A FOGGY NIGHT IN <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:placename w:st="on">CARDIFF</st1:placename> <st1:placetype w:st="on">TOWN</st1:placetype></st1:place>
f for you were now to try and trace the dark ribbon of the Glamorganshire canal that once wound its tortuous path down from the busy town of Merthyr, through the City of Cardiff, and out into the cold waters of the Bristol channel, you would find that it is buried, both in memory and concrete.
In 1901, the year the <st1:placename w:st="on">Australian</st1:placename> <st1:placetype w:st="on">Commonwealth</st1:placetype> was formed, Queen <st1:state w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Victoria</st1:place></st1:state> died and Marconi sent the first radio message in Morse, the Glamorganshire canal was still a living thriving waterway.
Sadly, like many waterways, then as now, it too played its blameless role in mankind’s unending saga of violence and death.
The setting for the somewhat seamy early Edwardian melodrama that we are about to investigate was, and still is, a suburban area of <st1:city w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Cardiff</st1:place></st1:city> known as Black Weir. The principal stage is the bank of the canal close to <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:placename w:st="on">Cardiff</st1:placename> <st1:placetype w:st="on">Castle</st1:placetype></st1:place>. The main players are two soldiers, some citizens, and a part time lady of the night.
The first act begins at about 1.30 p.m. on the afternoon of November the 5th, when the woman, 38 year old Bridget Millward, walked out of the Cardiff Union Workhouse, where she had been an irregular inmate ever since she had parted from her husband six years earlier.
In character she was perhaps typical of the harsh times in which she lived and is reputed to have been, when sober, of a pleasant disposition, but when drunk, inclined to be abusive and at times, violent.
Physically, Bridget was a large woman, strong enough it was claimed, to be able to do a man's work. On at least one occasion, when returning to the workhouse after have imbibed a little too liberally, she turned violent and it had taken the combined strength of four people to subdue her.
Her moral reputation was also somewhat flawed. Though not believed to be an out and out “woman of ill fame”, she was at least a well known figure in the less respectable hotels and pubs, and had gained the reputation of being a “good time girl”. She had, not surprisingly, come to the notice of the police from time to time, who were reported to have been of the opinion that, although she could not be considered as a regular or professional prostitute, she would occasionally sell her “favours”, should the financial need arise.
In looks, Bridget could lay no claim to being of great beauty. In addition to her size and strength, she had a speech impediment, the result of being born with a cleft palate, her nose was twisted due to being severely broken at some time, she had a lip deformity, and she wore ill fitting dentures.
This speech impediment become more significant as the story unfolds.
As darkness fell and a thick, gently swirling blanket of fog clamped itself down over the city, the two other principal characters set forth for a night on the town.
Patrick Regan and John Sullivan were both recently recruited militiamen in B Company of the third battalion, The Welsh Regiment, stationed in <st1:city w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Cardiff</st1:place></st1:city>. Regan, who came from Aberavon was twenty, Sullivan, who hailed from Ebbw Vale; twenty two. Both were ex miners, were undergoing basic training, and both had been allowed an evening pass that required them to be back in barracks by midnight. They should have had the company of another young soldier called <st1:city w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Lowell</st1:place></st1:city>, who had also been given a pass, but for reasons best known to himself, he decided that on that evening he would not to take advantage of it.
Passing through the gates, in uniform, wearing their caps and carrying canes, their greatcoats buttoned up to against the chill, they disappeared, swallowed up in the fog, Free, if only for one evening, from the harsh discipline the two young men went, as young and even not so young men will, in search of liquid refreshment, and hopefully, understanding and compliant feminine companionship.
By 8.30 p.m., this search had led them to the Friendship Hotel in Bute Terrace, where whilst drinking with a group of other soldiers, they met, and struck up a conversation with Bridget Millward.
One hour later, around 9 p.m., Bridget, in the company of two soldiers, left the Hotel. Before leaving, she deposited a parcel containing her afternoon purchases with the barmaid, Emily Jones. Emily, when questioned, remembered that Bridget had left with two soldiers, but couldn't remember who from among the group with whom Bridget had been drinking. Emily also stated that all the time Bridget had been there, she had been a model of good behaviour.
From this point on the story, despite being filled by walk-on-walk-off characters, becomes as ethereal as the fog that blanketed the City.
An hour or so passed after Bridget and her escorts had left the Friendship Hotel before Bridget Millward was spotted again, this time by a Police Constable Fudge. Fudge had been standing outside the Glove and Shears public house at around ten o'clock when a women he recognised as Bridget Millward, and two soldiers, whom he later identified as Regan and Sullivan, came out of the pub and faded away into the fog, going as a threesome down North road in the direction of Black Weir.
A few minutes later the three people; two soldiers and a woman were seen again by a groom, John Virander, who was on his way home to where he lived at 28, <st1:street w:st="on"><st1:address w:st="on">Wellington Street</st1:address></st1:street>. At this point, the trio was just past the intersection with Corbbett road, and alongside the lowest section of the canal wall that bordered <st1:street w:st="on"><st1:address w:st="on">North Road</st1:address></st1:street>. According to Virander, the two soldiers were trying, in the face of determined resistance by the woman, to force her over the wall and onto the towpath.
Whether Virander’s sudden appearance, looming as he did out of the fog alarmed them, or whether the woman’s struggles proved too violent, can only be a matter of conjecture, but for whatever the reason, the two soldiers, dragging the woman along with them, fled into the fog, going back in the direction of Corbbet Road.
They were seen again within a few minutes at the entrance to <st1:street w:st="on"><st1:address w:st="on">Corbbet Road</st1:address></st1:street> by two telegram delivery boys, George Shellum and Frederick Thomas. Both boys claimed that the woman, who was struggling to get away and swearing and shouting, was being held by one of the soldiers. Shellum also said that he heard the other soldier say to the woman. "Come a little further and you can have a glass of beer".
No one will never know if Bridget was in anyway tempted by this offer as her shouts had brought the gallant groom Virander, galloping from the other side of North road to the top of Corbbet Road, to investigate.
On arrival Virander, who later identified both men, saw, or at least claimed to have seen, Regan standing behind Bridget and holding her arms, whilst the other soldier, Sullivan, appeared to have pulled her clothing aside and was engaged in sexual intercourse with her.
Virander testified that he grabbed hold of the somewhat occupied Sullivan and pulled him off the woman, at which point, Regan, without letting go, ran off down <st1:street w:st="on"><st1:address w:st="on">Corbbet Road</st1:address></st1:street> dragging Bridget with him, closely followed by Sullivan, whom, Virander had by this time released.
This story was partly corroborated by the two telegram boys, who would only go as far as to say that they saw the groom go up to, and speak to the two soldiers.
Virander, then claims that he chased after the two soldiers and their captive and eventually caught up with them, at which point, Sullivan took of his belt and threatened Virander, saying "I'll let you have some of this belt if you don't go away" (It's likely, if Virander’s heroic chase actually happened, that this is a Bowdlerised version and Sullivan's words were probably slightly more basic in content).
According to Virander, he replied 'that he didn't want to fight and get himself into trouble'. The result of this obvious backing down on Virander’s part was that Sullivan grabbed hold of the woman’s arm, and, quickly followed by Regan, walked away with her back in the direction of Black Weir.
Later, Virander claimed that it had been Regan that had threatened him, however by that time, due to the efforts of Regan's and Sullivan's solicitor, the celebrated Mr Harold Lloyd, Virander had been largely discredited as a reliable witness. It transpired that the groom had been dishonourably discharged from the Army for desertion, and had served a term of imprisonment in a military prison for this offence.
The testimony of the two telegram boys confirmed that there was an exchange of words between the three men, even if initially Sullivan and Regan denied being anywhere near Black Weir that night, or that they had any contact with Bridget Millward.
However, when this denial proved to be patently untrue, they changed their story and claimed that Virander had told them that he was a plain clothes policeman, and threatened them that unless they gave him money, he would arrest them both for immoral behaviour.
Whatever the truth, Virander, who by the time was not looking quite so much like the courageous upright citizen as he may have hoped, understandably denied this accusation; admitting to have impersonated a policeman would have landed him in the next cell to two accused men.
Civic minded citizen or petty blackmailer, the reference to immoral behaviour contained in the accusation both Regan and Sullivan levelled at Virander amounted in no small part to an admission that their intentions towards Bridget Millward were sexual by nature, and go some way towards corroborating Virander’s story that the woman was being forced into intercourse with Sullivan.
Virander however was not the last person to see Bridget Millward alive. At around 10.15, the three were seen again twice in <st1:street w:st="on"><st1:address w:st="on">North Road</st1:address></st1:street>.
The first encounter was by a Mrs Annie Hall, who stumbled out of the fog to come face to face with two soldiers, one of whom was holding a drunken swearing woman by the bodice. Mrs Hall hurried past, but not before she heard the women say that 'she was not a prostitute even though she was drunk'.
A few minutes later, a Miss Annie Walross, who was also coming down <st1:street w:st="on"><st1:address w:st="on">North Road</st1:address></st1:street> on her way home to <st1:street w:st="on"><st1:address w:st="on">Templeton Court</st1:address></st1:street>, came across the same little trio. Miss Walross testified that the two soldiers still appeared to be holding the woman, and that she heard her ask them to leave her alone. Both of these two women noticed a peculiarity in the woman's speech. They both later identified Sullivan and Regan as the soldiers, and Bridget Millwood from a description of the clothes she had been wearing.
When questioned, Annie Hall, Annie Walross and John Virander all agreed that in their opinion, Bridget could have got away with very little difficulty had she chosen to do so.
This is quite possibly true, but then she was very drunk and, even if not prepared to sell her favours at that time, most certainly well used to, and able to cope with, sexual harassment. In this context, it's most unlikely that she believed her life to be in any great danger.
What most people would probably ask is why, at this point, did Regan and Sullivan continue. With all the comings and goings, people popping up like jack-in-the-boxes out of the fog, and Virander making a nuisance of himself, why didn’t the two soldiers bin their hopes of a night of fairly soggy passion, and gone back to camp.
Evidence from the last person known to have seen the trio places Sullivan, Regan and Millward, at around 10.30 p.m. back at Black Weir, close to a bridge that at that time crossed the canal from <st1:street w:st="on"><st1:address w:st="on">North Road</st1:address></st1:street> to a place called Templetons Farm. Living in a house close to this bridge was a County Court Bailiff, Thomas Evans.
Evans stated that at approximately 10.30, he heard what sounded to him like a woman's scream and went to his door to investigate, but the fog was too thick for him to see clearly. From his doorstep, he heard the sound of a woman singing, quickly followed by a bout of swearing. He also noted that there was something odd about the woman’s voice.
It was about this time we are told; that Regan, perhaps worried about the way things were going, decided to leave. Apparently Sullivan asked him to stay, a request that Regan refused, causing a short argument.
Bailiff Evans stated that during the time he had stood on his doorstep peering into the murk, a lone soldier appeared briefly out of the fog and began to walk back towards the city. A few minutes later this same soldier reappeared, heading in the direction of the army barracks. A short time afterwards another soldier and a woman materialised, crossed the road in front of Evans and were swallowed up by the night. Evans said that, as far as he could tell, they appeared to be on friendly terms.
For the next forty to forty five minutes John Sullivan and Bridget Millward were out of sight and sound of the World, their actions shrouded by the unrelenting blanket of mist.
Standing next to the <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:placename w:st="on">Mission</st1:placename> <st1:placetype w:st="on">Church</st1:placetype></st1:place> on <st1:street w:st="on"><st1:address w:st="on">North Road</st1:address></st1:street> was the house of an artist, Edgar Thomas. At the far end of Thomas’ garden was a thick stone wall separating his garden from the canal towpath. At around 11.15p.m., Thomas was in his garden (why he was there at that time of night was never explained, unless of course he was on his way to or from the privy) when heard a woman’s voice coming from somewhere on the other side of his wall. In the artist’s own words the woman was ‘using extremely filthy and bad language’. Thomas also noted that the woman appeared to have had a speech impediment. He claims then to have heard the words ‘drown myself’ the rest of the sentence apparently being unintelligible.
Although it was common knowledge that after darkness fell the canal bank was often frequented by women plying the oldest profession, Thomas claimed that he then called out asking if anything was the matter; this being followed by a short silence before a man’s voice said ‘Go on or the policeman will be here’.
At about this point, Edgar Thomas began to think to himself that maybe the presence of the police might be a good idea and left his property to go in search of a policeman.
Unable to find one (some things never change), he returned home a short while later, by which time the only sound to be heard from the towpath was the muted murmur of the water lapping against the canal bank.
Not a lot had changed when dawn broke over <st1:city w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Cardiff</st1:place></st1:city> on the morning of the 6th of November, the fog still hung stubbornly over the City and the advent of daylight did little more than add a dull yellow glow to the murk.
On the Glamorganshire canal, the daily passage of vessels cut their unhindered rippling paths through the dark waters, until a steam barge driven by Thomas George of Gabaltha drifted slowly to a halt with a fouled propeller. On investigating, George found that the propeller was fouled by some water logged clothing, inside the clothing was the dead body of a woman.
Once in the mortuary, the dead woman was quickly identified as being Bridget Millward, late of the Cardiff Union workhouse. A subsequent medical examination, not undertaken until twenty four hours later revealed no obvious signs of violence.
In contradiction, two boatmen, John Burge and Noah Francis came forward to say that whilst walking the towpath they had come across the obvious signs of a recent struggle, and had recovered several hairpins, from the path, as well as a set of dentures which they had discovered lying in a patch of mud. The hairpins and the dentures were believed to have belonged to Bridget Millward.
Either on the same or the following day, Thursday the 7th, both Police Constable Fudge, and the groom John Virander, came forward to say they had seen the Bridget Millward on Tuesday, the night of her death, in the company of two soldiers. As a result, on Thursday afternoon, Fudge and Virander, in the company of Police Detective Gretton and Police Sergeant Francis, visited the barracks of the 3rd Battalion, the Welsh Regiment.
After Gretton had explained the purpose of their visit to Major Lucas, the Battalion’s adjutant, he ordered a general parade of all the soldiers who were on the post at the time. After quick inspection by PC Fudge and John Virander, militiamen John Sullivan and Patrick Regan were identified from among the ranks of soldiers, as the two men seen in the company of Bridget Millward on the night of November the 5th. *
Although uncorroborated, Regan is purported, on seeing Virander, to have said to the man next to him ‘that’s the bloke who threatened my mate’. When the parade was dismissed, both Regan and Sullivan were already under arrest on suspicion of murder.
It is at this point we leave the victim, who ceased to have any major role to play or any real importance when, with a momentary splash, she disappeared beneath the cold waters of the Glamorganshire canal. The stage is now set for the drum roll of justice, that dispassionate world of accusation and denial, where innocence and guilt are proven, as much by impassioned speeches by counsel, as by the evidence that is placed before the Judge and jury.
At the inquest into the death of Bridget Millward, the witnesses, whose tales have already been recounted, each told their story. At its close, the coroner brought in an open verdict. Bridget Millward was simply “Found Drowned”. The coroner then added that the circumstances in which she came to drown where highly suspicious. He acknowledged that in her reputed intoxicated condition she could have lost her footing and fallen into the canal. There was also, if one took into account the artist, Edgar Thomas’ testimony, the possibility that she could have purposely taken her own life. However there was enough evidence not to rule out the possibility of murder and Regan and Sullivan should remain in custody pending a magistrates hearing.
When the magistrates hearing was convened, each of the witnesses told the same dismal story as they had at the inquest , except that this time, under cross examination by Mr. Harold Lloyd, the solicitor retained by both the accused, the validity of Virander’s testimony, as well as his character, was called into question. There was also one new witness, Corporal MacDonald, who had been corporal of the guard on the night of the 5th November. MacDonald told the court that Regan had returned to the barracks that night at 10.40 p.m. (this tied in fairly neatly with the time that County Court Bailiff Thomas Evans stated he had seen one of the soldiers walking towards the barracks), and had gone straight to his billet. According to the Corporal, Regan’s appearance was perfectly normal, other than the fact that he had lost his cane.
In the case of Sullivan, MacDonald recorded him returning to camp a few minute before midnight. This was fairly consistent with Edgar Thomas’ statement that he had heard Sullivan’s, if it was Sullivan, voice on the towpath at around 11.15 p.m. Macdonald noticed that Sullivan’s boots were muddy and that he had lost both his hat and cane, but otherwise there were no marks or stains on his uniform or greatcoat.
In his book ‘Murder, Mystery and Mirth’, Regan and Sullivan’s solicitor, Harold Lloyd, included a chapter on the case entitled ‘The Black Weir Mystery’. In his account of the investigation into the death of Bridget Millwood, Lloyd states that the two soldiers told him that they had both lost their canes and Sullivan his cap, during a fight with some young miners in a pub located some distance from where the unfortunate woman died. This is the same story it is claimed that both men gave Macdonald as an excuse for losing their equipment. According to Lloyd, after five days search he found incontestable proof that such a fight had occurred and that he had recovered Sullivan’s cap from a little girl who had found it two miles from Black Weir, close to the scene of the alleged fight.
Lloyd also claimed to have a number of surprise witnesses whom he was going to produce at the hearing to confound the prosecution and corroborate Regan and Sullivan’s alibi. However, before Lloyd could perform this trick, the prosecution produced a surprise witness of their own; Regan and Sullivan’s billet mate and friend, Militiaman Lurwell, who had decided not to go out with them the night in question.
Lurwell told the court the reason he hadn’t attended the inquest on the 8th of November was because he hadn’t known it was taking place. He had also not come forward earlier because he had been unsure of what to do about the knowledge he had concerning the case.
Lurwell’s story went as follows. Lurwell claimed he was still up and dressed when Sullivan came in. Although, as was customary, lights out was at 10 p.m., Lurwell had been in another billet talking, and by the time Sullivan arrived everyone else in his billet, including Regan, was fast asleep.
In the glow from the stove, Lurwell saw Sullivan go over to Regan’s bed, and sitting down on it wake the sleeping man. Lurwell, whose own bed was next to Sullivan’s then went over to join them. Sullivan asked Lurwell ‘Haven’t you been out tonight?’ to which Lurwell replied ‘No, I could not get out tonight’. The newly woken Regan is then said to have asked Sullivan ‘Did you get any money out of her?’ and when Sullivan replied ‘No’. Regan added ‘I had two shillings out of her that she gave me for beer and I came back and said that I’d lost it – then I sold her watch for two shillings and I spent that.’ (this reference to a watch was not pursued as the prosecution admitted that there was no evidence to suggest that Bridget Millward had a watch in her possession on the night she met her death). Lurwell stated that in reply Sullivan said ‘Never mind, I chucked her in the canal, and had a narrow escape myself, my hands went in the water’.
If true, Lurwell’s testimony appeared highly damaging to Sullivan, nor was much in the way of a character reference for Regan. However, as the defence was quick to point out, the only person who could corroborate Lurwell’s evidence was Regan, who, being in the dock as a murder suspect along with Sullivan, would be most unlikely to do so.
In his account of the magistrates hearing, Harold Lloyd states that, deciding not to produce his surprise witnesses that would have placed both men elsewhere on the night in question, he moved for immediate dismissal of the charge against Regan as the testimony of MacDonald, Evans and Lurwell all placed Regan in the barracks at the time the alleged murder took place.
Why Lloyd decided not to call his witnesses, and thus attempt to exonerate both men at the same time, Harold Lloyd does not bother to explain, nor does it seem to have ever concerned him that, had these ‘witnesses’ been called, which, if justice was to be served they should have been, the magistrate would have probably released both men and saved everyone a lot of time and expense.
However, despite Lloyd’s claim, it was not he, but Mr. David, the solicitor prosecuting the case on behalf of the Treasury, who told the magistrate that whilst the prosecution considered Regan’s behaviour to be highly reprehensible, it would have no objection to him being discharged. The stipendiary Magistrate agreed that the proof of innocence in Regan’s case outweighed any proof of guilt, but said that Regan should nevertheless remain in the dock until the hearing was concluded.
When both the defence and the prosecution declined to call Regan to the stand, on the Magistrates orders, the case against Patrick Regan was dropped and he was discharged. As for John Sullivan, the Magistrates hearing found a primae facie case against him and he was committed to prison to await trail at the next assizes for the wilful murder of Bridget Millward.
Why Lloyd, Sullivan’s defending solicitor, missed the opportunity to clear his client’s name by questioning Regan regarding the alleged fight, especially if this questioning was backed up by the testimony of the supposedly ever patient uncalled surprise witnesses, Lloyd fails to mention.
John Sullivan stood trial before Mr. Justice Kennedy at the Spring Assizes held in <st1:city w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Cardiff</st1:place></st1:city> during March 1902. The prosecution had retained the famous barrister of his day, Mr. Benjamin Francis Williams K.C. Either as a counter to the heavyweight prosecution counsel, or because, as he rightly judged, it would create a drama in which the role of justice would become a side issue, for the defence, Sullivan’s solicitor, Harold Lloyd, gave the brief to St. John Francis Williams, the son of the eminent K.C.
Sullivan, his face impassive, was brought into the dock wearing his red army uniform, almost a spectator in a courtroom farce that appears to have had little to do with determining one man’s guilt or innocence in the death of another human being.
The course of the trial was a stormy one with counsels for the prosecution and defence, famous father and ambitious son using the courtroom as an arena for a gladiatorial contest of emotive eloquence and scathing ridicule.
Once again the witnesses for the prosecution trotted out their stories, each of them undergoing a searching cross examination by the Younger barrister, determined if at all possible to be victorious in the face of his father’s skill and experience. Along with Virander, who again suffering from having his past misdeeds paraded in open court and must have wished he had never heard of Bridget Millward, the principal target for Williams the Younger was ex (the 3rd Militia Battalion having been disbanded) Militiaman Lurwell, by that time living in Canton.
The defence immediately attacked Lurwell, suggesting to him that his statement concerning Sullivan and Regan’s late night barrack room conversation was a tissue of lies, fabricated by Lurwell in revenge as Lurwell had believed and previously accused Sullivan of stealing tobacco from him. Lurwell vehemently denied this suggestion, claiming that at the time of Bridget Millward’s death he and Sullivan were the best of friends. Whatever the truth about the relationship between him and Sullivan and the supposedly stolen tobacco, and even accepting that human nature can be unfathomable and perverse, for Lurwell to try and get a man hung in revenge for such a small slight does appear to be a little excessive.
When, after Lurwell had been released by the defence, the prosecution counsel, Mr. Williams the Elder announced that the case for the prosecution was closed, the legal infighting appears on the surface to have become fiercer.
According to the account of Mr. Harold Lloyd, the defence solicitor, the defence counsel argued that the prosecution case could not be closed until the most important witness of all, Patrick Regan had been called.
According to Lloyd, the prosecution rejected this suggestion outright until instructed by the Judge to call Regan to the stand. The defence, Lloyd and Williams the Younger were stated to be overjoyed in having forced the prosecution to call the main defence witness to prove the prosecution’s case against Sullivan. Of course, Williams the Elder, knew that having called Regan for the prosecution it would be disastrous for his case if he treated Regan as a hostile witness and accordingly after Regan, who was also wearing uniform, had taken the oath, he, in Lloyd’s words ‘astounded the court’ by announcing that he did not intend to question the witness.
The prosecution, having thus denied itself the right to an examination in chief, as well as the right of a hostile re-examination following Regan’s testimony, handed the witness over to the defence.
In Lloyd’s account, and remembering that he was still supposed to have these ‘surprise’ witnesses proving that Regan and Sullivan were involved in a fight a good distance away from where Bridget Millward died, Williams the Younger began by producing the cap that Lloyd had been found and given to Lloyd by the little girl. Examining the cap, Regan identified it as being Sullivan’s from the regimental number written on the inside of the rim. Regan then described the fight outside the public house and totally denied that the conversation alleged by Lurwell had ever taken place.
Lloyd tells us that following a few other minor questions by the prosecution on points requiring clarification, that he in consultation with the defence counsel decided not to call witnesses to corroborate Regan’s story, nor as was expected to call the accused, Sullivan, to the stand. In effect, between them they had decided not to make the case for the defence considering that this had been done quite sufficiently by the last defence turned unwanted prosecution witness, Patrick Regan. As a result the defence moved for dismissal on the grounds that there was no case to answer.
A more impartial account, whilst reaching the same point offers a somewhat contradictory story. Rather than it being Mr. St John Francis Williams who argued that Regan should be called by the prosecution it was the Judge, Mr. Justice Kennedy who had brought up this point and that reluctantly, but in accordance with the Judge’s wishes, Williams the Elder called Regan but refused to question him.
Where the contradiction between Lloyd’s account and this one comes in, is that Regan made no denial of him and Sullivan being with Bridget Millward that November night, but said, as had already been corroborated, that following the approach of the man he thought was a detective (Virander), he had started back to the barracks alone at around 10.30 p.m. Regan did, as previously stated, refute the midnight conversation between himself, Sullivan and Lurwell, saying he had gone straight to bed and not woken up until morning reveille.
The case against John Sullivan for the wilful murder of Bridget Millward closed with a whimper. Following the defence’s move for dismissal, the jury, with the Judge’s permission and without leaving the court held a brief consultation. When the foreman of the jury rose to his feet he announced that it was the opinion of them all that they had insufficient evidence to form a verdict.
In the legal battle, Williams the Younger had defeated Williams the Elder. Harold Lloyd, who had held his ‘surprise’ witnesses forever in the background, was perhaps relieved that they remained so. John Sullivan, the last man to see Bridget Millwood alive walked, proved neither innocent or guilty, from the court in the company of his friend Patrick Regan, a free man.
The woman known as Bridget Millward passed into history, buried in a paupers grave, as mean and unjust as the life she had lived.
How she died is now, if still a mystery, as it was then, of little importance.
She was, after all was said and done, just a woman
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