Oct 28, 1884 Kent County Lunatic Asylum at Barming
THE ASSIZES. SOUTHEASTERN CIRCUIT. At Maidstone yesterday, before Mr. Justice Manisty, Peter Ewens was charged with the manslaughter of George Majnard Dunster, in the West Kent County Lunatic Asylum at Barmmg. ' The prisoner was one of. the atUnd - antsin the asylum, whose particular duty was to look after the ward in which epileptic patients were confined. It was his duty to visit the patients every half - hour, and to report to another attendant ; also to record his presence in the ward by pressing a knob connected with a telltale clock every quarter "of o hour. There were 46 epileptic patients and 15 not suffering from epilepsy in the ward. On the night of October 10 last the prisoner was on duty in this ward, and his presence was recorded by the clock every quarter of an hour from 8 p.m. till 1 a.m. Then there was no record till 1 40 a.m. In the wrd was the patient Dunster, who had a fit at 10 20 p.m., and after the man had recovered from this the prisoner reported the ward as "All right " every hour until he went off duty at 6 a.m. When the attendant who relieved the prisoner came on duty he found that Dunster wss dead. The medical evidence was to the effect thst Dunster died of suffocation while suffering from an epileptic fit, he having turned over on his face, and it seems that the prisoner had thocght Dunster was merely asleep all the time. The prisoner had to look after 45 epileptic patients, uisny of whom had two or three fits in tne course of a night. On the production of the written report in the book, which wss kept by the 'attendant to whom the prisoner had to report verbally every hour, there appeared " Asleep " or " Awake " every alternate hour against every patient's name, and it transpired. that it was the custom to record this for every patient in a ward which was verbally reported ' All right,'1 whether ; the patients bad been asleep or awake. The contention for the prosecution was that Dunster died .because of the prisoner's neglect of duty in not turning him over on to his back while suffering from a fit. Mr. liaxgravo Deane appeared fcr the prosecution ; the prisoner was not defended. At! the end of the caie for the prosecution the jury stopped the case, saying that there was no evidence of any act of negligence causing the death, and therefore Acquitted the prisoner.