Suicide at Paeroa.
(From Our Own Correspondent.)
PAEROA, October 15.
An inquest was held at the Courthouse yesterday afternoon concerning the death of Ernest Henry Billens, by Mr Forrest (Coroner) and a jury of six, of which Mr J. Walls was chosen foreman. The following evidence was adduced:
Mrs Henley, boardinghouse proprietress, stated that the deceased was in her employ as under baker for the past week. He was 11 quiet, steady and sober young man. She had known him from boyhood and had never noticed anything strange about him. One of his' Uncles on his mother's side died in the asylum, and his mother suffered from religious mania and died in that state Deceased was about 24 years of age and single. His father resided at Palmerston North. Witness could not account for his action, as he was very jolly when she saw him last —on Thursday.
F. G. C. Hanlon deposed that deceased was employed under him at Mrs Henley's bake house. He last saw deceased alive ut 5.30 p.m. on Saturday evening at the bake house, when he came to the door and appeared to wish to tell witness something. Witness told him he should not spend all his time up at the bake house, but should go down to the boarding house and make himself sociable. He replied that he was quite : satisfied with having his meals sent up, but would spend Sunday at the boarding house. At about 8.30 p.m. witness returned to the bake house and tried to get into the bedroom, the door of which was slightly open. It was dark and witness had no light. He felt deceased's arm
against the door, and asked him to open it, but got no reply. Witness then got a light and shook deceased's arm, when lie noticed a string over the top of the door tied outside. He then thought deceased had hung himself, and went for the police, returning with Constable Parsons, who forced open the door and cut deceased down. The constable tried artificial respiration and witness went for Dr Buckby, who also tried to restore life, but without success. In the morning witness had given deceased a letter which had arrived by post. He opened it and read it at once, asking witness if there was anything else with it. He stood as though rivetted to the spot for a few minutes. He was a very religious young man. He had placed a belt round his neck in a running noose and fastened it to a string on the outside of the door. There was a chair lying on the ground which he had evidently used and kicked away.
Constable Parsons gave corroborative evidence, and stated that he found the letter (produced) in deceased's trouser pocket. The letter was the one given him by Mr Hanlon. It is headed : "Hamilton, October 7th, 1900," and the envelope, originally addressed to Auckland, has been re-ad-again "care of Mi-Hosking, Thames," and again "care of Mrs Henley, Paeroa." It is just an ordinary letter written by a young lady, and ends with the following postscript: "I am sending the ring with them. I expect you will think me a nice girl to keep it so long. Good night. May God bless you and your work." From reading this letter witness concluded it was a, ring deceased referred to when he asked Mr Hanlon if there was anything else with the letter. He believed deceased was a member of the Salvation Amiy.
Dr Buckby stated that he considered death was due to suffocation caused by hanging.
The jury brought in a verdict that the deoeased Ernest Henry Billens committed sui. cide by hanging whilst temporarily insane.