Permanent link to this item
THE TALUNE POISONING CASE., Otago Witness, Issue 2455, 3 April 1901
THE TALUNE POISONING CASE.
EVIDENCE ABOUT THE NIGHT AT SUM NEB. HOW CONWAY LOST HIS VALI'ABLFS. TEE PURCHASE OF POISON. THE INQUEbT CONCLUDED. MIIS SMITH COMMITTED FOR TRIAL. SYDNEY, March 26. The inquest concerning the death of P. Conway, who died suddenly on the s«. Talune' on the voyage between Wellington and Sydney, was continued to-day. Mrs Jane Smith was present in court. Passey, the second cook of the Talune, deposed that he saw Mrs Smith go forward on several occasions, and sit on the forward hatch talking with the man who subsequently died. On the 19th February while Conway and Mrs Smith were talking, he saw a glass in Conway' s hand. About 7.30 Mrs -Smith went aft. An hour later, from something he heard, he went forward, and saw Ccnway lying in agony. He heard someone ask what was the matter, when Conway replied, " This is terrible ; I never felt like this before." Constable Treahy, of the New Zealand police, stationed at Siimner, deposed that he knew Conway. Ke saw him on February 10 with reference to a lost handbag, containing a £10-note and other moneys, a gold watch, a brass chain, ?. gold pendant cross with the initials "P C. on one side and "M.C."' on the other a gold-" handled pen, and a promt ory note for £2°o. Counsel for Mis Smith objected to the admission of details of the promissory note, but the couit lefuscd to allow the objection, although it refused the Crown officer peimission to as.k the names on the note. Witness continued : Another promiksary. note for £50 and two gold rings with stones were missing, and also a number of privr.te letters and papers. Witness had a long conversation with Mrs Smith outside the Supreme Court, Chri«tchurch. She told him she had met Conw^ijy on February 7 at Christchurch. They went by the 4 p.m. tram to Sumner. On arrival there ihey writ to a refreshment room and heel tea. Afterwards both went dovs n to the sea beach, and sat there for some time. Mrs Smith complaining of feeling cokl, Conway got some brandy and port wine. She remained on the beach while Conway got the liouor. Both had several drinks out of the bottle. She saw Conway was getting drunk, and she-a«ked him to put his watch and purse in her handbag, so that she could look after them for him. She left the beach in company with Conway, and went to a hotel at Sumner, afterwards sitting on a sea.t outside She remembered sitting there till about 8 o'clock in the evening. She then lost hci memory. She found hoelf lying on a vacant section of cju.und at Sumnm 1 about 5 o'clock in the morning. She did not see anyone, but walked in WooKton, and bought a veil there She would not give the names of fuends in Chustchurch or Dunedin. noi -did she care to say where <-he stopped. She said that if her friends knew the police were making inquiries vbout her they would think there was something wrong, and if hir husband in Duned.n fcund out she i-lept. out all night at Sumrer she would poison heiself. She said a boy brought her coat, containing a gold ring, which belonged to Conway The boy knew her address through its being written in the purse. She told Conway on the 11th that her coat had been returned. Mrs Smith told witness she might go to Sydney, and would give Conway another promis&ory note for £50 that she owed him, and which was lost at Sumner. She said she had known Conway for a number of yeai s in Dunedm. She left Dunedin two or three days before Conway did. Conway stayed at a hotel, and she stayed with friends. She saw Conway on the afternoon of the Bth. She told him she had lost her bag containing his property. She told him she had slept out all night. She told witness she would go down to Sumner with Conway and tiy to find the property. Witness had made a seaich, and found no trace of the jnonerty, but on
March 2th he had received from J. W. Kutlers (Sumner) the missing pocket book. Brook, a chemist at Christchurch, recognised Mrs Smith as the vorru.n who \isitfd hii shop on February 1. She pin chased a few articles, but his apprentice refused to supply her with poison, which she said was required by her people at Ellesmere to poison cats and rabbit*. Witness supplied her with 30 grains of strychnine. He had not seen her before February 1, but saw her frequently afterward*. On sever?! occasions she used bis telephone. On one occasion she iang up the Oxford Hotel, and asked whether Conway was in She bought a second quantity of poison, and this time he rubbed the strychnine up with dragon's blood. She made some remark as to whether it would be as strong as the other. He replied that he put the colouring in to pi event its being mistaken for salt or sugar. Sulphate of strychnine was the form of poison supplied. The salt was soluble in acid, but not in water. He was not prepared to deny an authority quoted by the coroner that sulphate was easily soluble in water. Witness continued^ Mrs Smith did not Mgn the poison book, because he had not a book, just having opened business. Winsfcone, assistant to Brooks, corroborated his employer's evidence, adding that he made an entry sale in the cash sales book because there was no poisons book. Dennis Fogarty, licensee of the OxfoiJ Hotel, Sumner, knew Conway for feven years. He was a steely man, and enjoyed good health. He remembered Conway and Mrs Smith coming to his hotel. They had two whiskies each. -Conway had plenty of money. He poured about 30 sovereigns out of a canvas bag when paying witness Conway told him, when asked where he had been all night, that he hci a drink ot port wine and biandy, remembered nothing after, bnt felt very ill. Conway was shaking and tiembling when he returned to the hotel. He complained that he had lost some money and documents. He looked as if he ha.d had a fit. Detective M'Lean detailed the conversation he had with Mrs Smith aboard the Talune. She told witness she had knowi. Conway for two years. She did not think he had left any money, as he was a poor man. She said she wr.3 quite surprieed to find Conway abonrd the ves«e! at Wellington. She only spoke to him once. She saw him several times from the upper deck, and nodded. She said to witness that she supposed Conway was buried in a pauper's grave. She said she was gird to . hear him say he had been given a respect- ] able funeral. Subsequently he called on Mrs Smith in company with the Superintendent of Police, and obtained further information. He told her there .was likely to be an inquiry. She" replied that she could not see wha/!, good that would do. She said she saw Conway w hen '■h'N^left Dunedin a month before. She remained in Christchurch three weeks, thence went to Wellington, where she inteiTded to stay, but continued the voyage to Sydney. When asked whether Conway held £250 worth of promissory notes from herself and husband she said, "I don't know wruu that Iras got to do with the matter." The inquest was adjourned till to-mor-row. , March 27. The inquest was lesnvncd to-day. M'Lean .stated that Mrs Smith had said that hei husband had borrowed £200 on '" our property," and that the deeds were given «•> scc'iiiity, but there w\is no mortgage or jny ot:ier legal writing. She had paid over the money, and Conway handed her the deeds She paid the money in the presence of a Mr Williams, of Maori Hill, Dunedin. Williams formerly practised as a barrister and solicitor, but he did not do so now. She paid him £208, including the interest. She denied ever boi rowing the money from Conway herself or giving him d promissory note, or any other acknowledgment. She had heard that Conway was ill aboard the steamer, as the chief engineer had called at all the ladies' cabins asking if there was a Mrs Conway aboard. Mrs Smith told (he engineer that she did not know any Mis Conway. She did not go to sec Conway when she heard that he was ii', because she was attending to a youn~ lady in her cabin who had convulsion* She d d not knotv what c.msed the convul-ion -. | She thought theie might be po^on ahvMid ! but thpy >ni n 'ht have been tau.-ed by seasickns'^. Shoilly afterw.uds the stewardess told Mrs Sn.ith that Conway was dead. She admitted meeting Conway in Christchurch, and at Sumner Conway pie^s-ed her to drink fhst fiom the bottle ; she then lost her memory She paid Conway the rrYoney a month before she left home. The detective detailed the arrest of Mrs Smith, who asserted her innocence. The Government analyst, recalled, stated that sulphate of strychnine was soluble in water to the extent of 2 per cent. A fatal dose could be dissolved in a dessert-spoonful of alcoholic liquor. A deadly dose of alkaloid strychnine could be dissolved by an unskilled peison in half a pint of alcoholic liquor, and by a skilled person in less. Brooke, chemist (recalled), said he had erroneously confused sulphate and alkaloid. It was the latter which he supplied to Mrs Smith. Edith Huddles+one, of BVnheim, who occupied a cabin with Mis Smith on the Talune, said they frequently took stout Sometimes Mis Smith paid, sometimes she did. It was usually brought by the stewardess with the cork drawn. They had some on the day Conway died. At Mis Smith's suggestion they did not take it with their lunch, but afteiwctid 1 -. Witness was taken ill that evening between.
f 8 and 9 o'clock. She had a peculiar twitch* ing of 4he Jo'n er jaw, which gradually became stiff She felt very dazed and ill, and after a while her knees and back stiff. Some days previous to Conway 's death, vvhih the stewardess was in the cabin, Mrs Smith mentioned having a dog poisoned with a •white powder given to her by a chemist. She asked if strychnine was a white pov. der. Witness replied that she thought arsenic was white Mrs Smith told her "she hpd gone to look for Mrs Brown -and her daughter, supposed to be in the steerage, but could not "find them, and had given the stout and fruit (which she had taken v. ith her for Mrs Brown) to Conway. O.i the evening that the latter died witness went on deck with Mrs Smith shortly after 8 o'clock Mrs Smith went to the steerage and returned after some time. That was the evening witness was taken ill. The Coroner summed up lengthily. He said the evidence displayed a certain element of suspicion against Mrs Smith. - He drew the iurv's attention to the conversations which she had with various persons. She Jud mjtde admissions cf giving plums and bi~cuits to., tiie deceased, also giving him what she had taken presumably for Mrs Brown, supposed "to be a forecafcin passenger. Tin inry must bear in mind, a crimo of tlm kind was not committed without a motive Some evidence wa« riven from whic'i the jury irre;ht conclude the motive was pv'dontlv" the monetary relations between Mrs Smith or her husband* or both, with deceased He commented on the ea^p with which pois-on could be obtained from '-nine pharmacist. The laciy in th's ca^p had uppirsntly no difficulty in getting strychnine. Ihe iiiry, after 25 minutes' deliberation, returned a verdict that Conway died from strychnine iidmin'Stered by Jane Smith. Mrs Smith was then committed for trial at the criminal sessions on April 1.
THE TALUNE POISONING CASE., Otago Witness, Issue 2455, 3 April 1901
See our copyright guide for information on how you may use this title.
Papers Past now contains more than just newspapers. Use these links to navigate to other kinds of materials.
These links will always show you how deep you are in the collection. Click them to get a broader view of the items you're currently viewing.
Enter names, places, or other keywords that you're curious about here. We'll look for them in the fulltext of millions of articles.
Browsed to an interesting page? Click here to search within the item you're currently viewing, or start a new search.
Use these buttons to limit your searches to particular dates, titles, and more.
Switch between images of the original document and text transcriptions and outlines you can cut and paste.
Print, save, zoom in and more.
If you'd rather just browse through documents, click here to find titles and issues from particular dates and geographic regions.
The "Help" link will show you different tips for each page on the site, so click here often as you explore the site.