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Kitty Ronan

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  • Kitty Ronan

    From the Old Bailey online

    An interesting read this is;

    Tuesday 14 September 1909

    Before Mr. Justice Coleridge

    HALL, Harold (27) ; wilful murder of Kitty Roran.
    Mr. Muir and Mr. Leycester prosecuted; Mr. H. D. Harben, at the request of the Court, defended.

    ALFRED WILKINS, market porter, Spitalfields. I am now in custody awaiting trial. I knew deceased by sight as walking about Commercial Street and that wav. She lived in Miller's Court, Duval Street, and was a prostitute. I last saw her at midnight on July 1 last. I had seen her earlier standing at the top of Duval Street. At 12 o'clock she was walking down Duval Street with a man. I would not be quite certain that it was prisoner. When I first said I recognised him I had just got up out of a drunken sleep—I pointed prisoner out. I had given the police a description on the morning of July 2 as of a man about 5 ft. 6 in. or 5 ft. 7 in., with dark hair, and rather a darkish complexion, with a dark moustache and no beard, dressed in a dark suit. He had the appearance of a soldier about 27 or 28. They went up Miller's Court. I was standing outside a lodging-house opposite. I saw the man come out of the court alone about 20 minutes after. I did not see what house it was. I saw no more of him or the girl. I afterwards saw prisoner with several liters at Old Street Police Court. I said, "That is the man," or like the man." He did not say anything. It was the same day that I gave my evidence, July 27. I had not seen prisoner during the lbs. I was at Felixstowe part of the time.

    Cross-examined. When I first saw the man I was standing outside 17, Duval Street, the third door away on the left-hand side from Commercial Street, about 50 yards from the corner. He was coming fawn the court in the middle of the road. There was a light from a public-house at the top and a light just opposite where I was standing. I first told the detective when he spoke to me about 1.30 or 1.45 a.m. on July 2. I told Patchy Macquire. I was at the inquest when Charles Watson gave his evidence. He left me just before 12 sad I was alone when I saw the man and girl. I was sent for by Inspector Wensley to identify the man. I went out into the yard and picked prisoner out from seven or eight others. I don't remember the others had dark moustaches. I am not quite so sure of him now. I am committed for highway robbery with violence. I have been once convicted.

    JOHN CUNNINGHAM. I was employed as paper sorter by the Salvation Army. I knew prisoner as working with me at the Salvation Army in Spa Road, Bermondsey. I knew prisoner by the name of Johnson. We found this knife (produced) on the screen when sorting paper. I believe I was the last who sharpened it; we used it far cutting the strings on the backs of books. I last saw it on July 1. When prisoner left work between one and two p.m. I understood he was not returning. I next saw him at Old Street when I gave evidence. The small blade of the knife was broken when we found it. Another man named Maloney also left the Salvation Army works when he did.

    Cross-examined. Prisoner said he was not coming back.

    Police-constable HARRY WOODLEY, H Division. I made this plan of the first floor front room, No. 12, Miller's Court, Spitalfields (produced). It is correct. No. 12 is the room—not the house. No. 11 is the ground floor. I have shown the furniture in the room as it was at 4.45 a.m. on July 2. The room is 12 ft. by 12 ft. 2 in. The mantelpiece is about 8 ft. The first floor is the top. There is no gas there. The distance to the Victoria Seamen's Rest, Poplar, is two miles 530 yards, and from Miller's Court to Shoreditch Empire is 920 yards.

    Cross-examined. The mantelpiece is opposite the bed. There tone dirty blinds. I do not know about the lamps in Duval street.

    HENRY BENSTEAD, labourer. I lived with deceased for five weeks and three days before her death. I last saw her at 9.30 p.m. on July 1 going with another girl to get some ointment in Commercial Street. I gave her a shilling and some coppers. I returned home between 1.15 and 1.30 a.m., and found the room door three parts open. The downstairs door was also open. There was no light in the room, but I could see by the light in the street. I found the girl lying down. I thought she was asleep till I tapped her on the shoulder, when I saw blood on the top of her lip and the side of her neck. I ran down the court and said, "Someone has cut my Kitty's throat." I went to McCarthy's shop and found Jeremiah O'Callighan there, and went to the police station and reported it. I first saw this knife at Commercial Street Police Station. It is not mine or Kitty's. I did not see it in the room. I did not disturb the body.

    Cross-examined. She was not earning money of her own, as far as I know. I went out to support her.

    JEREMIAH O'CALLIGHAN, stableman, Duval Street In the early morning of July 2, Benstead came to me. I rushed up to his room from what he told me. There was no light there but I could see a little. John Day came up with me and struck a few matches. I sent for two candles when the inspector came. Kitty Noran was lying on her back on the bed. Her eyes were wide open and she appeared to be breathing when I put my face by her mouth. I found this knife on the bed on her left side. It was covered with blood and I put it on the edge of the table. The blood was just drying. I did not disturb the body and waited for the inspector.

    Cross-examined. I did not notice candle or matches in the room.

    Inspector THOMAS TRAVIS, H Division. At 1.55 a.m., on July 2, I went to the room. Jeremiah O'Callighan was there. I found the body of deceased lying on its back. Her dress was turned up to the neck. The knife was on a towel on the dressing-table at the head of the bed. I took possession of it. There was no sign of a struggle. There were two candles freshly lighted in ornaments on the mantelpiece, and a portion of a candle not lighted in an egg-cup.

    Cross-examined. I did not know deceased. I do not think that part of prisoner's statement, “I flew in a rage, caught her by the throat, threw her on the bed, and took out my knife,” truly represents the murder, as there was no sign of a struggle. She was lying in a position to indicate recent sexual intercourse.

    PERCY JOHN CLARKE, divisional surgeon. I was called to the house at the time in question, and found the body lying perfectly flat There were appearances of intercourse having taken place within a couple of hours of my seeing the body. Her clothes were up. I saw the knife, which was covered with dried blood. There was a wound in her throat which had apparently caused death by dividing the large vessels and nerves on the right-hand side of the neck. A good deal of force must have been used because the knife is not at all sharp. Death would be almost immediate. The wound could not have been self-inflicted.

    Cross-examined. I did not detect marks of fingers on the throat, The excessive bleeding would have obliterated them. The tongue was between the teeth and the pupils dilated, and at the post-mortem examination I found both lungs engorged with blood. That might be caused by blood going into the windpipe on the throat being cut. Strangulation was the more likely cause. If blood went into the windpipe it might cause certain signs of suffocation, but hardly such marked signs as I found.

    Re-examined. The signs were consistent with the woman having been strangled with the hand first and then cutting her throat.

    Mr. Justice Coleridge: Did you notice anything about the nostrils? (A.) frothy blood exuding from the nostrils. (Q.) What does that point to? (A.) Strangulation or suffocation. (Q.) Rather than death by hemorrhage? (A.) Yes, my lord. (Q.) The tongue between the teeth; does that rather point to death by strangulation or death by hemorrhage? (A.) It was more a sign of strangulation.

    JOHN ARTHUR THOMPSON, porter at Queen Victoria's Seamen's Rest, Poplar. Between four and six o'clock p.m., on. July 1, two beds were booked by Johnson in the names of Johnson and Maloney. I to Johnson in at 1.30 a.m. Maloney did not come in. Johnson did tot sleep there after and I saw nothing more of him. I cannot identify him.

    Sergeant SIDNEY RICKARDS, 14 A, Bristol. I was on duty in Bristol on the evening of July 18, when prisoner came up and said his name was Harold Hall and he was wanted in London for the murder of a woman whose name he believed was “Kate Rooney” in a house in a street off Commercial Street, London, at about 12 midnight on July 1. He explained the reason why he thought the name was Rooney—that he had seen an account of the murder in newspaper, but could not give the name or the date of the paper—that he was a labourer it of employment and worked his passage from Spain to Liverpool, and went from there to London as a stowaway, and that sometimes he went by the name of William Johnson. He seemed to have a great load on his mind, so I cautioned him as to the serious charge he was making against himself and told him that what he was saying sight be given in evidence against him. I then asked him if he would like to make a statement. He said he would, and I took down a voluntary statement. This is it (produced). I read it over to him and he signed it. I told him that he would be detained on that statement, and, in consequence of a wire from Scotland Yard the following morning, he was charged on his own confession with the murder' of Kate Rooney and cautioned. The charge was read over to him and he replied, “Yes, sir,” and he was taken before the justices on the 19th and handed over to the custody of Detective-inspector Wensley. (Statement read.) “I, Harry Hall, of no fixed abode wish to give myself up for the murder of Kate Rooney,” etc.

    Cross-examined. Prisoner appeared to be in great trouble and not to have had much rest for some time and not much food. He was not very tidy. His boots were worn and dilapidated.

    Detective-inspector WENSLEY, H Division. Soon after two am. On July 2 I went to the top room, 12, Miller's Court, where I saw the body of deceased. Her left hand was under her left hip and when the body was moved a penny dropped from the hand on the bed. The body was searched and a purse found containing 3s. 6d. in silver, 8 1/2 d. in bronze, and the photo of a girl. There were no signs of a struggle. There were then two candles alight and a piece in an egg-cup on the mantelpiece not alight; also some cigarette ash in this. I was at the inquest on July 12, up to which time no one was in custody. I was in (Bristol on the 19th, where I saw prisoner about three p.m. I saw a copy of this statement, which I read. Inspector Hopkins, of Bristol, also gave me some information. I said to prisoner, “We are police officers from London, and we shall arrest you on your own confession for the murder of Kate Koran at 12, Miller's Court on the 2nd of this month.” Prisoner replied, “Yes, that is true. I did it, and intended when I came here to act like a man and I mean to see it through.” I am reading from my notes. On the way to London prisoner said, “I want to tell you how it all happened.” I said, “You must understand that what you tell me must be voluntary and I shall repeat it to the Court.” He replied, “I want you to. I have not any friends here. Me and my three brothers were sent from Strangeways Workhouse to Canada when we were children, and I have been nearly all over the world. I once went to a brothel with a French woman at Johannesburg and the robbed me of all I had—about £30. I didn't do anything to her, but I made up my mind if it occurred again what I would do. I came to England last October and have been in the Seamen's Hospital suffering from rupture. About six weeks ago I went to work at the Salvation Army Shelter, Spa Road, Bermondsey. While I was there I found the knife I did it with. A man named Cunningham, who worked with me used to use it. The little blade is broken. I left there at two in the afternoon on July 1 and did not intend to go back. I came out of the Empire about twelve o'clock, and a girl came up to me in Commercial Street and I went with her into a room down a court in a street off Commercial Street. There was no light in the room. I took off my jacket and waistcoat and asked her to light the gas. She said there was none. She then asked me to light a candle. I struck a match and just as I was lighting the candle on the mantel-piece, I turned round sharp and saw she had her hand inside my coat pocket. I said, 'Is that your game?' I flew at her in a rage and caught her by the throat, and threw her on the bed and held here there. She never spoke. I took out my knife, which I opened with my teeth, and stuck it into the side of her neck. I then threw the knife on the bed. I was frightened and put on my jacket and waistcoat and came out. There was no one about and I walked to the Sailors' Rest, Limehouse, where I booked a bed in the name of Johnson, and I left there the following day, and have been tramping about ever since.” I went to Commercial Street police-station that day when prisoner was charged. He made no reply. The knife was lying on the Inspector's desk, and prisoner said, “That is my knife.” He was searched, but nothing found relating to this case. The case was reported in the newspapers on the morning of July 3, and the inquest opened on the 4th, and was published in the papers on the 5th. The adjourned inquest took place on the 12th and was published on the 13th. There was nothing said in it about the room being at the top of the house, or about the girl having been strangled, or shout the knife having one blade broken. This passage in the “Morning Advertiser” : “The doors of the houses in this court are never locked at night, so that anyone might enter,” is the only reference that I know of to the door being open. There was nothing said about there being no gas in the room, or about a candle being found on the mantel-piece, or about the mantel-piece being by the side of the bed.

    Cross-examined. I have looked through the newspaper reports with considerable care with the view of ascertaining the facts I have been asked. It was, of course, a good deal discussed, and the representatives of various papers came to inquire. I have in my experience met with bogus confessions. The deceased was a prostitute and her friends are. She mixed with all sorts of characters. We have a good many crimes of violence in the neighbourhood. This is quite a ordinary knife. The inference I drew from the penny in her hand was that she was in the act of robbing someone and I reported to the effect that she had been murdered practically in the act or immediately after connection. I was present when Wilkins identified prisoner. I was present at the inquest and heard the evidence of Charles Watson. He said that at 11.45 on the Thursday night he met Alfred Wilkins outside 17, Duval Street—that they were talking, sad he noticed a man standing at the corner of Miller's Court. The others called to identify prisoner failed to do so. My report on the penny incident was sent to the Assistant Commissioner of Police. It was confidential and has not been published.

    HARRY WOODLEY, recalled. Since I was in the box I have been to Duval Street and examined the lamps. I have marked them on my plan. There is an electric lamp at the corner of Duval Street and Commercial Street. I have also marked the lodging-house described by Wilkins (No. 17). The plan shows two street lamps in Duval Street, and one on each side of Miller's Court, and one nearly opposite the lodging-house.

    Verdict, Guilty.

    Sentence, Death.

  • #2
    Interesting indeed, Rob. Thanks for that.

    By the way: Unless I am mistaken (i have read this somewhere), the stableman O'Callighan (or Callaghan) was the one living in Mary Kelly's old room nr 13 at the time of the Kitty Ronan murder.

    All the best
    The Swedes are the Men that Will not Be Blamed for Nothing


    • #3
      Hi Glenn,

      It's in the 'Kit, Kit, Kitty' (or something like that) dissertation by Andy Aliffe on Casebook. I presume his source is 'The Illustrated Police News', but I haven't read the paper to confirm that.



      P.S. How's the book coming along and more importantly how do we get it and why aren't you talking it up?


      • #4
        Her left hand was under her left hip and when the body was moved a penny dropped from the hand on the bed.

        Is that Tragic or what?


        • #5
          Hi Rob,

          Yes , you're right. It is the dissertation.

          The book was released two weeks ago and it have already been given some media recognition here at home, in TV, radios and reviews - things like that. So I've been busy. I actually got a number of author's copies to send away to you, Phil and a couple of others (as well as Spry) -
          unfortunately my financial situation this month has been so bad (tax issues, among other things) that I can't even afford to send them off by mail, as I originally had planned to do already a couple of weeks ago.
          But I'll work something out as soon as I can. Or esle, PM me.
          I believe Jaakko has already received his copy, directly from the publisher.

          I have no inntetion of taking the book up here since it is aimed for the Swedish market only at this point, and I also feel it to be a blessing not to be scrutinized by all the armchair detectives on this site.
          However, it has been added to Spry's very impressive list of Ripper books on this site, in the Media section:

          Going back to the Kitty Ronan murder, that is a very interesting case. And the court transcripts do reveal some interesting info about Miller's Court and the vicinity, like the info about the number and position of the streets lamps in Duval Street (one wonders if the same lamps were there by the time of the Kelly murder).
          Note how O'Callighan is disturbing the crime scene by touching and moving the knife from its original position.
          Also typical for those days how they can't seem to agree on how to spell the victim's name (in the same court transcripts) - 'Roran', 'Noran', 'Koran' etc.

          All the best
          Last edited by Glenn Lauritz Andersson; 04-18-2008, 08:34 AM.
          The Swedes are the Men that Will not Be Blamed for Nothing


          • #6
            Thanks for posting this and making me aware that the Old Bailey records for the Ripper years are finally online...

            Unfortunately we STILL don't know what happened to Harold Hall. There is no record of him ever being executed. And I don't see any record of an appeal in the Old Bailey records.

            Not to mention there are a TON of holes in his confession. She was obviously strangled, and yet Hall never mentioned this. There were signs of intercourse which Hall also doesn't mention. And if you are a prostitute who wants to steal money from a client you CERTAINLY don't take them back to your place of residence. You also don't pick their pocket until AFTER the deed is done (not BEFORE). Otherwise when they go to pay you they are going to notice the missing money.

            The only "evidence" purportedly comes from the fact that he knew the place didn't have gas and he knew a little about the layout. And even though it was mentioned at the trial that these two facts were not known in the press there is the possibility they were mistaken, or that Hall had simply been to the building before.


            • #7
              Well, either way he seems to have been considered guilty by the court and sentenced to death, so I assume he was hanged as planned.
              Unless he committed suicide before his execution - which, judging by his mental state by the time of the trial - wouldn't seem that far-fetched. There also is a possibility that he might have died of illness in prison before his execution.

              I seriously doubt there was a retrial involved (resulting in his release), we would most certainly know about it from the press. But who knows?

              All the best
              The Swedes are the Men that Will not Be Blamed for Nothing


              • #8
                Not knowing the case very well, can i ask, is there any new information here?

                Does this help with our knowledge of Millers Court layout?

                One thing that leapt out at me was the fact that a prostitue(Ronan) brought her client home, something we've been arguing about on a different thread about Kelly.


                • #9
                  Hi all


                  • #10
                    Hi (again) Apologies, I am new to this posting lark! Sorry to repeat a question I asked a while ago, but does anyone know if there are or would be any crime scene photos for these murders which would give some more views of Millers Court etc

                    Best wishes



                    • #11
                      Hi Judroo,

                      I don't believe the Police files or Inquest papers have survived so the answer is probably not. But hopefully with a bit of luck they might turn up someday.



                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Judroo View Post
                        Hi (again) Apologies, I am new to this posting lark! Sorry to repeat a question I asked a while ago, but does anyone know if there are or would be any crime scene photos for these murders which would give some more views of Millers Court etc

                        Best wishes

                        Rob is absolutely correct. About six or seven years ago I contacted Maggie Bird at New Scotland Yard to inquire whether the Kitty Ronan murder file still existed. The answer after a thorough search was no. I could not find any Home Office files either.

                        By 1901 the Metropolitan Police had a proper photographic department. When Ronan was murdered eight years later the London Met had established procedures for photographing crimes scenes. Pictures of the body in situ would have been taken along with other relevant interior shots. It's not possible to know if exterior photographs were taken as well. However, a police artist would have been on hand to draw up plans and a map of the murder site, just as Inspector Ledger of G Division (Finsbury) had done for the Mary Kelly murder (another piece of lost evidence). This was necessary for the inquest and any future trial.

                        The files and photographs are currently lost - as in so many other cases - but we can hope that one day they will turn up.




                        • #13
                          We can always hope as well Robert that some photos might turn up in France like the Kelly and Eddowes photo.

                          Hope your well,




                          • #14
                            At least we have this rather dramatic drawing, published - correct me if I'm wrong - in the Illustrated Police News at the time:

                            Click image for larger version

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                            Kind regards, Sam Flynn

                            "Suche Nullen" (Nietzsche, Götzendämmerung, 1888)


                            • #15
                              Wonderful Rob!... Thanks for posting that!!!

                              There ARE photographs somewhere without a someone's upstairs somewhere!
                              The sentence was death I notice...where did this take place??...or did I miss that

                              Brilliant illustration Sam I tell you when you type Kitty Ronan into Google you get the 'oddest' stuff!!

                              'A bright young girl cruelly done to death!!!!!'...blesser!
                              Love the offending weapon under the bed...Hmmmmm no sign of the savagely wielded chamber pot! where was this disposed of?
                              Last edited by Suzi; 04-19-2008, 07:16 PM.
                              'Would you like to see my African curiosities?'