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Man Charged With Poisoning His Wife

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Man Charged With Poisoning His Wife

Post by Karen on Sun 23 Jan 2011 - 13:23



At Worship-street police-court, yesterday, John Reynolds, barman, 29, was brought up, on remand, on a charge of having feloniously administered, or caused to be administered, to his wife, Sarah Ann Reynolds, a certain irritant poison, with intent to kill and murder her.
Edward Passmore, 98, White Lion-street, Islington, said he was a potman out of work. Formerly he was employed at the Lucas Arms, Gray's-inn-road. The prisoner was there as barman. There was also a barman named Stapleton. They slept in the front room upstairs. Witness was only in that room upstairs when he cleaned the windows. Remembered the Wednesday prisoner had his holiday. On the day before that witness was sent to him for a penny, to get oxalic acid to clean the brass. Prisoner said, "Fetch twopenn' orth," and gave him twopence; then he said, "Get me a pennyworth of blue-stone," and handed him a penny to pay for it. Witness purchased the oxalic acid and blue-stone at Davis's, chemist, Gray's-inn-road. Thought the blue-stone was weighed for him. It was handed him in a paper, on which the chemist wrote something. (A paper was handed in, labelled "Blue-stone; poison!") Witness added that he saw the stuff put into the paper. It was lumpy - a few pieces. He gave the packet, just as it was, to the prisoner. Thought he put it in his pocket.
Edmund Reid, inspector J division, said that on Friday, 20th August, he received certain information from the prisoner's wife. In consequence of that he went to a Mr. Notcutt, chemist, of Aldenham-road, Mile-end, and received from him a cup with some contents. Then, in consequence of what he was told by Mr. Notcutt, he went to the Lucas Arms, Gray's-inn-road, and saw the prisoner there. He told him he was a police officer, and should take him into custody for attempting to kill his wife. The prisoner replied, "I don't know what you mean." Witness said "You are accused of putting some blue-stone into a cup in which was spruce and peppermint." He replied, "I don't know what blue-stone is." I took him into the bar-parlour and handed him over to Police-constable Williamson, and proceeded to the prisoner's bedroom, being taken there by the other barman, Stapleton. There was a chest of drawers in the room, and Stapleton took out the clothes for the prisoner, and packed them up. In the top drawer but one witness saw, as the clothes were taken out, a small pile of money, and in the corner something blue in a paper. Witness had all the clothes packed up in a box, leaving the money and paper in the drawer. Then, with Stapleton, I went down, taking the box, to the prisoner, to whom he said, "I have found 9s. 2 1/2d. belonging to you in the drawer." He said, "There is 18s. in the drawer also." Witness said, "If so, come and fetch it," and, accompanied by the prisoner, he returned upstairs. Witness said, "Which is your drawer?" and the prisoner, pointing to the one in which the money was, said, "That." Witness said, "Very well, take it," and the prisoner opened the drawer and took out 18s. in gold and silver, then shutting up the drawer. Witness said, "Stop, what is that paper in the corner?" The prisoner replied, "I don't know." Witness opened the drawer, and took out the paper, then saying to the prisoner, "This is the very stuff you are charged with putting into the cup for your wife." The prisoner said, "I don't know anything of it; I never saw it before." Witness took him downstairs again, and asked the landlord if he knew anything of the poison in the paper. He also asked Stapleton, the barman, the same question. The prisoner, when removed to the station, and the charge read to him, said, "I am innocent of the crime." Witness found a letter on the prisoner, the letter being that spoken to by the witness Ship last week.
The officer added that subsequently he obtained a sample of the spruce and peppermint from the landlord, Gooding, of the Horn of Plenty public-house, Mile-end, where it may be remembered that for the prisoner's wife had been purchased by the witness Parker. The sample, witness said, was taken by him to Mr. Notcutt, chemist, examined by him, and then sealed up. These articles and the teacup which had contained the poison were produced.
Cross-examined by Mr. Purcell: When he took the prisoner up and asked him, "Which is your drawer?" he asked that because he wanted to find the blue-stone in his presence.
Mr. Purcell: You wanted him to make evidence against himself.
Witness: I don't understand you.
Mr. Purcell: You wanted him to make evidence?
Witness: No; I wanted to find the blue-stone in his presence.
He added that he did not know it was the prisoner's drawer. Stapleton had not told him. It was only shown by the action of taking out the things that it was the prisoner's drawer. Did not suppose Stapleton had told him a lie. Made notes of what the prisoner had said to him relating to the charge. Had not put down everything that was said, only what related to the charge.
Mr. Purcell: Did you exercise your discretion as to what you should put down, and what leave out? - No.
Mr. Purcell: I'll take your answer. Now let me see the notes. You made them afterwards? - Yes., about an hour after, at the station.
Mr. Purcell: I see you have only put down what you have given in evidence? - Yes.
Mr. Purcell: Have you shown this book to anybody besides the Solicitor to the Treasury? - No, I think not. The book has been kept in my desk.
Mr. Purcell (to Mr. Sims): You ought to examine this. It's quite a curiosity. (Handing him the book.)
When he asked Mr. Price if he knew anything about the blue-stone, he did it in the prisoner's presence, knowing that the answer would be admissible as evidence against him.
Mr. Wm. Brighty Notcutt, chemist and druggist, 32, Aldenham-road, Mile-end, deposed that on Thursday, August 19th, at about 9:30 a.m., he saw Mrs. Reynolds in his shop, and she produced to him the teacup in court, and complained of being unwell. Witness examined the cup, in which he found about two tablespoonsful of a thick liquid, and adhering to the sides of the cup were some sugar crystals and a blue crystal. The latter was "blue-stone," which was the common name for sulphate of copper. Witness put some in his mouth, and was satisfied that it was blue-stone. It made his tongue rough. He divided the contents of the cup into three parts, and subjected one part to six different tests. From that he found sulphate of copper in solution. Blue-stone would dissolve in hot water. It was a common article for sale, about three ounces being sold for 1d. One drachm would cause death if retained. The three crystals in the cup weighed nearly two drachms. Mrs. Reynolds afterwards produced to him a bottle smelling of spruce. (The bottles containing the various articles were produced and identified by the witness.) Two other bottles containing spruce and peppermint were handed to him by Inspector Reid. Sulphate of copper caused vomiting and a burning pain in the stomach.
Cross-examined: Blue-stone was used for various purposes - wheat dressing, veterinary practice, &c. Was not aware if it was used in brewing, for assisting in the fermentation of beer. Taylor's book on poisons was an authority, and witness was acquainted with it.
If Taylor says that anything less than five drachms would be insufficient to cause death, do you disagree with him? - I should be sorry to try the effect.
I suppose the first effect of taking it is sickness? - Yes.
Which would remove the poison from the stomach? - It would not remove the effect.
Percy Stapleton, barman at the Lucas Arms, Gray's-inn-road, said that the prisoner had been employed there before him. They occupied the same room, but different beds. Each had his own separate chest of drawers. He remembered the arrest of the prisoner. Witness accompanied the inspector to the bedroom, and collected the prisoner's clothes from his drawers, the inspector putting them into a box. Witness did not see any money in the drawers. Afterwards he was asked if he knew anything about the blue-stone, and stated that he did not.
Cross-examined: Was not in the house when the officer arrived. When witness got there the prisoner and detective were in the parlour, he supposed, as he (witness) went upstairs. He was called down to the bar, and then his master told him that he was wanted upstairs. He went up to the detective.
Mr. Purcell: Oh, he was up there first, was he? - Yes.
Well, what happened? - I asked the detective what was the matter, and he said the prisoner was charged with being a married man, and with trying to poison his wife.
George Gooding, of the Horn of Plenty, Globe-road, Mile-end, deposed to selling the witness Parker half a quartern of spruce and peppermint, and subsequently he supplied a sample to Inspector Reid.
Mr. Purcell suggested that Mr. Sims should ask the witness if the customers had been sick. Mr. Sims had no objection, and asked if the customers if the customers had complained that the mixture disagreed with them. The witness replied in the negative. Mr. Sims said that closed the case for the prosecution, and he asked for the committal of the prisoner.
Mr. Bushby: He must be committed.
Mr. Purcell: Then I will not trouble you with my remarks. I will ask you for bail.
Mr. Bushby: I cannot grant bail.
The prisoner, stating that his defence would be reserved, was then committed for trial at the Central Criminal Court.

Source: Lloyd's Weekly London Newspaper, September 5, 1886, Page 7

Karen Trenouth
Author of: "Epiphany of the Whitechapel Murders"
Author of: "Jack the Ripper: The Satanic Team"

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