Unsolved Murders

Ann Skene

Age: 34

Sex: female

Date: 29 Dec 1918

Place: 37 Menzies Road, Torry, Aberdeen

Ann Skene died after her throat was cut.

A 55-year-old man, a fish salesman, was tried for her murder but a verdict of not proven was returned.

The fish salesman had been found in bed next to Ann Skene with wounds to his throat, but he denied having killed her. At the time of the discovery, his wounds were described as serious, and he was removed to the infirmary, but was expected to recover.

It was claimed that he had cut her throat with a penknife on 29 or 30 December 1918. The police said that they thought that the incident had taken place on the Sunday night, but the alarm was not raised until 8am on the Monday morning.

The first intimation that the other tenants of the house got of what had happened was when the fish salesman knocked at the door of a neighbour and said, 'She's done this to me'.

Neighbours then, along with several others, went into the apartment and found Ann Skene’s body lying face downwards near the fireplace with blood flowing freely from what was described as a ghastly wound to her throat.

She had been fully dressed, and it had looked as though she had been on the point of leaving the house. It was added that it was evident that she was dead.

The fish salesman had been attired in a pyjama suit and after the neighbours found Ann Skene, he got back into bed, the blood , it was said, still oozing from the wound to his throat. A niece said that before the police arrived, she saw the fish salesman hold his head in his hands and cry, 'Dinna dae it, Annie', noting that he looked weak from loss of blood.

It was noted that none of the neighbours had heard any noise during the night.

The injuries to Ann Skene's throat were described by a doctor as 'homicidal' whilst the injuries to the fish salesman's throat had struck nothing vital and appeared self-inflicted, although he added that there was an element of doubt over that.

At the trial the fish salesman's character was described as good and steady. He had lived at 37 Menzies Road with his sister and was stated to have been a widower, whilst Ann Skene was described as an intimate friend.

The defence submitted that the fish salesman and Ann Skene had had words after Ann Skene had become tired of the fish salesman, who they described as a 'poor old man' who had been so good to her, and that her fancy had already turned towards a younger man. They then claimed that Ann Skene had lost her temper and slashed him with the knife, and that then believing that his wounds were fatal, she had turned the knife on herself.

However, it was heard that on the night of 28 December 1918, that the fish salesman had gone to the Post Office with a telegram addressed to Ann Skene that had read, 'Come over tonight about 9.30. Father is very ill'., but that on being told that it would not be delivered until about 7am the next morning, he took it away with him.

The message was then handed in the next forenoon, but officials said that they found it peculiar because the as it cost a shilling when he could have readily delivered himself with a five minute walk.

Ann Skene's mother, who lived at 3½ St Mary’s Place, stated that Ann Skene had married at 17 years of age to a stone cutter, but only lived with him for six months. She said that Ann Skene and the fish salesman had been on friendly good terms but that a younger man had come to her house on Christmas Day and that the fish salesman also came to dinner on Christmas Day, but added that as far as she knew, they had not seen each other.;

The young man, an electrician that had resided at Yoker, said that Ann Skene had been introduced to him at Invergorden as Mrs Keene, and that when he told her that he had had nowhere to go if he came to Aberdeen, that Ann Skene gave him her address,. He said that he later called there and stayed for three days.

After the court returned a verdict of not proven, the judge said that he did not regret the result because he was satisfied that if he did commit the offence, that the heaviest punishment that he had to bear was the consciousness of having done wrong and that on the other hand, if he was innocent of all evil intent towards the unfortunate woman, that he had at all events escaped from any direct punishment of the law.

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

see www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

see National Library of Scotland - AD15/19/112

see Aberdeen Press and Journal - Thursday 03 April 1919

see Dundee Courier - Tuesday 31 December 1918

see Dundee Evening Telegraph - Wednesday 02 April 1919

see Dundee Evening Telegraph - Tuesday 01 April 1919