Unsolved Murders

Billie Carleton

Age: unknown

Sex: female

Date: 14 Feb 1919

Place: Savoy Court, Knightsbridge

Source: www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

Billie Carleton died from cocaine poisoning.

A man was tried for her manslaughter at the Old Bailey but was acquitted. He was also charged with having supplied her with the cocaine.

She was found dead in her bed at the Savoy Court.

There was no evidence of cocaine in her stomach but upon examination cocaine was found on nasal swabs.

Her eyes were dilated which was consistent with cocaine poisoning but not with poisoning by heroin which would contract the pupils. The doctor said that cocaine caused the dilation of the blood vessels and raised the blood pressure and that the clots found on the right side of her heart indicated a slow death. The doctor said that he could not find anything in her body to account for death by natural causes and said that the manner of her death would have been some kind of convulsive attack which would cause a spasm in breathing, effect the heart and produce a coma probably accompanied by asphyxia. He said that it would probably produce a condition of congestion in the brain and lungs.

A gold box was introduced in evidence which was found to have contained 9.5 grains of white powder which were found to be cocaine. It was noted that the official dose of cocaine according to the British pharmacopoeia was up to half a grain. The doctor said that cocaine was a drug that if taken repeatedly produced dullness that might be lost if taking the drug ceased for some time. He also said that if taken by an unqualified person it was exceedingly dangerous. He said that in any condition, to snuff cocaine up the nose was highly dangerous saying that its effects were exhilarating but resulted in a great depression when the effect had worn off. He said that in a fatal dose coma followed with death within 24 hours.

He said that in the case of Billie Carleton cocaine had been found in her nostril that had not been absorbed and that there was no legitimate purpose for which cocaine was taken up the nose.

A doctor that knew Billie Carleton and had seen her in her room at Savoy Court said that when he saw her, she was in a comatose state. He said that he injected her with strychnine and brandy and tried artificial respiration without result and she then died. He said that he had attended her for the effects of opium taking before and believed that he had convinced her that that was a dangerous drug.

The doctor said that he had seen her in the man's flat who was at the time on trial for her manslaughter when she had been suffering from the after-effects of opium smoking and again in January 1919 when he had seen her at the Savoy Court when her condition was consistent with having taken cocaine. He said that he had also seen the man in Billie Carleton's flat in Long Acre and also at her various flats in Savoy Court.

The man did not take the stand and was acquitted of manslaughter.


*map pointers are rough estimates based on known location details as per Place field above.


see Driffield Times - Saturday 12 April 1919

see Derby Daily Telegraph - Friday 14 February 1919