Unsolved Murders


Age: unknown

Sex: male

Date: 15 Sep 1903

Place: Westgreen Asylum, Dundee

A patient was killed in Westgreen Asylum on 24 August 1903.

It was found that he had died from violence applied by some person or persons unknown. A report concluded that he had received injuries to his chest that were sufficient to have accounted for his death and which probably caused it, although it could not be definitely ascertained how they had been caused.

He had been admitted to the district asylum on 10 August 1903 and died on 24 August 1903. His record on admission read:

'Physical condition frail, injuries, bruise on left eye, multiple superficial bruise back and legs, especially on left side, apparently a few days old'.

The matter was looked into on 15 September 1902 by a junior medical assistant who reported that he found the patient much bruised about the chest and when a doctor examined the patients body he formed the opinion that the bruises had been between two and three days old.

The doctor sad that he made every endeavour, along with the acting head attendant, to discover how the injuries had been caused, but failed to elicit any information from any of the attendants, stating that the day attendants said that it must have taken place during the night and the night attendants saying that it must have taken place during the day.

It was heard that the patient’s body was seen by the Commissioner in Lunacy who was making his half-yearly visit to the asylum on 17 September 1903 and the matter was reported to the General Board of Lunacy.

It was said that the Board that carried out the inquiries into his death were satisfied that his injuries were not caused before his admission and that it was not thought that they had been caused by him falling out of bed, but were due to blows or pressure directly applied to the chest by some person or persons unknown.

It was sad that a doctor that had examined him at the time had not realised the gravity of the case and had appeared to have accepted without question an attendants statement as to the patient having fallen on certain occasions and to have made only the most perfunctory inquiry into an alleged tying down. It was also heard that the doctor could not even remember which attendant he had spoken to on the matter.

It was said that if the doctor had made anything like a proper inquiry that he would have discovered, as the Board did at their inquiry, that there was definite evidence that another patient had been tied down about a fortnight before the patient received his injury and that there was at least some suspicion that the same thing had happened to the patient who died. 

It was also stated that it was quite clear that but for the telegraphic instructions sent to the doctor by the Board on receipt of the notice of death, that the doctor would not have reported the case to the Procurator Fiscal as he undoubtedly ought to have done, seeing that the cause of death was certified by himself 'as pleurisy from injury to the chest' and that the post mortem examination had disclosed no fewer than eight ribs being fractured.

The Board, in concluding their report, condemned as in every way injurious to the interests of the insane the practice followed at Westgreen of placing attendants on joining the staff into the sickroom where the greatest skill and care in the treatment of patients was required.

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Dundee Evening Telegraph - Friday 20 November 1903

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