Frederick Henry Seddon.

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judge with more impartiality, more honesty in every word they uttered.
This, however, is not in controversy in this case; I am not uttering a
word with which my learned friend would disagree. On the contrary,
my friend, Mr. Marshall Hall, has emphatically stated that he is in com-
plete agreement with the view which I have just stated to you.

Now, both Dr. Willcox and Dr. Spilsbury have proved by scientific '
testimony which if it has any merit at all has this merit, that it proves
a thing beyond any doub^ Dr. Willcox has established to you that
beyond all doubt, in his opinion, acute arsenical poisoning was the cause
of death, and Dr. Spilsbury has stated the same thing. My learned 4
friend, Mr. Marshall Hall, with great ease in dealing with these medical
and scientific matters, and with undoubtedly great knowledge, has only
ventured to make one criticism, and that was, that the Marsh test,
according to the view that he puts forward, because it deals with such
very minute quantities, is not reliable. He had before him standard
mirrors which were made for this case; you have seen them; Dr. Willcox
had them in the box. Mr. Rosenheim, my friend's expert witness, the
physiologist, the chemist, who was going into the box to contradict, has
not been called in this case by my learned friend. He was here, and
rightly here, of course, during the whole of the evidence given by Dr.
Spilsbury and Dr. Willcox. He is here assisting my learned friends,
and imparting to them the knowledge which he possesses; and the result
of it all has been this, that he has not been called; and he has not been
called for the simple reason that he could not contradict anything that
Dr. Willcox and Dr. Spilsbury had said. And what is the whole value
of the cross-examination of my learned friend? He says that these
minute calculations are not to be relied on. Really, we have only my
learned friend's word for that, and that only a forensic word; he states
it in argument. The witnesses have told you that that is not so, that
the test is quite absolute, except in one respect, with which I will deal in a
moment; and Mr. Rosenheim, who is himself a gentleman of expert
knowledge, agrees with that, because he has not been called.

My learned friend's criticism has been directed to one or two of the
most minute items which he selected from the table, which has been
before you, but he omitted to deal with what is the most important
part of this analysis ; and he omitted it because he could not say anything
in criticism of it, not because attention had not been drawn to it. Both
my lord and you during the course of the case drew attention to this,
that the Marsh test, which is the calculation by these mirrors, these
standards, comparing the standard mirror with the mirror got by the
test described by Dr. Willcox, is not the test which is of value in this
case at all. My learned friend has given the go-bye to the real point
in this case, and has not ventured to deal with it. I put it only yes-
terday to Dr. Willcox. When it was found that the liver and the intes-
tines showed, as I said yesterday, f of a grain not by the Marsh test;
that was not the point; that is taken by weight; the proportions of the
liver and intestines and the stomach, if taken together, show just upon


Trial of the Seddons.


a grain. If you take what is taken by weight only, that is the liver
and the intestines, you get, as you may have noticed from the table
when it was before you, over of a grain, that is '8. The liver is '17;
the intestines '63; so you get '8 of a grain. Four-fifths of a grain
is actually found in the organs of the body which would contain the
arsenic, if arsenic had only been recently administered, and which even
then only contains one portion of it, part of it having been ejected by
means of vomiting, or by means of the excreta, or it may be by the
passing of urine. Then, gentlemen, just take into account that '8
of a grain which is found by the weight on a very small particle; in
one case it is a quarter of the weight of the organ which gives the
result; in the other it is a fifth of the weight of the organ which gives
the result. If you take that into account, that, according to Dr. Will-
cox, would be sufficient to kill a person. He has told you that if you
find two grains in the body you would expect to find that there must
have been taken, according to his view, 5 grains of arsenic, and 2 grains
is a fatal dose. Then if you had, as has been established here beyond
all doubt, four-fifths of a grain in the stomach and intestines, and had
nothing more at all, you would have sufficient to account for the death
of this woman.

But I do not want to stop quite at that, because it is right that you
should clearly be convinced of this point before we go into what I think
is more controversial evidence. I asked Dr. Willcox you will remember
it in the presence of Mr. Rosenheim, who was sitting in front of my
learned friend, whether he had not had a visit from Mr. Rosenheim.
My learned friend, Mr. Marshall Hall, quite rightly referred to it just
now; and Dr. Willcox had had all the materials, had all the apparatus
ready for the test. Any further test could have been made if Mr.
Rosenheim had required them. As he has told you, he always keeps, so
that any further tests can be made if desired, a portion of the organs
still. So that all this could be tested, and could be, right up to this
very minute, if my friend had desired it. That is in existence now.
There is the opportunity, and there has been the opportunity through-
out this case. As Dr. Willcox told you, " I could boil up the intestines
and get the exact weight, instead of taking the weight that I find in a
quarter of the intestines, but for the fact if I did, and if there is any
subsequent challenge, how on earth are you to ascertain whether the
analysis is right or not?" Therefore, in order to give the defence the
fair opportunity of making tests or of asking for tests, portions of the
organs are kept in this way, so that if they are dissatisfied with the
result they may say, " Let me make a test before you, or you make a test
before me, so that I may prove which of us is right." The standard
mirrors were all exhibited to Mr. Rosenheim; the mirrors found as the
result of the analyses were all exhibited to Mr. Rosenheim; the tables
with the results were placed in front of Mr. Rosenheim. Not a criti-
cism, not a fault, can be found by Mr. Rosenheim; and for that reason
he has not been put into the witness-box to contradict Dr. Willcox.

Now, gentlemen, upon that state of facts I will only make one

further observation. My learned friend cross-examined a great deal

about the relative quantities of arsenic that had been found as the

result of experiment in the proximal and the distal ends of the hair;


Closing Speech for the Crown.


but it is quite immaterial for the purpose of the point as we now have
it, because you will remember, I think, what was pointed out when you
had the table before you. What was found in the hair has never been
calculated in the 2'01, which is the result of the calculations as found in
the body. It has never entered into it at all neither the hair, nor
the skin, nor the bones. Whatever was found in the hair, skin, and
bone, has not been counted at all; and the only point of Dr. Willcox
telling you what he did was because in fairness he had to say exactly
what arsenic he had found, and what traces there were throughout the
whole of that body. The value of the Marsh test is to show this; that
the arsenic was widely distributed throughout the body. That is the
point. It is not in order to arrive at all these minute quantities ;
there are infinitesimal portions, of course; but the value of it is that
there were traces of arsenic in this organ as in the others.

The only other criticism, I think, that has been made with reference
to it was my friend's point about the muscle. He said that two-fifths
of the muscle had been taken, and he compared the weight of the body
alive with the weight of the body dead. The weight of the woman's
body alive may have been 10 stone or more, and the weight when dead
was 4 stone 11 Ibs. The result is this. What Dr. Willcox has done is
to take the two-fifths of the weight of the body, which is the proper
method of calculation, and, as he has told you, a method of calculation
which gives a less result in arsenic than if he had adopted the usual
method of calculating these quantities. He pointed out that it was in
favour of the accused that he had taken this view. And again, even
if you say that 1'03 is too much, even if you leave out the whole of it,
you still get enough. If you take half of it you have got enough, and
it does not affect the calculation in the slightest degree.

The only other criticism was one of my learned friend's, which, so
far as I understood him, was based upon his own results, and certainly
was not the effect of anything that Dr. Willcox said, and I confess it
surprised me. Because, as I understand, he says, " Oh, well, but if
you take these Marsh tests they cannot be reliable, because there is the
opening at the end, and some of the arsenic must escape and did escape."
The evidence upon it is that none of it escapes that the whole value
of the Marsh test is that whatever arsenic there is is precipitated on
to the glass of the tube and forms the mirror. If my friend is right in
his contention that some of it escapes, then the inevitable conclusion is
that there must have been more arsenic than Dr. Willcox shows by his
tests and by his calculations. I do not say that that is right. All
I say is that it shows the danger of an advocate attempting to deal
with things of which he may have some knowledge, but which he cannot
possibly understand as the experts can who give their lives to the study
of these matters, and who alone have a right to testify when they are
in the witness-box giving their evidence on oath.*

Gentlemen, my submission to you with reference to this case is that
it is established beyond all possible doubt that this woman died from acute

*Mr. Marshall Hall's remarks referred to possible inaccuracy in the standard or
measuring mirror, which, as he suggested, might lead to the amounts found in the body
being inaccurately estimated. ED.


Trial of the Seddons.


arsenical poisoning. Quite true that it is not discovered till some more
than two months after her death. You know the story of that. You
know why it is, and what led to the exhumation, and I am not going
to repeat that to you. You have given such attention to this case,
and really have listened to it with such diligence that I want to spare
you, if I can, the recital of either immaterial details or details which
have been sufficiently established beforehand.

Then, gentlemen, that being established, comes the next point,
upon which, of course, I shall have more to say. The second question
which you will have to determine is did these prisoners, or did one
of them, administer this arsenic? As I pointed out to you in the opening
of the case, the case made by the prosecution is that the administering
of the arsenic was the result of a common purpose. I shall have some-
thing more to say about that before I conclude, so that you may follow
exactly what my view, as presented to you, of the legal position is,
always remembering, of course, that I speak subject to my lord's direc-
tion, and any view which my lord may take. But this question, whether
this poison was administered by the prisoners, is one which does involve
an examination, and a somewhat close examination, into the facts of this
case. You have had the opportunity of seeing the male prisoner and
the female prisoner in the box. I shall not say too much, and I am
quite certain that I shall not be saying one word which can operate
unfairly against the male prisoner, if I put him forward before you as
a shrewd, acute, keen person, and I will add also that, so far, I am in
direct agreement with what my learned friend Mr. Marshall Hall said
in speaking of him. But I will add this and I shall submit to you the
facts upon which I base this view which I am submitting for your con-
sideration and your judgment that he is a man full of cunning and
craft; according to what my learned friend has been compelled to say,
a man also actuated by greed and covetousness. Upon admitted facts
in this case I am not dealing with the facts that are in controversy
those qualities are displayed over and over again, and, as I shall show
you, at every turn, at every fresh movement in the history of this case,
you will find the same qualities of mind operating as the case proceeds
from day to day.

Now, let me call your attention, gentlemen, to some of the facts
which are not now and which have not been from the beginning of the trial
in dispute. You will remember that when I opened the case I told you
that there was an agreement for an annuity which had been made by
Seddon. That was one of the points to which I drew special attention.
The case made by Seddon until I cross-examined him was this this
was the case made by my learned friend Mr. Marshall Hall over and over
again, referring to the document that this agreement about the annuity
was an agreement which had been entered into and made with stock-
brokers, solicitors, all skilled persons, who watched over her interest*.
When we got to what were the real facts of the case, it was established
that the original bargain was made by Seddon with Miss Barrow alone;
neither solicitor, nor stockbroker, nor any skilled adviser entered into
this transaction. He made the contract. He drew up the document.
My learned friend said that I was suggesting that he was a lawyer.

Closing Speech for the Crown.


No; I never suggested that. What I have suggested is that he had
got a certain smattering of legal knowledge, and, as I shall show you,
as very often happens in such cases, it has proved a very dangerous
thing to him. He has used it. He used it first of all to draw up this
document which we have never seen, because, as he tells us, he destroyed
it; it is the document which you may remember in fact, to speak quite
accurately, according to the evidence, there were two. One was the
document which had his signature upon it, and which was witnessed by
his brother-in-law and another person, a Mr. Robert, whom we have not
seen, but whose name was given. That was the document which was
first drawn up. It must have been, according to the evidence, some
time in September, 1910. There was another document contemporaneous
with it. I said it was signed a day or so afterwards, but I treat them
as contemporaneous documents which were signed by Miss Barrow, and
witnessed by Mrs. Seddon ; that was the bargain, the original transaction.
We know now that that was destroyed, and that subsequently solicitors
were called in to carry out the assignment of the public-house and the
barber's shop. Seddon's story of it was not quite clear, but I do not
desire to make any special point of how it was that he came to the
conclusion that it was void. At one time he said that it was in his
own opinion void, and then he subsequently says that he was advised that
it was void ; but it does not matter. He came to the conclusion, whether
upon advice or his own view, that it was void, and thereupon it was
destroyed, and recourse was made to the solicitors, Messrs. Russell & Sons,
who came upon the scene, and, as you will remember, Messrs. Russell &
Sons, as respectable solicitors, realising that this man was doing a trans-
action with this lady, living in his house, that she was unprotected, and
had nobody to advise her, said, " You ought to have somebody in to
advise you " ; and so another solicitor, Mr. Knight, the brother-in-law of
Mr. Keeble, is introduced for that purpose. The point that I want to
make to you, and that is established upon Seddon's own evidence, is that
all this parade of stockbrokers and solicitors acting in the matter is only
a parade, and that the bargain was a bargain which had been struck
between him and her. All this information about this original bargain
and the drawing up of these documents was suppressed ; we never heard a
word about it.

The full significance of it becomes even more apparent when you
remember what happened when he came to see the relatives after the
death. You may remember the sentence that I read to him out of a letter
which he had himself written, the letter of 21st September, which he had
to admit concealed the truth. It is a letter which would have led anybody
to believe that the whole transaction had been done with stockbrokers and
solicitors, and that he had nothing to do with it. Gentlemen, that is the
first comment that I desire to make upon this annuity transaction.

The second is this, that the India stock, the 1600 India 3 per cent,
nominal value, was transferred to him under date 14th October, 1910,
without a single scrap of writing, or any agreement between him and Miss
Barrow. He had got possession of the whole of it. He could sell it
that day ; he could sell it the next day. According to his statement he
got possession of it on a verbal agreement, to use his own words from his


Trial of the Seddons.


evidence given at the inquest. He says (to do him justice) that subse-
quently, in January, there was an annuity certificate. What he means
by an annuity certificate is something which he drew up, in which he
stated that he had to pay her an annuity ; that does not come into exist-
ence till January. We have not seen it. I make no point of it. I
make no challenge of it; I leave it at that, but what I do aek you to
infer is that what happened in September and October, when apparently
the transfer was made of this stock, which was as good as money to
Seddon, shows that she had given him, to use my learned friend's words
in his speech, her implicit confidence ; she trusted him absolutely. Gentle-
men, need I dwell upon that? You have seen Mr. Seddon; you have
seen him in the box under circumstances of great stress, I agree, in
which every allowance that is possible should be made for him. Having
seen him there, and watched him, can you have any doubt but that he
had secured the " implicit confidence " of Miss Barrow? And I will tell
you what I am submitting to you followed from that. Not only had he
got her 1600 India 3 per cent, stock, but, either then or at some later
time, she trusted him with her gold, and she trusted him with her notes.
For it is no good these two people going into the box and giving the
accounts that they have given to you about that part of the transaction.
How it affects the question of guilt on the charge for which they are now
prosecuted is another matter; but upon the facts of the case, I submit to
you it is idle for them to suggest that they know nothing at all about this
money either the gold or the notes. Just conceive the position. Here
was this woman. She has been talked of as an old maid; she was forty-
eight or forty-nine years of age ; she was in the habit of going out every
day with the boy the boy to whom, according to the evidence, her whole
heart seems to have been given. Whatever her failings may have been,
whatever her faults may have been (and I have no doubt that in the lives
of all of us, when examined, some will be found when we are gone), what-
ever they may have been, she seems to have been devotedly attached to
this boy. I am going to suggest to you of course, for your considera-
tion that she had no notion during the whole of this time that she was
parting with her property, with her gold, or with her notes, and had
never intended to get rid of gold or notes in the ordinary course of things
allowing that she did not intend to give it to her relatives that she meant
to retain it for her boy, whom, in the maternal instinct, no doubt, of the
spinster heart, she was cherishing, and to whom she had become devoted.

Now, just let me ask you to think for a moment of what the evidence
is as regards the money. When you come to put this case together and
see what was happening, my submission to you is that it is absolutely im-
possible to explain what had become of this woman's money, except upon
the view that these two persons had got hold of it, and had got hold of
it before her death at any rate, a large quantity of it. That it was
in Miss Barrow's mind to entrust her money to him is shown by an
incident which took place a day or two before Hook leaves. The incident
to which I want to refer for a moment is this, because, according to the
view that I present to you, it shows that the statements that they are
making with reference to this money are absolutely untrue. According
to Hook's testimony I shall have something to say about him a little

Closing Speech for the Crown.


later on but, according to Hook's testimony, which is corroborated, as
I shall show you in a moment, by Mr. Vonderahe, in the cash box there
was a considerable sum of notes. According to him, he saw 380 ; it
had been 420 in 1906 ; he saw it counted out again when it went to the
house in Tollington Park, and it was 380 sovereigns and a lot of notes
in that cash box. The notes are gone. The gold is gone. More gold
is added to the store, and that is gone. Some money was withdrawn
from the savings bank, and that has disappeared all disappeared whilst
she was in the house living with these two persons. As I indicated to you
in opening the case, actual sovereigns are difficult to trace ; current coin
passes from hand to hand, and you cannot identify particular sovereigns ;
but you can identify particular bank notes. My learned friend Mr.
RentoTil (no doubt in his enthusiastic advocacy for his client, for which,
I am sure, he will not think I am blaming him, but on the contrary I will,
if I may, commend him) said that she admitted it directly the question
of the notes was brought forward. I have looked in vain for the ad-
mission. To whom did she admit it? Where did she admit it? If my
friend means, under that phrase, that she admitted it when her husband
asked her when they were both being charged together, yes, then I follow
what he means ; but what the value of that admission is I fail to grasp.
This question of tracing the notes had been a most difficult and laborious
process. Possibly it is only in the hands of the authorities that you can
pet a thorough tracing of notes. It is only when the Director of Public
Prosecutions or the Commissioner of Police takes up a case of this kind,
in all probability that you can get such a tracing of notes as has taken
place in this case. Why, gentlemen, the number of witnesses called in
order to establish this dealing with the notes is I will not pledge myself
to the exact number, but it is between forty and fifty persons persons
who have been called at the Police Court and called here before you. Of
course, as my learned friend rightly pointed out, all the evidence that haa
been given at the Police Court and the evidence that has
been given here in regard to that is not challenged. It is not challenged
for what reason? Why, the elementary lesson that an advocate learns
is never to challenge evidence" which he will not be able to dispute. Of
course, all this is undisputed, necessarily -undisputed and the class of
evidence does not admit of dispute. It proved this. It proved the
dealing with 165 in 5 notes, to which must be added another note of
which we had an admission yesterday from Mrs. Seddon. But leave
that out of the calculation ; after all, it adds little to it. Where did those
notes come from? The money found its way into the pockets of Mr.
Seddon and Mrs. Seddon. How did they get them? You have heard
a remarkable story of how Mrs. Seddon got the money. She says Miss
Barrow was in the habit of coming down and handing a 5 note to change ;
that was continued right up to the end of August, 1911. Mind you, after
she had actually got the 216 in sovereigns in her box on the 19th June,
July, and August, and even in September, to bring down notes for the
purpose of having them changed into gold.

Mr. JUSTICE BUCKNILL I do not think Mrs. Seddon got anything in
September; I think her last was in August.

The ATTORNEY-GENERAL Thirty-three notes are traced on the table to


Trial of the Seddons.


the end of August, 1911; they form the 165. There was one note which

ehe admitted yesterday

Mr. JUSTICE BUCKNILL I thought you were going to leave that out.

Online LibraryFrederick Henry SeddonTrial of the Seddons → online text (page 46 of 57)