Sarah Jane Draper – Full Statement

The full statement of charwoman Sarah Jane Draper. Courtesy of John Gannon.

Statement:

38 Tollerton Road,
West Derby,
21.1.31.

Sarah Jane DRAPER says:-

I am a widow, and live at 38 Tollerton Road. I have known Mr. and Mrs Wallace at 29 Wolverton Street for about nine months. I have been going to their house every Wednesday morning to do the cleaning since I have known them. I was recommended to them by a friend of theirs, Mrs Jenkinson, 112 Moscow Drive, for whom I did cleaning. Mr. and Mrs Wallace were very devoted to each other as far as I could see, and I never knew them to quarrel. The last time I was there was a fortnight ago to-day, that was the 7th of January,1931.

I used to clean the house right through and I was paid 2/6d for the half day. Mrs. Wallace used to help me. I have not been for two weeks because I lost my husband and yesterday morning I sent a postcard and let them know that I was not going to them to-day. I never answered the door when I was there and I do not know any of the people who called when I was there.

During the time I worked for Mrs.Wallace I remember that on about 3 occasions people have called and she had taken them into the parlour and stayed with them for a few minutes and let them out. I never saw any of the people but I know they went into the parlour because I could hear them. (In Margin: Mrs Draper Then went to 29 Wolverton St with me.)

There used to be two small steel pokers in the kitchen fire-place, one was about 1 foot long, that is here now, the other was about 9 inches, this one is missing, it had a small knob on it. There was a straight piece of iron kept in (the) ^parlour fireplace, it was about 1 foot long [12 inches] and about as thick as an ordinary candle. That is missing (In Margin: Last seen Jan. 7th).

I used to clean the front bedroom and the bed was always kept made with blankets, sheets and pillows. Mrs. Wallace used to have her hats spread out on it. I have never seen the bed in the state it is now. As far as I know there was nothing the matter with (the) lock on the front door of 29 Wolverton Street. The catch on the back kitchen door was defective. When the knob was turned either from the inside or the outside, it would not bring the bolt back from the lock socket. This happened pretty regularly and on many occasions I have had to ask Mrs Wallace to open the door for me and she used to do it by gripping the spindle close to the door. There did not seem to be any spring in the lock.

(Signed) S.J.Draper.

Trial:

JANE SARAH DRAPER, SWORN. EXAMINED BY MR HEMMERDE.

1636. Is your name Sarah Jane Draper? Yes.

1637. Are you a widow living at 38 Tollerton Street? Tollerton Road.

1638. How long have you known the accused and Mrs Wallace? Nine months.

1639. Used you to go to their house once a week to do some cleaning? Yes.

1640. What day used you to go? A Wednesday morning.

1641. I think the last time you went before Mrs Wallace’s death was on the 7th January? Yes.

1642. You had not been on the 14th? No.

1643. Did you go on the 21st with Detective Inspector Gold? Yes.

1644. Did you find anything missing that you had been used to finding there? Yes.

1645. What was it that you found missing? A poker out of the kitchen.

1646. How large a poker was that? About nine inches long.

1647. A small poker? Yes.

1648. I mean a thin poker? Yes.

1649. Did you also notice something else was missing? Yes.

1650. What was that? A piece of iron out of the sitting room fireplace which was always kept there.

1651. Can you give us any idea of the size and thickness of it? Perhaps it might help you if you would look at a few things here to give you some idea, because measurements are always vague?

1652. MR JUSTICE WRIGHT: When you say “a piece of iron”, you do not mean a lump? No – a straight piece, round.

1653. MR HEMMERDE: Was it anything like those? (Two bars handed). Like that one.

1654. Shaped like that sort of thing? It was a bit rougher than that.

1655. But that sort of thickness? Yes.

1656. And length? Yes.

1657. Do you know what it was used for? For cleaning under the gas fire.

1658. I suppose cigarette ends and things get in? Yes, and spent matches.

1659. Was it as heavy as this? (Handed). That is the one you picked? Yes, about the same weight.

1660. Only rougher? Yes.

MR JUSTICE WRIGHT: Let me see that. (Same handed to his Lordship). I do not know whether you would like to look at it or not, members of the jury, but you can. (Same handed to the jury).

1661. MR HEMMERDE: Do you remember particularly when you last saw it there? On the 3rd January. [Saturday, usually goes once a week on Wednesday?]

1662. What makes you remember that particularly? I used it that morning.

1663. For what? Under the gas fire, to find a screw that had come of the gas bracket.

1664. You mean to rake for a screw which had come off the gas bracket? Yes.

1665. It was a screw off the gas bracket which you were trying to get from under the fire? Yes.

1666. Who was there when you were doing that? Mrs Wallace.

1667. Used it to stand up there? Sometimes it stood by the fireplace and sometimes it was laid underneath the kerb.

1668. Was it there the whole time you were attending at their house? Yes.

1669. And you found it missing? Yes, on the 21st.

CROSS-EXAMINED BY MR ROLAND OLIVER.

1670. You say it stood up where it could be seen and other times it was close under the kerb? Yes.

1671. Do you know which room the Wallaces generally sat in: was it the kitchen which they generally used for living in? Yes.

1672. How long used you to be there at a time? Four hours.

1673. You would know that then? Yes.

1674. Did you ever hear them play music together? No.

1675. Did they ever use the sitting room while you were there? No.

1676. You have never seen them in it? No.

1677. All you know about their habits is from when you were there? Yes.

1678. They got on pretty well together, as far as you could see? Yes, I always found them on pretty friendly terms.

RE-EXAMINED BY MR HEMMERDE.

1679. You would go there on Wednesday, every week? Yes.

1680. Were they generally both in when you went? Yes.

1681. On the Wednesday morning? Yes.

Analysis:

  • 9 months employment, visiting once weekly = 39 visits total.
  • Last attended on the 7th of January, missed the 14th owing to the death of her husband.
  • No apparent quarrel between Mr. and Mrs. Wallace.
  • Mrs. Wallace helped with the cleaning. Therefore may have performed cleaning duties herself on the week Draper was absent. If the iron bar had gone down the back into a crevice (found by the next family who moved in while renovating, according to Goodman), Julia may have used another similar implement to clean out the cigarette ends such as the kitchen poker claimed missing. Some kind of rod is seen on the fireplace fender though it is apparently not the iron bar.

Some sort of rod is on the fender near where the iron bar would be kept. This object appears to have a handle/knob on it, and therefore may be the missing poker from the fireplace, used as a substitute for the lost iron bar when Mrs. Wallace had cleaned under the grill.

  • While working there, on about 3 occasions (out of the ~39 visits of her employment = 7.69%), Mrs. Wallace had admitted someone into the home and taken them into the parlour for a few minutes. She did not see these people but heard their voices (does not state if male or female).
  • Hats commonly kept on the bed in the “spare” room. The disarray is therefore confined to a couple of pillows on the floor and the bedsheets being pushed aside. Possible changing the bed or mending a sheet? Sewing equipment and material is on the kitchen table.
  • Has never seen the bed unmade.
  • The back door catch is defective, she herself could not always open it and needed assistance from Mrs. Wallace despite having visited numerous times.
  • Does not believe the front door lock was in a faulty state – corroborating Wallace’s state that the front door lock had been in working order. Did Draper have a key or ever lock/unlock it herself? She had never answered the door during her time there she says.
  • Had sent a postcard to tell the Wallaces she would not turn up on the 21st of January.
  • Cleaned the room right through, would be very familiar with the house and possibly its contents e.g. the location of the insurance box?
  • Recent death of husband. Financial situation?
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