Murder inquest jury add 'provocation' rider


Amy Martin funeral

The Coroner's jury who investigated the circumstances attending the death of Amy Martin, the victim of the Queen Square tragedy, yesterday evening [October 8th, 1915] returned the following verdict: "The jury find that Amy Martin died from haemorrhage caused by a blow with a knife, inflicted by her husband, Charles Henry Martin, and they consider the case one of wilful murder. We wish to add, however, that we believe the man to have received very great provocation."

Some remarkable evidence as to the deceased woman's relations with a soldier named Tom Newbury, of the Lincolns, who had been billeted in Luton and also in camp at Stockwood Park, was given during the inquest. Yesterday, Mr F. W. Lathom attended on behalf of the accused man, who was in custody on his own confession and did not attend the inquest.

Charles William Martin, the oldest child of deceased, was the first witness. He said that until Monday last he lived at 6 Queen Square with his mother. His father was in the Royal Garrison Artillery, and had been stationed at Stratford. On Saturday last his father came home.

As it was getting light on Monday morning the boy said he was aroused by someone calling. He recognised his mother's voice and heard her call "Charlie" about three times. Beyond that he could not gather what she was saying.

He got out of bed, and just as he was coming our of his bedroom door he saw his mother pass the door. She rushed downstairs and he noticed she was bleeding, only at the time he did not know where the blood was coming from. She was in her nightdress.

Her son rushed after her as she went out of the back door, which was open, and went to next-door neighbour Mrs Fookes. She banged on her door about three times and then fell down.

The boy could see she was bleeding from the neck and he got a piece of flannel to try to stop the bleeding. Mr and Mrs Fookes helped him carry his mother into her house.

The son said that before his mother rushed downstairs he had heard his father go downstairs. After getting dressed, he went into his mother's bedroom and saw blood on the sheets of the bed. He found a blood-stained open knife lying on the bed and later gave it to Inspector Janes.

In cross-examination he said he knew a soldier named Tom Newbury, of the Lincoln Regt. He had seen him kissing his mother and sometimes spent the night with her both at Blythe Place, his grandfather's home, and at Queen Square.

After evidence from Pc Hencher and Inspector Janes about Martin's confession and arrest, P Sgt Matsell told of having Martin left in his charge. He had sat with his face in his hands and said: "She crazed me to join the Army. Then she came down to Luton and carried on with one of the Lincolns. A fortnight ago I came down to Luton and got on to her about it, and she came for me and hit me on the head with a poker." Later he said: "It's fit to craze a chap - rows, rows, rows". Then he added: "I didn't know what I was at. I haven't had a night's sleep now for weeks."

The dead woman's father, Mr Edwin Plummer, said Newbury had been billeted in his house in Blythe Place, Russell Street. He said he had been told his daughter and Newbury were found downstairs one night in compromising circumstances. When his son-in-law came home in July he did not know his wife had left Blythe Place and did not know why he was kept in ignorance.

Dr R. D. Bell, who attended the deceased at the Bute Hospital, said the bleeding from the wound had been entirely stopped, but in spite of the measures taken she died at 9.15 the same morning. Death was due to collapse following haemorrhage.

He found an incised wound on the left side of the dead woman's neck, 1¾ inches in length and at its deepest point ¾ inch deep. At the lower end of the wound an external jugular vein had been cut.

Mr John Mathieson, works manager for the London Scottish Foundry Ltd, London Road, Barking, where Martin had been employed for about two years, said that on the morning he had enlisted Martin described himself to him as a heart-broken man. He took a letter from his pocket and said: "She's returned my letter torn in pieces, and made a confession that she has been unfaithful to me."

The Coroner, summing up, said the jury could have no doubt from the evidence that the wound which caused the woman's death was inflicted by the husband. In this case there was only one verdict they could possibly return, and that was a verdict of wilful murder."

[The funeral of Amy Martin took place on Monday, October 11th. The cortege left her father's home in Blythe Place, Russell Street, for the General Cemetery, where she was buried. A short service was held at the cemetery chapel, conducted by the Rev A. F. Wolton.]

[Beds & Herts Saturday Telegraph: October 9th, 1915]