TRIAL OF DR. WRIGHT, FOR MAN- SLAUGHTER.
Dr Wright was then put to the bar on the charge of negligently causing the death of the late Mr. Wilkins, of the Market-house,
Thebarton, by administering excessive doses of Morphine, without carefully and sufficiently watching the effect. The prisoner pleaded not guilty. The following jury for the trial of the case were sworn. Walter Duffield John Day, Jun.. James Dawson Charles Devonshire James Dunn Edward Edgecombe Thomas Darby John Daniel Robert Christie John Disher Richard Crabb John Dunn. The Advocate-General opened the case by stating the unpleasantness of the nature of the duty, but said they must deal with it as with all other cases. The indictment con- tained two counts, the first for administering violent medicines, and the next for neg- lecting to watch the effects of these medicines, and thereby causing death. Although it might not appear that the quantities of the medicine were more excessive than had been administered in other cases; yet if it should appear that he had not paid sufficient attention, and death had thereby been accelerated, they would be bound to find a verdict against tbe prisoner. He should not go farther into the case, as the facts would be spoken of by the several witnesses, whom he should now proceed to call. Mary Wilkins, widow of the deceased, was first called and examined :—I reside at Thebarton; my husband's name was William Wilkins; he was afflicted with what Dr Wright called a chronic state of lunacy; I sent for Dr Wright on the 18th of January, and be came on the 19th;| this was a Sunday, and he came about 1' o'clock, in the middle of the day ; Dr Wright said, in answer to my question, that it was a chronic state of lunacy, and a very serious case ; Dr Wright on that occasion said, he would attend him every day while he was in Thebarton, free of expense, on account of knowing him so long, but that the medicine would be ex- pensive, about half a guinea a day; he did not, however, attend him again till Tuesday; he also attended him on the Wednesday; those were the only times Dr Wright ever saw him in his sickness; on the Sunday afternoon, I sent my boy for medicine by Dr Wright's order, and the medicine was sent back; my husband died on Thursday, the 23rd of January, about 8 o'clock in the evening; as I sent for the medicine, I sent the money; I sent for medicine on Sunday; two persons named Hall and Doe had my husband in charge, and can speak as to the other times at which medicine was fetched. Cross-examined by Mr Fisher—I only understood from Dr. Wright that he had seen my husband ; I saw Dr Wright late on Tuesday afternoon, and also about mid- day on Wednesday, and he told me on each of these occasions, that he had seen my husband ; my husband had been ill of the same disease about a month; when Dr Wright saw him he was in a house at Thebarton, but not where I was living; Dr Wright ordered him gruel and low food before he gave him medicine on Wednesday; then he ordered him some white wine whey; he had all the nourish- ment his attendants asked for; I never refused them anything they wanted for him; in the interview with Dr Wright on Tuesday, he said he should not at end any more, but he was so extremely tipsy that I did not attend to him; I sent one of the attendants to follow him to his house, and he returned the medicine by the bearer, taking the money for it; I sent after this (I think on Tuesday) to Dr Nash, who would not attend ; l sent by Lemon Doe; my husband had been in a bad state of health for some time, which was the reason I sent for Dr Wright; I sent to Dr Wright's house the money for medicine ; he was to supply it, being paid for it as it was delivered ; every time I sent for medicine, I sent the money to pay for it. By the Judge—Some of the medicine
came from Dr Wright's house, but the last medicine the Dr prescribed came from the chemists. On the Tuesday the doc- tor had asked for £2 10s., and would not tell what for; in the state in which he was, I did not choose to give it to him ; it was then he said he would not attend again ; but I sent the attendant after him with £1 to pay for what was wanted; I understood that his son mixed the medicine; I thought he would be more com- posed when he got home, and that he or oun of his sons would attend to the case. Elias Hall, Thebarton, had charge of deceased at first in the country; brought him in on the 18th of January; after that day he was under the charge of Dr Wright, who first came to see him on Sunday, at 12 o'clock; I was present; he felt his head, and said, "I am sure I can cure him"; it is a very severe case of chronic lunacy, but, in seven days from this, he will be either in perfect health or a dead man; I said, in that case I must have the authority of Mrs Wilkins before I dare administer medicine; he then left; the other man, Lemon Doe, brought me twelve pills on Sunday afternoon ; I gave the pills, one every hour, agreeably to the direction on the box; the first was given in the course of the evening, and the last on Monday at noon ; at that time I ex- pected to see Dr Wright; I had no con- versation with Dr Wright about the pills, except that he said, if he and Mrs Wil- kins agreed, the first thing he should give would be pills; no medicine was given on Monday after the pills; Dr Wright did not come 0n that day; all that day Mr Wilkins was strapped in a close stool, till at 3 o'clock, being ex- hausted, and the Doctor not coming, I removed him to the bed; I received no medicines ou that day ; on Tuesday, we began to be very uneasy, and, in the forenoon, Lemon Doe left me to look for Dr Wright; I left my nephew in charge, and went to Mrs Wilkins to express un- easiness ; I then went to Dr Nash, who refused; in the afternoon Dr Wright came, perhaps about 2 o'clock; no medicine had been administered since the pills ; I expressed surprise at his not coming; he examined Mr Wilkins, said it was all right, and said there would be six pow- ders to fetch from his house; Lemon Doe left me to go for them; he brought three powders : they were given towards night, every two hours; the last was at two or three o'clock in the morning; I continued to give meal gruel as ordered by Dr Wright, whom I did not see again till after 12 o'clock on Wednesday; Mr Crawford was with him; he brought a bottle which was to be administered to Mr Wilkins; nothing was said of there being only three powders; the bottle was opened, and he said, we must get two thirds of it into him if we possibly could ; the patient had about that quan- tity ; the rest was spilt in giving it, ex- cept a drop at the bottom which was thrown out as of no use; Dr Wright and Mr Crawford assisted in giving it; it took three to do it, this was Dr. Wright's last visit; in the evening, Mr Crawford brought another bottle; Dr Wright said more would be sent, as it was to be re- peated till the patient was in a dead sleep; on this phial were written directions ; we gave two table spoonsfull every hour till 10 or 11 o'clock, when Dr Wright's son, Charles, came down with Mr Crawford; it was on the label that the repetition of the medicine was ordered until the pa- tient was in a dead sleep. The Judge thought he ought not to hear, of this medicine till it was proved that it came from Dr Wright. The Advocate-General would prove this by the next witness. Examination continued—After Mr Wright came we commenced giving two table-spoons every two hours, instead of every hour; we continued giving it so till three o'clock on Thursday morning, when the bottle was finished; still, the patient was not in a dead sleep; a little noise disturbed him, but he slept heavily at times ; at six o'clock in the morning he woke for the last time, from a noise made by a child in the street; he jumped up in a fright, crying out—" Oh, Mr Hall, my children are all on fire—do save them!" As soon as I had composed him a little, I gave him a few more spoons ful of gruel, and he went to sleep again ; another bottle of medicine was sent for, and came down on the Thursday after, but was not used. Mr Fisher objected to the witness saying what became of this bottle. Examination continued—After this time Wilkins began to sleep more soundly, and snored very hard at intervals of about half an-hour; the snoring commenced at about twelve o'clock on Thursday; neither Dr Wright nor his son came that day; I was easy, as I thought the sleep was what the Dr wished; but at four or five o'clock he began to foam; at eight, he died, but the foaming continued; he seemed like a person convulsed, and I thought he was so; about an hour or so before his death, we sent, in alarm, to Dr Mayo, but he did not arrive till five minutes after his death; the foaming increased to the time of his death. Cross-examined—l brought Wilkins into town because he was getting too strong for me; I was knocked up and exhausted; he required strapping down; Dr Wright had said he wished him to sleep for forty-eight hours, and that the medicine was to pro- duce this effect; he did not sleep twenty- four hours altogether before he slept his last; I was not disturbed by him after din- ner on Thursday; the first bottle of medi- cine produced no effect; he was not asleep between that and the second; he slept a little on Wednesday night; he was dozing when Mr Charles Wright came; he slept about three hours in the night of Wednesday; from Thursday morning till the evening, he slept; we endea- voured to pour gruel into him but could not do so; I endeavoured to wake him, but could not; he was never sensible after waking in a fright on Thursday morning; it was on Tuesday evening that Lemon Doe brought the three powders; I have been examined before the Coroner (depo- sition shewn to him); that is my hand- writing. (In the examination before the Coroner, witness stated that Dr Wright's
orders were, to give two pills at the com- mencement, and one every two hours) ; I should sooner take that as being correct, as it was more fresh than in my recollection. (The witness had also stated before the Coroner that the powders had been spoken of by Dr Wright on the Sunday); they might have been first mentioned by him then. (Before the Coroner he said the Doctor ordered one-third of the bottle): I feel convinced that two-thirds were what was given: Mr Crawford was present and can perhaps bear me out: I think there were written directions with the powders; the cottage in which Wilkins was, had two rooms; there was a bedstead, but he slept upon a mattress on the floor; Dr Wright saw him three times; on the Sunday, the Tuesday, and the Wednesday. (Before the Coroner he said "more than three times"); there is a mistake in the writing of that de- position ; after the two-thirds of the bottle were given Willkins he was not sick to the time of his death, nor was his bowels opera- ted on; he had been severely purged before by the pills; I am not aware of my own knowledge that Dr Wright refused to attend. William Paxton, chemist, Hindley-street —I occasionally prepare prescriptions under the direction of the prisoner; on Wednesday the 22nd of January, at three o'clock, he came into my dispensary with Mr Crawford; he said he wanted some me- dicine for Mr Wilkins; he asked my young man (Mr Slatter) for a four-ounce bottle ; ordered eight grains of morphine. I do not recollect whether the acetate or hydro- chlorate, and camphor mixture and aether; I think two drams of the latter; I can only speak positively to the quantity of morphine; the Doctor at that time was excited with liquor; I asked him to write it down, which he attempted to do, but could not make the chemical sign for the quantity of morphine, or of camphor mixture; Mr Slatter immediately made up according to his verbal directions; previous to his taking it out of the shop he went out for a short time; Mr Crawford went out also and shortly returned with him. He then took the medicine, and went away with Mr Crawford in the cart; he re- quested me to take payment from Mr Crawford before the medicine went away; this I did: he did not give any direction to be put on the bottle, nor did he say what was to be given. I told Mr Craw- ford and Dr Wright that I could not take 12s. 6d. for the medicine: I could not take more than 5s,: that was the proper price: Mr Crawford insisted on paying 12s. 6d., as he had brought up 50s. from Mrs Wilkins for Dr. Wright; 12s. 6d. was paid. About an hour and a-half or two hours after, Mr Crawford drove the Doc- tor to my door again: Dr Wright was so drunk I was obliged to assist him off the cart; he came into the shop, and said they had lost a portion of the medicine in ad- ministering it, and he wanted another bottle double the size, that is 16 grs. in an 8 oz. bottle; I hesitated for some time about letting him have it: I spoke to him, saying he was drunk, and asking him if he knew what he was about: he made use of some very low expressions, and asked what that was to me—l had nothing to do with it—he wanted to send the patient to sleep for eight and forty hours, and if he killed him he was responsible, and not I. I ad- vised with Mr Slatter on the subject, and the medicine was, by my permission, made up: Mr Slatter wrote the directions on the label from Dr Wright's dictation. lIn consequence of what Dr Wright had said, I had a conversation with Mr Crawford: Dr Wright was there, but might not have heard it. The Judge.—This is very much in Dr Wright's favour, as it tends to show that the case was taken out of Dr Wright's hands. Any caution from the chemist to Mr Crawford is in favour of the Doctor. You take away the control from him, and relieve him from the criminal respon- sibility. The Advocate-General.—So far as it goes it was still under the prescription. May the witness repeat the conversation ? Mr Fisher.—l have no objection. The Judge.—lt must have come out in cross-examination. Examination continued. - I told him to be very cautious, as it was a very power- ful medicine ; he had better not give more than Dr Wright had originally prescribed —that is, if he gave any at all but that, I should advise him to give him none; but to take the Doctor home, get him to bed, and see him in three or four hours, when he might be more himself, or, if they per- sisted in giving it, to give it according to Dr Wright's original orders. The Judge.—This mediciue was never given. The Advocate General. —Oh yes; this was the last; all of it was given. Examination continued.—l was not present when any more of the medicine was given; the two bottles I saw con- tained, together, twenty-four grains of morphine; there is no difference in the power of the acetate and the hydrochlo- rate of morphine; the latter is usually preferred; but one is often substituted for the other. Cross-examined. — The Doctor pre- scribed acetate ; I saw Slatter weigh the whole, and can positively speak to the quantity of morphine. Medical gentle- men, I believe, charge more for medicine than chemists do. I have known Dr Wright for four years; I have always had a good opinion of his skill, and have heard him highly spoken of; he is gene- rally called in any severe case; I know nothing of his skill in cases of insanity ; I did not know him in England. By the Court.—I think the original quantity prescribed might have been safely given. Edward James Frederick Crawford, brewer, Hindmarsh.—Knew the deceased. On Wednesday, the 22nd January, I went at three o'clock, by Mrs Wilkins's re- quest, to Doctor Wright's house, with £2 10s., which she had given me, as she said Dr Wright would not attend till that was paid; I saw the Doctor, and partly by persuasion, and partly by one means or another, I got him to attend; I pro- mised to take him to Mr Paxton's, and
over to Thebarlon, and to drive him back ; I had to wait a long time to see him ; at Mr Paxton's we got a small bottle of me- diciue ; I put it in my pocket, and drove the Doctor to the house where Wilkins was confined; the Doctor ordered one- fourth (two table-spoonsful) to be given every hour; he tried to give him one dose himself, but Wilkins, having taken it into his mouth, spit it over the Doctor; the second portion was spilt, but he got a part of the third, and a part of the fourth ; in all, from a fourth to a third ; it is impos- sible to be quite sure, so much was scat- tered about; I think the Doctor adminis- tered the whole ; I was present, the two keepers, and Dr Wright all the time; I cannot speak positively to the hour; we were about ten or fifteen minutes giving the medicine ; the Doctor had to coax and use persuasion to get him to take it ; on this bottle there was no label ; the doc. told the keepers he must have it punctu- ally—two table-spoonsfuls every hour, and he expected it would throw him into a forty-eight hours' sleep; the doctor said he must get more medicine at Mr Pax- ton's, to replace what was lost of the first; I should explain that while the first medi- cine was mixing, the doctor had gone into Hornsby's public-house to drink; I went and fetched him out; Dr Wright got some wine at Mrs Wilkins's, as he called on our return to town, so that, while the second medicine was preparing, I consider that he was tipsy; he ordered the medicine with a written label of which Mr Charles Wright afterwards got possession ; I took Mr Adams with me to Mrs Wilkins's, and explained to her what Mr Paxton had said, and we agreed to give it according to the directions of Dr Wright, when so- ber ; I gave the medicine to the keepers with such instructions: I went at Mr Pax- ton's suggestion to Dr Wright's, in two or three hours after I had taken him home, hoping to find him more sober, as I thought the effect of this powerful medi- cine should be watched ; the doctor was talking in such a way, that we felt sure he must be still drunk; by Mr Ashton's ad- vice, I took young Mr Wright down, and paid him 10s. 6d; I was present when he saw Wilkins; there was no written direc- tion on the first bottle, but Dr Wright gave it verbally when we first went down ; the label on the second was not regarded, but the same dose given as Dr Wright had ordered when sober; Mr C. Wright took the label away. Mr John Slater confirmed the testi- mony of Mr Paxton. Lemon Doe corroborated the evidence of Hall, the other keeper, and stated that twice when he saw Dr Wright at his own house he had refused to attend to the case. Mr Ashton, Governor of the Gaol—had heard Dr Wright offer to attend Wilkins gratuitously, if the medicine were paid for : he had said he should endeavour to make him sleep for forty-eight hours, and then there would be a chance of his recovery. James George Nash, Colonial Surgeon— described minutely the appearance of the body on the post mortem examination, and considered death to have been occasioned by an over-dose of morphine: he considered two grains of this medicine a very large dose, and one which if repeated ought to be closely watched in its effect upon the sys- tem : would not himself administer it with- out seeing the patient between every dose ; to do so would be very bad medical practice. Independently of the evidence he had heard, he should have said that the deceased had died of morphine: he had seen its effects, and he had also discovered its presence in the stomach by the test of nitric acid: he considered Wilkins's death to have been the result of medical neglect combined with the medicine administered, for if a medical man had watched the case, the effect even of an over-dose of morphine might have been counteracted. He had heard Dr Wright spoken of highly as a physician, and had heard that he had been the resident apothe- cary at Bethlehem Hospital. Were he a chemist, he would not supply a dangerous medicine to a physician who was intoxicated. William Wyatt, Esq., was examined at some length. He had joined the last wit- ness in the post mortem examination, and in all the main points agreed with him. He thought the morphine discovered in the stomach of the deceased had been adminis- tered within the last twenty-four hours, and would have been sufficient to occasion death : he had known large doses of opium adminis- tered with success: had himself had a patient sleep for twenty-four hours, but had been careful to rouse him every three or four hours: in that case 16 grs. of opium had been given every six hours, and had pro- duced good effect. Concerning Dr Wright, he had heard of him much as Dr Nash had done : he thought as he did about a chemist supplying an intoxicated physician, although practice gave the former little power to object. This closed the case for the prosecution. Mr F'isher (it being now seven o'clock) requested the Court to grant an adjourn- ment till the next day. He should have many medical witnesses; the defence would occupy many hours, and, from his great ex- ertions through the week, he felt that he could not do justice to the importance of the case. The Court then adjourned. Dr Wright appeared ill —rather pale, but by no means out of spirits. His friends speak confidently of his acquittal. D'Auhigxy REPRiMANnto.—Monsieur Guizot has undertaken to order Captain ttruat to reprimand M. D'Atn igny, for his conduct to Pritchard. '1 he solemnity, will, vc ui;dersiaud, be performed in the following manner:—Braa? will be 6eated at a table with bottles and glasses before him. He will tbeu order D'Aubigny to be brought into his presence. Bruat will then rise, and with great sternne&s addres ses the prisoner thus: " M. D'Aubignv, it is my painful duty to severely reprimand yot?~-and you are reprimanded accord ingly (IVAub;sny' <""« ). New, comrade sit down (poshes the bottles). Chateaux Margaux or Lafitte ?—D'Aubigny : La fiite. Bruat (filling); " TrinruonsJ ala gloirede France f And, uu'ii a lalo hour in ?he evening, D'Aubigny couUuues to be reprimanded.— Punch.