WORRIED BY TALK ABOUT GIRL'S DEATH.
Major W. T. HIGHET, Deputy Coroner for Egremont, yesterday held an inquest on the body of Robert GILL, of Arlecdon Farm, near Whitehaven. GILL, who was found on Saturday hanging in a barn, was the employer of Sarah CORLETT, the dairymaid whose body was found in a reservoir manhole between her home and Arlecdon Farm, after she had been missing for a month. The inquest on her body was opened last week, and adjourned for a month.
Mr. W. C. SUMNER appeared for the girl's relatives, and Mr. E. W. LIGHTFOOT for GILL's.
Elizabeth CALVERT said that GILL, her brother, was 38 years old. She last saw him alive on Saturday morning, when he told her he was "sick and tired of this scandal and trouble."
Replying to Mr. LIGHTFOOT, Mrs. CALVERT said there had been slanderous reports in the village to the effect that GILL was responsible for the girl's disappearance and death. He strongly asserted his innocence and was very much distressed about the reports.
The DEPUTY CORONER read the following letter, written by GILL to the Coroner: - "Dear Sir, I am enclosing a statement which I have made to the police. You can publish it or not, as you think fit. I swear with death looking me in the face that it is a true and accurate statement of my movements during that time. I am going to end my life and if you will make the verdict at the inquest 'village gossip' you won't be far wrong."
The statement, which was also read by the deputy coroner, gave a detailed account of GILL's movements for several days from October 6 and described his part in the search for the missing girl.
Mr. LIGHTFOOT read a letter written by GILL to his wife, which said: - "The statements which are going about are of course easy to make but bad for me to refute, and the dirty scum of Arlecdon will be satisfied now they have been the cause of the loss of an innocent life."
Police-Sergeant RIDLEY said that when GILL was cut down a wound was found in his throat. There was a blood-stained razor in one of his pockets.
Superintendent MELVILLE of the Whitehaven Police, also read extracts from a letter written by GILL. They were: -
"I am writing to thank you for your courtesy during your examination of my wife and myself in connexion with the poor murdered girl. I intend to take my life. I have been slandered and villified throughout Cumberland for no reason whatever.
"I ask you to keep on your inquiries until you run the guilty person to earth, and so clear my name.
"In regard to the slanderous statements which the CORLETT family have put out concerning me, I can only say there is no word of truth in them."
GILL denied, "with death staring me in the face," that there had been any familiarity between him and the dead girl.
Following evidence by Superintendent MELVILLE that when he visited GILL on Friday night he found two reporters closely closeted with GILL, and that after they had followed the superintendent to Whitehaven they went back, Frederick Noel BYRON, reporter of the Daily Mirror, was called. He said that on Friday night he went with another reporter to make routine inquiries at GILL's farm. When the superintendent left the farm he seemed in a hurry, and they followed him to the police station, returning later to continue their interview with GILL. GILL was very willing to talk and very frank about everything. GILL said he did not resent the police visit, but the local gossip was getting on his nerves. He gave the witness the impression of being an absolutely innocent man.
Answering Superintendent MELVILLE, BYRON said he was practically the last to see GILL. He stayed behind a moment to shake hands.
The jury returned a verdict of "Suicide while temporarily of unsound mind," adding that they considered that GILL's mind became unhinged through dwelling on the rumours which reached him connecting him with the girl's death.