the bed, and, as-far as he could see, entirely free irom bloodstains. .He did not think it was at all possible that the wound in the front of the deceased’s neck and which severed the windpipe ■ donld have been Inflicted by the woman herself. The wounds further back could possibly have been self-inflicted. He sa(W the tomahawk and knife Tying on the kitchen floor,, where they were found by Sergeant O’Neill, and he did not think it was possible that they could have been placed there by the deceased after receiving the wounds described, and then to have returned to the bed. He did not see any traces of blood in the passage, but did not look closely for them. Had deceased passed along the passage after receiving the wounds there would have been a large quantity of blood on the floor and also there would have been' blood on the lower portions of her body. There were no blood marks on deceased below her waist. The floor of the bedroom was a mass of broken crockery, glass, picture frames, and woodwork, and he (witness) made the remark to the constable that “they must have been fighting here terribly.” Clements interposed by saying: “ There was no fight at all; that all happened on Saturday.” Sergeant O’Neill told Clements to get up and put on his trousers. Clements’ said: “Take care of my clothes; my money is there. There Is £2O there.” Sergeant O’Neill said; “ "We will take very good care,” and asked witness to go to the window and see him count it. They counted £l9 8a 9J. Clements said there was -£2O 8s 9d. Witness watched the money carefully counted, and agreed with the sergeant that there was only £l9 8s 9d. The money was rolled up and the sergeant took charge of it. Witness heard subsequently that Clements was right—that there was £2o'Bs 9d—two of the notes having got stuck together. During all the time he was with Clements the latter was quite rational, but sullen and morose. being taken to the hospital Clements asked to see the children, as he wanted to kiss them. Witness advised that this should not be complied with, as Clements was covered with blood, and would give the children a great shock. Clements said: “ Oh! that won’t matter,”

The Coroner asked Clements (Mr Hanlon being absent from the court at the time) if he wished to ask witness any questions. Clements replied: “Mr Hanlon is acting tor me.” To the Coroner, witness said that from the appearance of the body he thought that deceased had, been lying on the back, probably asleep or unconscious, when the wounds were inflicted. That was the opinion he had formed from the position the body was in, not from the wounds alone.

The Coroner; If it is found that there was a wound at the back of deceased’s head, would that alter your opinion ? Witness: The wound might have been there for some days previously. I would prefer not to answer that question. Sergeant O’Neill gave evidence corroborative ot the previous witness’s statements regarding the positions of the bodies, the condition of the room, and the finding of the knife and tomahawk. The knife was a pocket knife, open, and was smeared with blood. The tomahawk was smeared with blood on the head and handle. [1 he knife and tomahawk were produced;] He saw. blood-stained footprints on the passage floor leading to the kitchen. Ho also corroborated Dr Fulton’s evidence regarding the counting of the money found in Clements’s pocket. On subsequently recounting the money at the police station thatnight he found that Clements’s statement tnat there was £2olßs 9d was correct. He went in the cab with Clements to the hospital. When getting him out of the cab witness said: “ I will have to arrest you for the murder of your wife, Clements.” He replied: “Very well, sir,” and said no more. Constable Aldridge was left In charge of Clements at the hospital.

Peter Ross, residing in Athol place, deposed that he knew the deceased, Ruth Ann Clements. She was his wife’s sister. On Monday, the 15th he went to Clement’s house at about a quarter to six o’clock. He knocked at the front door and got no answer. He then went round to the back door and knocked, but got no answer. The keys seemed to be on the inside of each of the locks.-- The blinds were down in front of the house. He forced the back door open with his knee, and walked in, going along a passage to the bedroom. He went into the room, but /could not see. He struck a match and saw Charles Clements lying on his back in front of the bed. Everything seemed covered with blood. He said: “ What have you been doing, Charley ? ’ Clements replied: “ I have done it; I have had plenty of provocation,” or something to that effect. He saw the two children sitting up at the foot of the bed. The girl was six years old and the boy about four. He did not think they were injured, hut did not speak to them, and they did not speak to him. The children were facing Clements. Witness went for a constable and returned with Constable Hickey. They raised the blind.. He could see a heap behind Clement?, bat did not then dis' tinguisb it as Mrs Clements.

The inquest at this stage (one o’clock) was adjourned for an honr.

Uponresuming,' ' , Witness raid .that-when ■h6 returned with the he.haok. of-the-;bed to be Mrs Clements. He believed that Mif and 'Mrs . Clemehta were married at Sydney : ®ejfOl".■ Deceased’s maided namewas! Nioholßodi and she-was twenty-seven years of age.- .. .< . : . ;; : Ethel Gilligan deposed that oh the 15th inst. she resided In Lethaby’s right-of-way, and knew Clements by flight.; . She Jived in the house .adjoh log- the one (coupled 1 y the. Clem*nti. She heard no disturbance oh tne Sunday night! Ph the Saturday morning she heard loud wprds,’ and also what she thought‘was the smashing of crockery.- : »•••. ■ ■ ... ■ Mrs Brandon-,. Cremer, living in I.ethaby’s nght-of-way/ deposed that , she knew Charles Oleraenta: by.eight* and deceased personally, havihg spoken to her two or three times. On the Saturday - morning witness heard the -Clements quarrelling, between seven'and" eight o clock. 'Mrs Clements whs sitting on the door--step, knitting, was inside the. nouse. Mrs Clements sat on the doorstep and laughed, and Clements started to smash things Inside—apparently in the bedroom. Between nine and ten o’clock she heard Mr Clements use very filthy language towards his wife. Previous to this Mrs Clements had wanted her little girl' to go for the. police, but the child did not seem to understand. When witness heard the bad language she went outside. She saw Clements ’ trying to tear the clothes off his wife’s back. They were then in their kitchen, but witness could see right in as her house was exactly opposite that occupied by- Clements. Mrs Clements was resisting her husband. Witness threatened to go for a policeman, but did not do so. About an hour, afterwards witness saw Mrs Clements J9 away r and shortly afterwards Mr Clements locked the door-and followed his wife. Mrs Clements returned at about a quarter past seven that evening. Witness passed her in the right-of-way and‘-asked’ her how -she was. Mrs Clements said she was going to get a separation on the Monday.- Witness looked round and saw Mr Clements, who bad returned some time previously, standing at the door watching them. Witness next saw Mrs Clements at eight o’clock on the Sunday night, and never; saw her again Mrs Clements always appeared to witness to be a hardworking woman, and kept Jier children very clean. . Margaret Williams deposed that she resided with her husband, David Williams, on the reclaimed land "near Rattray street. Deceased, Ruth Clements, was her sister, and was twenty"pine years of-age. The Clements were married in Sydney about seven years ago. She had seen the marriage lines in Clements’s pocket. On the night of Saturday, the 13th inst., she went to her sister’s place. f i he bedroom was all upside down, pictures and crockery were broken, clothes torn up in strips. The children were in bed-at the foot of the bed. Witness said to Mr Clements; “What have you been doing, Charley ; what a' mess you have made in the house.” Clements said: “lam never sorry for anything I do.” Deceased sai l in her husband’s presence that she was going away on Monday morning. Witness said: “ Give him another chance.” Deceased said she would not, as every time she went back he- played up worse and worse. Clements made no remark to these statements. Witness wenfback again on the following day (Sunday). Mr and Mrs Clements were in the kitchen. Witness asked her sister what they had to live on, and she replied “a little rice.” Deceased further said she had all her things packed to go away on Monday morning. She asked Clements what he was going to do now, and he replied: “That is my business, Mrs Williams, not yours.” Deceased said they were always fighting and quarrelling. Witness ieft shortly afterwards, and never saw her sister alive again. By Mr Hanlon : Clements was present in the room, and heard deceased say that she' had her things pac'ted np ready to go away on the Monday. He made no remark to the statement. At 2.50 the inquest-was adjourned till 3.30 in order that Dr Roberts, who made the post mortem , might be examined. Upon resuming, " Dr Roberts deposed .that. on Wednesday, November 17, he made a post mortem examination of deceased at the house in Dethaby’s right-of-way. He found the body had been well nourished. The nightdress on the left side of the body had been soaked with Wood, which was dry. The same was also the case with the mattress, and on the floor under that part of the bed there was also blood. It bad evidently soaked through the mattress. On examining the body he first noticed two wounds on the neck. One, in the front, was a transverse wound, two inches in length, and gaping considerably for about an inch and a-half. The wound was free from blood clot at that time, having apparently been washed. The wound was a deep one, and entered from the right of the windpipe across the windpipe to about an inch on the left side. The wound was very much deeper on the right side than on the left. On the right side it completely divided the internal jugular veins, and partially divided the carotid artery. The windpipe was divided transversely not a clean cut, but In a jagged manner. The rest of the wound appeared to be clean out. This wound was undoubtedly the most serious of the injuries, for the reason that it divided the large vessels on the right side of the neck, and was sufficient to produce death in a few minutes from bleeding. The second wound was on the left side of the neck across the large muscles of the neck, and shallowed down to a mere scratch. It was also about 2m in length. It was not an important wound, as it divided no important vessels. There were no other marks of violence on the neok. He found a small recent bruise on the left cheekbone. The hair on the left side of the head was covered with blood. On examining the scalp in that situation he found a wound about two inches above the left car, extending upwards and forwards. It was about two inches in length, and was jagged and appeared- as if it had been inflicted by a blunt instrument, either by a fall or a blow. He also found a small punctured wound hardly half an inch in length it. the upper portion of the left ear, penetrating the cartilage of the ear. These were the only marks of violence. The important wound in the front of the neok had not the character of a self-inflicted wound, presuming the individual was right-handed, for the reason that it was shallower on the left side than on the right. . The second wound was deeper on the right side than on the left, and appeared as if it had. been inflicted by a knife from behind forwards. The only fact against its being a self - inflicted wound was that it extended upwards close to the angle of the jaw. The wounds on the ear and on. the head did not appear to have been self-inflicted. None .of the wounds gave him the impression that they were self-inflicted. The second wound might have been self-inflicted, hut was not typical of self-inflicted wounds, because it had an upward tendency, whilst that of self-inflicted wounds was downward*. The jaggedness of the cut in the windpipe night be explained by a blunt instrument having been used. He should say that it was not a sharp instrument which had been employed and considerable force had been used. All-the internal organs were normal, except the lungs, both of which were in a fairly advanced stage of consumption. He found nothing to indicate any attempt to procure abortion or sign of any disease. The knife produced was sharper at the point than at the heel or at the middle of the blade, and would fit the wound—the blade being about the same length as the wound. With a fair amount of force the important wound could have been inflicted with that knife. The nature of the wound admitted of the possibility of the knife being placed across the windpipe and then being struck with a tomahawk. The slice of the thyroid gland favored the supposition of direct pressure. Death was due to bleeding, and the wound in the front of the neck was' of itself sufficient to cause death. This concluded the evidence, and the Coroner commenced to sum up at 4 35 A verdict of “"Wilful murder” was returned against Charles Clements.

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Permanent link to this item

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/ESD18971123.2.26

Bibliographic details

THE GEORGE STREET TRAGEDY., Evening Star, Issue 10478, 23 November 1897

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THE GEORGE STREET TRAGEDY. Evening Star, Issue 10478, 23 November 1897

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