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enteritis. If it had been taken in amounts to cause irritation of the
stomach, then obviously the gastro enteritis would increase.

Just in the same way that, as arsenic would accentuate gastro enteritis,
so gastro enteritis would accentuate the effect of arsenic? Yes.

Now, you agree, do you not, that from all Dr. Sworn could see, his
certificate was fully justified? Yes.

I want to put a proposition to you. Of course, the theory of the
prosecution is it is a theory that one or both of these persons was
administering arsenic to the deceased person with the intention of killing
her, and, in fact, killed her, during this period preceding her death. Do
you not think it would be a highly dangerous thing for anybody having
regard to his or her safety to be doing a thing like that, with a medical
man coming in daily? Do you not think so? Do you mean the possibility
of detection?

I mean the possibility of detection? There would be some risk.

Now, in the present day, when we have got the present advance of
medicine, the examination, and the minute examination, of faeces or of
urine is a common practice for the purpose of diagnosis ? It is a common
practice, but not an analysis for arsenic. That is a very unusual thing.

I am not talking of an analysis for arsenic. Could they not detect
it by any process short of analysis? No.

Do you mean to say that that is known to the ordinary person, that
you cannot detect arsenic either in the faeces or in the urine, or in the
vomit, except by analysis? No. Except by a special analysis. I cannot
1 129



Trial of the Seddons.

Dr. William Henry Willcox

suggest -what this meant to an ordinary person. That is the fact, that
it cannot be detected except by a special analysis.

But supposing this arsenic had been given, if there had been an
analysis of vomit, urine, or faeces, it would have clearly demonstrated the
presence of arsenic in the system? If there had been an analysis for
arsenic. The ordinary examination of the urine would not deal with
the question of whether arsenic was present or not.

Is it a matter of universal medical knowledge that the symptoms of
arsenical poisoning and of chronic diarrhoea are identical. Is that a
matter of common medical knowledge? Yes.

Surely in these days of advanced medical science, if a doctor found
a case of chronic diarrhoea did not yield to the proper treatment, he would
immediately have the evacuation analysed with a view of testing for arsenic ?
He would not do so unless he suspected arsenic.

The mere fact of these symptoms not yielding to ordinary treatment?
Certainly not. In many of these cases of diarrhoea they may go on for
two or three weeks. It would not follow that the doctor would have
the urine and the fa3ces examined for arsenic.

In a case of diarrhoea and sickness brought on by arsenical poison-
ing, would you expect to find that the medicines which were given, such
us bismuth and chalk mixture, would have any beneficial effect upon the
patient I mean the illness being due to arsenical poisoning? They
would have a beneficial effect.

As great >o.s if the illness were chronic diarrhoea? I do not think one
could possibly say. They would have a beneficial effect. Of course, if
a large close of arsenic were taken it would produce poisonous symptoms.

You know Dr. Sworn did see this woman at eleven o'clock on the
morning of Wednesday, the 13th, and she died on the early morning
of Thursday, at six o'clock she died on the early morning .of the 14th?
Yes.

He saw her at eleven o'clock, and he has told us what he found.
Do you suggest it is possible that at that time, or within a short distance
of that time, she had been given a fatal dose of arsenic? I said within
two days the dose was given.

Do you really ask the jury to accept the theory that at the time
Dr. Sworn saw her on the morning of Wednesday, at eleven o'clock, she
may then have had in her a fatal dose of arsenic? She may have had
some arsenic in her.

But surely, with the diarrhoea that was going on, it must have been
a very large dose? She may have had some arsenic after Dr. Sworn
saw her.

In which case, if it had been a large dose before Dr. Sworn saw her,
you would have expected Dr. Sworn to have found some of the effects
of that dose? He would have found diarrhoea and sickness.

Indistinguishable from epidemic diarrhoea and sickness? Indis-
tinguishable from epidemic diarrhoea.

Re-examined by the ATTORNEY-GENERAL You have told us that a
doctor, in your view, could not detect the presence of arsenic, having
the fseces and urine, unless he made a special analysis. What kind of
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Evidence for Prosecution.

Dr. William Henry Willeox

analysis do you mean by that? A special analysis for arsenic, such as
was made on these remains by a specialist using special tests for arsenic.

Which you made in the post-mortem examination? Yes, a doctor in
ordinary practice would not have the apparatus required for making
such an examination. A specimen would have to be sent to an analyst.

Supposing a doctor were attending a patient thirteen days for epidemic
diarrhoea, in the circumstances described by Dr. Sworn, without suspecting
that there was any arsenic being administered, in your view would you
expect him to make any such special analysis? No.

Supposing arsenic had been given to Miss Barrow about the 1st or
2nd September and the treatment during the next few days had been
carbonate and bismuth, and subsequently the effervescing mixture which
was described, might that have a beneficial effect upon the patient? Yes.

Assuming the dose was not too large, might the patient recover?
Certainly.

And if the patient was recovering would the symptoms of vomiting,
diarrhoea, and pains gradually cease? Yes.

I understand you to say, in answer to my friend, the last dose, which
was described as the fatal dose, must in your view have been given within
two days that is what you said last? Yes.

Are you able to fix the minimum time within the two days that the
arsenic may have been administered? I cannot fix it, but it might have
been given within a few hours of death.

There is nothing which enables you to say more precisely than that?
No, I would not be more precise than to say within two days.

I just want to get it clear if I can what your view is about the hair.
First of all, you told my friend you had made two analyses of hair? Yes.

And one, you said, which was of mixed hair taken just after death,
gave the one-twenty-first part of a grain? Yes.

What do you mean by " mixed hair " ? I did not know whether it
was at the tip or the root. Probably it would not be cut off very close to
the skin. It was perhaps the' middle of the hair and the end.

It was hair which had been cut off, and which had been given to you
for the purposes of analysis? Yes.

You did not see it cut? No.

And then the other analysis which you made was of hair which you
yourself took in the post-mortem examination? Yes.

You have been asked a good many questions about what you found
in the hair. Have you taken any quantity of arsenic from the hair in your
calculation of 2'01 grains found in the body? No, none at all.

I mean, whether it is from the proximal end or the distal end for the
purposes of that figure is quite immaterial? Yes.

Supposing you have a case of acute arsenical poisoning, and you
examine the hair, would it be possible to find any trace of arsenic in the
distal end as well as in the proximal end? The bulk of the arsenic would
be found in the proximinal end.

Clearly the bulk would, but would there be any trace found in the
distal end? Yes, there might be some trace of arsenic in the distal end,
but that trace may very possibly have got in before the arsenic was taken.

I understand you did find some arsenic in the distal end? Yes.



Trial of the Seddons.

DP. William Henry Willcox

Does that in any way affect your view that this death was due to
acute arsenical poisoning? Not in the very slightest.

Why? Because there was a considerable quantity of arsenic in the
stomach one-tenth of a grain; there was nearly two-thirds of a grain in
the intestines, and that arsenic must have got in within two days of death ;
and the amount in the liver.

By Mr. JUSTICE BUCKNILL Your reason, or one of your reasons,
perhaps your chief reason, as I understand, for saying that this woman had
had this fatal dose of arsenic administered within two days of her death
is because of the amount of arsenic which you found in the stomach and
the intestines? Yes, that is the chief reason.

And your opinion is not altered at all because of arsenic found in the
hair? Not in the slightest.

By the ATTORNEY-GENERAL Would the finding of that amount in the
intestines and the stomach, in your view, show that it was acute arsenical
poisoning or chronic arsenical poisoning? There cannot be the slightest
doubt as to this being a case of acute arsenical poisoning.

Can you tell me whether a gentleman skilled in medicine came to you
from the defence during the course of this case? Yes, Dr. Rosenheim, a
physiological chemist.

And did you show him the mirrors which you had made? Yes.

Did you show him the standard mirrors? Yes.

Did you show him the results which you had got? I showed him
everything, yes. We went together through all the mirrors from every
organ mentioned, and we matched together with the standard the mirrors
obtained from the organs.

Had you any part of the organs left at that time? Yes.

Was the apparatus set up? Yes.

Was it in such a position that you could use it there and then if
necessary ? Yes.

You have told us about the muscle and the result of your analysis
with regard to that. You remember you said that that result was not
strictly accurate, but approximate? Yes.

You explained it that it must be approximate? It must be
approximate.

Would you just mind telling us why it cannot be strictly accurate, and
must be in that case approximate? Because it is impossible to weigh
accurately all the muscles, and the amount of arsenic in them is such that
it can only be determined by the method of making of mirrors, not by
weighing.

Was the result which you arrived at with regard to that the best that
you could obtain dealing fairly with it by these scientific tests? Yes.

Is there any other known method than either this or the other
method which you have used for the purpose of ascertaining the presence
of arsenic and determining the quantity ? Neither was there in determining
the amount. The muscle is not analysed, but the assumption is made as
td the amount which would be present. The amount which I give as being
present in the muscle is really a low one if one had not made an analysis,
and had assumed what would be the amount.

Usually an assumption is made without ascertaining? Yes.
132




E. Marshall Hall, Esq., K.C., M.P.
(Photograph by Su-aine, Neio Bond Street.)



Evidence for Prosecution.

Dr. William Henry Willcox

Relatively to the other parts of the body? Yes.

In this particular case you did not take the assumption, but you did
the best you could to ascertain it? Yes, that is so.

If you had taken the assumption which is usually taken for these
purposes would you have got more or less than you actually did get?
Probably more.

So that you have taken the less quantity? Yes.

By Mr. MARSHALL HALL The sample you took from the intestines
was not a very large amount, was it? Yes, it was six ounces about one-
fifth of the total amount.

How was that prepared for analysis? Was it very closely mixed like
with a mincing machine, or was it merely cut with a knife? Do you
mean where did I take the one-fifth from?

Yes ? I took it from different portions of the intestines so as it should
be a representative part.

Each part? Yes.

Some of the duodenum? Yes.

And so on passing down? Yes.

And did you mix up all those portions together very carefully? Yes,
and made them into a solution, and I weighed the arsenic which I got.

There are plenty of places to which urine can be sent for analysis
for a fee of something like 5s., and an analysis can be made of it. There
are plenty of places? Yes.

The Court adjourned.



Fifth Day Friday, 8th March, 1912.

The Court met at 11.15 a.m.

Dr. WILLIAM HENRY WILLCOX, recalled, further examined by the
ATTORNEY-GENERAL I have made experiments showing that arsenic
extracted by soaking fly-papers can be administered with brandy.

Cross-examined by Mr. MARSHALL HALT., Were the standardised
mirrors that were produced made expressly for this experiment, or are they
kept? I had some by me, but I made a fresh lot for this case.

You see the object of my question because there might be a certain
amount of fading? Quite so.

Mr. MARSHALL HALL My lord, my friend has said that he has now
closed the case for the Crown, and it becomes my duty now to submit to
your lordship that there is not sufficient evidence as against either of these
defendants upon which they can be put in peril upon a charge of murder.
I quite agree that if there is sufficient evidence the overlaying of it with
prejudice does not affect the case; if there is not evidence, no amount of
prejudice, put upon the top of it could create the evidence which is alone
the factor upon which in our Courts persons are entitled to be tried. It
would be idle to remind your lordship, with your lordship's great experience,
of the presumption that nobody has ever questioned for one moment that

133



Trial of the Seddons.



Mr. Marshall Hall



every man accused of any offence is presumed to be innocent until the
proof of his guilt is made manifest by the evidence for the prosecution.

Mr. JUSTICE BUCKMLL What you say is that there is no such evidence
here, or that there is such a small amount of evidence that I ought to
tell the jury that they cannot convict?

Mr. MARSHALL HALL That they ought not to convict.

Mr. JUSTICE BUCKXILL That they cannot reasonably convict.

Mr. MARSHALL HALL Exactly, my lord, that is my point. I will
put it in this way. This is an absolutely unique case. In all other
cases of poisoning especially where two people have been joined together
in the charge there has always been some evidence called tracing into
the possession of the persons charged the poison with which it was alleged
the murder was committed. In the cases that are most familiar to us,
cases tried in this Court the case, for instance, of Lamson, and the case
of Cream, and men of that sort, and in the famous case of Palmer they
were all cases where the accused had large medical knowledge, and it was
possible to assume against them that they had an intimate knowledge of
poisons and of their effects. In this case the position of the prosecution
is greatly weakened by the fact that they have two persons in the dock.
What might be strong circumstantial evidence against one of them ceases
to be circumstantial evidence against one, if there are two people against
whom it may apply. The Crown put two people in peril of their lives
and say to the jury, "Here are two people, death resulted from poison-
ing " (I shall have a word to say about that in a moment). " Now, both
these people had the opportunity of administering the poison during the
period which our scientists say that it must have been administered;
we cannot say which of them did it; we have not a particle of evidence
to prove that either of them ever did it, or that there was any acting
in concert, or that, indeed, any poison was actually found in the physical
possession of either of these prisoners, but the motive we say in one
case is so overwhelming (and we suggest in the other case that there is
also a motive), that upon that evidence we ask you to convict either
one or the other." Such a state of things has never been known in
this country. The mere fact that they have arrested the wife after
originally charging the husband is an evidence of weakness on the part
of the Crown an evidence that they had concluded that they could not
bring the case home as against the man, and therefore they
arrested the woman. The only object of arresting the wife
and the argument I use on behalf of the male defendant is, a for-
tiori, an argument to be used on the part of the wife the only object
of arresting the wife is to introduce mere prejudice; because, unless the
wife is in the dock, the evidence of cashing bank notes which belonged
to the dead woman would not be admissible evidence against the male
prisoner. Therefore the only effect in this case of the introduction of
the woman into the case is to get the opportunity of giving evidence of
the cashing of twenty-seven bank notes by her under circumstances which
the Crown say excited suspicion.

My lord, the case is weaker than that. That eccentric witness, if
I may call her so, who appeared here on the first day dressed as a nurse,.



Opening Speech for Defence.

Mr. Marshall Hall

and on the second day changed her dress, when before the magistrate
and before the coroner swore that on three separate occasions she had
seen Mrs. Seddon preparing the food, the Valentine's meat juice and the
puddings and things of that kind, in the kitchen downstairs. She came
into the witness-box on Tuesday and said that she had never seen anything
of the sort, but " she must have done." That, I submit, is evidence
of a class which a judge cannot allow to be relied upon by a jury. I
submit that your lordship's duty is to say that people must not be put
in peril of their lives upon such evidence. In an ordinary case, of course,
the same rule would apply; there is no difference about the application
of the rule in a murder case except that there is naturally greater care
and caution on each side displayed in a capital case. If a man is charged
with stealing sixpence, the rule of evidence is the same, but in the case
of murder the value of human life being inestimable and irreplaceable
naturally in a case of this kind one cannot but apply rules in the strictest
possible sense.

My learned friend, the Attorney-General, cannot point to any particle
of direct evidence that either of these people ever possessed arsenic in
any shape or form, or that they ever administered it. That is a very
strong proposition, and I submit that it is all the stronger because the
prosecution have said in their opening of this case, and in their conduct
of it, ' ' We do not direct our evidence more against one prisoner than
against the other; here are the two people who had the opportunity of
administering the poison, against one of whom we prove a motive."
My lord, if interest is to amount to motive, any person who is interested
in the death of another person has a motive to kill that person if by the
person's death the other person benefits. The mere fact that this man,
having given an annuity for a term of years, would benefit if the annuity
ceased immediately, as it would do upon her death, is put forward as
a motive for committing the crime of murder. But my learned friend
is not content with that. He drags into this case I will not say he
drags in, because my learned friend has conducted this case, as he
always conducts any case, with perfect fairness but he felt coerced and
I am sure he would not have done it unless he had felt coerced to bring
into the case this further motive. It is one that your lordship and the
jury must examine most minutely and cautiously. The motive my
learned friend puts forward is this, that this man deliberately murdered
this woman in order to obtain possession of a large sum in gold and
notes. It will not do if at the time the woman died he had in his pos-
session money which was not his. That is not the charge. This man
is not charged with dishonesty, as your lordship was careful to point out
to the jury earlier in the case. Therefore the entirety of the motive
has to be dealt with, and the entirety of the motive is that this man
murdered the woman for the purpose of obtaining possession of her pro-
perty. That is not supported by a particle of evidence. The only
direct evidence of any sort or shape in this case is the evidence of the
little boy, Ernie Grant, who says, " I on one occasion saw the prisoner
Seddon administer a drink to Miss Barrow which was a clear drink like
water." Then when he is cross-examined by me (of course, upon instruc-
ts



Trial of the Seddons.



Mr. Marshall Hall



tions) he admits that it was the mixture together of the two solutions, so
as to make it an effervescing draught as clear as water, and ex hypothesi,
it could not possibly have been water containing a fly-paper solution,
because such water would be discoloured.

I pass to another point. Is there any proof here any proper proof
and this, my lord, is peculiarly for your lordship any proof upon which
the jury can act, that this woman died of arsenic poisoning? All things
are to be presumed to be rightly done. We have got the certificate here
that she died of epidemic diarrhoea. Dr. Willcox and Dr. Spilsbury (who,
I again say, gave their evidence with absolute fairness), Dr. Sworn and
Dr. Paul all admit that unless there was evidence to satisfy them con-
clusively that there is this large quantity of arsenic in the body, the
certificate of death would have been thoroughly justified, and that all
the symptoms of death from gastro enteritis are the same as the Symptoms
of death from arsenical poisoning. I say that the balance of evidence
is such as to leave it so uncertain that your lordship ought not to leave
the case to the jury. Dr. Willcox says that by a process of calculation
he has arrived at the determination honestly arrived at no one suggests
for a moment anything against the honesty and fairness of his evidence
that there was present in this body practically two grains of arsenic. And
he is borne out in that view by the fact that the body is in what he
considers an abnormal state of preservation, having regard to the state
in which he found it at the time the autopsy was made. That is the only
point that goes to destroy the suggestion of death from gastro enteritis.

On the question of arsenical poisoning you cannot reject the evidence
which was sifted most exhaustively before the Royal Commission that the
presence of arsenic in the hair is strong evidence that there has been a course
of arsenic-taking, and Dr. Willcox admitted that that would point to the
taking of arsenic for a period of perhaps twelve months, and we know
that arsenic is a remedy for asthma, from which this woman suffered.
The whole of the evidence in this case is totally different from the evidence
in any other case of which we have any record. It is entirely construc-
tive evidence; it is entirely argumentative evidence, and your lordship
will not fail to appreciate the minute quantity of arsenic which was alleged
to have been deposited upon the mirrors which were produced as the
evidence of arsenic in this case.

Now, my lord, there is one flaw in the Marsh test which I have
often wanted to have an opportunity of referring to in these Courts. The
Marsh test for arsenic is a splendid test to detect the presence of arsenic,
that is to say, whether arsenic is or is not present in the tested solution.
But if your lordship takes the evidence that has been given by Dr. Will-
cox, there is a defect in that test for the purpose of measuring the quantity
of arsenic. From the very nature of the experiment it is absolutely
essential that the quantity of arsenic to be deposited upon that mirror
tube must be infinitesimal, and unless it is infinitesimal you will find that
it destroys itself, because it becomes so opaque that the purpose for which
the experiment is being performed is not served. I have not in my mind
what the range of standardised mirrors is. I do not know what is the
smallest portion and what is the largest portion of a milligramme.
136



Opening Speech for Defence.

Mr. Marshall Hall

1 think we have it that it is from the thirtieth to the fifth of a milligramme.
Does your lordship realise what a milligramme is the two-thousandth
part of a grain, or, to be accurate, the 1944th part of a grain. How is
that mirror prepared? It is prepared by the introduction of a known
quantity of arsenic into a certain amount of matter for the purpose of
testing. Nobody suggests for a moment that you can introduce the
exact thirtieth of a milligramme of arsenic into the solution. You have
to make a solution, and you have to put a certain quantity in and break
it up, and assume that it is equally distributed, and then take a portion
which represents the thirtieth part of a milligramme. The process is
destructive of accurate quantities for this reason. There is the formation



Online LibraryFrederick Henry SeddonTrial of the Seddons → online text (page 19 of 57)