01/09/1917 - INQUES STILL THROWS NO LIGHT ON TRAGEDY
Eddie Dornan’s Testimony Best Story Told of Affair
Asselstine Flatly Contradicted on Important points
Despite the fact that a dozen witnesses were given a grilling cross-examination for over three hours, very little new light was thrown on the MacRobbie tragedy, when the inquest was resumed by coroner McNichol in The Central Police Station last night. A feature of the probe was the straightforward testimony of Eddie Dornan, the proprietor of the Royal Oak Hotel, who, it transpired, may we been the first to see Dr. MacRobbie. Although Asselstine at the previous hearing had stated that he had gotten no blood on his hands, Mr. Dornan was positive that his hands were stained when he moved the doctor’s head in order that he could see who it was. He then recognized Dr. MacRobbie.
Herbert Dornan, a brother, was quite positive that all four men, who had visited the hotel several times during the day, had been drinking something stronger than two percent. When they came back later in the evening, the witness stated, this was quite evident, but although he was sure they were not sober, he would not say they were drunk. All appeared, however, to be on friendly terms with each other.
Mrs. Baker stuck firmly to her story, that she had heard screams emanating from the Oil Company, as she passed shortly after eleven o’clock, on her way home from a visit to her sister. Her 13-year-old son proved a bright witness and substantiated his mother’s statements in this respect.
Asselstine still continued his evasiveness, and very little new evidence was brought out when he was recalled. He denied absolutely the allegation of Eddie Dornan that he had been drinking anything stronger that local option beer that day.
Benjamin Fowler’s evidence did not bring out anything new, and Crown Attorney Washington, had occasion to urge him on more than one occasion to be more explicit and definite in his answers.
Harry Bell was recalled, and several questions were pulled to him, but he could show no further light on the affair.
The three prisoners occupied their old places in the dock and watched the proceedings with interest. Mrs. MacRobbie was also an interested spectator, but was not recalled to testify.
At the request of the prisoner’s counsel, the inquest was adjourned until tonight. There are still a number of witnesses to be examined, while the medical testimony and the report of the Dominion police on the finger prints found on the bloodstained piece of moulding is yet to be received. It is doubtful, if the Crown will be able to conclude it this evening.
The proceedings were somewhat delayed by a temporary break in the electric light system. There was a scurrying for candles and burglar lanterns, and the enquiry proceeded for a time in a subdued light.
SAW MRS. SMITH
Mrs. Harry Blackwell, 137 Cannon street west, when called, said she saw Dr. MacRobbie at the Oil Company’s place about 11 o’clock in the morning. She also saw Mrs. Smith in the office about 7:30.
“Was the building lighted up?” asked Crown Attorney Washington.
“Did you see any men about the building?”
“No, I didn’t.”
She could not tell, in answer to C. W. Bell, whether the doctor was drunk or sober, when he came out. He seemed to have trouble in opening the door.
“What did Mrs. Smith appear to be doing?” asked Mr. Bell.
“She was writing or something.”
Clarence Dilke, 201 York street, said he knew MacRobbie well, his office being at one time next door to him.
“Did you see him on Sunday night, August 19th?”
“Yes, he came in the side entrance. My mother opened the door and gave him a bottle of Gold Crown lager. The clock struck 8 o’clock just as the doctor left.”
HEARD MUFFLED SCREAM
Mrs. William Baker, 37 Barton Street east, between John and Catherine streets, was paying a visit to the home of her sister on Sunday night. Her sister lives on inch bury street. Mrs. Baker was in company with her oldest son, George, a boy of 13 years. She and the boy, according to her statement, left the home of her sister at 10:50. They came down York to Hess street. Just as they were in front of the Crescent Oil building, she and the boy heard a muffled scream, which seemed to come from the front of the building. Cross-examined, she said she could not locate the scream exactly, and could not tell whether it came from the office or not. Her statement went on as follows:
“We had passed the window in the downstairs office, on the west side of the building, when we heard the scream. I naturally looked back and noticed this window, from which a light was proceeding as much as could be allowed from under some six inches of the blind, which was down. At a passing glance, I discerned what I took to be a figure – the shoulders of a man or woman, I could not say which – with white clothing on it. It might have been imagination. What I saw was only a passing glance. Then we passed on.”
The witness also saw an auto standing on the street between the alley and the store on the corner. There were two men standing beside it, she affirmed, and they appeared to be fixing it. Two women and a child were sitting on the sidewalk beside the car. She observed them at the time she heard it. At least, they made no motion. She was not close enough to observe their features, and could not identify any of the party. She and her son walked on without paying any attention to the noise. The street was dark and she was only with her son. In answer to the counsel’s query, she said that the building appeared to be lighted up. She and her son, as they passed by the office, were attracted by the sound of music farther down the street, at a house where some people were playing lively and loud tunes. Nobody else apparently had heard a scream. She and her son went on home, and she said nothing further about it, as everyone else was in bed when they arrived there. Next morning she mentioned the affair to her neighbor, Mrs. Obermeyer, and shortly afterwards heard of the murder. In the time between that when she arrived home and until she spoke of it to Mrs. Obermeyer, she had said nothing of it to anyone.
ALSO HEARD A SCREAM
George Baker, the young son of Mrs. Baker, stated that he was with his mother that Sunday night.
“Did you hear the noise coming from the Oil Co. office?” asked the Crown.
“Yes, I heard a muffled scream.”
“Did you speak to your mother about it?” asked Mr. O’Relly.
“No, not until the next night,” answered the boy. “When mother said:
“There was a murder down there.”
“Did you hear any music?”
HELPED FIX CAR
“Yes, down near Bay street.”
Clarence I. Scott 107 Caroline north, in answer to Mr. Washington, said he was a tinsmith and knew Asselstine slightly. He saw the latter working on a car and came over to see what he was doing.
“Who was in the car when you got there?”
“Two women, a little girl, the man himself and Asselstine.”
“What time was it when you came away?”
“About half-past eleven.”
“Have you any means of telling the time?”
“No, I haven’t. it was about 12 o’clock when I got home. I think it took about a half hour to repair the car.”
He stated that he did not know the three men, Smith, McAuliffe and Scott personally, although he knew McAuliffe to see him. Asselstine, he stated, asked him to run the car standing on the opposite side of the street into the alley. He did not know whose car it was.”
“Were the car’s light burning?”
“Asselstine told us they weren’t and that was why he wanted it taken off the street,” observed the Crown Attorney. Witness later saw Dornan and Hinds who asked for McAuliffe went to his home.
“Did you hear any other noises?”
“Yes, I heard a commotion outside.”
“Can you give a description of the men driving the car?”
“No, I couldn’t he seemed about 33 years of age, and had a smooth face.”
MACROBIE WAS SOBER
Ernest Theobald, 46 York street, was called early in the proceedings, but did not appear until some time after wards. He was one of the last to see Dr. MacRobbie alive. He stated that he saw the deceased about noon on Sunday going up Railway street. He spoke to him and said “Good morning, doctor,” and the doctor replied in the usual way. The deceased was going east at the time, and was in good condition, and perfectly sober as far as the witness could see. That was the last he saw of him. He was quite a friend of the doctor.
REBURKED BY CROWN
Benjamin Fowler, 267 King street west, an employee of the oil company, said that the first he knew of the affair was when Harry Bell drove up to his home about 1 o’clock on Monday morning, with another man, in an auto. He was roused by Bell and asked if there was a fire. Bell’s reply was, “Come down to the office; a man is hurt.”
Crown Attorney Washington – Didn’t it occur to you to ask who the man was or anything else about the nature of the accident?
Witness – No, not at the time. I was busy dressing. But I did when I got into the car.
“What did he tell you?”
“He told me that it was Dr. MacRobbie. Then I said have you got a doctor, and he told me that they had one.”
On arriving at the office, he (Fowler) and Bell went upstairs, where they saw Dr. Langs working over a body, and McAuliffe some distance from him. Witness said that he woke Smith up, also McAuliffe, but that it took considerable effort. Smith and the other he took into the bathroom and gave them some cold water to sober them up. As soon as Smith came to he became sick. Fowler said that he then shook Smith and said, “Wake up; a man is hurt. What’s happened here?” Smith mumbled something like, “Where am I?” and then said, in answer to the witness question, “I don’t know.” He then told Smith that Dr. MacRobbie was hurt, not knowing that he was dead at the time. All that he could get out of Smith was, “I don’t know.” Then he helped Smith downstairs. His condition was such that he had to half carry him. McAuliffe was in a similar condition. After seeing Smith in the alley safely, he returned to the office upstairs. The witness stated that he saw no whiskey bottles anywhere around in any of the rooms where he was. McAuliffe was where he had left him. The doctor and Mr. Bell had by this time phoned for the ambulance and the police. Smith had gone home when the police arrived, but the witness had no idea who took him there or how he got there. The next he saw of him was when the police brought him back. He was quite sober then. The witness was here warned that he must be frank. He said that he had not touched the body or anything about the room but the two men. He did not see Scott anywhere around, and stayed there until about 4 o’clock, when the body was taken away. In this conversation with Smith, later, the witness stated that Smith had professed ignorance of anything. He left after everyone else and the other witnesses had been taken away by the police.
Questioned by M. J. O’Relly, Fowler said that he had never been to Smith’s farm on the mountain, but he knew where it was. Smith had two farms. Fowler had been in the employ of the oil company for fourteen years.
ASSELSTINE’S HAND COVERED WITH BLOOD
Edward Dornan, the proprietor of the Royal Oak Hotel, at the corner of Bay and Cannon streets, was an important witness, and his evidence helped by its frank straightforwardness. He saw Dr. MacRobbie and the other three men quite often on Sunday, the 19th. He knew Dr. MacRobbie quite well, though he had never been to his home and was quite intimate with the other three. Early Sunday morning, Dornan said he saw Scott, and the deceased. They came to the hotel and had beer. MacRobbie left, and Scott remained for some time, till about noon, when Smith and McAuliffe joined him. They left five or ten minutes later, after having another drink or beer. The witness said that all were perfectly sober at the time, and that he could smell no liquor on any of them, unless it were beer, and it was no liquor. He did not see any of them drunk at any time of the day. All three turned up about 3 o’clock again, and stayed for some time, with more beer and cigars. Then all left, McAuliffe and Scott turning up again about 6:30, and were later joined by Smith. They were all in good spirits and, witness said, perfectly sober. He hadn’t seen the doctor again that day. The men had an auto the last time they were at the hotel, and said they were going to Smith’s farm. They drove up Bay street. He did not see them again until at the Oil Co. Monday morning. He went to the Beach and rode home in an auto about 11 o’clock. He was going down York street, and met Mr. Hines, who was talking to a friend. They stood on the corner and saw an auto drive up to the Oil Co. Then Dornan said to Hines: “That must be the fellows coming back from the farm.” He suggested that they go and try to get McAuliffe to go home.
Mr. Washington: “Then you expected to find McAuliffe drunk?”
Dornan: “More or less.”
They walked over to the Oil Co., and found Asselstine, the watchman, outside with the car. The other men had gone. Dornan asked Asselstine where the others were. Asselstine said “They’re upstairs, dead drunk.” Dornan waited a minute, then he and Hines started upstairs after Asselstine, and passed him on the stairs. Up there they found the three men asleep, and drunk. Seeing the body, Dornan went over and saw MacRobbie lying with his head on what appeared to be a number of valves. Asselstine had appeared by this time, and he turned to him and said, “Is this a man hurt?” Asselstine then went over and, on his knees, slipped a hand under the man’s head, turning the face to Dornan, said as he did so, “My God, the man has been hurt!” Dornan recognized Dr. MacRobbie. The head was laid back in its former position by the watch man, and it dropped intrely. Then Dornan rushed downstairs to phone for Bell, and to get ice. When he got to the street, he saw Bell.
Crown Attorney Washington: “Then you were the first person to see the body?”
Witness: “I suppose so. I do not know.”