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MOUNT ROYAL FATALITY

THE INQUEST OPENED, BUT NOT CONCLUDED. Vn inquest: was opened on Saturday, before Mr 11. O’Neill (acting coroner) and a jurv of six. on the body of James Ross, who died at Mount Royal Station, presumably from poisoning. Detective-ser-geant Ward, from Dunedin, was present. The first witness called was Elizabeth Jane Walters (wife of John Charles Waltors, who was also taken violently ill). Witness stated that sho lived at her husband's home iit ‘25 Main road, Kaikorai, and on Tuesday last she made a rice custard, which she sent, together with Other in-tick's of food, to her husband at Mount Royal Station. In reply to Detective-sergeant Ward witness said she put into the custard two eggs, half a cup of sugar, some nutmeg, a tin of condensed milk, and about lib of rice. Tho milk had no label on it. Asked if she noticed anything the matter with the milk, witness said that when she put the tin opener into the lid -the, contents commenced to fizz. Continuing, witness said she emptied the milk out of the tin into a basin, and then poured hot water over it to dissolve it. When it was ready she poured it over the_ eggs, sugar, and rice, which she had divided into two dishes, and then placed them in the oven to cook. After having cooked the custards she served one of them to her children, setting the other on one side for the purpose of sending to her husband. Her eldest daughter Lydia, aged 10 years, was the first served, and after tasting tho custard she said it was bitter, and had a burnt taste. Minnie, Charles, and Dolly each made the same remark upon being served, and refused to eat the custard. Witness thereupon tasted it, and it had a bitter taste, like salt. A few minutes afterwards a faint feeling came over her, and she had to loosen her clothes. She felt bad the whole of the next day, and had to go home from her work. Questioned further by Detective-sergeant Ward, witness said tfiat when the children refused to eat the custard, and she felt ill from the effects of it, she threw it away. Detective-sergeant Ward : And you sent the ether custard to your husband ? Yes; together with some scones, cakes, jam, and meat. I packed them all in one tin. The. scones and cake were bought, but I cooked the meat myself. Detective-sergeant Ward ; You are quite sure that the milk bore no label? —Tho tin I bought had no label, but since th-,a similar tins have bec-u labelled “ Blue Ribbon.” In reply to further questions, witness said her husband a fortnight ago went to work on Mount .Royal Station. She had no disagreement with him before he left. Detective-sergeant Ward ; Have you had any disagreements with him of a serious nature at any time ? Did you not have him before the Court some time ago, when you applied for a maintenance order against him?— Yes, I did; bub that was through a housekeeper we had while I was in the hospital. She told me that he was never at home, and that he was not providing for the children, and advised me to go for a maintenance and separation order against him, which I did. and the case was dismissed. Witness said she attributed her illness to the condensed milk in the custard.

Detective-sergeant Ward ; Did you tell your husband of tho sickness when you sent the provisions to him?— No. It did not occur to ms that the second custard would be affected. I did not tell anyone about being- il! as the result of using condensed milk. The Foreman : Does it not strike you as being-somewhat strange that you did not tell your husband that you and the children had been affected by the custard?— Witness (weeping) : ' I never thought of it. Witness said further that no poison was kept in the house. She did not know the deceased. John Charles Walters stated that he was a laborer. He went to work at the Mount Royal Station on October 1. He was employed on a diTclung contract with 9 or 10 other men. Tho deceased was the cook, and had known him for oniy about a fortnight or three woks. Witness received from his wife a parcel of food on Tuesday, and with it a letter stating that another parcel of food would follow. The first parcel contained radishes and onions. The second parcel arrived on Friday. Ho returned to the camp about 1.45, p.m., there being no one else there then but the deceased. The deceased asked witness to have a cup of tea. This was about 2.15 or 2.20 p.m. They both had some tea and some cakes out of the parcel. The deceased then said he would empty the custard out of the basin it arrived in. It was then intact. Ho put the custard on to a tin plate, and commenced eating it. Witness then said to deceased " I'il have some of that.” and deceased helped him to half a dozen dessertspoonfuls on an enamel plate. After tasting the custard witness remarked : “By jove. this does taste funny.” Deceased replied : “ 1 noticed the peculiar taste, but thought it was caused through too much nutmeg having been used. I did not like to say anything to hurt your feelings.” Witness said lie had another spoonful, and, the taste being the same, he remarked to deceased : “ We can’t cat this stuff.” He had a drink of lea, hoping to get tho taste loft by the custard out of nis mouth. Deceased did the same, but without effect. They then tried other remedies. but these proved ineffective. They then filled and lit their pipes, hoping that the smoke would remove tho taste. A few minutes later witness said a strange feeling came over him, and he said to deceased : “I do feel funny.” Deceased did not pass anw remark as to his own feelings. Witness then began to be sick, and he went to ids hut. Deceased went to the creek with some pots. About 3 o’clock witness had partly recovered, and was preparing to leave the camp, when deceased called out to him: “ For God’s sake, Charlie, don’t go away yet. I have just fainted and fallen into the,river.” Witness next saw deceased crawling up the bank. Deceased asked witness to help him to the hut, which he did. When they got to the door deceased said: “Let mo‘lie down on the grass." Witness then suggested to ■ deceased that he should make him (deceased) an emetic, and he consented. Witness put a spoonful of mustard into each of two pannikins, and added four large spoonfuls of .salt to each, to which he added some hot water. Tho deceased drank these, but they did not cause him to vomit, and he began to turn blue in tho face and frothed, at the mouth, _ Witness then went for assistance, getting two men who were working close by to come to the camp. Deceased was alive when they returned, hut appeared worse. He gave him further emetics, with no result. Dr Har.JuijJ. lump aunt ion in thq rnoantiau^

and he arrived some time later. Deceased \v*as still alive, hut was suffering fearful agonv, and he died shortly after the doctor’s’arrival. Dr Harrison then treated witness. Iho jury at this stage adjourned to Mount Royal to view the body. Detective-sergeant Ward remained at the station , and Constable Pardy conducted the proceedings when the inquest was resumed. Ine witness (Walters), in reply to questions, said he had not the slightest reason to believe that his wife would put poison in the custard. She had been in the habit of sending him provisions for the last 10 years. He had warned his wife not to use tinned foods or milk. He and deceased were the best of friends. Owing to two oi the men neglecting their work witness gave notice to leave rather than report them. Ho was leading man and timekeeper. He did not think anyone in the camp had put poison into the custard. The deceased was on good terms with all hands. I here was no poison about the hut so far as witness knew. Witness’s relations with his wife had been of the best with one exception, when he rebuked her for her extravagance, and also for engaging a woman of ill-repute as housekeeper, and she tried to get a maintenance order against him, but the case was dismissed. Witness had no insurance policy on his life so far as he was aware. The inquest was then adjourned until next Saturday, at 10 a.m., wnen further evidence of an important character will no heard.

air Walters, who reached Dunedin on Saturday evening and went to his homo at Kaikorai, took a sudden turn between. 9 and 10 o’clock yesterday Dr Church was called in, and. finding Walters in an unconscious condition, ordered his removal to the Hospital. Last night Walters was reported to be in a fair way towards recovery, and to-day there was a further improvement.

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https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/ESD19141019.2.13

Bibliographic details

MOUNT ROYAL FATALITY, Issue 15627, 19 October 1914

Word Count
1,526

MOUNT ROYAL FATALITY Issue 15627, 19 October 1914

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