An enquiry was conducted at the Queen Victoria Hotel, Rushden, on Thursday evening, by Mr. J. C. Parker, deputy-coroner, touching the circumstances surrounding the death of Harry Cooper, currier, who died on Wednesday evening from the effect of injuries to his head. Supt. Alexander watched the evidence on behalf of the police. Mr. George Watt was chosen foreman of the jury, and after the body had been viewed the following evidence was taken:-
Thomas Tite, 90, Higham-road, shoe finisher, said that the body just viewed was that of Henry Cooper, aged 49, currier, who lived with witness. On Tuesday evening witness left deceased between seven and eight, in the house, in a room downstairs. He was sitting in the room, having just come downstairs after a nap. He was “muddled,” but was not drunk. Witness could not say that he was sober, though he said he should be glad when Thursday morning came and he could go to work. Witness did not know when he went to bed. Deceased said that if witness would fetch him a drop of rum he would not go out again that night. Witness fetched him a quartern of rum, and left him in the house alone with it. It would be nearly twelve o’clock when witness came home from the Trades Union Club. He was later because it was a holiday time. He was at the club all the while. He could not say that he was sober, but knew himself, and was not particularly drunk. He saw nothing of deceased, and made no enquiries for him, not knowing anything was wrong. He went straight to bed, and did not notice any marks of blood. He saw deceased just after eight o’clock next morning, when his attention was called by Thomas Clarke, who slept in the same room. Witness asked what was the matter, and deceased said, “It’s no use asking me, Tom; I don’t remember anything.” Witness asked if he thought a doctor should be sent for, and deceased said “a little medicine” (meaning rum) would do him most good. Witness was going when he met Jones, who was already bringing some rum. The bed was “smothered” with blood, and there was also blood at the top of the stairs. Witness did not see him alive after that time, going again to the club, where he stayed until nearly eleven o’clock. He knew what was going on, but the doctor had told him not to get excited. Deceased was dead when he got home. He had worked till Saturday noon, and witness did not know what he did on Monday. So far as witness knew he was not a member of any club. On the Tuesday he did not see him till the evening, as already described. Witness’s other two lodgers were in the club on Tuesday evening. To Supt. Alexander: Witness’s wife went to Corby on Monday, and got home at midnight. On Tuesday evening both were at the club, and went home together. Deceased had lodged with them since four or five weeks before Christmas. There were women there all day, including Mrs. Field and Mrs. Smith. He did not know if Dr. Bromilow called. He sent four times to Rushden and twice to Higham for a doctor. He did not go himself, as he had gout. To the Coroner: He asked a man named Compton to go for the doctor before he left home. Witness did not send four times himself, but asked Compton to go as he left the house at nine o’clock in the morning. They told him in the club that the doctor was being sent for, and witness thought more fuss was being made than necessary. To Supt. Alexander: When he saw deceased in the morning he did not think anyone could save his life.
Martha Tite, wife of the last witness, said she went out about eleven in the morning and returned at one o’clock. She went out to her husband in the evening at the club, but could not say at what time, perhaps an hour after he went out. She saw Cooper go out at nine o’clock on Tuesday morning and come back about one o’clock. He was not sober, and went to bed without dinner. He had no breakfast beyond an egg with vinegar on it. He had gone to bed when witness returned from Corby on Monday evening, but she did not know if he had anything to eat. She went to a friend’s to tea, and got back about half-past five. She did not see deceased on the Tuesday after he went to bed at noon. Her husband left home on Tuesday morning, but did not come back to dinner. He came in at nine o’clock, had supper, and went out again, witness going directly afterwards. She was at home between six and nine, and afterwards came home with her husband about 12 o’clock. Neither of them was sober. They went straight to bed, and she saw nothing of either of the lodgers, nor did she see marks of blood. She next saw Cooper about 8.20 on Wednesday morning, before her husband saw him. She went because Clarke called her. Deceased, in answer to her question, said he did not know how he had hurt his head. He wanted a drink and nothing else, so witness fetched him some brandy. He had already had some rum in milk. Witness fetched Mr. Jubb, an ambulance man, to see him. She also sent for the doctor between 10 and 11, but he was not at home. He had not been sent for previously. They sent three times for Dr. Owen, and then sent to Dr. Crew. Witness fetched different people, so that there was all the while someone with him. She went in and out of the club. Deceased had rum twice after the brandy, and also some milk, a half-pint altogether. She thought deceased died about eight o’clock. Her husband had had drink when he came in, but was not drunk. To Supt. Alexander: She went to her husband on several occasions on Wednesday. Her husband called for drinks for her. She did not know that Dr. Bromilow called at a quarter-past five, and found no one in. She was not sober in the evening. They sent for Dr. Rooke and Dr. Crew in the evening.
Henry Jones, shoe finisher, who lodged with the Tite’s said he went out early on Tuesday morning, and did not go back till between 7 and 8 o’clock at night, when he went straight to bed. He slept in the same room as deceased, but not in the same bed. He had had a few glasses more than he ought and went to bed in his boots and cap, and did not know whether deceased was there or not. Witness did not see deceased on Tuesday after getting up in the morning. In the early hours of Wednesday morning deceased woke him up and asked him to fetch some water, which he did. Deceased tried to get out of bed, but stumbled and witness helped him back. Witness asked what was the matter, and deceased said he did not know. Some time later, perhaps two hours later, deceased asked for another drink, and witness went to Higham for some rum. On taking this up witness asked how he felt, and the reply was that he felt bad, but could not say what had happened. Witness then went out to various places and did not return till somewhere between four o’clock and seven. He was at the club a good part of the time. He was not sober when he got back at night. There were three or four people in the bedroom then. Witness was on good terms with deceased; all were good friends together. To Supt. Alexander: He could not say how many times he went to the club on Tuesday and Wednesday. He had been a member two years.
Thomas Clarke, printer, said he now lived in Spencer-row, having left the Tites through being upset over this affair. He got up at 7.30 on Tuesday morning, leaving deceased in bed, and went to work. Witness went home for dinner, but deceased was not there then. He took his supper out with him, and did not go back till 10.30, when he went to bed in the dark, and did not know if deceased was then in bed. Witness slept with Jones. He heard Jones get up in the night, but, as that was nothing unusual, he took no notice. Witness was perfectly sober on going to bed. He was in the club for about half-an-hour on the Tuesday evening. He first saw deceased about half-past seven on Wednesday morning, when he asked witness for a drink of water, which he took him. Witness thought he had fallen down, and he was smothered with mud, and had no conversation with him. Witness went to work, going back to dinner. Mrs. Tite and two or three women were there. The house was all upset, and he got out as soon as he could. Mrs. Tite was not drunk, but had “had some.” They were talking about deceased being ill, and that they had sent for a doctor. He got back at night about a quarter to seven. Jones and Mrs. Tite were there then, and a man named Compton. Witness was not in the house above five minutes, and when he got back someone said deceased was dead. He had known deceased before in Northampton, when he had been a soldier. Deceased had tramped about a good deal, and was in the habit of getting drunk. The Tites were “all right as a rule,” but had drinking bouts.
George Jubb said on Wednesday morning he was sent for about ten o’clock, and dressed the wound, telling them that they had better send for a doctor at once. The wound had then stopped bleeding. He then went to Wellingborough. Deceased had on his trousers and shirt.
Dr. Crew, Higham Ferrers, deposed that about a quarter past eight on Wednesday evening he saw the deceased, who died five minutes after his arrival, and was quite unable to give an account of himself. The pillow and mattress were saturated in blood, which had also trickled on to the floor. He made a post-mortem examination, and found a scalp wound on the back of the head, one and a half inches long, and reaching to the bone. There was no fracture of the skull, and no injury to the brain, and no other marks on the body. In his opinion, death was due to heart failure caused by loss of blood resulting from the wound caused by a fall. To a juror: If the bleeding had been stopped undoubtedly he could have recovered, though perhaps little could have been done on the Wednesday. He was shown blood in the pantry opposite the stairs, where they found a man’s cap. There were marks on the stairs as if he had crept up. If he had simply fallen on the bricks the injuries would have been caused.
The Coroner said they probably would never know how the injuries were caused, but they had seen the marks on the stairs and walls. The doctor had said what had caused death. The lodging-house keeper and his wife had given evidence in a most unsatisfactory manner, and there was no doubt that they were not sober. Still, they were not altogether responsible, as the man was able to take care of himself, and seemed all right when they left him. It was unfortunate that they did not return earlier, as then they might have made enquires which would have led to help being rendered. The deceased himself did not appear to take a serious view of his position. The ambulance man had advised a doctor being sent for, but there was considerable doubt as to when that was done.
The jury returned a verdict to the effect that deceased died from injuries accidentally received by falling down in the house, and from loss of blood. They also considered that Tite and his wife had not fulfilled their duty in not looking better after the deceased, and asked the Coroner to convey this to them.
Tite and his wife were recalled, and the Coroner explained to them the view taken by the jury.
The inquest lasted two hours and a quarter.