Belfast Newsletter - 11 January, 1881


Inquests in Belfast:

Dr Dill, coroner for the borough, and a jury held an inquest yesterday afternoon in Mr Maguire's public-house, York Street, on the body of Matthew Thompson, who was drowned on Saturday night in the Spencer Basin. Benjamin Saunders, said deceased was an engineer in Messrs. Rowan's and was going to his work on board the Telegraphic at eleven o'clock on the night in question, when he slipped off the plank and fell into three feet of water. When picked up ten minutes afterwards he was dead. Deceased had hold of one hand-rope at the time, and witness handed him another, but he refused it. The plank was twenty inches broad, and was like a sheet of ice.

Jeremiah Flinn gave corroborative evidence, and said there was plenty of light about the vessel. Dr M'Kee believed the direct cause of death was drowning. There was a bruise on the deceased's forehead, which might have been caused by the fall. The jury returned a verdict of accidental drowning, with a suggestion that better protection should be afforded workmen for boarding vessels.

An inquest was then held on the body of Mary Ann Martin, aged 52, who resided in 20 Baltic Avenue, and was found dead in her bed on the previous day. Sub-Constable Sreenan deposed to going to the house and finding the door locked and the key in the inside. On gaining admission he found her in bed dead. There was a bottle containing about a glass of whisky on the table beside her. James Scott corroborated the constable's evidence. The deceased lived all alone. Dr M'Kee swore the cause of death was chest and kidney complaint. A verdict of death from natural causes was returned.

At eight o'clock last evening Dr. Dill held an inquest in Mr Kennedy's public-house, Grosvenor Street, on the body of Thomas M'Allen, who was drowned in the distillery dam on the previous day. A boy named Robert Snowden deposed that he and a number of other boys had been sliding on the dam, when the ice broke in the middle, and the deceased fell in. Witness ran and told deceased's mother, and afterwards returned and saw the body taken out. Deceased was in the water about three hours.

To a Juror- If there had been a wall round the dam witness would not have gone over it. There is no notice that trespassers would be prosecuted. The water at some parts is twenty feet deep.

Thomas Brown, 29, Venice Street, deposed that he brought the body of the deceased out of the water. The dam was not enclosed, and runs close to Distillery Street, and was dangerous. Dr M'Kee deposed that drowning was the cause of death. The jury returned a verdict in accordance, adding that in their opinion the Town Council's attention should be drawn to the dangerous condition of the dam, so that they should compel the proprietors to have it fenced round.

An inquest was also held on the body of William James Telford, who was drowned at the same time and place. Similar evidence was given as in the last case, and the jury returned a like verdict.


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