On Wednesday afternoon, April 3, an inquest was held at Gawler, before Mr. T.O. Jones, J.P., and a respectable jury of 13, of whom Mr. E. Lane was foreman, to enquire
into the circumstances attending the death of Mrs. Catherine Lawson, widow of the late Captain Lawson, of Gawler, who drowned herself that morning. The following evidence was taken:—Henry Nilsmore, son of George Nilsmore, of Gawler, said he saw something in the river that morning, and told Tom Lawson and his brother that it was their mother. She was floating in the water with her face downward. Thomas Lawson, age fifteen, son of deceased, said, his mother went to bed well enough on Tuesday night. She had a bottle of colonial wine, and drank it before going to bed. In the night he and his brother were awoke up by a noise his mother made. When they got up and struck a light and found their mother nearly strangled by a piece of braid she had tied tightly around her throat, they untied it, when she said she would choke herself. After which she told them to go to sleep. She was in bed. She appeared quiet, and they went to sleep. When they got up about 7 o'clock in the morning they found their mother not in the house, and went to enquire after her. Some time after young Nilsmore told them that their mother was in the river. They went down and found her in the water floating, and then ran for the police. Mrs. Parker, wife of John Parker, of Gawler, said she knew deceased four years. She drank often, and sometimes was drunk. She came to her house last evening and said that people were after her to murder her, and seemed not right in her mind all day. She was not drunk, but had been drinking Police-trooper Thomas, in charge of the Gawler Station, said—Thomas Lawson came to the Station about 10 o'clock that morning, saying his mother was drowned in the river, and asked for assistance. He went down with Sergeant Woodcock and P.C. Murphy, and saw the deceased floating in about four feet of water, face downwards. Went in and caught her by the hair, and with P.C. Murphy got her out, and found her quite dead, with blood and water flowing from her mouth. Some of her hair was several inches down her throat. He got a cart and had the body conveyed to her residence, about 300 or 400 yards away from where she was found. The water was over six feet deep nearer the side of the river, and he believed she went in the deep water first, and so drowned herself. Dr. Englehart, of Gawler, said he was called to see deceased when she was lying on the bank of the river. She was dead, and
had been so for a couple of hours at least. Her tongue was protruding and jammed between her teeth, which caused the blood and water to flow from her mouth. Mr. R. L. Grundy deposed that he knew the deceased for over twelve years. She was confined to the Lunatic Asylum about six years ago for three or four months. She drank occasionally, which excited her much, as her mental powers were weakened by disease. She once before, some years ago, and after she came out of the Asylum, threatened to drown herself while excited. The Coroner summed up, and the jury returned:— "That the deceased, Catherine Lawson, drowned herself while under temporary insanity, brought on through the influence of drink."