Unsolved Murders

Annie Josephine Wootten

Age: 30

Sex: female

Date: 23 Mar 1915

Place: 114 Rotherfield Street, Essex Road, Islington

Annie Josephine Wootten was shot.

At first it was thought that she had fallen down the stairs but a bullet was found in her chest at her post-mortem some hours later.

She had been shot by someone when she had gone to answer the door at about 8pm-8.30pm on the Tuesday evening, 23 March 1915. Her children said that Annie Wootten had spoken to the visitor for a few minutes and had then heard a loud report which they took to be the sound of a door slamming.

It was heard that their children then heard Annie Wootten calling out and that when they went to look they found her lying on the lower steps of the staircase, about 6 feet from the front door, apparently unconscious and with blood flowing from her nose.

A neighbour came out to see and the children told her that their mother was dead and a doctor was then called for.

Annie Wootten's husband returned later that night at 12.30am to find her dead.

A barmaid was tried for her murder, but the evidence was said to have been circumstantial and she was acquitted.

It was heard that Annie Wootten's husband had been seeing the barmaid and that she had been taken to the pub some time before by Annie Wootten's husband where he had introduced her as his wife. It was said that Annie Wootten's husband would call on the barmaid at the pub every night and that he would usually stay for about an hour.

The landlady of the pub said that she saw the barmaid in the morning of 23 March 1915 at about 11am and then later saw her on the stairs at about 8.40pm. The landlady said that Annie Wootten's husband also came in later that evening and that she saw him again the following evening when he came in and paid 7s. 6d. in respect of the barmaid’s rooms.

The landlady said that when she spoke to the barmaid on a certain date that she had said to her, 'My husband has been cohabiting with a woman at Islington. She has been found dead, and I have been accused of doing it'.

Amongst the evidence, it was heard that her father said that he had had an old revolver for 30 years but had never fired it at any time and said that it was useless to try. However, he said that he had not seen it for nearly two years.

At first, the police said that they only noticed blood on her face and it was not until the Coroner examined her that it was found that she had been shot.

It was later heard that their 8-year-old child said that a woman called at the house and asked 'Mummy' for some water.

The pathologist said that there were no powder marks on her skin and noted that the edge of the wound was turned in. He said that the bullet had passed through her left lung and lodged in her spinal column. He said that she would have fallen unconscious within a few seconds and died within two or three minutes of having been shot. He also said that it was his opinion that Annie Wootten's injury was not self-inflicted.

The woman tried for her murder was a 22-year old barmaid that had been working at the Gun public house in Lupus Street, Pimlico. She was arrested whilst serving at the pub and when she was charged she replied 'It is a nice thing to be charged with. I am only 22. I was a widow four months after marrying.'.

On the way to the police station in a cab she said, 'I am glad this has happened like that to have it cleared up now. I should not like to have it hanging over me head long.'. Then later she said, 'This is a serious matter, isn't it? I have not got a revolver'.

Annie Wootten had four children aged 8, 6, 4 and 1.

At the trial the judge said that Annie Wootten's husband came to them as a discredited witness and that if the case had relied wholly on his evidence then he would have no hesitation in telling the jury that they would do wrong in convicting the barmaid. He said that unless the case had gone out of the region of suspicion and into the region of reasonable certainty then they must return a verdict of not guilty, which they did.

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

see www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

see Western Daily Press - Friday 09 April 1915

see The Scotsman - Monday 17 May 1915

see Taunton Courier, and Western Advertiser - Wednesday 30 June 1915

see Western Daily Press - Saturday 01 May 1915

see Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser - Friday 02 April 1915

see Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser - Saturday 27 March 1915

see The People - Sunday 28 March 1915

see The Scotsman - Thursday 20 May 1915