Sunday, 5 April 2015

French Sailor Acquitted Over Prostitute Death

A French sailor who was charged with manslaughter after admitting assaulting a woman who later died was cleared when medical evidence showed that she had a condition which could have caused death at any time.

On 16th October 1882 August Forestier, a boatswain on board the Valparaiso which was berthed in Wapping Dock, met with a prostitute named Ann Oliver in Cornhill. They went into the gateway of a warehouse, where they were heard to quarrel at about 10pm. Forestier then punched and kicked Ann, who was soon afterwards found unconscious at the scene and taken to the Southern Hospital.

At 11pm Forestier was stopped by a policeman in the area but a man who had seen the incident did not recognise him and he was released. The following morning Ann died and detectives boarded the Valparaiso, where the watchman confirmed that Forestier had returned to the ship soon after 11pm and said he had kicked a woman who tried to rob him. This led to him being arrested and although he admitted to the officers that he pushed Ann when she tried to steal his watch, he denied kicking her.

At the coroner's inquest on 21st October Dr Davidson from the Southern Hospital said that death was a result of an injury to the brain, which was in a diseased state. Ann had bruises on her face and a  black eye. This led to a verdict of manslaughter and Forestier was committed to trial at the assizes.

When Forestier appeared at the assizes on 20th November a second doctor from the Southern Hospital, Dr Paul, said that Ann was prone to having fits at any moment and he could not be sure her injuries resulted in the one that led to her death. As such, Justice Day directed the jury to acquit Forestier and he was freed from the dock.

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