Frederick Henry Seddon.

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been described to you so often, until it culminates in this little boy
shouting out " Chickie is out of bed," or words to that effect, and she
said, " I am going." Picture to yourself this unfortunate woman in
agony getting weaker, and no doubt the poison working its full effect.
This poor, unfortunate woman is sitting on the ground holding herself in
agony, and the boy terrified, as we know he was from the evidence that
has been given, doing his best to hold her up. According to the evidence
Mr. and Mrs. Seddon came up. I am not sure whether it was on that

Closing Speech for the Crown.


occasion that she put some hot flannels on or not. For the purpose of
my case it does not make any difference; I will deal with the incidents.
Later she is helped into bed. No explanation of any sort or kind from
Miss Barrow to Mr. and Mrs. Seddon, on their own statement. Then the
boy is sent to his own room and they remain there.

Then you have heard about the one and a half to two hours' snoring.
It is not quite easy to get at the true effect of the evidence on that night,
but I have looked at it very carefully, and, of course, my lord has his
notes. If I may say so, with respect, I observe he followed it with very
close attention, and if he thinks what I am saying is wrong he will correct
it. The prisoner Seddon emphatically stated at the start that she snored;
his words were, "Sleeping peacefully; snoring for an hour and a half to
two hours." That was the beginning of it. He was cross-examined about
that, and he was pressed. I asked what sort of snoring it was, and you
remember he gave an illustration. He was asked why he did not fetch a
doctor in those circumstances, or why he did not do something on hearing
a snore like that? My learned friend had described the snoring as
"stertorous breathing"; that is a phrase introduced by him, and I have
no doubt correctly it was stertorous breathing " snoring," as they call it.
I would ask you to picture to yourself what happened on that night when
they are up there listening to this. If it is true that the woman was sleeping
peacefully, it is difficult to understand why the man did not go down to bed.
He had got a busy day the next day, Thursday, as it was his office day
the day on which he had most to do. The only explanation which has been
given to me is that he wanted to stop up with his wife. Of course, you
will consider that explanation in conjunction with the rest, and consider it
in the light of all the circumstances. He stays outside that door with the
door open so that he can see what is going on in that room. He is smoking
and he is reading a paper, and at times, as he tells us, he is going down
to look after the baby and to get a drink. My submission to you, which
I ask you to take into consideration, is that he was waiting up that night
with his wife because he knew the end could not be far off; he knew that
the end was approaching, and he could not leave his wife, and probably
she would not stay alone to see it. Somebody must be there. The wife
sits up through it. The husband stays outside the door. That, I submit
to you, is an explanation of why he does not go down to bed.

Then the end comes. Do let us examine the story with regard to it.
There are really three stories that have been given of that end. It is a
gruesome story, and one upon which I do not want to dwell at any length,
but this is the story, according to Mr. Seddon ; he was standing outside,
and he heard the snoring going on, and all of a sudden it ceases. He hears
nothing more, and he says, " Good God, she is dead," and then he lifts
an eyelid and sees that she is dead. He is pressed about that, and he says
that before that his wife had tied up the jaw. The wife gives a different
story. That was a night upon which I should have thought there could
be no doubt. The wife's story is that she sat dozing; she does not seem
to know very much about what did happen; she was, as my learned friend
said, sleeping tired. According to her account the breathing stopped
suddenly, and her husband lifted an eyelid and said, " Good God, she is
dead " ; but she said she was uncertain as to whether she was dead or not.
i A 3 6 9

Trial of the Seddons.


Now, gentlemen, just imagine that state of things. She had not tied up the
jaw. Seddon's story is wrong with regard to that. There cannot be any
mistake; he cannot say that he was uncertain she was dead, and there-
fore he did not want to know anything more at all about it, or any medical
man to know. Then I have said she may be mistaken about it, as she
admitted that if she had tied up the jaw she would have known perfectly well
the woman was dead. She did not know that, because, according to her
story, she went down and said that she thought the woman was dead. Do
see what happens when her husband went away. Here is this woman, who
is not expected to die, according to the story she is now putting forward
to-day (the doctor did not expect her to die, because, according to him, she
was not in a critical condition), all of a sudden dies, and the husband then
goes to the doctor. The story he tells to the doctor, according to the doctor,
is worthy of your consideration. It has passed no doubt from your recol-
lection, as it is a considerable time ago since it was said, but this is his
account of it " The husband came to me about seven o'clock. I asked
him how she was; he said she was taken in a lot of pain seemed to have
a lot of pain in her inside, and then she went off a sort of insensible. They
had been up all night with her. She had been in a considerable amount of
pain, and then went off in a sort of unconscious insensible." A very
different story from what he has told here. According to their story, she
is sleeping peacefully, and then suddenly dies.

Then, gentlemen, you have the account of what happens with Dr.
Sworn. I am not going to make any reflection upon Dr. Sworn, but I do
say this, that it makes one pause a little when you hear from a medical
man who had left his patient on the morning of the 13th not in a critical
condition, and whom he did not expect to die, but who gets a message the
next morning at seven o'clock that the patient has become " unconscious
insensible," and then died, that he gives a certificate without anything
further. If he did anything which is to be made a subject of criticism,
that, of course, must not reflect upon the Seddons. I only make that
observation in passing, because I cross-examined about it. Quite under-
stand what I am saying. If there is some criticism to be visited upon
him if there is it must not be visited upon them.

What happened after that? There is the search. Again, you have
heard so much about that. It is such a wretched squalid story, and I am
not going to take up your time by going through it. The search for gold
is recommenced as soon as he comes back, before anything else is thought
of, to find out how much money there was. Mr. Seddon was cross-examined
as to why he did not do what any honest man would have done under the
circumstances what I submit to you any man who had nothing to conceal
would have done, even if he was a wise, shrewd, and astute man, as we
know Mr. Seddon was. He sets to work to examine the room before he
sends a word to the relatives. When he is pressed about that, he says he
has an independent witness. The independent witness was Mrs. Rutt,
who pawned his sheets and pillow cases, and things of that kind, when they
were away on their holiday. That is the independent witness whom he
had sent for.

Mr. MARSHALL HALL They did not go for their holiday until the
middle of September.

Closing Speech for the Crown.



Mr. MARSHALL HALL 22nd September.

The ATTORNEY-GENERAL I do not think it really affects the point I am
making, although my learned friend is quite right in his date; I do not
pay any attention to it, and I do not think it matters for the purpose of
what I am putting before you whether it was before or after. What I am
upon is that Mrs. Rutt is put forward as an independent witness, and what
I am saying is that this independent witness was the witness whom you
heard had pawned his things. Some criticism was directed upon the cross-
examination of my learned friend Mr. Muir. Was he to allow Mrs. Rutt
to be put forward to you as an independent witness, a person who was
vouched for by Mr. Seddon, without asking her a question which at least
throws a considerable light upon the amount of independence which she
exhibited under the circumstances? So the result of the search you know.
It is stated that none of the gold except this 4 10s. was found. You
know also the visit to the undertaker's.

I want to direct your attention now to what I call the third stage of the
circumstantial evidence which I am putting before you. I have called
attention to the motive and to the opportunity, and I am now going to
deal with the third stage, which is the subsequent conduct. If you will
observe what has taken place in the case, as I know you have already,
you will see how material it is that you should take it into consideration
when you come to determine whether or not this woman was murdered as
we say. Nothing whatever is done during the whole of that morning to
get the relatives to appear or to give them any notice. Now, I agree that
apparently the relatives do not seem to have been on the most friendly
terms. Quite a justifiable observation on that was made by my learned
friend, but it does not in the slightest degree get rid of this fact, the
only relatives of whom he knows and to whom he should have sent he did
not communicate with. The only explanation that I have been able to
get you have heard. You have heard the whole case, and you will be
able to judge why he did not send round to the house to tell the Vonderahes.
His case is that some time after the Vonderahes had ceased to lodge and
board Miss Barrow Miss Margaret Seddon had gone round to the door,
and the door had been slammed in her face, or rather rudely. That is the
whole explanation you have had. I pressed him and asked him, " With
all the people in your house, why did not you send somebody else? You
could have got the father, you could have got the two sons. You could have
gone yourself." The only explanation was that they had shut the door
rudely in Margaret's face. Then it is said that he wrote a letter. You will
remember the incident about the funeral. Gentlemen, I am not going
to say anything more about it. I told you about it in opening the case,
and I explained to you how I used it. I pointed out to you that its bearing
in this case was only as an indication of the man we are dealing with. That
now stands so revealed during the course of this case that I will not waste
time to comment further upon it. But Mr. Seddon says he wrote a letter
upon 14th September. I submit to you that that incident helps to show
that he is concealing the facts, because he does not want any inquiry, and
he does not want any examination, because he knows his own guilt. He
.says that on the 14th he wrote; by some extraordinary coincidence he


Trial of the Seddons.


happened to have two mourning sheets of paper, and he wrote a letter,
which has never been discovered, and which no one has ever received, and
which has never been returned. He says he wrote a letter on the afternoon
of 14th September to acquaint the Vonderahes of the death of Miss Barrow.
It is very curious that nobody has ever heard of it. Mr. Smith was cross-
examined about it. I noticed my learned friend yesterday made a very
extraordinary observation about my not having asked Margaret Seddon
the question as to whether she had posted the letter. I had opened the
case; I had proved the case; I had made perfectly plain what the sugges-
tion was that no such letter ever was sent, and my learned friend called
her, and he did not put the question to her. I do not quite understand
the reason that he gave yesterday, or why he did not. If I followed him
correctly, his suggestion was, what was the good of asking her any question
when we had got a statement from her which had been given to the police,
and we would say from that that she was not to be believed? I do not
know whether that is his view; if it is, it would be an extraordinary one,
because he is putting her forward as a witness of truth. But, gentlemen,
do not let me make any capital out of it. It may be I do not know that
it was passed over, as sometimes such things are, by omission. Whether
it was that or whether it was designedly done I do not want to make any
capital out of the fact that my learned friends did not ask Miss Margaret
Seddon to say more than was absolutely vital. She is the daughter of
this man, and I should not have made any criticism upon my learned
friend not having asked her to go into the details and history of this case,
but that letter remains in great doubt. In my submission to you he never
sent it, and he only wrote it when the Vonderahes were coming to him on
21st September, when the two ladies appeared and wanted to know some-
thing about it. As far as he was concerned, he did not know whether
they had received the letter or not, but there he is armed with this copy
which he produced from his pocket, and he says, " Why, here is the copy
of the letter I wrote to you." The suggestion he made to you was that
Mrs. Vonderahe knew quite well she had had it, but would not admit it.
I will not dwell upon that at all. You have seen Mrs. Vonderahe, and you
have heard her story about it.

The incidents of 14th September, however, are important in another
aspect. On that date discussions arise about the money. Now, it is a most
extraordinary thing that 14th September is the first day on which, according
to the evidence, you find him dealing with a lot of gold. I know what
has been said about Mr. Naylor and Mr. Wilson, who were called, but they
really, as I submit to you, do not help at all in this case. Their evidence
does not agree, but it shows this, that at that time he had some money,
possibly 100 it may have been a little more in gold. He was then
carrying on a wardrobe business, and he had got purchases to make, and
therefore had to keep gold in the house very likely. But they were
speaking of June, 1909. On 14th September, 1911, you find him dealing
with a considerable amount of gold.

In opening the case I submitted to you, and I submit to you now, that

gold that he was dealing with was Miss Barrow's gold, and nobody else's,

and that it was there for him to deal with on that day, because she

was dead, and the jubilation at the possession of this money, and not having


Closing Speech for the Crown,


to account to her either for the notes or for the gold, or to pay her annuity,
made him a little incautious. My learned friends both made criticisms and
comments upon his conduct, and said that if this man had been the criminal
that is suggested, he would have had the body cremated ; one of my learned
friends said that, and the other said that the last thing he would have done
would have been to show the gold. That is the kind of argument you hear
in every criminal case that ever comes before a Court. If every criminal
knew when he was committing the crime of all the various steps that he
might take in order to prevent the detection of the crime, and had the
advantage of very able lawyers to tell him how to cover up his tracks
(which, of course, they would not do), no doubt there would be a great
many more undetected crimes than at present there are enough. That
kind of argument about what he might have done is of very little use, as
I submit to you, in this kind of case. But how is it that it just happens to
be this day, 14th September, when the body is still lying upstairs in the
room, that you find him dealing with this amount of gold which hitherto
apparently he had possessed, but you never find him dealing with? You
have heard the explanation about the 200 or the 220.

As my learned friend said, and I quite agree, all this shuffling to and
fro of sovereigns out of one bag into another is quite immaterial, and
throws no light upon it. We have had a long story about it. I make no
complaint, but I say it does not help us at all, because there still remains
the fact that the money was there, and the whole question is whether that
money which was there was the money he had got from Miss Barrow, or
whether it was his own. My learned friend says he had this money, because
he had 220 which he had been using for a mortgage. Do you remember
the evidence with regard to that? I do ask you to take that into account.
This acute man of business, who knows how to turn every penny to account,
who pays in a small sum of 30 in order that he should get the 2 per
cent, interest on it, who pays in a sum of 70 into a deposit account as
soon as he has got the money, who never allows the money to remain
unremunerative, according to his case which he now has to set up, has
220 in gold which he is keeping there idle. For what purpose does he
do it, considering he has got a banking account at the London and Pro-
vincial Bank, that he had laid money out in deposit at the London County
and Westminster Bank, and that he 'had a savings bank account? For
what purpose was he keeping this 220 in gold? The only explanation he
has been able to give you is that the 220 was used for the purpose of a
mortgage, and that it was there in case anything should happen to him,
so that the money should be taken to the building society to pay off the
mortgage. Naturally, you ask what difference would it make if he died?
Whether the mortgage, according to his own statement, is a mortgage for
fifteen to twenty years, it could not be called in. He did not require the
money for that purpose. It is an invention, as I submit to you, to account
for his having this gold in his possession on that date in order that he may
explain what he was doing on 14th September with the gold.

Now, see again, on this very date, according to all the evidence we
have had before us, how does he deal with this money? My learned friend
says he pays it into three or four places. So he does, but you will observe
that he distributes it over as wide an area as he can. If you have got


Trial of the Seddons.


gold which you do not want traced in a lump, it is very convenient no
doubt to use it in three or four different ways. What happened in this
case? He pays in 35 of the money on 14th September in addition to
the money which he has to pay in which had been received on account
of the insurance company. The collectors' money is brought there, and
it is dealt with before seven o'clock, on the evidence. On the morning
of the 15th he pays in the collectors' money, to which, according to his
own story, he has added 35 in gold. His story is that he did it the night
before, but it does not matter. The 35 is paid in in gold, and, as I
suggest to you, in the gold which had belonged to Miss Barrow. That is
one way of dealing with it. 35 goes into that bank, then 30 goes into
the Post Office Savings Bank, and three days after ninety sovereigns are
used for the purpose of paying for three shares in the building society.
Now, is it not an extraordinary thing that you should, so immediately
after the death of this woman who was known to be possessed of a con-
siderable sum of money, have a dealing with a large sum of gold like that
in that way by this man who had a banking account and a Post Offce
Savings Bank account also? If, of course, he was not free, as he thought,
to deal with the money, and he was afraid of detection, you would under-
stand why it is he was dealing with it in that way; but, if that was not
the case, what a marvellous coincidence it is that he should just on that
day have chosen to pay away all those sums of gold when the body lay
cold upstairs before it was taken away that night to the undertakers.

We do not stop at that, because on that very same day come two
incidents upon which I rely strongly. My submission to you is that those
two incidents are consistent with guilt, fairly, properly, and carefully
scrutinised. The first is the incident with the ring. Now, the story about
that is, that the ring had been given to him by her as a present because
he had incurred some costs to the lawyer in connection with the assignment.
The evidence upon it is this, that the moment he was told, as he was, by
Messrs. Russell & Son that some lawyer ought to go through the agreement
for her, and he told her about that, she objected to paying any lawyer's
costs. He said that she would not pay a single penny, so he agreed to pay
those costs, and they came to 4 13s., and he had given a cheque for it.
His explanation of the ring is you will consider whether or not it is a
true explanation, or whether it is untrue and invented for the occasion
his explanation is that he told her that he had had to incur solicitors'
costs, and that she had said to him she would not pay any money, but she
would give him a ring instead ; the substance of the words were that " She
had not any money to spare," and she gave him a ring. On his own
etory, he himself had to pay those solicitors' costs, and he had to pay with
his own cheque, and the ring is given to him.

Now, the ring is taken on 15th September, between the death and the
burial, by this man to the jeweller. What for? Because it was too small
for him to wear, and he had to have it enlarged so that he could wear the
ring, which this lady had worn, upon his finger; therefore the jeweller had
the commission to make it larger he said that he wore it on his little
finger. It is a most remarkable fact which you ought to take into considera-
tion that this point which I made against him in the opening of the case
about the ring has never been explained except upon this view that no

Closing Speech for the Crown.


single person who has been called, and who knew him, has been able to
say that he saw him wearing that ring upon his little finger. It is a most
vital point, and, as you will remember, I made use of it in opening, as I
did of all these points, so that my learned friends should know the points
on which I was resting my case, and every opportunity should be given them
for explanation. Not a single person has been able to say he ever saw
that man with that ring on his little finger. Even after he had it altered
he did not wear it. The ring was found in his safe; he did not wear it.
What an extraordinary story it is that he puts forward to you upon this 1
He asks you to believe that the day after her death it occurred to him, as a
coincidence apparently, that he should go to a jeweller's and ask the jeweller
to enlarge it. Put to yourself the other side of the story. Suppose this
ring did not belong to him at all, but had been amongst the jewellery,
which was left to Hilda and Ernest Grant and the watch also, and that
he had taken possession in his greed and coveteousness of that ring and of
that watch. Something must be done with them, so that if there is any
inquiry hereafter, at any rate it would be shown that the ring is not the
one that Miss Barrow had been in the habit of wearing, and the watch
cannot be identified. Then you get that incident of the alteration of the
ring on the day after the death, which I submit is only explicable, applying
the ordinary test which you would apply to your own affairs in this case,
on the theory that this man had taken the ring, and that he wanted to
alter it so that nobody would know. What about the watch? There, again,
that matter stands before you. It is clearly demonstrated in evidence, and
the point is so plain that I will only make this one observation to you
if that watch had been honestly obtained by Mrs. Seddon, what reason
was there that she should go hot-foot with her husband before the woman
is even buried, for whom she confessed to have had so much regard, and
have the name of Eliza Jane Barrow taken out of the back plate of the
watch, where nobody in life could ever see it, unless he came to examine
it for the purpose of identifying it? Gentlemen, we do not open the back
plates of the watches of our friends to see whether there are the names
there when you examine a watch to see what kind of a watch it is, but it is
a most serious thing if you want to identify the watch that the name
should be erased from it; and that is the reason of the incident on the 15th
of September of the going to this jeweller's for the purpose of having it

Online LibraryFrederick Henry SeddonTrial of the Seddons → online text (page 50 of 57)