ON THIS DAY – November 2, 1887

At 9.30am on the morning of November 2, 1887, the still breathing body of Jane Sanders was found by James Coghill in his front yard at 59 Cardigan Street. She had terrible injuries including a hole above the right temple where the skull had been crushed inwards and from which a constant stream of blood flowed. Her right cheek was almost separated from the bone, the result of a number of heavy blows and her right arm was covered in blood as she had tried to protect herself.

Jane and her husband had lived in a 2 roomed brick cottage opposite in Cardigan Street. Jane was described as a middle aged woman who was occasionally given to drink but was not immoral! Her husband Frederick William Sanders was described as respectable man of 45 who was subjected to fits of malady when drinking and liable to wander in the mind while under the influence. He was described by neighbours as docile and kind. Frederick was employed as a clerk in a lawyer’s office but all his wages were given to his wife. Jane used to leave Frederick ill alone in the house with no money and no food for long periods of time.

Such an episode occurred on the night before Jane’s murder. At 9.30pm on the night before the murder, a neighbour inquired of Frederick whether his wife was at home. When he replied that she wasn’t, the neighbour told Frederick he would find his wife at the house of John Johnson. Frederick asked another neighbour “do you know where my missus is” to which she replied she didn’t. The neighbour did know but did not want to be involved! Frederick asked for the police to assist him in retrieving his wife from Johnson, but was told they could not assist. Jane at this time was out drinking with the money Johnson had given her for beer. She returned to Johnson’s house under the influence and when Mrs Adams attempted to help her home, Johnson stated that she was a friend of his and she could sleep on the sofa. She was heard speaking in Johnson’s bedroom the following morning. Frederick eventually went to Johnson’s house himself after asking several constables to help him get his wife. Johnson told Frederick that “he would do for him” if he did not return to his own house. Frederick becoming afraid armed himself with an iron bar and paced his house for the rest of the night with no sleep.

Neighbours witnessed Frederick the following morning being calm and not looking dangerous, and on being asked if his wife had returned, stated that “she would never darken my doors again”. Jane was seen staggering home the next morning, as though still intoxicated, at around 8.30am.  When arrested for his wife’s murder, Frederick stated that she had been out all night and when she came home, they had argued and he hit her several times with an iron bar and told her to go back where she came from. Police found the blood stained iron bar under some carpets in the yard and in a bedroom a blood stained towel in the house.  Jane died at 1pm that afternoon of the injuries that had been inflicted by her husband.  Frederick was sent to trial before Justice A’Beckett and was found not guilty by reason of insanity and was sentenced to gaol at the Governor’s pleasure. Evidence during the trial stated that Sanders had frequently been subjected to epileptic fits while in gaol and did not know the difference between right and wrong.