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Mystery of Quorn Man's Death.

5th March 1925 - Loughborough Monitor and Herald

Facts concerning a Quorn man who purchased a packet of vermin killer a year ago, and consumed it on Jan 27th, as a result of which he died, were related at the adjourned inquest on Thursday at Loughborough, conducted by Mr H J Deane (Loughborough Coroner) on Percy Rue (42) labourer, working on the new electric cable track, and residing at 8 Freehold-street, Quorn.

The inquest had been adjourned owing to Drs C G Richardson (Loughborough) and J A Unitt (Quorn) disagreeing as to the cause of death.

Dr Richardson, who made the post mortem examination, said the lungs were in a state of congestion and the first stages of pneumonia, and in his opinion the cause of death was an early pneumonia, with severe auto-intoxication.

Dr Unitt, who was at the post mortem, would not express his definite opinion as to the cause of death until he knew the result of an analysis of the stomach, and it was for this reason that the inquest was adjourned. Previous to hearing the evidence the Coroner related these facts to the jury.

Sarah Rue, wife of deceased, said they went to Quorn about a year ago, and opened a fried fish shop, having previously lived at 115 Paget-street, Loughborough, where deceased had been employed as a platelayer. She had never known her husband to possess a packet of Battle's vermin killer. He never took powders, not even if he had a cold. When he came home from work he seemed ill and was doubled up with pain. After having his tea he went into the kitchen to wash. She washed up the tea-cups, but did not notice if one had been used again. When deceased finished washing he seemed worse, and went to bed. He was never out of witness's sight while he was washing, and she would have noticed if he had drank anything.

The Coroner: Did he look horrified when he went to bed? - He looked dreadful.

Continuing, witness said after a time deceased called for a drink, and she went to a neighbouring shop and bought a pint of beer, which she heated and mixed with some ground ginger. He drank a cupful, and witness took the remainder downstairs and consumed it herself. A quarter of an hour later she heard a noise and found he was in a semi-conscious condition. She sent for the doctor, and remained with her husband until his arrival, during which time he was convulsed.

The Coroner: Did you ask him if he had taken anything? - Oh, no. I never thought of such a thing.

Had you any suspicion that he had? - No.

Some time later, whilst looking for a watch key in the pocket of a waistcoat worn by her husband, witness found, torn in half, and made into small compass, a paper which had contained Battle's vermin killer. This she took to the police.

Upon being shown a chemist's poison entry book witness identified a signature in it as that of her husband. They had always lived comfortably. He had been a good husband.

Replying to the Coroner, witness said he had only applied for the dole on one occasion. It had worried him because he was short of work, but he would not go for the dole again. He had never threatened to put an end to his life. S far as she knew there was no reason why he should do such a thing, especially as he had just obtained fresh work. He had never suggested taking anything as a "pick-me-up", and he never considered he required any medicine. He was a man who would keep troubles to himself, although he was not worried with money troubles.

Dr Benjamin Dyer, consulting chemist and public analyst for the county of Leicester, said he had received two bottles for analysis, one containing the contents of the stomach and the other the contents of the intestines. These were composed of recently taken food, meat and vegetables. He mixed the contents of the stomach, which weighed 9ozs., thoroughly. He took five ozs for analysis, and from this extracted a quarter of a grain of strychnine. This meant there would be about half a grain altogether in the contents. There was also a trace of strychnine in the contents of the intestines.

He received from the Coroner on February 6th the torn packet found by deceased's wife, which still contained a few grains of the vermin killer. Strychnine was the main acting force in Battle's vermin killer, and in the contents of the packets these varied from one to three grains of strychnine.

Dr Unitt, Quorn, said there was no doubt in his opinion death was due to strychnine poisoning. It might have been taken between the time that Mrs Rue went out for the beer and her return. He had known deceased many years, and he was a man who was morose and took little notice of other people.

Dr Richardson said he thought the poisoning helped to cause the congestion of the lungs. After hearing the evidence he had nothing in disagreement with Dr Unitt's opinion that the man had died from strychnine poisoning.

Det-Sergt Darling said he made enquiries from chemists in the town and district and saw an entry in the poison book of Mrs Constance Holt, Derby-square, that a person named Rue had purchased a ninepenny packet of Battle's vermin killer on March 18th. 1924.

Addressing the jury, the Coroner said there could be no doubt in their minds that the cause of death was strychnine poisoning. He did not think Mrs Rue had any knowledge of the poison at all, and he absolved her of any knowledge, guilty or otherwise, of the approaching death of her husband.

The jury returned a verdict of death from strychnine poisoning, self-administered, but that there was not sufficient evidence to say the state of deceased's mind. They were quite satisfied with the way Mrs Rue had given her evidence.

The jury handed over their fees to the widow.

 Submitted on: 2012-11-18
 Submitted by: Kathryn Paterson
 Artefact ID: 1722
 Print: View artefact in printer-friendly page

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