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Newspaper Page Text
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POISON-PEN ILLUSTRATES THE PERIL OP
BY MARY BOYLE O'REILLY.
London, England A poison-pen
case has just startled England into a
realization of the untrustworthiness
of circumstantial evidence and of
handwriting evidence. Prom April 28
to May 9 anonymous and malicious
letters fairly raineti into a house at
Brunswick Place, Hove. The occu
pants were CoL Gardiner, an elderly
army man living alone", and his ten
ant, Mrs. Woodward,! who occupied
the ground floor.
Col. Charles Henry Gardiner, re
tired, a well-preserved, man of 70, has
lived in Hove for several years. He
is highly respected, and the author of
several books. Mrs. Woodward is liv
ing apart from her husband with her
little daughter.l The only other person
in the house, except the servants,
was Miss Kathleen O'Brien, the
Miss O'Brien is a pretty-girl of
22 with blue eyes and yellow hair.
The daughter of a naval officer who
died 18 years ago, she lived until re
cently with her widowed mother at
Plymouth. There Mrs. Woodward met
and engaged 'the gently-mannered
girL Some weeks later Mis& OlBrien
became ill and went home to recuper
ate, returning' in March.
Two weeks later the anonymous
letters began to arrive. Their char
acter prevents publication. libellous
and salacious, they grew threatening.
The first, addressed to the unhappy-
Miss O'Brien had better be advised
IN CAESAR'S DAY
They say 2,000 years ago
(How fast the time has flown!)
That elevators just like ours
In ancient Rome were known.
It would have made ourliearts rejoice
And filled with joy our cup
Could we have heard old Caesar shout
to leave Brighton. Notice of her char
acter, thieving, drunkenness and oth
er vilenesses has been sent to her
friends in Brighton and Hove.
Other letters followed, all vile in
character, many of them pushed be
neath the door of the flat or left on
the hall floor. v
That fact focused the suspicions
of the police on Col. Gardiner. Inves
tigation indicated that several cir
cumstances pointed to his guilt. The
Colonel exhibited a fixed antipathy
toward Miss O'Brien. On the advice
of postoffice inspectors Miss O'Brien
wrote the suspected man a trap let
ter: Col. Gardiner. Sir: Surely Miss
O'Brien is not living in your house.
Should not Mrs. Woodward be in
formed she is a demi-mondaine?
That letter, posted in the presence
of a detective inspector, was answer
ed within six hours by a communica
tion which referred to Miss O'Brien
as a demi-mondaine. On a warrant
sworn by the governess, Col. Gardin
er was taken into custody charged
with maliciously publishing a defam
Circumstantial evidence and hand
writing evidence were against him.
Col. Gardner came into court for
sentence. Instead he heard such a
Jekyll and Hyde story as modern
science cannot explain.
The prosecutor rose) to express
deepest regret that he should have
been instrumental in persecuting an
"I hold in my hand;" acknowledged
the solicitor, "a letter similar in char
acter to the poison-pen letters in this
case. Yet the letter I hold was writ
ten at Brussells in June, 1909, writ
ten, gentlemen, by , Miss Kathleen
O'Brien to herself. I call upon Dr.
Nethersole Fletcher to testify."
"This, unfortunate girl was my pa-
'tieht-fof some-months, declared2
"Hold-on -there! Goinarmi"
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