THE HINDMARSH FATALITY
from Neville Solly, South Australia
This article was originally published in the August 2010 edition of Soul Search, the journal of The Sole Society
Neville Solly: - James Witter Solly & Eliza Coulthard were my Gt Gt Uncle & Auntie. Half the family spent their time in the pubs the other half in chapel. Naturally my half were chapel!!!
The Advertiser Adelaide, SA
Saturday 20 July 1901 page 6
Dr. Ramsay Smith (the City-Coroner) continued the adjourned inquest on the body of James Solly, who died at the Adelaide Hospital on Friday, July 12, as the result, it had been alleged, of maltreatment by the police. The session was commenced at 11 a.m. and continued throughout the day, and at the time of going to press was not concluded. No less than 14 witnesses were summoned in this case, but by 6 p.m. only three had given their evidence. So far the evidence has been of a strikingly contradictory nature, scarcely two witnesses being agreed with respect to important points. One witness gave his version of the scuffle with the police in an apparently straightforward manner, but when he came under cross-examination he became so confused and withdrew so many of the statements he had previously made, that, at last, the jury intimated that they did not think it worth while to listen to him. Dr. Jane Kinder, who performed the post-mortem, stated that in her opinion death resulted from peritonitis, which was due to retro-peritoneal cellulitus, and an abscess in the pancreas. These complaints had probably existed for months, and would have caused death sooner or later. In her opinion the fatality was more likely to have occurred as the result of a false step than from pressure on the abdomen. This last statement rather discounted the evidence, which had been given to the effect that the police had knelt on deceased's abdomen. The police state that their version of the story will be absolutely contradictory of that put forward by the friends of the deceased.
ALLEGED ASSAULT BY THE POLICE. THE INQUEST. SOME STARTLING EVIDENCE.
Saturday 20 July 1901 page 8
The adjourned inquest on the body of James Solly, whose death at the Adelaide Hospital on July 12, was alleged to be the result of maltreatment on the part of the police, was continued on Friday morning. The city coroner (Dr. W. Ramsay Smith) conducted the inquest, and Mr. J. R. Anderson appeared for Foot-Constables Reedy and Murphy. The Commissioner of Police (Colonel Madley) watched the case for the police, and Mr. C. E. Herbert appeared for the relatives of the deceased. There was a crowded attendance in court.
F.C. Rea obtained an order for all witnesses to leave the court with the exception of Constables Reedy and Murphy, who were allowed to remain, Mr. Anderson remarking that as there had been very inflammatory paragraph in the press against them it would be only fair that they should hear what was alleged against them.
Dr. E. E. S. Coombe, of Hindmarsh, said he had known deceased for about 12 years. Solly had acted in the capacity of coachman to him for about five years. Deceased was brought to him on the morning of July 10 by Mr. Coulthard and Mr. Geo. Guthrie. Witness found he had a cut over the left eye and a lacerated scalp wound on the left side of the upper part of his head. Dressed the wounds. Deceased did not state how the injuries were received, but Mr. Coulthard said he had been in a brawl with the police, and that they had knocked him about. The deceased heard that, but did not make any comment, although he was talking all the time. He was excited, but witness thought that was due to the scuffle, and to the fact that he was also under the influence of drink. About four hours later witness was sent for, and found deceased suffering from great pain in the stomach. Thought it was perhaps due to colic after drinking. Treated him to relieve the pain. On visiting him again on the following morning found him suffering from peritonitis. Witness then ordered his removal to the hospital. Up to that time deceased had not complained about the police. Witness did not tell the patient that he was seriously ill, but told his friends. Deceased was not usually excitable when sober. Had never seen him under the influence of drink before. The cut over the eye might have been done by either a blunt or sharp instrument. The wound on the top of the head was of a different character, and might have been caused by a stone or an instrument with a knob on it. Peritonitis would not be likely to have been caused by an injury to the head. It was usually caused by injury in the abdomen itself.
A Juror - If something heavy were to fall on his stomach would it cause peritonitis?
Witness – “Quite possibly.”
Continuing, witness, in reply to questions, stated that deceased was conscious during the whole time he was attending to him. The deceased was of a naturally strong constitution. He was not sure whether it was Solly or Mr. Coulthard who informed him that the former had been knelt on by the police. Witness elicited this information as the result of his enquiries as to the cause of peritonitis. He was not sure who gave him the information, but it was given in deceased's presence. It was never suggested to witness that the pain in the stomach was due to anything the police had done. Witness advised that the patient's dying depositions should be taken. The wounds on the scalp could have been caused by the deceased falling down, but it was not likely, unless he had knocked against something in falling. They were more likely to have been caused by a blow from another person. An injury that caused peritonitis might not give pain for some hours afterwards. It was possible that the scalp wound had been caused by a fall on to the kerbstone, and the wound over the eye might have been caused by the man falling forward on to a stone.
George Albert Coulthard, licensee of the Joiners Arms Hotel, at Hindmarsh, who at the last sitting gave evidence of identification of the body, was recalled. Witness at 11.15 p.m. on July 9 opened the door of his premises to permit two customers, George Guthrie and George Hearns, to leave. He looked out, and saw three or four men coming up the street. Witness closed the door again, and asked Guthrie and Hearn to wait till they had passed. A knock at the door followed. Witness was standing close to the door, and waited to hear voices. He then heard F.C. Murphy saying, "If you don't go I will lock you up." The reply came- "You gave me provocation and you can lock me up." He then heard deceased crying out "George" and "Coulthard," and he repeated it several times. Witness's wife called to him, "That's my brother. Go, quick." Witness opened the door and went out, being closely followed by his wife. Witness found deceased lying on the road 5 or 6 ft. from the footpath. F.C. Reedy was bending over deceased, his right knee being on deceased's stomach. F.C. Reedy had deceased's left hand in his right, doubled back to the shoulder, while F.C. Murphy was stooping down and had hold of deceased's left hand. At witness's request the constables allowed deceased to get up. Witness asked deceased what he had done to cause this trouble, and he replied that he had done nothing. Witness asked F.C. Reedy if he had arrested deceased and the constable replied--"Yes, I've arrested him for assault." The constables then took deceased to the police-station, and when witness and Guthrie went there shortly afterwards he was sitting in a chair. His head was wet, and the constable said he had been bathing it. Deceased insisted on going to a doctor, and Corporal O'Connor said that would be the best thing. Witness stood bail for deceased. Witness then took deceased to Dr. Coombe and afterwards took him to his own home. On the following morning at 3 o'clock he was sent for and found that deceased had been taken very ill soon after he had taken him home and was suffering from pain in the stomach. About 9.30 a.m. witness said, "Jim, have you anything I can say in your defence for you at the court." He replied, "Tell them, George, they've killed me." Dr. Bonnin attended him about midnight, and after that deceased said he thought he could not stand the pain much longer. At about 3 o'clock deceased said he was dying and asked witness to fetch Dr. Coombe. Did not notice anything in F.C. Reedy's hand when he went into the street on the night of the scuffle, although it was a clear night. Witness believed deceased had some drink, but not enough to make him quarrelsome. Witness heard deceased say to his wife, "Liz, fetch a candle and see how they have knocked me about.' At the police-station Guthrie asked the corporal what the charge was, and the latter replied that it was "assaulting the police and being drunk." Guthrie said he would give £5 or get £5 to test the case in the morning, and he also said, "If anyone has been assaulted it is the accused, and 'not' the police." Witness saw no signs on the police as the result of the assault. On deceased leaving the police office Corporal O'Connor said that the charge of assault would be withdrawn when they saw the magistrate in the morning. Did not know if Guthrie replied to this. Witness and Constables Murphy and Reedy were present when Mr. Medwell took deceased's dying deposition. After his depositions had been taken, F.C. Reedy said to deceased-"Jim, did I hit you?" Deceased answered-"Yes, you jumped your knees into me twice." Deceased said F.C. Murphy had hit him twice. Solly shook hands with Corporal O'Connor and F.C. Murphy when he left the Police Court, but he said he "had done with the other one." When proceeding to Dr. Coombe's, in company with witness, deceased complained of the treatment he had received at the hands of the police.
George Robert Guthrie, mason, of Dayton-street, Hindmarsh, gave corroborative evidence with regard to being in the hotel on the night of the assault, and also as to accompanying the landlord to the police station. Deceased was not drunk; in fact, he was perfectly sober. He complained that the police had been knocking him about. Witness said-"Jim, I think you have been badly treated, and if you want money to get legal advice to test the case, I will get it for you." Mrs. Coulthard made an attempt to go out into the street, when there was a scuffle, but she did not go out, as her husband told her to keep back.
By Mr. Herbert-On the way to the doctor's deceased said, referring to the constables "Those fellows knocked me down, and bashed me about, George." At the police station Corporal O'Connor stated that they would withdraw the charge of assaulting the police, and merely charge him with drunkenness. Witness mentioned that they certainly could not charge deceased with being drunk, because he was perfectly sober.
By Mr. Anderson-Mrs. Coulthard went outside the parlor door, but not outside the street door.
By the Coroner-Was with deceased from the time that he was taken to the police-station until Dr. Coombe examined him.
George Solly, brother of the deceased, a miner, living at Eleventh-street, Bowden, said he met his brother on July 9 in Hindley street, between 7 and 8 o'clock. They left for Bowden about 8 p.m., and visited the Oddfellows' Arms at about 10.45 p.m. Then they went to the Commercial Hotel. Could not say how many drinks they had. Deceased, Thornton, Scorer, and himself afterwards went to the Joiners' Arms Hotel. They were singing, but stopped just before they came to the hotel. When they got to the side door of the hotel the police rushed at them. F.C. Reedy said "What are you doing here? Get out of this." Reedy struck Thornton with his hand, but could not say if he had anything in it. It was a dark night. Thornton staggered from the blow, and said, '"Why did you do that? Did I give you any provocation?" F.C. Reedy said-"Go on, or I will lock you up. F.C. Murphy said, "Leave him to me; I'll lock him up." With that Murphy walked away with him. Witness and deceased walked away seven or eight yards. F.C. Murphy followed them, and struck witness on the head. Did not know with what he had been struck. Witness fell, and got up again. F.C. Murphy struck him again, on the head, and, he once more fell down. Witness then got up and ran away.
John Thornton, teamster, living at West Thebarton, who was one of the three men with deceased on the night of the alleged assault, gave corroborative evidence with regard to their movements on the night in question. He stated, however, that they were not singing, but that two of them were humming. Scorer was the only one of them who was drunk. Witness was walking some distance behind the others. F.C. Reedy came up and hit him across the neck with what he thought was his arm, and said, "Get out of that." Witness stepped out into the gutter and asked him the cause of the blow, and the constable said, "You knocked at that door." Witness denied it. F.C. Reedy then told him to go away. F.C. Murphy said, "I will lock him up," and Murphy and witness then walked down the middle of the road. Witness told F.C. Murphy, that he was going to find out why he had been struck. When they got to the Cross-roads F.C. Murphy said, 'You had better get away home, Jack," and witness proceeded on his way. Murphy then walked back towards F.C. Reedy. At that time he heard deceased call out "George" several times. When witness approached the two policemen again they were picking up deceased from the road, and they took him towards the police-station. Witness saw both Mr. and Mrs. Coulthard out on the road at this juncture. Witness and deceased did not have, more than seven drinks from 1.30 p.m. to 11.15 p.m. Anyone who said Mrs. Coulthard did not go out on to the street on that occasion was telling an untruth.
George Scorer, bricklayers' laborer, of Hindmarsh, said' that he was one of the party with deceased on the eventful night. At about 1.30 p.m. he accompanied deceased to town, but he was pretty well under the influence of drink at that time, and could not remember going in the evening from the Commercial Hotel to the Joiners' Arms.
Albert James King, a builder, living at Hindmarsh, said he knew deceased, and had followed him and some other men down the Port-road. Could, not say if all of them were singing. Witness saw one of them knock at a door. F.C. Reedy went up to Thornton and said, "You' knocked at that door." Thornton denied it, but Reedy said, "You did knock at the door," and he then hit Thornton across the side of the face. Thornton went back on the road a little bit and said, "You do that again." Reedy replied, "If you are not, very careful I'll take you to the lock-up." F.C. Murphy then said. "I'll take him." Thornton went away with Murphy. Deceased and his brother walked towards Coulthard's big gates, and F.C. Reedy followed them. Witness then saw Reedy take something from his side and hit both of them on the head from behind. They both fell to the ground. One of them got up again, and Reedy again felled him to the ground. One of them got up and ran away. Reedy went over to deceased and got him by the throat, while he was on the ground coming down on him with both knees. Deceased called out, "George, George, Coulthard, Coulthard." Reedy moving his knees on deceased said, "I'll give it to you; I'll let you see." Mrs. Coulthard came out and said, "Let him go. That's my brother." Mr. Coulthard came out and said to his wife, "You go inside. Don't you interfere." He was not sure of the exact words used. F.C. Murphy then came up, and they lifted deceased up and took him in the direction of the police-station. Witness was standing about 15 yards from, where deceased was lying. Scorer was a bit tipsy, but the other three were sober.
By Mr. Anderson - F.C. Murphy was in plain clothes, but F.C Reedy was in uniform. He distinctly saw Reedy's baton swinging from his belt. Would certainly be surprised to hear that Reedy was wearing a long overcoat with a cape.
Michael Joseph O'Donnell, laborer, living at Hindmarsh, said that on the night of July 9 he saw deceased and his brother, with Scorer and Thornton, in Mary-street, Hindmarsh. He was on the opposite side of the road, and saw them stop at the door of the Joiners' Arms Hotel. Witness did not hear any knocking. Mr. King was standing with him. F.C. Reedy was in uniform, but F.C. Murphy wore plain clothes. Witness saw Reedy give Thornton a blow, and the latter went back a yard or two. Reedy then followed the other two men, and struck them down from behind with either a walking-stick or a baton. One of them got up and ran away. Reedy sprang on the other one, who was on the ground, and kept him there. Reedv had his right knee on deceased, and the latter called out. Witness said to King, "My God, he'll murder him." King said, "Keep quiet; keep still" Reedy's hand seemed to be on deceased's throat, and witness heard a "bump, bump." Witness thought Reedy was bumping deceased's head.
The Coroner-How did you know whether the deceased was moving his head or Reedy bumping him?
Witness-Well, he was choking him, anyway.
Witness, continuing, said that Mrs. Coulthard came out into the street behind her husband, and the latter asked the constables, "What are you doing with my brother?" Only saw Reedy knock the two Sollys down. He gave them only one blow each. If he had knocked one or them down twice he would have noticed it.
The witness King was recalled, but after listening to his statements for some time the jury intimated that they considered it only waste of time to hear him.
Dr. Jane Kinder, resident medical officer of the Adelaide Hospital, stated that she admitted deceased to the Adelaide Hospital on Thursday, July 11. He died the next day at about 1.10 p.m. Told him about 11 a.m. that he was going to die, but he said he was not, and that it the doctors would do something for him he would get all right again. The police and a justice of the peace came down in the afternoon to take his dying depositions, but when Mr. Rea read over to him the caution of the declaration for that purpose he said he did not believe he was going to die. Witness performed the post-mortem examination on the body. Death was due to peritonitis, which was caused by the retro-peritoneal celluilitis and the abscess in the pancreas. There was acute peritonitis present and also dark blood-stained fluid, which had no peculiarity of odor. There were hemorrhages on the caecum ascending colun, and in that region there was thickening due to old inflammation. There was an old abscess at the lead of the pancreas.
By Mr. Herbert-The cellulitis probably extended over several months. If deceased had been knocked down that would have been sufficient to set up acute peritonitis. He would have died sooner or later from existing conditions. A false step would be more likely to have caused hemorrhage than pressure on the abdomen.
At the time of going to press the inquest had not been concluded.
AN ALL-NIGHT SITTING. THE VERDICT.
Monday 22 July 1901 Page 3
The adjourned inquest on the body of James Solly, whose death at the Adelaide Hospital on July 12, was alleged to be the result of maltreatment on the part of the police, was continued on Friday. The city coroner (Dr. W. Ramsay Smith) conducted tile inquest, and Mr. J. R. Anderson appeared for Foot-Constables Reedy and Murphy. The Commissioner of Police (Colonel Madley) watched the case for the police, and Mr. C. E. Herbert appeared for, the relatives of the deceased. The enquiry lasted until 5 o'clock on Saturday morning. The following additional evidence was taken:-
Foot-constable Peter Reedy deposed that he was stationed at Hindmarsh. On the night of the alleged assault he and F.C. Murphy were proceeding along Richard street when they heard a great noise of singing and shouting in the direction of the Port-road towards the Joiners' Arms Hotel. Some men were outside the door shouting-"Open the -- door, George." He crossed over towards the men, and saw Thornton knocking at the door. Deceased repeated the demand that the door should be opened. Witness tried to push Thorn- ton from the door, and told him to go home, but he said, "You can't make me go home." F.C. Murphy then said, "If you don't stop this shouting and go home I'll have to lock you up." Thornton replied, "You can't lock me up; you're not the --- man." Murphy then arrested Thornton for disturbing the peace. Solly then called out, "Come on, George, we won't let Jacky go with the --- copper." Witness said, "If you don't go home you will have to go to the police-station for being drunk." He replied, "I'll have a --- go with you." Witness then arrested him. As soon as he touched deceased the latter struck him in the stomach, grabbed at his legs, and tried to throw him to the ground. In the struggle they both fell in the gutter against the kerbstone. Solly called out, "George, go for him." The other men then rushed at witness, and struck him on the head and pulled him on to the ground by the cape of his overcoat. Witness then called out, "Jim, Jim: come quick, these men are killing me." Murphy came back and took the other man away. Solly again struck him and tried to throw him down again, and they fell once more on the roadway. Deceased this time was under- neath. Witness then pulled out his "twitches" to put them on but Solly caught hold of them and prevented them from being used.' Deceased called out, "George" to Coulthard, who was then on the footpath. The latter said, "Now, Jim, you're in the hands of the police; go quietly." Murphv came up and caught deceased by the right hand, whereupon the latter let the "twitches" go. Solly was allowed to get up, and Murphy assisted witness to take him to the police-station,, where he was charged with being drunk and assaulting the police. He was bleeding from a cut over the left eye and another on the top of the head. He informed Corporal O'Connor, who was in charge of the station, that the cut on his head had been sustained while struggling with witness in front of the hotel, and remarked that he had been "celebrating the Duke." Coulthard said to deceased at the station, "If you hadn't been drunk you wouldn't be here." Witness was dressed in the overcoat produced. By Mr. Anderson-Had no baton-case, nor did he carry a stick. By a Juror-The de- ceased was drunk. By Mr. Herbert-Believed that Thornton was at present a prisoner at large. Corporal O'Connor had said if it were possible to withdraw the charge of assault he would do so.
F.C. Murphy corroborated the evidence of the previous witness in every detail.
W. H. Medwell a justice of the peace, deposed to having taken the following statement, in writing from deceased at Hindmarsh on July 11:-"I, James Whitter Solly, do hereby declare that the following statement, made on oath by me is true. At about 11.15 p.m. on Tuesday, July 9, I was coming down to the Joiners' Arms. I was knocking at the side door of the hotel, when Constables Reedy and Murphy said 'Why are you down here?' I made no reply. Constable Reedy got hold of me and got me down and jumped on me with his two knees. I started screaming for assistance. The door of the hotel was opened and Mr. George Coulthard came out. I was then taken to the police-statîon. I was charged with being drunk and assaulting the police. Constable Murphy struck me on the head with a stick. I did not strike Constable Reedy, as far as I know. Jackey Thornton and my brother George were with me, also George Scorer. No one else was present that I know of."
The Coroner, in summing up, said that the case had been a very long and tedious one, and if the true cause of death had been the only question at issue he would not have considered himself justified in prolonging the enquiry to such an extent, and would probably have called the medical evidence earlier in the inquest. In a case like that, where the conduct of the safe- guards of the public peace was actually challenged, they could not be too careful to get at the facts of the case. The complaint of maltreatment by the police seemed to grow, and the death of the man seemed to be accepted as proof that he died from injuries inflicted by the police. That was the feeling one, had in listening to certain parts of the evidence. The theory that the man was drunk and knew himself to be drunk was quite sustained. In listening to the first portion of the evidence one could not help thinking that there was a desire to show that the men in question were very well behaved that night, that only one was drunk and the others perfectly sober, and that the singing spoken of amounted to nothing more than a little humming. On the other hand, some of the witnesses testified to a most savage and unprovoked assault upon deceased and the other men. That there was no truth in that assertion had been proved. It would be a very serious thing indeed if policemen were allowed to go about in the manner alleged and knock men down like ninepins. It would be a great blot, he thought, on the Adelaide police if there were any truth in it. Policemen, as they knew, must be the most forbearing of men. They ought to be the most phlegmatic individuals in a public capacity, and it should be only on the very utmost necessity that they should use force, either accidental or intentional, to injure a man so as to disable him. They must look at the nature of some of the evidence which had been tendered. First of all, Coulthard was certain that Murphy was the man who spoke to Thornton. Coulthard said he heard him say, "If you don't go I will lock you up.”
Another witness scouted the idea of Murphy saying that, and said that it was Reedy who said it. Solly, Thornton, and King all stated that it was said by Constable Reedy. Coulthard also said that he stopped at the door and listened, and. other witnesses denied that. Guthrie said Coulthard stood at the window and listened. Coulthard said his wife went out of the hotel, and other witnesses swore the same, but Guthrie swore that Mrs. Coulthard did not go outside the outer door. Coulthard stated that deceased was sober, but Dr. Coombe said he was "in drink." He thought the jury would see that Coulthard had been at least mistaken as to the deceased's condition. As regarded Guthrie, his evidence in some things did not at all correspond with the facts as testified to by others. Guthrie said they could not hear anything but a murmur of voices inside the house, and yet others gave evidence that the cries of "Coulthard, Coulthard," could be heard a long distance off. Those, however, might be regarded as minor incongruities. When they came to the evidence given by King and O'Donnell they were dealing with two utterly different individuals, as they had apparently, nothing to gain or to lose by concoting any new story, or in embellishing any other, or in intensifying statements of fact. At first blush King ought to have given, and certainly appeared to give, an independent account. King and O'Donnell agreed that there had been a savage assault by the police. The evidence they gave was to the effect that Reedy knocked the deceased down without the slightest provocation, and without speaking to him, in fact, then that he got on top of him with both knees on his stomach and bumped his head. Upon that they were firm, and could not be shaken and they gave their evidence with all the circumstantial facts and surroundings that would lead them to be believed; but when they came to ask them questions it was found that they did not know, or at least could not testify to any facts beyond those simple statements. He thought there was no doubt in the minds of anyone present that King was a witness who should be sent to his seat as absolutely unworthy of credence. What steps should be taken against a witness of that sort he could not say. If the witnesses King, O'Donnell, and others heard and saw the statements and occurrences mentioned by them they could not give an ac- curate account of them. They did not appear to have been speaking from their own impressions of what they saw or heard. Deceased had appeared to be slow to make a definite charge of any kind, and he (the coroner) was rather inclined to take his statement to Dr. Kinder to be the whole truth in a nutshell, namely, that he had had a scuffle with the police after having been "celebrating the Duke." As to the cause of death, they had been told by Dr. Kinder that the deceased had "died of peritonitis, but as to whether they considered the statement that the constable had planted his knee on deceased's stomach had any thing to do with it he would not direct them. The singing spoken of could be heard 100 yards away or more, according to the statements of the constables. He thought the jury would also agree "that there had been knocking at the door. - That being-so, according to the Police Act, the policemen were quite within their rights in endeavoring to arrest the men. Some witnesses had said that no foul language was used at all, and that Solly was not the man to use it.
On the other hand, they had the statements, of those who knew him well that he was just such a man as would make a practice of using bad language. The point they had
to consider was the cause of death. They were told it was peritonitis. Was that peritonitis from natural causes or from injury?
If from injury, was the man or were the policemen to blame? They had to consider whether there was any proof that the constable had bumped deceased up and down, as had been said, or were they to believe the constables' statement that there was a scuffle, that he and the two men fell to the ground, and that it was pretty lively for the time being. They were told that the condition of some of deceased's abdominal organs would have killed him sooner or later, and they must make up their minds whether death was due to natural causes. If so, was deceased himself to blame for it, or had the constables been responsible for the death?
The jury retired at 4.20 a.m. to consider their verdict. At 10 minutes to 5 o'clock they returned, and the foreman announced that they had agreed upon a verdict as follows:-'We are of opinion that the de- ceased, James Whittier Solly, came to his death at the Adelaide Hospital on July 12 by peritonitis, from disease of long-standing accelerated by over-excitement on the evening of June 9."
The Court rose at 5 o'clock, after having spent 16 hours in the conduct of business.
Monday 22 July 1901 Page 4
The inquest on the death of James Solly, which it had been alleged resulted from injuries received at the hands of the police at Hindmarsh, was commenced at 11 a.m. on Friday, and continued until 5 a.m. the following day, which only two intervals of an hour each for meals. A large portion of the 16 hours' sitting was occupied in unravelling the history of the scuffle winch took place between the deceased and some of his friends and the police, and which had been represented by Solly in his depositions to have been an unprovoked assault by the police. Mr. C. E. Herbert watched the case on behalf of the relatives of the deceased, while Mr. J. R. Anderson had been retained in the interests of the two constables directly concerned. The account of the fracas given by the policemen contrasted strongly with the contradictory versions of several of the witnesses. One of the witnesses tendered evidence which was regarded as so unsatisfactory that the jury asked him to retire, and the coroner refused to accept his depositions. Dr. Kinder, who made the post-mortem examination, stated that there were no external bruises or other marks of violence on the body beyond those mentioned. The verdict was to the effect that the de- ceased had died by peritonitis from disease of long standing, accelerated by over- excitement on the evening of the alleged assault.
Monday 22 July 1901 Page 7
To the Editor.
"Sir - I should like to explain in fairness to my son that the statement he made at the inquest touching the death of J.W. Sollv (which the coroner has been pleased to sum up as practically a tissue of fabrications, and not to be relied on), is the same in every detail as he related to me five minutes after the occurrence. As the coroner states, the lad had no reason to concoct a story, nor is it at all feasible he should have done so a few minutes after. The lad has been can- did all through this unfortunate affair. He appeared as a witness for the Crown, and supplied his evidence to the police some days prior the enquiry, for them to prepare the coroner's brief, which evidence, I presume, was reviewed by them and the lawyer. Everything was done so far as my boy was concerned to enlighten the police respecting what took place. I gather only from the summing up of the coroner that the lad at first gave his evidence in a satisfactory manner, but in cross-examination got confused and unwittingly contradicted himself. The coroner in one breath asserts that King gave his evidence with all the circumstantial facts and surrounding's that would cause it to be believed, but when he was questioned it was found that he did not know or could not testify to any facts beyond those simple statements. In the very next breath what do we hear? That King was a witness who should be sent to his seat as absolutely unworthy of evidence. What steps should be taken against a witness of that sort he could not say. It reflects on the veracity of the lad to such an extent that I would be unworthy the name of a father did I allow it to go to the world unchallenged. Coronial enquiries are for the purpose of eliciting truth, and coroners have been known to protect witnesses and prevent them being confused on immaterial issues; but apparently the reverse has occurred in this case. I would ask what boy of 17 years could stand nearly two hours in a witness-box giving evidence and being cross-examined by lawyer, coroner, and jury without making a mistake. This will be a moral for the lad in the future to keen his lips closed.
I am, &c, J. KING, Hindmarsh.
Tuesday 20 August 1901 Page 5
On Monday the Mayor of Hindmarsh (Mr. W. Blight) - presented a petition, signed by 866 residents of the town of Hindmarsh, to the Chief Secretary, asking for an enquiry concerning the death of the late J. W. Solly. The petitioners expressed dissatisfaction with the finding of the jury, and asked that a searching enquiry be made. The Chief Secretary informed the mayor that he would ask for a report from the coroner and the Commissioner of Police, and said the matter would be enquired into.
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