City Analyst William Henry Roberts – Statements and Reports

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Courtesy of author and case researcher John Gannon.

February 20th:

Committal Trial:

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Report with handwritten addition:

Main Trial:

Transcript (John Gannon):


2182. Is your name William Henry Roberts? Yes.
2183. You are the Analyst for the City of Liverpool? I am.
2184. On the 24th January, last did you receive certain articles from Inspector Gold? Yes, I did.
2185. What were they, Exhibit 18, the mackintosh? Yes.
2186. Exhibit 25, a piece of bar? Yes.
2187. Exhibit 26, two pictures? Yes.
2188. Exhibit 27, two photographs? Yes.
2189. Exhibit 28, violin in case? Yes.
2190. Exhibit 29, a piece of music? Yes.
2191. Exhibit 30, a cushion? Yes.
2192. Exhibit 31, a hearthrug? Yes.
2193. Exhibit 20, cashbook containing a dollar? Yes.
2194. Exhibit 32, a dollar bill? Yes.
2195. Exhibit 33, suit of clothes? Yes.
2196. Exhibit 34, a piece of carpet? Yes.
2197. Exhibit 35, a towel? Yes.
2198. A lock and key? Yes.
2199. Exhibit 36, a woman’s skirt? Yes.
2200. On the 26th January were you handed by Inspector Gold the four one £1 notes, a Postal Order for 2s 4d and half-a-crown? Yes.
2201. That is “WHW37”? Yes.
2202. Did you examine all those articles? I did.
2203. Let me take, first of all, the mackintosh. What do you say about that? The mackintosh was extensively and heavily bloodstained with human blood on the right side.
2204. Outside or inside, or both? Both outside and inside.
2205. What about the sleeves? On the upper inner side of the right sleeve.
2206. Just point out where that is? (The witness did so). You will see blood all down here (indicating).
2207. MR JUSTICE WRIGHT: Still the right side? Yes, my Lord.
2208. MR HEMMERDE: Would that be the place where a person taking the coat off might touch? With a hand coming out?
2209. That is what I mean? Yes, they might perhaps.
2210. That is right up by the armpit on the right hand side? Yes. Most of it is on the upper side.
2211. But there is also some inside? Yes. I mean the upper side of the sleeve.
2212. What did you find about the burning there? The left side was also very heavily stained with blood.
2213. Yes, I ought to have taken that. Was the blood outside or inside? Outside, to the left.
2214. Just point out the staining there. (The witness pointed out the staining to the Jury). Can you say what blood upon that comes direct and what is picked up from the floor? Most of this on the left side has come from contact with blood on the floor. There is some on the right side which might have come from spurting.
2215. What about the sleeves? The blood down here might have come from spurting. If there was a big spill of blood there would be no sign of actual spill; it would go into one big stain. One point you would not have any sign which way it had come.
2216. What do you say regards the amount of the blood? Do you mean in the room?
2217. Did you examine at all how much blood had been spilled? I visited the house on the 21st January and I came to the conclusion that the amount of blood I saw on the floor and the other things in the room and the mackintosh might have been about one pint; it might have been a pint and a quarter or it might have been three-quarters of a pint. There was not very much. Blood on the hearthrug right in the corner had not gone right through to the backing of the hearthrug.
2218. Supposing a person was wearing just a raincoat like that, nothing else, would you expect a great deal of blood to be on that person, if he was the assailant striking the blows? No, I should not.
2219. It has been suggested there would be a great deal of blood on the legs and hands? I do not think there would be very much blood after the first blow. There would be a spurt then and afterwards the blood would mainly come from the spurt itself.
2220. One blow, the first, and then the spurt? Yes.
2221. Now, I will come back to the burning. Was the burning recent? Yes, the burning had undoubtedly taken place in the room on the night of the murder.
2222. So you know whether that is a substance that burns easily? Yes, fairly easily.
2223. Have you tried it? Yes, I have, with a similar thing. The only place in the house where there were fragments of mackintosh was in the sitting-room on the hearthrug and just where the body had been
2224. Which side of the hearthrug, near the body or away from it? Yes, near the fire.
2225. Did you find much of it there, many fragments? Yes, a considerable number of fragments. You cannot see now, but at the burned portion there were pieces hanging down which were very, very friable and they easily dropped off; it has been mostly done by handling, but these pieces I found on the hearthrug. There were no pieces of the mackintosh anywhere else in the house because I searched for them.
2226. There is a question of the hair. There is no doubt that was matted together? Yes, matted together with human blood.
2227. And the pictures were spattered from all angles? Yes.
2228. And one of the photographs? Yes.
2229. The outside of the violin case? Yes.
2230. And parts of the violin case? Mainly on the broad end. The case had been on the chair like that (illustrating).
2231. With the wide end towards the window? Yes.
2232. Whereabouts were the splashes? The blood spots are here and here across the top, mainly on the broad end.
2233. Are there any on the rest of it? Not at the back. I think there was one here.
2234. At this end and right the other and right the other end are the only ones? Yes.
2235. I think the outside of the brown paper cover of the music was also spotted? Yes.
2236. And the cushion? Yes, there were numerous small human bloodstains on that.
2237. And the hearthrug? One corner of the hearthrug. That would be the one where the head had been. That was soaked with human blood.
2238. Was there any blood on the cash box? There were other bloodstains on the hearthrug. I mention that because it has been suggested that anybody who had committed the murder if he had been the murderer might have stains on the feet. The foot could easily have been wiped on the hearthrug.
2239. If anyone had bloodstains on the feet, they might have been wiped there? Yes.
2240. Were there stains? Yes.
2241. Where about were the stains? In the centre of the hearthrug.
2242. Were there any stains on the cash box or dollar bill – I suppose not? No.
2243. And the suit of clothes? No. There was a stain in the pocket but no blood stains.
2244. And the carpet and towel and lock and key were all free from blood? Yes.
2245. Take the skirt. Was that heavily stained with blood? Yes. The front of the skirt was heavily stained with blood. The skirt is not here.
2246. There were four £1 notes? Yes.
2247. Were these given to you folded? Yes.
2248. How were they folded? As they are now.
2249. Just like that? Yes.
2250. Did you examine them? Yes.
2251. Did you find any blood upon them? I found blood on the one which is right in the middle of the bundle.
2252. Was there any blood on the outer one? No blood on any of the others.
2253. A suggestion was made today that somebody by picking them up might have put blood on them – anybody who had blood on their hands picking them up from the mantelpiece. You heard that? Yes, but they did not put this blood on.
2254. That blood extended over the note? Yes, it extended right the way up to the top. It is a smear which might be caused if you had blood on your thumb and you opened them like that.
MR JUSTICE WRIGHT: If you opened them up your thumb might get on the inner one. Would you show me what you mean? (The witness went and explained to his Lordship).

2255. MR JUSTICE WRIGHT: I see. It is on the extreme left hand edge? Yes, my Lord; but those notes have been handled a very great deal and when I got them, they opened automatically at the centre.
2256. MR HEMMERDE: Was there any blood on the remaining notes, the Postal Order or the half-crown? None at all. With regard to the blood, that blood was put on this note either on the 20th January or not more than two days before then.
2257. You could tell that? Yes.
2258. Now take that skirt. (Skirt handed to the witness). You see the front of it is very heavily stained? Yes.
2259. MR JUSTICE WRIGHT: Where is the burning? Just there, my Lord.
2260. Just at the back? Yes. I do not know whether that is the back or the side, I rather think it is the side.
2261. MR HEMMERDE: Was the burning at the front? I should say it is the side. I do not know how it is worn.
2262. Is it heavy burning? Yes, the skirt is burned right through and I do not think that skirt has been worn in this condition; I mean this is very friable, it is so easily broken and if it had been done some days before it would have been broken right through. I think it was done the night of the murder.
2263. MR JUSTICE WRIGHT: Done at the time? Yes, my Lord.
2264. MR HEMMERDE: Are there marks of burning? Yes.
2265. MR JUSTICE WRIGHT: Probably produced by the stove? Yes. They might have been produced by the stove.


2266. First of all, with regard to the mackintosh. You say that material burns fairly readily? Yes.
2267. That means if it caught fire, it would burn? Yes.
2268. It is inflammable stuff? Yes.
2269. You have expressed the opinion clearly that that skirt was burnt on the gas fire in that room? That is my opinion.
2270. That would involve that the gas fire in that room was alight? Yes.
2271. What about the mackintosh. If the mackintosh had got thrown across the gas fire that might have caught fire? Yes.
2272. And burnt until it was put out? Yes.
2273. And you found the burnt pieces right in front of the fire? Yes, right across the front.
2274. MR JUSTICE WRIGHT: And the mackintosh might have been burnt through contact with the gas fire? Yes.
2275. MR ROLAND OLIVER: Caught fire and then extinguished? Yes.
2276. With regard to those notes you have very fairly said since they were first given to you they have been handled and handled? Yes.
2277. They have been left for weeks in that envelope closed up tight. Is that right? I do not know; they were put in the envelope and left.
2278. Yes, it would tend to flatten them? Yes.
2279. When you first fold notes up like that, they naturally come undone? Yes.
2280. Take that bundle. So those naturally come undone? They have just been folded? Yes.
2281. Was not the condition of those four notes when they were given to you? No, it was not.
2282. I thought you said they were all open? No, I said they were not in the same condition. What I meant was this: when I first had the notes, they opened automatically on to the centre note. They did not do as those notes do, open anymore.
2283. I accept your answer; they open automatically on the centre note? Yes, and they were actually flat when I had them first, not like these.
2284. If they had been recently folded and put like this into a jar and they were in a condition in which they automatically opened on to the centre notes, which is what you, have said? Yes.
2285. Do you not see the possibility of two fingers being put in to draw them out and slightly smearing the inside of the middle? No, I do not.
2286. Obviously, it is possible, is it not? A very tiny smear.
2287. That is all that is. No, if you look at one of those notes, the smear extends in one nearly to the top. You will see it better on the on the actual note itself.
2288. Might I see the actual note? I think you have said already they are now, as far as blood smears are concerned, in the same condition as when you first saw them? No. I said I have taken most of it off; there are only a few specks left.
2289. Was it a distinct smear? Yes.
2290. Continuous like that obviously, as if a finger had been drawn across them? Either that or else the pressure of a bloodstained thumb impressed on them.
2291. Was it consistent with a bloodstained finger? If you will give me the notes. (Same handed).
2292. I asked the question. You can say no, if you like. Was it consistent with the finger being pulled across it like that? No, I do not think it was sir. It is more like a thumb touching here and slipping there. It was down here. (Pointing). The jury may see the extent it was from here to here and then it got gradually narrower as it went up.
2293. From where the digit comes first into contact with it becoming slighter as the digit is drawn along it? Yes.
2294. Whether that was a thumb going like that or a finger going like that, how can you say? The width of the smear was much too wide for a finger.
2295. It depends on the size of the finger and all sorts of things? Yes.
2296. How wide was it? I don’t know, but it is on the extreme edge of it.
MR ROLAND OLIVER: I can only see one mark here.
MR JUSTICE WRIGHT: There is a mark at the top and a mark at the bottom.

2297. MR ROLAND OLIVER: I put my case like this, that no one could safely swear that that spreading might not be done accidental by the ends of the bloodstained finger, indeed it is your own suggestion? Yes, but I think I said when I had the notes they were folded like that when I saw them flat.
2298. You did not see them in the jar, did you? Yes, I saw them in the jar.
2299. In the jar? Yes.
2300. How many people had handled them before you? I could not tell you that; they were simply in the jar when I saw them flat.
2301. When you saw the smear, it was quite obvious? Yes.
2302. So the position is this, is it? If it was done in life by a man with a bloody finger, he would have seen it, would he not? Yes, he ought to have seen it.
2303. He ought to have seen it if it was right under his nose in the light? Yes.
2304. Let me give you the history of these notes before you got them: “I found four Treasury Notes” – these Treasury Notes – “a Postal Order and half-a-crown. I placed them in an envelope and later observed that one of the Treasury Notes was marked. I handed these to Inspector Gold calling his attention to the mark”. So they originally had been found in the jar and had been in an envelope before you saw them. Yes, quite so.
2305. Did I catch you as saying that in the sitting room that blood had flown from every sort of angle? Yes, on the pictures.
2306. That means all angles round the room, does it not? Yes, within a semi-circle; put it in that way.
2307. With regard to wiping the hearthrug, a man who was not anxious to leave his boot prints in blood about the house (unreadable). Yes.
2308. Your suggestion is not confined to naked feet? No, I only said if anybody has blood on their feet that would include it.
2309. It would be difficult to wipe the calves and shins on the hearthrug, would it not? Yes.


2310. Would you expect there to be much blood on his calves and shins? No, not much.
MR ROLAND OLIVER: Surely, that is a medical question?
MR HEMMERDE: It is relevant to the very last question of my learned friend.
MR JUSTICE WRIGHT: He is not a medical man at all; he is an analyst.
MR HEMMERDE: I have known him so long I think he is both.
MR JUSTICE WRIGHT: I only know what he said.
THE WITNESS: I am an analyst, my Lord.
MR HEMMERDE: Could you just mark on one of the other notes just how far the blood went – not on the note itself, but take one of the others.
MR JUSTICE WRIGHT: It is not very far from the top and then ran off the note.
MR HEMMERDE: Yes, my Lord, but I thought it might help if we got the size of it.
THE WITNESS: Those three marks there.

2311. Is this to be the width of it? Yes, the width at the bottom is like that across there.
2312. And going gradually to a point here? Yes.
2313. MR JUSTICE WRIGHT: To a point near the top? Yes.
2314. And then ran off? Yes, my Lord.
2315. MR HEMMERDE: What was the time when you first saw the notes? On the Wednesday morning.
2316. At what time? I got to the house between 11 and 12 in the morning.
2317. What were they in then? In the jar.
MR ROLAND OLIVER: My Lord, there is one other question I would like to put to this witness.
2318. MR ROLAND OLIVER: At the Police Court, did you say this, that the smears of blood were such as would be caused by drawing a slightly bloodstained thumb across the note? Yes.
2319. And that you still say? Yes.

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