Date: 23 Oct 1931
Charles Edward Allen died from unnatural causes after collapsing after dinner at his home, Wey Manor House, in Addlestone on 23 October 1931.
He was a retired building contractor. He had earlier been to a Masonic dinner in London. When he got home he was said to have had a chat with members of his family and then gone to bed. He was found the next morning unconscious and then died.
At an earlier post-mortem, a doctor said that there was nothing to show the cause of his death. However, in November 1931 his body was exhumed for further examination on a Home Office order so that a more detailed examination could be made and it was found that there were traces of arsenic and morphine in his body. It was said that the arsenic had been absorbed not long before his death and that the pathological examination showed no trace of disease although noted that he was the type of man to possibly suffer from acute heart failure.
The Home Office doctor who was from Guy's Hospital said that Charles Allen's stomach yielded about one-fifth of a grain of arsenic. He said that he then analysed his liver, kidneys, intestines and other organs, including his hair and skin and said that he obtained sufficient arsenic to make up one-third of a grain. He noted that one-third of a grain was more than a medicinal dose, but not recognised as a fatal dose which he said would have been at least two thirds of a grain. He said that one-third of a grain might have been enough to cause symptoms but would not be fatal.
The Coroner asked the Home Office doctor whether the one-third grain dose might have caused his death and the doctor said, 'Not in a normal healthy person'.
When another doctor was asked when he thought Charles Allen might have taken the arsenic, the doctor said 'I should say after dinner, between 10pm and 11pm, but not after 11pm. His wife said that she was sure that he had not taken the arsenic purposely.
The Coroner also asked whether it was possible that a chemist might have made up a prescription containing arsenic without a doctor's prescription and he was told 'No, but it might have been accidently supplied'.
One of the doctors also said that they found a little morphine in his body, but not a poisonous dose and that it might have been taken in medicine.
A doctor also noted that Charles Allen was the type of man to suffer from acute heart failure and it was noted that it was possible that he might have died from heart failure with the amount of arsenic being a contributory cause.
It was also noted that there was no evidence of Charles Allen having taken any previous dose.
His wife said that Charles Allen sometimes went to a chemist for a dose but said that she could not say whether he had gone that day.
Charles Allen's son said that he did not know where his father had been in the time from when he left the Masonic dinner somewhere about 10pm and when he had caught the 11.18pm train to Weybridge from Waterloo.
His wife said that Charles Allen had suddenly made a 'terrible snoring noise which seemed uncanny, and his head seemed to go right down into the pillow'. She said that Charles Allen had seemed a little dazed the night before. She said that when he returned from London that he didn't go out and that the only thing that he had to drink was a little neat brandy for his indigestion.
His son noted that Charles Allen had been financially worried for some years. However, he added that Charles Allen had been trying to fix up his estate for some considerable time and the prospects at the time of his death had looked very bright and as such said that there was no real worry.
The Coroner said that his cause of death was not natural and that there was little evidence that he had caused the death himself or whether it was caused by someone else or whether it had been an accident and as such an open verdict was returned.
see Western Daily Press - Friday 04 December 1931
see Aberdeen Press and Journal - Thursday 03 December 1931
see Gloucester Citizen - Friday 06 November 1931
see The Scotsman - Friday 04 December 1931