Unsolved Murders

Cornelius Collins

Age: 50

Sex: male

Date: 24 Dec 1915

Place: West India Docks, London

Cornelius Collins was found in the West India Docks after having been assaulted.

He was an examining officer of HM Customs and Excise and had lived in Neville Road, Forest Gate.

Earlier on in the evening Cornelius Collins and some other people had been in the proof room at Rum Quay during which it was heard that they had had an excited discussion about the war in which there were sides. One man admitted that he had been involved and that he and Cornelius Collins had pushed each other about. He said that they had signed off work at 4pm but remained talking in the proof room until 7pm or 8pm and that during which time he noted that Cornelius Collins had a nose bleed. However, he said that numerous parties left to go home during which Cornelius Collins disappeared.

Several of the people that had been in the proof room denied that any member of the party had been the worse for drink. However, the Coroner observed that although all the witnesses testified to the sobriety of the party, some of them did not do so without hesitation.

At the inquest the man said that during the argument Cornelius Collins had been on the anti-British side. However, his son, who was at the inquest, rose up to object, stating that Cornelius Collins had not been anti-British, but anti-English. He added that his father was an Irishman and that that he did not mean pro-German.

A while after Cornelius Collins died, on 4 January 1916, Cornelius Collins's son received an anonymous letter made up of printed words and letters from a newspaper in the post which bore a Poplar postmark that ran, 'Your father cruelly assaulted, Christmas Eve'.

His post-mortem stated that Cornelius Collins had drowned and that there were no marks of violence on his body.

The Coroner stated that in a case of such grave suspicion, it was a pity that people could not own up to the true condition of things. He said that there had certainly been a heated altercation about the war and some pushing. He said that it was also a possibility that Cornelius Collins had become separated from his companions and had fallen into the dock in the darkness.

An open verdict was returned.

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

see www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

see Globe - Wednesday 26 January 1916

see Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser - Thursday 27 January 1916