Suicide at Orchard Hills Tragedy

Photo of his grave courtesy of “Find a Grave” website.

Arthur Judges the district coroner held an inquest at the Penrith Court House in July 1923 concerning the death of John “Jack” Jones that took place at Orchard Hills. In evidence Dr Day said that John was a patient of his since Christmas last and he last saw him two months ago. He was suffering from pressure palsy of the peroneal nerve but had improved at his last visit. (Hereditary neuropathy with pressure palsies is an inherited condition that causes numbness, tingling and muscle weakness in the limbs. It affects the peripheral nerves which connect your brain and spinal cord to your muscles and cells that detect touch, pain and temperature and it can affect anyone). Dr Day said that John told him that he found his work too much for him and appeared to be worried. At the request of the police on the 27th of June he went to John’s residence and found him lying on the floor in a room at the back of the house with his throat cut. He had severed the large blood vessels of his windpipe and in his right hand was a razor grasped tightly, the injury evidently was self-inflicted and it would cause death in a few seconds. John’s death appeared to have taken place two or three hours before he arrived. Another witness Robert Arthur said he was a miner and a prospector but was no longer able to do much and lived at Orchard Hills with his daughter Vera Jones. On the morning of the 27th his daughter came to his room and said to come quick and look at “Jack” and he got up and went into a spare room at the back of the house and saw his son-in-law lying on his back with his face to one side and blood everywhere. He had a large cut in his neck and he felt his pulse and he was sure that he was dead. Robert said that he had never heard “jack” say that he would take his life. He was a good-tempered man but complained of inward troubles. He was very happy in his home life and very fond of his wife and he had heard him say often that the work was a bit too hard for him but he had to do it. Constable Myers of St Marys said that at 9am on the 27th he saw Mrs Jones the wife of the deceased at St Mary’s Police Station where she told him that her husband had cut his throat. He notified the doctor and went out with Mrs Jones to her residence at Orchard Hills where he saw the body of the deceased lying on his back in a pool of blood with a large gash in the throat. A blood-stained razor was tightly grasped in deceased’s right hand and death had evidently taken place two or three hours earlier as the body was quite cold. Sometime later he was present when Dr Day made an examination of the body and he had difficulty taking the razor from his tightly clenched hand. There was no appearance of a struggle having taken place and from the appearance of the body and surroundings the wound undoubtedly was self-inflicted. Vera Jones (nee: Arthur) the wife of John “Jack” Jones said in her evidence that Jack was born in Ballarat and was 52 years of age, (records show he was born in 1876 in Berrima). His parents were Richard and Maria Jones. Vera said that they were married at Goulburn in 1919 after the war and moved to the Penrith district about three or four years ago (around 1920). She said that her husband had good health until last Christmas but since then he had not been at all well and was under the care of Dr Day and at times during the last few days prior to his death he walked about crying, and a day or two before he said that he wished he was dead. He had a bad leg and said he was not fit for work as it was too hard. On Tuesday night the 26th he went to bed but could not sleep at all and at 7 o’clock next morning got out of bed saying he was going down into the yard. Some little time after she got up and made the discovery of his death. She said that her husband was a man of very temperate habits and they lived very happily together. He was in the first world war during the whole of its duration. His brother allowed him to live on the orchard to help him.  A verdict of suicide was recorded. John is buried at Penrith General Cemetery Anglican section at Kingswood in June 1923. Vera posted the following in the Nepean Times:

 “In sad but loving memory of my dear husband Jack Jones, late of A.I.F who departed this life at Penrith June 27th, 1923, aged 42. Inserted by his loving wife, Vera Jones and little children, Ada and Margaret”.

I have lost my life’s companion,
A life linked with my own,
God alone knows how much I miss him.
As I walk through life alone.

Sources: Nepean Times, Births, Deaths & Marriages online, Ancestry,