MARY ANN COTTON. 1832-1873.
                Mary Ann Cotton.. The Evidence.. Execution.. Hartlepool History Team.. Illustrations. Newspaper & Public Comments.. Mary Ann Cotton.. The Evidence.. Execution.. Hartlepool History Team.. Illustrations. Newspaper & Public Comments..

During Mary Ann Cotton’s trial at Durham Assizes, the Prosecution Barrister, Charles Russell was asked specifically if the prosecution could establish fully, that Mary Ann Cotton had in her possession arsenic. Astonishingly he had to admit to the below comment:

“On that point I may tell you that at some point in time of July 1872 after the inquest on the corpse of Charles Edward Cotton, a search was made of the prisoner’s house and anything having a bearing on recently being used for culinary or food purposes or other domestic uses was taken by the police and submitted to a rigorous and proper examination. The results of that examination on those items, failed to indicate any evidence of (arsenic) the matters we are debating here today, and do by their manner fail to implicate the prisoner here at the bar today.”

It should also be noted, that I have established through research, that Police Sergeant Tom Hutchinson, requested persons who knew Mary Ann Cotton personally, to attend a viewing of the utensils used in her home. Several neighbours identified two teapots, which were seen to be used frequently. The prosecution deemed it essential to prove that arsenic was administered to Mary Ann Cotton’s family, in the guise of tea. Both teapots were analysed and no traces of arsenic whatsoever were found. You the reader will also remember what the Prosecution Forensic Scientist, Thomas Scattergood stated in his transcript.

“he himself if rinsing arsenic from a vessel had great difficulty in fully removing its traces.”  He also stated earlier, that he “would find it hard to consider that Mary Ann Cotton could rinse kitchen utensils that had been used to contain arsenic, and fully remove its traces and tell tale signs.”

We therefore have only one alternative, either Mary Ann Cotton could remove traces of arsenic from kitchen utensils (which Scattergood could not achieve) or that Mary Ann Cotton threw away those items used to poison her family. However all of those suspected vessels were completely accounted for and analysed as my comments state above.

     Copyright. I. Smyth. Herdman 2000 & 2023

I do agree that the evidence from this case is mainly of a circumstantial matter and as such, circumstantial in nature.

Copyright. I.S.Herdman 2000 & 2012

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