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DEATH OF A HOOLE COUNCILLOR'S WIFE. ♦ FATAL FALL DOWNSTAIRS. A VICTIM TO DRINK. Mrs. Elizabeth Ball, aged 35 years, the wife of Mr. J. T. Ball, a member of the Hoole District Council, residing in Derby Place, Hoole, has died under painful circum- stances, as the result of an accidental fall downstairs at midnight on the 24th ult. The following morning, as she lay in a comatose state, a doctor was called in, but Mrs. Ball never completely recovered consciousness, and death supervened the following Monday afternoon. The inquest, at which some very painful revelations were made, was held at the Ermine Hotel on Tuesday evening, before the county coroner, Mr. Bate. The enquiry was of a pro- longed character, occupying almost three hours. The first witness was John Thomas Ball, husband of the deceased, who, examined by the coroner, said he and his late wife had resided at 16, Derby-place, Hoole, for four or five years- since the house was built. What have been the habits of your wife ? She was not a teetotaller ?—Am 1 bound to answer that ? Oh yes.—She has not been a teetotaller. Was she what you would call addicted to drink ?—Much; yes. For how long had she been addicted to drink ?—Three or four years to my knowledge. Continuing, he said he left home on the previous Tuesday morning about nine o'clock. Was your wife all right then ?—Fairly so, yes. What do you mean by fairly so ?—Well, she was more or less in an excited state for some weeks past. Did you go home again at dinner time ?-I did not go home till night, between six and seven. Can you tell us what was your wife's con- dition then ?-She was very excited. Her cousin and my sister were with her. What happened when you reached home ?— She began pulling me about and carrying on the same as she usually does. You say she was in an excited state. Was that from- drink ?-Yes. Did she say anything before she pulled you about ?—She asked me why I had not come home sooner. Was she what you would call drunk ?- Practically so, yes. I could not swear whether the front door was open or not. I will tell you what occurred. I had got a lamp there in the kitchen, which she had been pulling all to bits, and trying to put it together again. I said I would make it right while she got the tea ready, and then she started of me, and said I did not know how to put it right. She got hold of me by the shirt sleeves, until the two ladies present tore her away from me. I tried to pacify her, and then about ten minutes to eight I went out. I suppose there were no blows struck ?—Yes, she smacked me three or four times on the face. Did you strike her ?-I did with my flat hand on the side of her face. I could not resist doing so. Are you sure she was very drunk, because you would not tell a woman who was the worse for drink to get the tea ready ?-Well, she was a woman of this sort: it did not matter if she was as drunk as a wheelbarrow, she could always walk as straight as an arrow, but those who were used to her could tell her state. Proceeding, he said when he went out he left his wife a shilling on the table, as she wanted money, and that pacified her. Her cousin and his sister remained with her. You did not return till about eleven o'clock that night ?-I should think, to the best of my recollection, it would be half-past eleven. Who let you in?—The missis let me in. What was her condition then P—She was all right for a few minutes, until she began playing steam with me. Began what ?—Began pitching on to me, and I coaxed her. What was it about ?—Nothing in particular. She usually played steam with me for nothing at all. Does that mean you and she quarrelled ?- It was not a matter of quarrelling; it was quarrelling on one side. She quarrelled with me, and I never said anything to her at the time. Can you give us any idea of the cause of it ?—Only from the excited state she was in. Can you tell us something she said?—No, I could not say what she said in particular. Can you tell us anything she complained about ?—She complained about nothing in par- ticular, but started pulling me about. I persuaded her to go to bed, and we eventually went upstairs. Do you wish the jury to understand that she was not quite in her right mind ?— She could not be in her right mind when I had her in the asylum. How long ?—She was in the asylum through Dr. Lees' instrumentality for drink about eighteen months ago, at Newton-le-Willows; and also at Rhyl with a nurse for a month with the same complaint. How long is that since ?-I could not say for certain-some part of last year. Cannot you give the jury any idea what was the cause of her pulling you about when you returned on Tuesday night ?-I have got no cause, not as I know of. She had no cause to my knowledge. Have you no recollection what it was ?-I have a recollection of her pulling me about, and then she started to scream, because I tried to pull her hands off me, which I did do so. She must have had some cause for it. If I suggest you were not quite sober, Mr. Ball, would that be incorrect ?-I was fairly sober, I think. You would not say you were sober ?-I would not swear so, certainly not. Was that the cause why she pulled you about when you got home on Tuesday night ?-There was no cause at all that I know of, as I said a few minutes ago. I was practically sober. I had had perhaps three drinks in the evening, or four, and that is all I had had. It would not make me drunk. What time did you retire to bed that night ? —It would be between half-past eleven and twelve. I coaxed her, and she came up to bed with me. Was she what you would call drunk then ?— Yes, she was as drunk as she could possibly be. Before I got into bed she began pulling me about in the room, and I got hold of her, and held her hand. She screamed. Can you give me any idea what was the cause of it ?-I could not really. Do you put it down to her state of mind ?— She was hysterical. Now what happened afterwards P-I coaxed her to bed the best I could, but she no sooner got into bed than she got out again, and the next moment she made towards the door. I thought she was going to the lavatory, or, perhaps, for a drink, which she often does. Is there gas in that bedroom ?-There is gas, but it was not on that night; it has not been on this quarter. We used a lamp, which was put out when we got into bed. She went to the door, and the next moment I heard bump, bump, bump, down the stairs. What did you do then ?—When she fell down- stairs, I immediately got up, and I almost caught her before she got downstairs. In my hurry I almost fell myself in trying to catch her. She was on the floor in the hall when I got to her. In what position ?—That I could not say, because I picked her up in the dark imme- diately, and I carried her to bed. Did she speak ?-No. Did she say anything after she got out of bed ?—No; she never spoke a word to me. Did she scream or anything of that kind when she got out ?-No. Not in falling downstairs ?-No, she did not make a noise when she was falling downstairs. What did you take her to be ?-I took her to be drunk, and she seemed snoring. I struck a match, and looked at her. She was breathing heavy-like as if in a drunken sleep. She was awake before she fell down ?—She could not fall downstairs unless she was awake. You could not say she was walking in her sleep ?—No, no; because she had only just got into bed. Do you wish us to think she was simply in a drunken sleep ?-That is what I considered her to be. Did you examine her at all ?—I just looked at her, and simply struck a match—a couple of matches, I think it was. You could not see anything wrong ?—Nothing wrong as I could notice. There was no blood. You had no idea she was unconscious from injuries ?—She was unconscious, yes. But had you any idea at the time ?-No, I had no idea but what she was in a drunken sleep. If she was sufficiently awake to walk to the top of the stairs, falling downstairs would not throw her into a sleep. What made you think she was asleep ?-For the simple reason that I have had so many times to carry her to bed after she had fallen down in the kitchen. She fell the previous Saturday night down five stairs. That did not send her to sleep on that occa- sion ? Oh, no, not on that occasion. Continuing, the witness stated that on the following morning his wife was still apparently asleep, and, becoming anxious, he called in a neighbour named Mrs. Ashley to look at her. They went up to the bedroom together, and witness shook the deceased's arm in order to awaken her, but did not succeed. Mrs. Ashley advised him to let her sleep it off, and he went to his business shortly after nine o'clock, leaving her in Mrs. Ashley's charge. About noon his eldest son, aged twelve years, came and told him his mother had not awakened, and he thereupon sent Mrs. Ashley a note telling her to call in Dr. Butt. He received another message about three o'clock, when he at once took a cab home. Up to that time no doctor had seen the deceased. He went straight for Dr. Burges, who came, and so did Dr. Pitt Taylor. His wife remained unconscious up to the time of her death, which occurred in wit- ness' presence, at twenty-five minutes to four on Monday afternoon. There was also a con- sultation on the Saturday between Dr. Taylor and Dr. Elliott. I suppose between you and your wife there was consequently trouble, owing to her drink- ing habits ?- Yea, she has often been trouble- some to me. I have never done anything wrong to her. Has she been in the habit of screaming ?—Oh yes, very much. She would go and sit on the doorstep and on the garden step and scream out if I had never been near her. Do you say she did that without any cause whatever ?—Without any provocation, or any cause. Very hysterical she was. The witness was asked by Superintendent Leah, of the County Constabulary to explain how, after hearing the bump, bump, bump,' he was able to jump out of bed and get to the bottom of the stairs in time nearly to save his wife ?-He explained the position of the bed, the head of which was three feet from the door. There was a similar space between the door and the top of the stairs. Then came three stairs, and a small landing leading to the other part of the house. It was down these three stairs that the deceased stumbled, and made an attempt to save herself by grasping the bannister. Hearing this, witness at once jumped out of bed, but was not in time to save the deceased from falling down the main flight of stairs. Then she had not fallen before you got out of bed?—She had stumbled, but she had not got to the bottom. Had you a second quarrel with your wife downstairs when you arrived home at 11.30that night ?—No, I did not quarrel with her. She only began pitching at me and shouting at me. Did you quarrel in the dining-room that night at 11.30 ?—I could not say. What persons were in the house besides you and your wife at that time ?—Nobody after I closed the door, only the two boys. When you got in the house who did you find besides your wife ?-That I could not say. Was there anybody in ?-I could not say for certain whether there was. But could you try to think, Mr. Ball ?-No, I cannot. I don't know who was in. I could not say for certain, because I have had so many humbugs with her. By a Juror He did not strike his wife in the bedroom. Neither the noise of the quarrelling, nor the falling downstairs, disturbed the children, who were asleep in another room. Do you keep a servant ?-I had not got one then. I had sacked her some days before, on the Monday week before. Another Juror When you heard the stumble, the deceased had fallen from the top on to the landing beneath, and was endeavouring to recover herself. You then jumped up, but before you reached her she had fallen down the main flight of stairs? Is that what you mean ? Witness: Yes, now you have hit it about the same as 1 have hit it. She made a grasp at the pillar or banister, and missed it. Another Juror: Did you not think it very strange, after her being wide awake before she fell downstairs, that she should be in a sound sleep when you picked her up ? Witness: If you had lived with her for two years, you would know something about it. Many a time I have picked her up in an un- conscious state, and taken her to bed, and she has been in bed three or four days afterwards. That is why I took no notice of this, to a certain extent. Dr. George Harrison, who is surgeon to the county police, deposed to making a post-mortem examination. There were seven bruises upon the body, one about the size of a shilling on the point of the right shoulder, one the same size on the right knee cap, a bruise about the size of the palm of the hand above the left hip, some very small bruises on the left forearm, two bruises, which were healed over, on the left elbow, and another bruise very small at the corner of the right eyebrow. He opened the skull. and found a large clot of blood on the right side of the brain, between the membranes and the brain, principally behind. The small brain was beginning to be disintegrated. The effusion of blood on the brain was undoubtedly the cause of death. The CORONER: Could you judge from the other bruises on the body whether they were bruises that would have been made about a week prior ?-Witness: They would have been made about that time I should say. And from their character can you say whether they were all the same date ?-I should say they were all about th e same date. Were they injuries such as would be caused by a fall downstairs in the way the last witness described ?—It is just possible they might have been caused in that way. Superintendent Leah Could all the bruises have been caused by a fall downstairs ?— Witness: It is quite possible, but I am not going to say it is certain they were caused in that way. Might I ask if it is likely they were, judging from the character of the bruises ?-I don't think I can go as far as that. The FOREMAN of the jury: Do you think it consistent that Ball, being an unprofessional man, would think that she was in a drunken sleep if he looked at her by matchlight ?- Witness Perfectly, considering the character we have heard of the woman. Beatrice Moore, domestic servant, employed by Mr. R. Beck, 14, Derby-place, Hoole (next door to Mr. Ball's residence), heard the deceased screaming on the previous Tuesday about half- past seven. Again about midnight witness heard her daring her husband to abuse her. She shouted Dare, dare, abuse me if you dare." Witness did not hear any fall down- stairs. She had been in Mr. Beck's employ- ment for 15 months, and it was nothing unusual to hear the deceased behaving in this manner; in fact, when they did not hear her, they used to wonder what was the matter. The screaming always took place indoors. Witness thought she used to scream for nothing. By Superintendent Leah: She saw the deceased at 4.30 on Tuesday afternoon, when she appeared to be sober. It was the first tim.e she had heard Mrs. Ball screaming at such a late nour. Astced why she thought the deceased was in the habit of screaming for nothing, the witness said because she could not hear Mr. Ball say anything. The CORONER Can you recall any occasion when she screamed in Mr. Ball's absence ?— Witness On one occasion she ran the servant out into the backyard, and screamed when Mr. Ball was not there. John Hulse, Faulkner-street, another neigh- bour, said Mrs. Ball and the servant were usually rowing three or four times a week, but they never heard Mr. Ball's voice and could not tell whether he was in. He never saw any cause for the screaming, which always occurred in the house. Witness heard screams proceed- ing from the house on the morning in question between twelve and one o'clock. Florence Ball, sister -of the deceased's husband, said she took the two children home from their grandmother's on the Tuesday night about 7.30. They were afraid to meet their mother who was drunk and like a madwoman. She thrashed them and picked up a poker to ene of them. Though she was able to open the door, the deceased was not capable of knowing what she was doing. A quarter of an hour later, Mr. Ball came home. He was quite sober, and asked the deceased to go to the theatre. The deceased seemed to get worse after his arrival. She asked witness for money to get drink, and went out to fetch it while her husband sat in the dining-room waiting for his tea. When witness had prepared the tea, the deceased would not allow him to have it, and picked up a chair with which she threatened to knock his brains out. As she would not sit down, he slapped her face, but not with sufficient force to hurt a child. She almost tore the shirt off his back. Sarah Annie Parr, the deceased's cousin, was also present during part of the quarrel, and gave corroborative evidence. After the husband and Miss Ball had both left, the deceased, who was a great deal the worse for drink, sat down in the rocking chair, and began to cry. She said it was through the servant, but she did not know what she was saying half her time. By Supt. Leah: The deceased said Is it not too bad ? Nellie (the servant) has been so nasty this week end." The servant was not then in the house, having received notice from Mr. Ball, and left a week previously. A Juror: What was the nastiness between the servant and her ? Did she explain herself ? -Witness: No, she never explained herself. Of course, I did not wait to ask her any more questions. Another Juror: Did she say what was all through the servant ?-Witness: No, she did not say. She alluded to Nellie as being the cause of some of the bothers there, but she did not say whether it was through her on Tuesday night. Another juror: Was it that she would not attend upon her, or refused to go messages, or do you know what it was ?-Witness: No, eir, I could not say. In answer to the Coroner, the witness added that she went to the house for some washing. Mrs. Ball carried the lighted lamp upstairs, and helped to get out the clothes, but she staggered so much that witness was afraid of her falling. Mrs. Ashley, 17, Faulkner-street, gave evidence as to the deceased's intemperate habits, and said on the Tuesday night she was very far gone in drink. On the following morning, when Mr. Ball called witness into the house, the deceased was breathing quite naturally, and witness thought she was just sleeping nicely. Witness saw her again several times during the morning, and did not get anxious about her until she sent- to Mr. Ball about two o'clock. In reply Mr. Ball sent a note (which she produced) directing her to call in Dr. Butt, as the deceased might have hurt herself in her fall downstairs. Witness never saw Mr. Ball strike his wife, though the latter had struck him many times in her presence. Deceased often screamed when there was no one near her. Edwin Ashley, husband of the last witness, said he fetched drink for the deceased on three occasions on the previous Tuesday, two half- pints during the day, and a pint at supper time. She was at that time sitting in his house drunk, and his wife took her home a little after eleven. Supt. Leah: You admit that you fetched her beer when she was drunk ?-Witness: Yes, the supper beer. Dr. Pitt Taylor, who is temporarily in charge of Dr. Lees' practice, was the last witness, and his testimony bore out the evidence of Dr. Harrison and other witnesses. The CORONER, in summing up, said the inquiry had been a prolonged one, but the cir- cumstances of the case and the rumours that got about quite justified a full enquiry into all the facts. There was no evidence to contradict that of the husband. That was the only evidence they had before them, and although there were certain rumours about, he asked the jury to dismiss those entirely from their minds in coming to a decision. After some deliberation in private, the jury found that death was caused by a clot of blood on the brain caused by an accidental fall down- stairs.

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