Downs, George

Downs, George        1879 January 4th            Monckton

An inquest was held at the Infirmary on Thursday morning by Mr G Smith, city coroner, on the body of George Downs, of Monckton, who died under the circumstances set forth below.

The first witness called was Mr James Kelland, house surgeon to the Infirmary, who stated that on Saturday last the deceased was brought to the Infirmary, and from an examination which he made, he saw that he was unable to walk from injuries to the right foot and ankle, which were very much swollen. He found, however, that no bones appeared to be broken. He had a conversation with the deceased, but his answers were unintelligible. He was peculiar; and as the evening progressed the peculiarities increased, and he eventually became delirious. He remained so until Tuesday morning, when he died. On Wednesday witness made a very careful post mortem examination. He first examined the head, and found no fracture of the skull, outside or in; there was no extravasation of blood on the brain to account for death. The other organs were all healthy, which the exception of the lungs and kidneys which were much congested. There were marks of inflammation on the right lung. He attributed death to natural causes.

By a juror : There were sufficient indications of inflammation to the lungs and kidneys to account for death. A fall apparently had nothing to do with it.

The Coroner : He was brought from Monckton. Do you think that bringing a man as he was, from that distance, on a cold night and in an open cart, would accelerate his death? Yes, certainly. He was brought to the Infirmary about 8.30pm.

Thomas Elliott, Monckton, said he worked with deceased on Mr Tink’s farm. On Saturday, the 26th ult., he and deceased were employed putting in a window which had fallen out from a carter’s house. They procured a ladder and deceased was ascending it, when witness saw that it was not against the wall on the right side, and was going around to steady it. Before he could so, however, the ladder slipped and fell to the ground, deceased falling his legs on top of it. The deceased must have fallen about a yard; but he did not complain of any injuries. The carter then put up the ladder, and deceased went and put the window in. He saw him on the following morning at Church, but he did not complain. He worked with him on Monday and he neither complained on that day. On Tuesday he came down to the stable, early in the morning, but did not remain long, he remarking that he had a bad foot. He complained of nothing else and he then went home. He had not seen deceased since until that morning, and he identified the body. Deceased had previously appeared to enjoy very good health, and he had never heard him complain.

George Downs, father of deceased, said he had seen the body, and identified it as that of his son. He was 18 years of age last Sunday, and was under-carter to Mr Tink. Witness did not see the accident, but he heard of it. Deceased was at “plough” on Monday, the 23rd, when he returned at three o’clock and complained of a pain in his foot. He had not complained previously. On Tuesday morning he felt more pain, and this still increasing witness on the following day sent for Dr Van, of Cranbourne. The doctor, however, did not arrive until Thursday, and after an examination of the foot, he advised deceased to go to bed and bathe his feet continually in cold water. He did not see him again till Saturday morning when in the presence of his wife he recommended them to poultice the leg up to the knee. This, however, was not done, and Dr Van went and saw his master and arranged for the deceased to come to the Infirmary that afternoon.

The father further stated that the deceased in the journey from Monckton to Salisbury had a mattress under him, and was covered over with a great coat, three blankets and two rugs. Deceased’s master would have sent him in his carriage, but Dr Van considered it necessary for the leg to be kept straight.

The jury returned a verdict to the effect that the deceased died from natural causes but that death was accelerated by the exposure of the journey from Monckton to Salisbury.

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