Date: 5 Sep 1932
Annie Vida Jones died at Salop Infirmary from streptococcus infection and kidney degeneration possibly complicated by arsenic poisoning.
It was initially thought that she had died from arsenic poisoning and a bottle of arsenic was later found at her home.
However, her cause of death was given as natural causes, although she had had 1.3 grains of arsenic in her stomach with 2 grains being a fatal dose for a frail woman such as Annie Jones was.
Five weeks earlier, around 25 or 27 July 1932, she had complained of pains in her legs and stomach. She didn't get better and on 9 August a doctor was called in. Although he treated her, she didn't improve and on 26 August 1932 her condition became so much worse that the doctor advised her removal to the Royal Salop Infirmary.
She was treated at the infirmary but failed to improve and died on 1 September 1932.
The doctors had been puzzled by her condition and said that they had been unable to find any direct cause for the complaint or disease that she was suffering from.
However, her post-mortem revealed that she had traces of arsenic in her stomach.
When her house was searched the police found three small bottles, one of which was labelled Arsenic and had contained 50 pills.
The doctor said that 1.3 grains was not a fatal dose but was sufficient to have caused the bewildering symptoms that she had had.
However, the doctor said that Annie Jones had kidney degeneration and owing to the inefficient filtration of the kidney, arsenic would be retained and noted that small quantities tended to accumulate.
He also said that further tests found the precise cause of death to the discovery of a very virulent microbe known as the streptococcus and that the presence of the microbe was sufficient to explain death by toxaemia with high terminal temperature.
The Coroner asked if she could not have possibly died from arsenical poisoning if she had had a high temperature and the conditions described and the doctor said that that that was so.
The doctor went on to say that her cause of death was heart failure due to toxaemia primarily originating in the presence of the microbe, and possibly accelerated by the presence of a normal non-toxic quantity of arsenic.
The Coroner had adjourned the inquest after the discovery of the bottles which he had described as an important development and had asked the press not to make the case sensational.
However, when the inquest resumed he criticised the press for their reporting of the case. He said 'At the last inquiry I asked the gentlemen of the Press not to make the case sensational. That request was very well observed by the local press. But it has been reported to me that Press representatives not only endeavoured to obtain information from the police, they even endeavoured to obtain information from me in my own home by telephone on Sunday. But the worst feature, and I think it is disgusting, they interviewed the distressed husband and his relatives. They even photographed the house he lived in, and made attempts to photograph him. I do really deprecate a thing like that most strongly. It is absolutely objectionable to my mind when these people, in trouble and sorrow, are subjected to interviews, photographs and everything of that nature. The remedy is in the hands of the Press itself. They can do it if their staffs and managers, or whatever powers may be at the head of these papers will show good human feeling, and study of that must come first before sensational copy.'.
The Coroner discussed the important discovery that had been made saying 'As the result of a police search of the premises, I told you last week they made an important discovery. That discovery possibly is not so important as I thought at the time. It was three small bottles, one of which was labelled Arsenic and contained 50 pills. I subsequently ascertained that these bottles were made, issued, and sold by homoeopathic chemists. In all probability the amount of drug they contain is only infinitesimal. I have sent these bottles away for analysis as a safeguard, but analysis is not yet complete. I think however, that you will probably agree, after you have heard the evidence, that the contents of these bottles will be immaterial'.
see Sunderland Daily Echo and Shipping Gazette - Monday 05 September 1932
see The Scotsman - Monday 05 September 1932
see Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer - Monday 12 September 1932