The Golden Rule Axe Attack
The Golden Rule Hotel once stood proudly in Pirie Street, about halfway between Hindmarsh square and East Terrace, on the corner of Pirie Street and Moger lane.
On a Friday night the 3rd of August 1906 The hotel licensee of The Golden Rule, Mr William C Dawes, contacted the metropolitan Police station asking for assistance.
Constable Stuart, was the first to arrive on scene, and upon entering the Hotel was greeted with some colourful language, describing the murder of a man on the Hotel premises. The copnstable was ushered through the hotel to a bedroom a the rear of the premises, where he found John Hasset, aged 35 years old, lying on a bed.
Silting near by the bed, never removing her eyes from her prostrate Husband sat Mrs Ada Hasset (Nee Edge).
It was obvious to the Constable that something nasty had happened to the man on the bed, he had a deep 2 inch cut across his cheekbone, and above his right eye on his forehead was a slash at least 3 inches long, which, even to the medically untrained eye of the Constable, had obviously broken through the skull into the brain.
Ada sat starring, Constable Stuart asked her what had happened, without looking at him she simply replied. “I did it with an axe.” than added” It's in the shed at the back” and pointed the Constable in the direction to find it. Constable Stuart found the axe in the shed, totally covered in blood and gore, hair was stuck in the grooves of where the wooden handle went through the centre of the metal axe blade.
Constable Stuart, arrested Mrs Hasset, and removed her to the Police Watch-house, where on Monday morning she would be taken before the Magistrate.
John Hasset, who surprisingly wasn’t dead, was removed to the Adelaide Hospital by Constable Stuart and Constable Flynn, He was attended by Dr Magarey, who found Mr Hasset had suffered a compound fracture of the skull, and a broken jaw, both of which were inflicted by the heavy axe.
It was not hard for police to discover the motive for the attempted murder, with jealousy being the cause. Mrs Hasset had recently been incarcerated in the Gaol, of which she had just been released recently. When she returned home, she found her Husband had taken another woman in their marital bed.
They began to fight on a daily basis, and the staff of the hotel had long feared it would erupt into violence.
The couple had married just over a year prior, and were married by a Catholic Priest in Mount Barker.
It was determined that Mrs Hasset came into the bedroom as her husband was sleeping, and began to strike him with the axe, when she had finished unloading her fury, she calmly returned the axe to the shed at the back of the premises
The couple had been staying in the hotel for only four days prior to the attack, and both were very well known to Police already. Mrs Hasset just finishing her sentence, and Mr Hasset, a “square-jawed, Lynx -eyed man of sturdy build was well up on the list of known South Australian Burglars.
Mrs Hasset was also at an earlier date, trialled for trying to commit suicide and was known in the city watch-house for her violent outbursts, struggles to resist police and verbal outbursts most unlady like.
Mr Hasset died from his injuries on the Sunday afternoon, two days after his wounds were inflicted. Mrs Hassets charges were upgraded to murder, and she was brought to trial.
It was established during the trial by Detective Fraser who said “he had known the accused for several years. He had prepared a list of her record of convictions. There were 19 convictions against her for drunkenness, seven for using indecent language, four for wilful damage one for loitering, one for riotous behaviour, one for attempting to commit suicide, and one for assault. Most of the seven convictions for indecent language were coupled with the convictions for drunkenness. The record started in 1890, with a committal to the Reformatory as an uncontrollable child. The first Police Court conviction was on July 14, 1892, and the last on June 21,1906. When the accused was sober she was
quiet and well behaved, as far as the witness had observed, but when under the influence of liquor she was very abusive, used foul language, and was of violent temper.”
Dr. Morris, medical officer at the Adelaide Gaol who was also present for the trial stated: “ The accused had been under his notice since August 6, and on previous occasions. He had had conversations with her. She was quiet, coherent, rational, but of a despondent nature, with a tenancy to melancholy. He had seen nothing to indicate that she was otherwise than sane under ordinary conditions”
The Jury deliberated for an hour after all the evidence from Police, Barstaff and locals had been presented, and came to the verdict that Mrs Hasset was Guilty, with a Verdict of Insanity
His Honour said if the jury found that accused was insane at the time that she did the act charged, they would find a special verdict to that effect, and acquit her. The verdict was therefore one of acquittal .As provided under section 331 of the Criminal Law Consolidation Act, he directed that Ada Hassett be confined in the Adelaide Gaol until the pleasure of the Governor should be known.
© 2014 Allen Tiller
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