‘THE MERCURY’ MONDAY 6th January 1862
This afternoon an inquest was
opened at Mr. James Cousins” Bull’s head,
The wife of the deceased was taken into custody, charged as the perpetrator of the deed, and brought up before the Mayor, at the Police Office, when she was remanded till the 13th instant, awaiting the result of the Coroner’s inquest. As will be seen by our report in todays issue, she solemnly declared her innocence. Mr. Boyd, Superintendent of Police was present.
The following jury was sworn
– D. Murphy, (foreman) T.Weare, C.J.Hayward, Joseph Byfield, Isaac Pear,
John Turner and John Asbury.
The Coroner briefly addressed the jury, and said that he could state little more than
That a most foul and brutal murder had been committed but by whom he could not say.
The body was lying in the house, and it would be seen, he thought, that the deceased had been killed while lying in his bed undressed, and probably while asleep. Suspicion pointed to his wife who was now in custody, but it would be fore the jury to decide from the evidence which would be adduced how far she was guilty or not. The Coroner then pointed out the appearance of the deceased as he lay in his bed, and as we have described below on the view of the body.
The Coroner, jury, witnesses then proceeded to view the body which presented a horrible appearance, the head being encrusted with blood, and with a wide gash on the right side of the throat, and a deep cut on the forehead, over the right eye. In the left hand of the deceased, gently grasped between the thumb and the fore finger, was a razor, but without any stains of blood upon it, but a water jug, and another bedroom utensil, were stained with blood, and on the back of the hand which still held the razor there was the impression of a finger and thumb stained with blood.
The Coroner and Jury having returned to the jury-room, the following witness was examined.
Lawrence Benson, who stated
that he was employed by the Corporation to look after some lamps, and that he
lived in Bathurst Street, he had seen the body of the deceased in the presence
of the Jury and witnesses and Constable Waller, who is in charge of the body.
Seeing the body he knew it to be that of John Coghlan, and he knew that
the house in
A man named Thomas Arnold was here brought into the room, and identified by the witness as “Blind Tom”. Examination continued. Whenever Mrs. Coghlan’s hood was off her hair was disordered.
By the Jury-I first went to
Before I went the second time I saw Mrs. Coghlan go to “Old Tom’s”, this might have been about two o’clock. I was never a servant to Coghlan, but I slept there for two or three nights about 13 or 14 years ago. While I was speaking to Mrs. Coghlan, I did not go within the fence, I heard Mrs. Coghlan say that her husband was away at some of the brothels. I saw Constable Cleary, I think, about three o’clock this morning at the corner of Harrington and Goulburn Streets, I did not hear any noise in the house
The inquest was then adjourned till ten o’clock on Wednesday (tomorrow).
THE ENQUIRY RESUMED AT HALF PAST 2 O’CLOCK WHEN THE FOLLOWING ADDITIONAL EVIDENCE WAS TAKEN
William Waller, City Police stated that he knew the deceased.
Witness was on duty in
in the morning when Mrs. Coghlan opened the shutters.
By a juror There appeared to be some blood on the sleeve of Mrs. Coghlan’s night dress, there was some water in a wash hand basin in the room, but it was not bloody. I did not notice any blood on Mrs. Coghlan’s hands
Cleary, City Police, gave corroborative evidence.
He stated that Mrs. Coghlan told him her husband was sleeping with a
female, and after that she asked him to get her some drink.
This witness confirmed the testimony of Constable Waller in reference to
the conduct of Mrs. Coghlan, by clapping her hands and using the exclamations
deposed by the previous witness. He
also stated he was forcibly struck by Mrs. Coghlan’s appearance, she was as
pale as death, and her eyes were glittering in a very remarkable manner.
She said to witness “Do you pity me?”
Witness replied that he was very sorry to see her in that condition, when
she said it was his fault. Witness
made answer that he thought it was both their fault.
She then said, he was over at Blind Tom’s sleeping with a woman, and if
witness waited, he would see him come out. Witness
then went on his beat down
Carns, who made a post mortem examination of the body deposed to the injuries
inflicted on the deceased.
He first saw the deceased about half past four on Monday last, he was lying in bed and perfectly dead, but the body was warm, although his left hand was cold. There were various wounds on the head, with extensive fractures of the skull, the throat was cut on the right side and the face was covered with blood. There was a large wound over the right eye, and others extending in various directions over the skull, as if inflicted by some blunt instrument, there was also a severe contusion on the right side of the head bursting the eyeball, and extending to the ear, and fracturing the bones of the nose, in fact, nearly all the bones of the head were frightfully smashed. The cheek bone on the right side and the lower jaw were also fractured. The wound in the throat, which did not divide either the carotid artery or the jugular vein, must have been inflicted with a sharp cutting instrument which had severed the trachea (windpipe) and some of the smaller blood vessels. All the wounds were on the right side of the head except one, which extended across the frontal bone to the left temporal bone, and this must have been inflicted on the right side of the head. The cut in the throat had been inflicted while there was life in the body, because air exuded after death in the shape of frothy mucus. From the quantity of blood in the brain witness was of opinion that the injuries to the skull had been inflicted before the wound in the throat; had the throat been cut first there would not have been so much blood in the brain. In witness’ opinion the deceased was most probably asleep or insensible, when the wounds were inflicted. It is very unlikely that the wound in the throat could have been inflicted by the deceased himself, but the fractures on the skull could not have been so inflicted, that would have been quite impossible. All the wounds were not necessarily mortal, but several were sufficient to cause death; three of the wounds were necessarily mortal. Witness could not say that death under such circumstances would be instantaneous, but the wounds inflicted on the deceased were calculated to hasten death,. Witness thought the deceased had been dead about two or three hours when he first saw him, the blood on the face was moist, and the body was warm. The pillow and blanket on the bed were sprinkled with blood, and there was blood also on the ceiling and on the floor. The blows must have been given with great force, and with some very heavy blunt instrument. The iron bar now produced marked with blood, might produce some of the wounds.
Detective Vickers here produced the flannel dress which Mr. Coghlin had worn at the time and which was stained in several places with blood, and which Dr. Carns stated was quite recent, when he saw it on Monday morning.
Mrs. Coghlan stated that the blood on the dress was caused by a wound on her elbow, which she exhibited to the jury, but which the appearance of the dress did not warrant.
Examination continued – Dr. Carns said that he saw the dress taken off at the police office on Monday morning. He examined it before it was taken off and immediately afterwards. There was a large patch of blood on the right sleeve, with spots or splotches all over the dress, which looked recent when witness saw them. On examining the chamber utensil witness found some hair adhering to the bottom, which corresponded with that of the deceased. There was blood on the razor now produced and the wound on the throat might have been inflicted by that weapon, but he did not think the deceased had cut his own throat.
Detective Vickers here produced the shirts worn by the deceased which were literally saturated with blood, and so offensive from the smell, as to cause their quick removal from the room.
Examination continued – The attention of witness was directed by Mrs. Coghlan to a wound on her right elbow, and one on her right brow, he examined her hands but didn not find any marks of blood upon them. Then wounds on the elbow and eyebrow were slight wounds. When witness saw Mrs. Coghlan at the Police Office the sleeve of her flannel dress was tucked up close under her arm, but afterwards it was drawn down. Witness examined Mrs. Coghlan at the house, and also her hands.
Vickers stated that on Monday morning last,
constable Cleary reported at the station that John Coghlan had committed
suicide. Witness immediately
proceeded to the house, where he saw Mrs. Coghlan, Dr. Carns and Sergeant Smith
in the kitchen. As soon as witness
entered Mrs. Coghlan said “I have not done it”
Witness then went into the bedroom, where he saw the deceased quite dead,
with a large cut in his throat, several cuts on his head, and his face smothered
in blood. Some of the blood was dry,
and some moist, and there was a great quantity on the bed clothes and pillow,
and spots on the wall, floor and ceiling. Witness
also saw in the left hand of the deceased this razor now produced.
He found the chamber utensil (produced) under the bed, with more blood on
it than now appears, the blood was quite fresh.
He also found a water jug (produced) on a wash hand stand, likewise
marked with blood in the same state as it is now, there was also a bloody rim on
the wash stand corresponding to the bottom of the jug.
From what witness saw in the bedroom he went into the kitchen and told
Mrs. Coghlan that she must consider herself in his custody for the willful
murder of her husband. Witness also
produced a table cover on which it appeared that some person had wiped bloody
hands. Mrs. Coghlan said “I am
innocent, and God knows I have not done it”
Witness then went into another room, and after some trouble woke up
Catherine Lowe, and took her also into custody, she seemed stupefied with drink
and said she knew nothing at all about it. Witness
then took them both to the chief station, where he saw the dress and flannel
shirt taken from Mrs. Coghlan, and Dr. Carns examined them.
Witness received from Dr. Carns the razor now produced, which has been in
witnesses possession ever since, witness saw Dr. Carns take the razor from the
deceased’s left hand, it had not been previously disturbed.
On Monday, Mrs Coghlan said, as she was going to the factory, that she
had murdered her husband with an iron bar, which he had thrown at her and that
the bar was now in the closet on her own premises.
In consequence of this statement witness searched for the iron bar, and
found it in the place described by Mrs. Coghlan and now produced it.
She said this in the presence of Mr. Boyd and Detective Morley, and of
her own accord. She also said the
woman, Catherine Lowe, knew nothing about it; she had told her that her husband
was away from the house, while at the same time he had been dead for some hours.
When she got to the Factory she repeated the statement in the presence of
several persons. In consequence of
this statement, as witness has already stated, the closet was searched, and the
bar discovered. Witness washed it as
carefully as he could and saw the spots of blood when pointed out by Cr Carns at
Sergeant Smith was called to prove that he was called to Coghlan’s house about twenty minutes before four o’clock on Sunday morning by Constable Cleary, and that he remained there until Dr. Carns, Mr. Boyd and Detective Vickers came there. Nothing had been disturbed before Dr. Carns came.
The evidence now being exhausted, the Coroner summed up the evidence. He thought there was some discrepancy as to the time with the evidence of the first witness, but this was not perhaps very material as it did not affect the main features of the case, and especially after the statement made by Mrs. Coghlan to Vickers, in the presence of Mr Boyd and several others. The Coroner now recapitulated a portion of the evidence, pointing out some discrepancies in the evidence of the witness Arnold as to the time when the blows were struck, with other leading points for the testimony of the other witnesses.
The Coroner now read over the statement, when the unfortunate woman confirmed its correctness, declaring it was true in the face of God, and the truth she would have to tell before her Maker. She then affixed her mark to the statement, and was removed from the room in a fainting condition.
The Jury without hesitation found a verdict of Wilful Murder against Margaret Coghlan, who was accordingly committed on the Coroner’s warrant
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