William Pope Seed: The Medical Evidence
Helena Snodgrass: The Widow's Evidence
Janet Snodgrass: The Daughter's Evidence
Fanny Marian Warland: The Neighbour's Evidence
Archibald McIntyre: The Wardsman's Evidence
Rosa Snodgrass: The Matron's Evidence
PC Matthew Toohey
Monday, June 6, 1898
The adjourned inquest into the deaths of Mrs Elizabeth Yarburgh-Gold and Kenneth Snodgrass, who were presumed to have met their deaths by shooting at the hands of the male deceased at the Government Hospital on Tuesday, May 31, was resumed at the Police Court on Saturday, June 4, by the Coroner (Mr J.M. Finnerty, R.M.) and a jury consisting of Messrs George Naylor Oram, Roland F. Woodville, and Michael Joseph Carrigg. Inspector McKenna conducted the inquiry on behalf of the police.
William Pope Seed, the first witness, is the resident medical officer at the Public Hospital. He said: On the evening of May 31 I was asked to inspect the bodies of Kenneth Snodgrass and Elizabeth Gold, who were both well known to me. Mrs Gold was employed as a nurse at the Government Hospital. On examination of the body of Kenneth Snodgrass, I observed a wound at the back of the head through which the brains were protruding. The wound was caused by a bullet which entered through the mouth and passed through the brain, leaving at the back of the skull, in the upper portion. This wound was sufficient to cause instant death. On examination of the body of Elizabeth Gold two bullets were observed. The first of these was above the left breast, on a level with the second rib, which it shattered, passed through the left lung, and then became embedded in the left side of the spine. It was caused by a bullet from a weapon fired so close as to burn the skin around the wound. It would alone have caused death; but there was a second wound in the neck of the deceased, caused by a bullet fired from a weapon which was directed upward, causing the bullet to embed itself in the brain. The muzzle of the weapon used must have been pressed against the neck of the deceased. This would also have caused death. I was present on the morning of June 1, when the coroner and jury viewed the bodies, which were those of Kenneth Snodgrass and Elizabeth Gold. I have often seen Snodgrass at the hospital. He was on friendly terms with Mrs Gold and frequently visited her.
Inspector McKenna : Would a cartridge similar to the one produced cause the wounds you saw?
Witness : It would.
Inspector McKenna : Fired from a revolver of this description?
Witness : Yes.
The Coroner : Would it be possible to say which wound was first inflicted?
Witness : No, but the time between the infliction of the two wounds must have been very short.
The Coroner : Would not the character of the wound in the neck indicate that the shot was first fired into the breast, and when the woman was falling the revolver was fired a second time. Would not the upward course that the bullet took lead you to think this was the case?
Witness : On consideration I think that I may say that the first wound was upon the left breast. Had the wound in the head been the first one the body would have fallen before the second shot could have reached it and the direction of the bullet would have been altered.
The Coroner : The direction taken by the bullet in the head would indicate that the body was falling before the shot that entered at the neck was fired?
Witness : Yes; the bullet took an upward course such as it would if a person falling were directly shot at.
Inspector McKenna : Could the wounds have been self-inflicted?
Witness : Both of them could not have been. The wound in the neck might have been self-inflicted, but the first could not have been. After the breast wound was inflicted the deceased could not have caused the other herself.
(View: William Pope Seed's Written Statement )
Helena Snodgrass said:- The deceased Kenneth Snodgrass was my husband. We had been married twenty years, and have seven children. I last saw my husband alive at half-past six o'clock on the evening of May 31. We and the family had tea together; then my husband went out. He said he was going out to try and raise some money to pay the landlord four week's rent. On that day a bailiff had taken possession of the house for rent, and was in possession when my husband left home on that evening. He had appeared very quiet all day. He was low spirited and despondent, which I attributed to financial worry. I knew he was in financial difficulties. I did not see my husband alive after half-past six o'clock on Tuesday night. About eight o'clock I was informed of his death by one of the nurses at the hospital. I drove back to the hospital with the nurse and saw him there dead. I knew deceased, Mrs Gold, for about five months. She was on friendly terms with me and my husbandů. My husband had been financially worried since I and my family arrived in the colony on December 30 lastů. My husband was the first to finish his tea on the Tuesday night, and as he left he stooped down and kissed my fourth daughter, May, who was sitting on the doorstep, remarking: 'I had better say good night now; you will be in bed when I come back.' He then kissed all the girls, and the youngest boy Kenneth. He shook hands with his eldest son, and said to me as he kissed me, 'You will not be in bed when I come back.'
Inspector McKenna : Did his appearance lead you to suspect that he had been drinking?
Witness : I knew from his breath that he had had some drink, but he had not taken much. He was not under the influence of drink, because when he had taken a few glasses he was always jolly, and he was not that on Tuesday night.
(View: Helena Snodgrass's Written Statement )
Janet Snodgrass said : I am a daughter of the deceased, Kenneth Snodgrass. On May 31 I was employed at the Government Hospital, where I had been for three weeks previous to that date. I was there helping my cousin, not as a probationer. While there I occupied the same bedroom as the deceased, Mrs Gold. On Tuesday I saw my father at the hospital on three different occasions. The first time was at half-past 11. He left about 12 o'clock, and returned again at 3 o'clock., when he came to my camp. I was alone and he left me at 5 o'clock to go to my cousin. No one but ourselves was in the camp during the afternoon. I next saw him about ten minutes past 7, when he came and knocked at my camp door. Nurse Gold was in the room with me, and Nurse Warland was in the adjoining room. I replied to the knock, and said 'Who is there?' When I repeated the question a second time the reply was 'A gentleman. ' I recognised the voice as that of my father. I told him he could not come in just then. I was putting on my shoes at the time, and Nurse Gold was also dressing to go to a ball. When I was fully dressed I opened the door, and Mrs Gold went into the adjoining room to Nurse Warland. My father entered the camp, and asked me to stand in front of him. I did so, and he said my dress was 'not too short and looked very nice.' At this time he was sitting on a chair beside my bed, which was on the right hand side of the door on entering the camp. Nurse Gold's bed was on the left side of the door. I did not hear Nurse Gold speak to my father. She did not do so while I was there. I left the camp, passing through Nurse Warland's room in going out, leaving my father sitting on the chair beside my bed. When I passed through the other room Nurse Gold was assisting Nurse Warland with her dress. I then went to the camp of my cousin, the matron, Rosa Snodgrass. About five minutes later I heard Nurse Warland say, 'At the back of my camp, quick.' My cousin called out to Nurse Warland through the window, but receiving no reply, she and I went out. We went into the nurse's dining-room. Nurse Tunks took my cousin outside, and then my cousin came and told me I was not to go to my camp; I had to go back to hers. I did so, and remained there for a short time. Then I went into my cousin's sitting-room. While there she came and told me my father had shot himself. Nothing was said about Mrs Gold, and after I had redressed myself I was driven to my mother's home. It was only after I got there that I heard of Mrs Gold's death. My father used to visit my camp every Sunday afternoon. I think he went to see me, but my father and Mrs Gold were very friendly as far as I know. My father was quite sober when he visited my camp on the Tuesday evening. I noticed nothing strange in his manner, nor anything to lead me to imagine that he contemplated suicide.
Inspector McKenna : Do you know if Nurse Gold was in the habit of receiving letters from your father?
Witness : She received two, as far as I know, while I was at the hospital. I saw them both, and they referred to the Cinderella dance, to which we were going that night.
Witness then identified a number of letters produced as being in the handwriting of her father. Some of these were found on the body of Mrs Gold and others in the pocket of Kennth Snodgrass' coat. One found on the male deceased was in an envelope, addressed to Lady Clarke, his sister, in Melbourne. Witness also identified some letters as being in the handwriting of Mrs Gold.
Inspector McKenna : Do you know these two photographs?
Witness : Yes; they are photos of Mrs Gold. (Continuing) I have known Mrs Gold for five months. During that time she also visited my parent's house, and she also lived with us for three weeks after we came here. This was in January of the present year.
Inspector McKenna : Has she ever said anything to you to lead you to believe she anticipated an early death?
Witness : No.
Inspector McKenna : Have you frequently seen your father with Mrs Gold at the hospital?
Witness : Not frequently.
Inspector McKenna : Have you seen them talking together?
Witness : Yes.
Inspector McKenna : Have you ever heard them having a dispute?
Witness : No.
Inspector McKenna : They always appeared to be on friendly terms?
Witness : Yes.
Inspector McKenna : So far as you know there was never any quarrel between them?
Witness : No.
Inspector McKenna : On Tuesday night what duty were you supposed to be on?
Witness : Night duty.
Inspector McKenna : What duty was Nurse Gold on?
Witness : Day duty.
Inspector McKenna : Had her duty expired at the time your father was there at night?
Witness : Yes, she had been relieved.
Inspector McKenna : A great many of the nurses were going to the ball that night, as well as you?
Witness : Yes.
Inspector McKenna : How many?
Witness : About fifteen.
Inspector McKenna : Were they to be attended by any person belonging to the hospital?
Witness : I think Mr McMillan was going to call for them with a carriage.
Inspector McKenna : How many nurses are there in the hospital altogether?
Witness : I don't know.
Inspector McKenna : But fifteen were going to the dance?
Witness : I think about fifteen.
(View: Janet Snodgrass's Written Statement )
Fanny Marian Warland said :- I am a nurse at Coolgardie Hospital. I knew Kenneth Snodgrass well by sight, and I knew Mrs Gold, who was employed at the hospital as a nurse, since - I think - January. She occupied a portion of the same building as I did. The plan produced correctly shows the disposition of the camp, which is built of hessian with an iron roof. The partition between Mrs Gold's apartment and mine was of canvas with a hanging curtain, in place of a door. On May 31 I was off duty from 2 to 5 o'clock. I left the ward to go to my camp about ten minutes to 7, and started to dress to go to the ball. At this time Mrs Gold and Miss Janet Snodgrass were in their apartment. I heard a knock at the door and one of them said, 'who is there?' I don't remember hearing any reply, but either Miss Snodgrass or Mrs Gold said, 'You can't come in now, we are dressing.' In a few minutes Mrs Gold came into my room and asked me to fasten some portion of her dress. While she was in my room Miss Snodgrass let her father in, and Mrs Gold remarked from my room, 'It is too bad of you Mr Snodgrass to disappoint us like this. We thought you were going to the ball.' I heard no conversation between Miss Snodgrass and her father.
The Coroner : What led up to Mrs Gold's remark? How did she know that he was not dressed to go the ball if he was in another room?
Witness : I could not say.
Inspector McKenna : Some time after Snodgrass was admitted to the camp Miss Snodgrass passed your room?
Witness : Yes.
Inspector McKenna : What became of Mrs Gold?
Witness : She went into her room.
Inspector McKenna : Did you hear any conversation between her and Snodgrass?
Witness : No.
Inspector McKenna : Did you not hear anything at all after Mrs Gold went into her room?
Witness : I heard something like a scuffle and Mrs Gold said 'nurse.'
Inspector McKenna : Did she say it in an excited manner, or as if she wanted assistance?
Witness : No; she merely called out nurse.
Inspector McKenna : Did she call out loud?
Witness : Louder than she usually spoke.
Inspector McKenna : Did it lead you to believe that she was in any fear?
Witness : No; I did not think so, and therefore took no notice of the call.
Inspector McKenna : Did you go to see what was the matter?
Witness : No.
Inspector McKenna : Did you hear anything after that?
Witness : I heard Mrs Gold ask Mr Snodgrass to get her something, I do not know what it was, but he left the room by the front door.
Inspector McKenna : How long was he away?
Witness : I should say about five minutes.
Inspector McKenna : He returned to the room again?
Witness : Yes.
Inspector McKenna : Did you hear Mrs Gold say anything to him then?
Witness : Yes, she said 'have you brought it?'
Inspector McKenna : Did you hear any reply from Snodgrass?
Witness : I don't remember whether he made any reply or not.
Inspector McKenna : Did you hear anything after that?
Witness : I heard them both go out of the camp. I thought I heard Mrs Gold running away, but it might only have been the flapping of the curtain. I think I heard Mrs Gold call 'nurse,' and they seemed to be in front of the door.
Inspector McKenna : You did not take any notice of the call?
Witness : No.
Inspector McKenna : Do you remember stating to me at the hospital that you heard a scuffle outside as though Mrs Gold was running away, and immediately afterwards she called out 'nurse?'
Witness : Yes, it seemed as if she were trying to run away. There was something like the ruffling of skirts. That was what made me think that Mrs Gold was running away. (Immediately after the cry 'nurse' I heard a report which I took to be that of a revolver. The cry of 'nurse' sounded as if it was muffled. When I heard the report I ran out of my room down to the matron's sitting room. - omitted) I met McIntyre on the way, and said, 'Run quickly to the back of my camp - Mr Snodgrass is shooting Mrs Gold.'
Inspector McKenna : How many shots did you hear?
Witness : Three. The first before I left my room, the second while I was running away and the third while I was speaking to McIntyre.
Inspector McKenna : They came in quick succession?
Witness : Yes.
Inspector McKenna : Did you at any time hear any quarrel between them? Did they ever have angry words to your knowledge?
Witness : No.
Inspector McKenna : You came to the conclusion that Snodgrass shot Mrs Gold. What was your reason for doing so?
Witness : He was at the camp talking to her a minute before the shots were fired. He was to my own knowledge speaking to her just before the shot was fired.
Inspector McKenna : What made you run away and tell one of the nurses that Mrs Gold had been shot?
Witness : I heard them talking together, and when I heard the shots I knew it must be Mrs Gold.
The Coroner : If you heard a shot and had no previous knowledge how could you at once form the conclusion that Mrs Gold had been shot?
Witness : I could not say, but when I heard the pistol fired I knew she had been shot.
Inspector McKenna : What do you mean?
Witness : I knew Mr Snodgrass had shot her.
Inspector McKenna : How did you get your knowledge. Did you hear anything beyond what you have said. Did you hear any conversation between Nurse Gold and Kenneth Snodgrass?
Witness : I knew that they had had many conversations.
Inspector McKenna : Do you think that Mr Snodgrass and Mrs Gold were on unduly intimate terms?
Witness : No; they were friendly, and met as friends.
Inspector McKenna : Did Mr Snodgrass frequently visit Nurse Gold ?
Witness : Oh, yes. On many occasions he came to see her, (he frequently visited her in her room - omitted) and very often I saw that he and she were having afternoon tea together. (The only remarks I heard at the hospital from other nurses about Mrs Gold and Snodgrass was that it was very strange, the intimacy, and that Mr Snodgrass came up there too often. - omitted)
Inspector McKenna : Is it an unusual thing for gentlemen to have afternoon tea with the nurses?
Witness : Not at all. The nurses frequently invite their friends down to tea. We have been allowed the privilege ever since the hospital has been opened.
Inspector McKenna : Was Mr Snodgrass at afternoon tea with Nurse Gold that night - that is on May 31?
Witness : No; his daughter was there.
Inspector McKenna : When you saw them in the room?
Witness : I did not see them.
Inspector McKenna : You heard them and they were friendly?
Witness : I heard them talking together and they were very friendly.
Inspector McKenna : You heard no ill words?
Witness : I did not.
Inspector McKenna : At what time was Nurse Gold relieved?
Witness : At 7 o'clock.
Inspector McKenna : When this occurrence happened, there were three of you in the camp?
Witness : Oh, Miss Snodgrass was not a nurse. She was at the hospital with the matron.
Inspector McKenna : You do not remember any conversation that took place between Mr Snodgrass and Mrs Gold, although you were within a few feet of them?
Witness : I really do not.
(Italics are passages from Nurse Warland's sworn deposition, not mentioned in the newspaper report.)
(View: Fanny Warland's Written Statement )
Archibald McIntyre said: I was a wardsman at the Government Hospital until the end of April, but was there on May 31. I got there about 7 o'clock in the evening, and after talking to the secretary for some time in the office, from there at twenty-five minutes past 7, I went to the back of the matron's sitting-room. While passing it I saw Nurse Warland running towards me. She was very excited, and said to me, 'Run quickly, Mr Snodgrass is shooting at the back of the camp.' I was in doubt which camp she meant, but without waiting for an explanation I ran in the direction from which she had come. While running I heard a revolver shot, and when I reached the back of the camp occupied by Nurse Warland and Nurse Gold I saw a body. The moon was shining on the face, and I saw it was Nurse Gold, who I knew personally. I felt her pulse and found that she was dead. She was dressed in an evening dress composed of some black material. After making sure Nurse Gold was dead I was going for help when I saw another body three or four feet away. I recognised it as the corpse of Mr Snodgrass, who I also knew. I felt his pulse and found that he was dead. I then saw a revolver lying close to his feet on the ground. He was lying on his left side with the head pointing south-east. I then ran to the nurses' dining-room. Several of them were there and they were very excited, because Nurse Warland had told them. I said, 'they are both dead, fetch the doctor.' Shortly after I saw the secretary, who communicated the affair to the coroner and the police. When the police and doctor arrived the bodies were in the same position as when I found them, excepting that in feeling the pulses I might have moved the right arms slightly. I have known Snodgrass by sight for years. He was frequently at the hospital ever since the present matron took charge.
(View: Archibald McIntyre's Written Statement )
Rosa Snodgrass, matron at the Government Hospital, Coolgardie, said deceased, Kenneth Snodgrass, was her cousin. She knew Mrs Gold, who was employed at the hospital as a probationer from January last. Kenneth Snodgrass came to the hospital, but not very frequently. His visits were paid to me and his daughter generally. He has visited Mrs Gold on business. He was at the hospital about 4.30 p.m. on May 31 and asked for permission to see Mrs Gold, as he had some money to give to her. At this time Nurse Gold was employed at Ward 9, but I did not see him go there although I heard him. In a little he returned to me and explained that he had been to see Mrs Gold in connection with some shares. He then said he wanted to speak to his daughter, and I did not see him alive after that. About 7.15 the same evening, in consequence of something I heard, I proceeded to Nurse Gold's quarters, where I saw her lying dead. I did not see my cousin then. I knew Mrs Gold, my cousin and his family were on friendly terms.
The Coroner : Do you know of any case of insanity in your cousin's family?
Witness : He had one brother who is insane.
(View: Rosa Snodgrass's Written Statement )
P.C. Matthew Toohey said: On May 31 I was summoned to the hospital, where I arrived about 8 o'clock. I met Dr McNeil and the secretary (Mr McPhee), who accompanied me to a camp at the eastern end of the hospital ward, where I found two bodies lying on the ground, about 4ft apart, and apparently lifeless. I picked up a five-chambered revolver (produced) about 4ft from the body of Kenneth Snodgrass. It was loaded in two chambers, and contained three empty cartridges, which appeared to have been recently discharged. The body of Kenneth Snodgrass was lying on the left side with the feet 8ft or 9ft from the door of Mrs Gold's camp. The body of Mrs Gold was on the back, between his feet and the camp, her head being towards his feet and her feet 2ft from the door of the camp, almost opposite the door. I then searched the body of Snodgrass, and found letters (produced) and papers and the two photos of Mrs Gold . I found no papers on the body of Elizabeth Gold; but, in her room, in a box, I found a sealed packet containing the papers produced.
(View: PC Toohey's Written Statement )
Ernest James Cochrane, an engineer employed at the Electric Lighting Works, Coolgardie, said: On Tuesday, May 31, I saw deceased Kenneth Snodgrass at the Electric Lighting Company's works on two occasions. On the second, between 2 and 3 o'clock, he said he had been considerably worried by cats the night before, and asked me to lend him a revolver to shoot the cats. I lent him the revolver produced. It was then loaded in five chambers. At this time Snodgrass appeared in his usual condition of mind, but said that he had been very much worried, but he did not assign any cause. I did not notice him to be under the influence of drink, and have not seen him since I lent him the revolver.
(View: Ernest Cochrane's Written Statement )
Sergeant William Charles Sellenger said: On Tuesday night, May 31, I visited the hospital, and in Mrs Gold's box found the letters produced. On Wednesday, June 1, I again visited Mrs Gold's room, and under the bed she had occupied found some pieces of paper which seemed to be from an envelope. (produced.)
(View: Sgt Sellenger's Written Statement )
The Coroner handed the letters and papers produced to the jury for their perusal, and intimated that he saw no necessity for the publication of any of the letters. The jury read the documents and then retired to consider their verdict and took many of the letters with them. In about a quarter of an hour they returned with a verdict 'That Elizabeth Gold came to her death from the effect of two gunshot wounds maliciously inflicted by Kenneth Snodgrass, who subsequently committed suicide by shooting himself with a revolver while temporarily insane.'
The MINER reporter, as the representative of the public, applied to the coroner for permission to see any of the correspondence, but was politely told that there was nothing at all to throw any light on the tragedy. Mr Finnerty said that in one letter which the deceased, Snodgrass, had written, there was an indication that he contemplated ending his life, but, apart from subsequent events, little could be gathered of the vague intimation. Even this communication was withheld from the Press, but we ascertained that the correspondence between the murdered woman and Mr Snodgrass was generally of a business nature. The tenor of the letters showed that they were on very friendly terms and that Kenneth Snodgrass had conducted Mrs Gold's business transactions, and on the death of the late Captain Gold had done his best to realise for the widow any assets that her husband died possessed of.