Unsolved Murders

William Hewitt

Age: 55

Sex: male

Date: 13 Jul 1905

Place: 5 Appleton Street, Widnes, Cheshire

William Hewitt died from a fractured skull that his brother-in-law was alleged to have caused, however it could not be proven how his injuries had been caused and an open verdict was returned.

He was a carter and had lived in Appleton Street.

He was found at his home on Saturday 8 July 1905 with a fractured skull and taken to Accident Hospital but died there on Monday 10 July 1905.

William Hewitt's mother said that at 5.30pm on the Saturday 8 July 1905 that she went to his house in Appleton Street, noting that her son-in-law was there.

She said that shortly after William Hewitt came home very tipsy and that a quarrel took place between him and his mother-in-law and one of his sisters and that she tried to separate them all.

She said that she then saw the brother-in-law with a brush and that she then saw William Hewitt a minute later lying on the floor bleeding from a head wound.

She said that she thought that he was dead, but it was heard that her daughter thought that he was only shamming.

They applied a sticking plaster to his wound, and he was placed on a sofa and was then afterwards taken to bed and his mother went home at about 8pm.

His mother said that she went back to his house the following day and found that he was still in an unconscious state and so a doctor was sent for and when he arrived, he was sent to the Accident Hospital.

William Hewitt's sister said that she also lived at 5 Appleton Street and said that when William Hewitt came home on the Saturday evening and started to quarrel with his wife that his brother-in-law, who had been upstairs, then came down and asked William Hewitt into the yard to 'take it out of him, instead of his wife'. She said that they then both went into the yard and that and that a few minutes later she saw William Hewitt lying in the yard and his brother-in-law standing by.

After hearing the evidence, the coroner asked how William Hewitt got upstairs after recieving his injury and his sister said that he walked up. The coroner then noted that William Hewitt had had a fractured skull and that that would have been difficult, but his sister said that he had been able to get up on the Saturday evening and go back downstairs and was able to go back up without any assistance.

A policeman said that when he went to 5 Appleton Street, he found William Hewitt on the sofa and found that he had a large head wound which he said he considered serious and so he summoned medical assistance.

The doctor said that when he arrived, he ordered William Hewitt's prompt removal to the hospital.

The policeman said that on the road to the police station, William Hewitt's brother-in-law said, 'I only struck him on the head with a brush'.

When he was charged with unlawful wounding, he made no reply.

The doctor that carried out William Hewitt's post-mortem stated that William Hewitt had two black eyes, a contused wound on the left side of his head, a bruised arm, and minor bruises all over his body.

He said that the symptoms pointed to a fracture of the skull causing a profusion of blood on the brain and said that his cause of death was undoubtedly the injury to his head.

At the inquest, when the coroner asked the doctor whether a fall on the yard floor would have produced such a fracture, the doctor replied, 'No, unless he fell some distance'.

When the coroner noted that his sister said that William Hewitt had walked up and down the stairs after receiving his injuries, the doctor said that that would have been utterly impossible.

The coroner then said, 'I am not shocked at people lying, in fact, I am surprised to hear men speak the truth'.

After the brother-in-law was cautioned, he went into the box to give his version of events.

He said that he and William Hewitt had always been good friends after occasional 'tiffs' although he had carried four black eyes. He said that they had been quite friendly on the Saturday and had gone to the sports together. He said that William Hewitt had stayed at the sports whilst he went home to have a sleep and that after a short time upstairs he had heard William Hewitt rowing with his sister and said that he came downstairs and asked William Hewitt, 'What game he was up to?' and said that William Hewitt replied, 'he could have it'. He said that they then went into the yard and that William Hewitt picked up a piece of wood and that in trying to knock the wood out of his hand with a yard brush he accidently hit him on the head, noting that he had previously asked him 'not to be soft and put the wood down'.

However, after an hours’ deliberation, the jury returned an open verdict stating that there was insufficient evidence to show how William Hewitt had come by his death.

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

see www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

see Liverpool Daily Post - Thursday 13 July 1905