Oscar Slater – Trial (Podcast)

Welcome back to Random Scottish History’s true crime project, Glasgow’s Square Mile Murders. We’re on to the 2nd part of our fourth, and last, case. That of Oscar Slater for the murder of Miss Marion Gilchrist. The authorities having gone to New York in order to secure our protagonist’s extradition, didn’t seem to be operating with much in the way of evidence against him. We’ll see how the trial goes for him. Let’s get into it, shall we?

Aberdeen Press and Journal, Tuesday 4th May, 1909, p.6.







   Only twice during the past half-century has there been a tragedy in Scotland which has attracted such great attention as the murder of Miss Marion Gilchrist in her house at 15 Queens’ Terrace, West Princes Street, Glasgow, on the evening of 21st December last, for which Oscar Slater is being tried this week at the High Court of Justiciary, Edinburgh. Miss Gilchrist was 82 years of age, of independent means, and was killed during the ten minutes’ absence of her servant, her head being reduced to pulp by repeated blows. Acting on the clue that a man with a twisted nose was seen hurrying from the direction of the house on the night of the murder, the police instituted extradition proceedings in New York against Oscar Slater, the case creating the utmost interest in both hemispheres. At a certain stage in the proceedings, Slater waived formalities and agreed to return to Scotland to stand his trial.

   The High Court was densely packed yesterday, chiefly by pressmen and the legal fraternity. The case for the Crown is being conducted by the Lord Advocate, Mr Ure, K.C., M.P. Mr Alexander McClure, K.C., Sheriff of Argyll, is defending the accused. Ninety-eight witnesses have been cited for the Crown.

   The sixty-nine productions in court included a carpenter’s screw brace, to which adhered a quantity of grey hair.

   Slater who was pale and anxious-looking, entered the dock about half-past ten, and scanned the jurymen as they came forward. The charge of murder was read by the clerk, who stated to Lord Guthrie that the prisoner pleaded not guilty.

   Mrs Walker, formerly domestic servant, with Miss Gilchrist, said in talking with people she found it was known that there was a good deal of jewellery in the house. Miss Gilchrist told her she had arranged with a neighbour – Mrs Adams, downstairs – to knock on the floor if she required help. She was afraid of the house being broken into, but never afraid of personal injury.

   In cross-examination, witness said she had heard rumours that Miss Gilchrist was a resetter [someone who takes in and redistributes stolen items]. She was not. She also heard she was the mother of Mary Lambie, her servant, and of Slater himself.

   A house agent in Glasgow said he had let a house at 69 St George’s Road for eighteen months from November last to Anderson, a dentist. This house is from a quarter to half a mile from Miss Gilchrist’s house. He identified Slater as Anderson.

   A house-furnisher said Anderson bought £178 worth of furniture form him on the hire system for the house at St George’s Road. He identified the prisoner as Anderson.

   Jacob Jackson, general warehouseman, said five or six weeks before the murder, a man offered to sell him a half-hoop ring of five diamonds. From his speech, he saw that the man was a German, and he spoke to him in that language. The man said he was hard up. Witness offered him a job, which he refused. He identified the prisoner as the man.

   Francis Pratt, a constable, said that a week before the murder he saw Slater at half-past nine at night standing at the corner of St George’s Road, eighty yards from Miss Gilchrist’s house. He had frequently seen him loitering about. Witness passed Miss Gilchrist’s house at ten minutes to seven on the night of the murder. The night was rainy, and he observed nothing unusual. He passed again twenty minutes later, and in consequence of a statement by a gentleman he went to Miss Gilchrist’s house. He found her body on the hearth with her head battered. She moved one hand after he went in. They then went for an ambulance. The body was not moved till the detectives came.

   Mrs McHaffie, who lived opposite Miss Gilchrist, said that for some weeks before the murder she saw a man loitering about the neighbourhood of her house. She identified the man’s portrait in an evening newspaper, and then identified Slater in prison. He used to slouch along with his hands in his pockets. He seemed to notice witness watching him, and quickly bent down his head.

   In cross-examination, witness said the man wore a shower-proof, not a waterproof like the one now exhibited. He had checked trousers and light-coloured spats. He used to walk up and down looking about him for half-an-hour in the afternoons. She suspected that he was not after anything good. She did not observe if he had a twisted nose. When she identified Slater in the Police Office, there was no man but him with a foreign appearance.

   Madge McHaffie, niece of the previous witness, said she noticed a man about her aunt’s house two weeks prior to the murder. He had a shuffling walk.

   Cross-examined – She wondered what he was doing there. There was no other man than the prisoner in the police office when she was taken there to identify him. She never saw a man with a twisted nose.

   Re-examined – She told her aunt she had met a peculiar-looking man on their stair. Her aunt said he had been there before.

   Replying to the court, witness said the prisoner was like the man, but she could not swear.

   Detective French, who has the reputation of being a clever criminal officer, said he had charge of the arrangements under which certain witnesses were to identify the prisoner if they could. These arrangements secured that the identification would be fair. Eleven men, including two railwaymen and two with peculiar noses, were in the group. The McHaffies identified the prisoner; so did Constable Brien. On 2nd January he went to the prisoner’s house, St George’s Road, and found two German women in the house. In a passage opposite there was a window from which the room could be seen where the murder was committed.

   Cross-examined – No foreigners were placed side-by-side with the prisoner when identifying. They followed the usual practice. It would be difficult to find someone with a nose exactly like Slater’s. Glasgow, if not mad, was very sensational over the case. He had heard that people had been at the house last fortnight tearing up the floors and throwing uncut diamonds into the street.

   A constable identified the prisoner as having been seen in the locality of the murder, and spoke to having found an auger in the vicinity.

   Helen Lambie, a domestic servant to Miss Gilchrist for two years before the murder, stated that shortly after 7 o’clock on the night of the murder she was returning from an errand, and as she opened the front door she saw a man coming out of Miss Gilchrist’s bedroom. She afterwards found Miss Gilchrist murdered. She went along with detectives and others to New York and identified Slater as the man she saw in the house.

   The further hearing was adjourned till to-day.

Greenock Telegraph and Clyde Shipping Gazette, Tuesday 4th May, 1909, p.4.







   Immense public interest was taken in the trial at Edinburgh yesterday – before Lord Guthrie and a jury – of Oscar Slater, on a charge of murdering Miss Marion Gilchrist, eighty-two years of age, at Queen’s Terrace, Glasgow, on 21st December last.


   Helen Lambie, domestic servant, 3 Nelson’s Land, Main Street, Holytown, said she had been in the service of Miss Gilchrist for about three years and two months before the date of the murder. Miss Gilchrist and witness were the only occupants of the house, which was one of six apartments and a kitchen. Miss Gilchrist had not many visitors, the most frequent being a Mrs Ferguson, an old servant. Miss Gilchrist always slept alone. She had a great many jewels, and kept them in the wardrobe in her bedroom. She wore jewels every day. At the entrance to Miss Gilchrist’s house there was a door which was usually kept closed on a check lock. Miss Gilchrist was the only occupant in the stair. On 21st December there were no visitors at the house, except a girl friend of witness. On that day Miss Gilchrist rose at twelve o’clock. She was out of doors in the afternoon, and returned about half-past four o’clock. Witness went out for a newspaper that night, and she had also to do other messages. Witness looked at the kitchen clock before she went out, and saw it was just seven o’clock. She had intended to get the newspaper first, and then go out for the other messages. Before leaving she saw that Miss Gilchrist was sitting on a chair at the dining-room table with her back to the fire. She was reading, and had spectacles on. When witness went out she left the door on the two checks as usual. There was a light in the lobby. There was no light in the bedroom. She closed the door at the foot of the stair. It was raining at the time. She did not go straight to the newspaper shop. She stopped and spoke for a minute or two to a policeman in plain clothes. After she bought the newspaper she went straight back to the house. She would be almost about ten minutes. The door at the entry was open. When she got up to the landing, she found there Mr Adams, who lived below, who said there was a noise in the house, and the ceiling was like to crack. Witness replied, “Oh, it would be the pulleys” – the clothes-line in the kitchen. Mr Adams said he would wait and see that everything was all right. After she unlocked the door, she saw a man coming from the direction of the spare bedroom, in which there was a light. It had not been lit when she left. The man came through the hall, passed her, and went down the stair. When witness went into the dining-room she saw Miss Gilchrist lying on the rug in front of the fire, the rug being over her head. She went out and told Mr Adams there was something wrong, and that “that man had done something to Miss Gilchrist.” Q.: Did the man pass very close by you? A.: Yes. He held down his head. Q.: When he passed you did you turn round to look at him? A.: Yes. Q.: Did he go quickly down the stair? A.: No, he went deliberately. He had nothing in his hand. He was about five feet seven inches in height, and was wearing a dark cap and fawn overcoat. The overcoat produced was not only like the coat, but was the coat. She was not sure about the kind of cap he was wearing. The man said nothing as he passed her. There was something peculiar about his walk. Q.: Was it firm? A.: Shaky a little. There was nothing out of place in the dining room, but in the spare bedroom papers had been taken out of a box and scattered about the floor. She had never seen anybody visiting the house like the man who came out of the bedroom. A brooch that belonged to Miss Gilchrist was amissing. It was usually kept in a small dish on the dressing-table in the bedroom. It was a crescent brooch with diamonds, and was about the size of half-a-crown. It was in the dish on 20th December.


   Witness went to New York, arriving there on 25th January. On the 26th she attended at the Law Courts, and while standing in the corridor she saw three men coming along. She remarked to Detective-Inspector Pyper that one of the men was the man who had passed her in the lobby on 21st December. When she saw him at New York he had a dark coat and a bowler hat, but he had a different coat and hat on 21st Dec. Nobody had asked her to point out the man when the three men walked up the corridor. She had not been told that he was coming, but she recognised him. She pointed him out on 22nd February at the Central Police Office. She had no difficulty in recognising him. She had seen a man walking backward and forward in West Princes Street between six o’clock and a quarter to seven on 20th December. She took no particular notice of him, and could not very well recognise him. The prisoner was the man she saw in the lobby on 21st December, at New York, and at the Central Police Office.


   Cross-examined by Mr McClure: She thought so little of seeing the man in the street that she did not tell anybody about it until 12th March. She recognised him in America by his walk and height and by the side of his face. She was quite sure of him when she saw him in America. When she was asked in America whether she recognised the man she said, “One is very suspicious, if anything.” That was a mistake; she did not intend to say that. She was quite sure of him. She had not seen the man’s face from the front, but she had seen the side of his face. Her recollection of what had taken place was not a bit fresher when she was in America than it was now, but she was excited when she was in America. The man had a peculiarity in his walk. He bent his head forward and shook his shoulders a little. Excepting a girl friend and a man named Nugent whom she told, she had no notion that anybody knew that Miss Gilchrist had a lot of jewellery. Miss Gilchrist had an Irish terrier, but the animal was poisoned about 7th or 8th September. Miss Gilchrist said it was a shame if anybody had done such a thing as poison the dog.

   Re-examined: Nugent visited the witness in Miss Gilchrist’s house, and on one occasion at least he had a meal. Miss Gilchrist was quite pleased that he should be there. Nugent was not in the least like the prisoner. Witness last saw him in September.

   At the close of this witness’s evidence the Court rose, to meet again this morning at ten o’clock.

   Lord Guthrie said that the jury would have to be enclosed. He need not say that they would have no communication with anyone outside, but if they had any message to send to anyone they should communicate with the authorities.

   It is expected that the trial will be concluded on Thursday.

Scotsman, Wednesday 5th May, 1909, p.12.








   A LARGE number of Crown witnesses had still to be examined when Lord Guthrie took his place on the bench, punctually at ten o’clock yesterday morning. Slater, on appearing in the dock yesterday, had again a smart, well-groomed appearance, and looked rather brighter. Instead of the blue serge, he wore a well-fitting suit of dark grey tweed. He was furnished with a pencil and paper, and wrote notes to his agent from time to time. occasionally some point of the evidence brought a smile to his face.

   The first witness yesterday was John Pyper, one of the Glasgow officers who brought Slater from America. He was summoned to Miss Gilchrist’s house immediately after the murder, and described the condition of the body, the manner in which the grate and fire-irons were spotted with blood, and the search for a weapon, and to discover if any jewellery was missing. Helen Lambie, the domestic servant, he said in answer to Lord Guthrie, was “a little excited, but not much considering the position of matters.” The old lady’s spectacles were found, with the magazine she had been reading, laid on the dining-room table. As to the peculiarity of walk, on which the girl Lambie based her identification in America; the officer explained that accused was a little in-toed. When he lifted his foot he threw his knee out a little; but one required to look minutely at him to notice it. It was nothing to attract attention. The formation of the prisoner’s nose, by which the girl Barrowman identified the prisoner, was then discussed. Prisoner’s counsel asked Slater to stand up and look directly at the witness, who agreed that Slater’s nose was peculiar, but otherwise it had no “twist” in it.

   Counsel suggested that the profile created an impression which the front face did not bear out, and witness assented. Slater was then directed to stand up and face the jury, that they might note this fact for themselves. The hammer found in Slater’s bag was subjected to careful scrutiny. It was a small hammer, about eighteen inches long, the head weighing about three-quarters of a pound. Witness would not say that the battering of the head and the crushing in of the bones of the chest could not be done with such a light weapon, but it would require great strength. The part of the shaft near the head, he thought, had been rubbed or cleaned. Prisoner’s counsel suggested that the hammer was used for breaking coal, and that being so, the part grasped by the hand was naturally not so clean as the upper part of the shaft.


   Exceptional interest attached to the evidence of Arthur Montague Adams, 14 Queen’s Terrace, who was attracted by the knocking on the floor of Miss Gilchrist’s house, and who was at the door when the man came out of the house. Adams, who is a little under medium size, speaks with a slight English accent. He stated that he heard three distinct knocks, as if Miss Gilchrist wanted assistance. His sister Laura drew his attention to it. “She sent me up instantly to see if anything was wrong,” he added. He went upstairs and rang the bell three times. He listened, and heard what he took to be the servant breaking sticks in the kitchen – a cracking blow, not heavy. He imagined the maid was, in and that “she was doing up her kitchen, and was not going to open the door,” He went downstairs again and told his sisters that the house was all lit up, and he did not think anything was wrong. His sister Laura thought differently. “She made me go back again,” he remarked, with an air of resignation. He went back, and again pulled the bell, and then the maid came up and opened the door. He said he would wait till she went in. As she entered, a well-dressed man came out. He did not suspect him – he came up to him “quite pleasantly.” When the man got past him, however, he changed his view. The stranger quickened his pace, and went down the stairs “like greased lightning.” The girl ran into the kitchen, and shouted to him that it was all right; but when she went into the dining-room on his suggestion the murder was discovered. He went down to the street, and ran in the direction he thought accused had taken. Asked to identify the prisoner, Adams, who appears short-sighted, came down from the witness-box to get a closer look, and then stated that accused closely resembled the man he saw there.


   A suggestion to explain hesitancy in positively identifying the prisoner was conveyed in the evidence of Mrs Liddell, 63 Elmbank Street, an elder sister of Adams. Mrs Liddell gave a remarkably clear description of the man she had seen outside the house some five minutes before the murder; but she had not mentioned the fact that she had seen him until two days later, and then the others said there were quite enough mixed up with this miserable affair, and discouraged her against taking anything to do with it. Mrs Liddell, who, although fragile-looking, gave indication of having decided opinions of her own, had evidently thought otherwise. She gave her evidence clearly, in a distinct voice, and without the nervous constraint of her brother. Her own reluctance to say more than she was fully justified in doing emerged in her account of her identification visit to the police office. After her first look at the prisoner, she said he “slightly resembled” the man she had seen. She asked the police officer in charge to let her see him again. “If I could only say he was not like,” she explained, “I should have been pleased; but he came back to me so strongly.” On going into her mother’s house she had taken a good look at the man leaning against the railing. Her reason was that she thought he was a loiterer, and she had “a special animus against loiterers.” “I was beginning to get bristly,” she added. She thought the man might be waiting for the maid upstairs or one of her sister’s pupils. Mrs Liddell thus described him:- “He had a long nose, with a most peculiar dip. You would not see that dip amongst thousands. He had a very clear complexion – not sallow. Not a white pallor, but something between an ivory colour. He was very dark, clean shaven, and very broad across there” – indicating his cheek bones. Slater was asked to stand up, and witness said she believed he was the man who was standing at the railings. A slight laugh was raised at one point of the witness’s evidence, which drew a warning from Lord Guthrie.


   A bright girl of fifteen, Mary Barrowman, adopted daughter of a couple residing in 9 Seamore Street, and who went to America to identify Slater, explained how she had seen a man come running out of the close on the night of the murder. She “thought he was running for a car or that something had happened.” He came down the steps two at a time, and ran in the direction of West Cumberland Street. Some “Americanisms” transpired in connection with this witness’s examination at New York. She was asked to compare the man’s nose with that of “the Lord High Marshal of Glasgow” and “the High Sheriff of the King’s Forces in the City of Glasgow” – titles under which it was a little difficult to recognise the unassuming Glasgow officers whom they were supposed to describe. The latter of these two officials, Mr Warnock, Sheriff criminal officer, was said by the girl to have a nose resembling somewhat that of the wanted man, but in the witness-box he seemed to deprecate the resemblance, and said the girl had been “led into saying this.” Yesterday the girl positively identified the prisoner as the man she had seen running.

   The fugitive was next heard of at Kelvinbridge Subway Station. The girl in the booking office there said a man came in and flung down a penny. He did not wait for the ticket, but ran down the stairs without looking back, although she shouted after him. Asked if the prisoner was the man, witness, after a deliberate scrutiny, said, “He is like him.”


   Realistic details as to the savage character of the assault on the victim were given by Professor Glaister, Glasgow, the first medical witness. Amongst the numerous wounds described, he mentioned a deep hole between the left eyebrow and the left ear. The left eye-ball was missing, having been driven into the brain. Pieces of brain tissue and bone were found lying near the body. “It was,” Dr Glaister said, “one of the most brutally smashed heads I have ever seen in the whole of my experience.” His opinion was that the assailant knelt on the victim’s chest, breaking her ribs in so doing, and struck violently at the head. Witness’s evidence as to the kind of weapon that had been used, based on the character and measurement of the wounds, was listened to with tense interest. It was such a weapon, he said, as was not uniform at the striking points. A large weapon could not have entered the eye socket and driven back the eye as had been done. Taking into his hand the hammer found in accused’s bag, he said – “This hammer could, in my opinion, in the hands of a strong man, and forcibly wielded, have produced the wounds found on that body – plus the kneeling.” This instrument accounted most easily for the different classes of wounds, which suggested, Dr Glaister observed, that both claw and blunt end of the hammer had been used. With regard to stains on accused’s coat and on the hammer, witness was unable, from microscopical examination, to say these were red blood corpuscles, in the absence of sufficient quantities to allow of confirmatory tests. Answering Lord Guthrie, however, he said if the case were not so serious, and only some commercial question were at issue, judging from his very long experience and his examination of these stains, he would, without hesitation, say in his view, to the best of his knowledge and belief, they were blood corpuscles. Dr Glaister’s reconstruction of the fatal assault was also recounted in a hushed and deeply interested Court-room. “My view,” said Dr Glaister, “is that the woman, when she saw a stranger enter the room, stood to her feet, and she received a blow with something, I think from the front; that she was knocked to the floor, and her assailant immediately knelt on her, and with the instrument, whatever it was, produced these frightful injuries.” In answer to Lord Guthrie, witness said there must have been between twenty and forty blows struck. It must have been with almost lightning rapidity – a furious assault, continuous and complete, before the assailant rose. Another medical witness estimated the number of blows at “fifty or sixty, or probably a great many more.”



   Detective-Inspector John Pyper, of the Glasgow Police, was the first witness examined by the Lord Advocate. He described the position in which the body of Miss Gilchrist was found on the night of the murder. The deceased lady was lying on her back in front of the fireplace, with her feet stretched out towards the door. Her face and head were smashed and much disfigured. A set of false teeth was lying on the floor. Sparks of blood were on the grate and fire-irons and on the coal scuttle. He searched the house carefully to see if there was any implement which would have caused the injuries, but found none. The poker and tongs were lying on the fender in the usual place, and although they bore sparks of blood, there was nothing to indicate that they had been used to maul the lady. The servant Lambie, reported that a crescent brooch was missing in the bedroom. The servant pointed to a wooden box on the floor of the bedroom, and a number of letters and papers scattered on the floor. The girl, who was a little excited, told him that the letters and papers were kept in the box. There were a diamond ring and two other rings on the toilet table, and it was on that table that the missing brooch lay. There were also on the table a gold bracelet and case and gold watch and chain. Nothing else had been interfered with in the room. The hearthrug in the dining-room was very much stained with blood. In the dining-room he found a magazine and spectacles. A box of matches which was found in the house was not the matches used by Miss Gilchrist. An old broken auger was found in the back green next day. On 24th December he saw a girl, Mary Barrowman, who stated that she had seen a man running out of Miss Gilchrist’s entry on the night of the murder. On 25th December a description of the man appeared in the evening newspapers, and he learned that Anderson, the dentist, disappeared that night from 69 St George’s Road. Witness and Mr Warnock accompanied Lambie, Barrowman, and Adams to New York, where they arrived on the 25th January. On the following day he went to the Court with the witnesses. The girls Lambie and Barrowman were standing beside him in a corridor leading to the Court, when they touched him on the shoulder at the same time, and said, “Oh, there’s the man away into the Court.” Witness did not see the man to whom they referred as there were quite a number of people there. Witness told them nothing, nor had he asked them any questions. When the witnesses were asked to identify Slater there were about forty people in the room, some seated and some standing. The prisoner was seated on a chair alongside one of the marshals, behind his two agents. Lambie had no hesitation in identifying the prisoner. She had to lean over to get a sight of him. Barrowman pointed him out also, and said he was very like the man. She had no hesitation. Mr Adams said the prisoner was very like the man, but he was not too confident.


   Witness took possession of Slater’s luggage in New York. There were seven portmanteaus and boxes with the initials “O.S.” When they returned to Scotland the accused claimed all the baggage as his property. In a black leather trunk witness found a fawn coloured waterproof coat, and also a hammer. He examined the coat and the hammer, and found several dark stains on the coat on the shoulder, and the polish appeared to have been removed from the bottom of the handle. It looked as if it had been scraped from the middle to the head. Witness found in the baggage a soft hat and two cloth caps. He examined the baggage very minutely for the purpose of ascertaining whether there was any dentist’s apparatus and saw none…


   Cross-examined by Mr McClure, K.C., witness said he believed he had made the greatest amount of inquiry in connection with this case. Superintendent Ord had charge of the arrangements under which the witnesses attended at the Glasgow Police Office to identify the prisoner. Witness, who arrived at Miss Gilchrist’s house about five minutes to eight on 21st December, got a statement from Helen Lambie that night. He was also present when she made her statement in America. He had no conversation with the witnesses about the crime on the voyage to America. The girls Lambie and Barrowman occupied the same cabin, and were companions on the way across. On the day when Slater was to be exhibited to the girls Barrowman had first of all an interview with Mr Fox, who was attending to the Crown interests. Two photographs of the suspected man were shown to her in the witness’s presence. They were very defective photographs. He presumed that they showed the general appearance of Slater, but no person could recognise anyone from them. They were not in the least like the man. It was a long passage in which the girls were standing with him when they saw the man. The first thing that attracted the attention of witness, who was looking in the other direction from that in which the prisoner came, was that both girls touched him on the same arm at the same time. Both spoke at once, and said the same thing. They said, “Oh, that is the man away into the Court.” It might seem curious that they should do the same thing at the same time, and say the same thing, but it was a fact all the same. He could not say that he heard Lambie say, “I could almost swear that that is the man.” He could not say that that remark was not made. Lambie said in the Court that she recognised the man from his walk. It must have been only from seeing him walk down the passage that she identified him, as he did not walk at all in Court. Witness did not hear Lambie say that she could not recognise him by anything else. He thought she positively identified the man at the first time. He thought she said, “That is very like the man.” She made a remark like, “One is very suspicious, if anything.” That was, he thought, the first remark she made. He did not hear her say, “His face I could not tell.” There was a big noise going on in the Court, and he could not hear all that was said. It was quite possible that she said that.

   By the Court – He would be about eight yards away from Lambie.


   Cross-examination continued – When Commissioner Shields asked her to point him out. It was a hesitating identification. There seemed to be a want of confidence to speak out or stupidity; he could not say which. She seemed a bit excited. She tried to exhibit the way the man walked, but witness did not see anything very peculiar in it. The only thing he noticed about the prisoner’s walk was that his left foot was slightly intoed. Witness had observed that the man had a slightly rocking gait. Supposing he had nothing but the walk to judge it by, he would not be absolutely confident.

   In further cross-examination, witness said he heard Lambie say that she did not see the man’s face, and that it was not his face, but his walk, that she went by. Q. – Is the walk a thing that you would expect to be picked out in a walk of some three yards across a lobby? A. – One might observe it, and another might not. He would not have great confidence in it.

   Cross-examination continued – Attention of people would be mainly directed to the man’s face. If witness saw a stranger, he would not look first to see whether the man had a hen-toe. Lambie told him that the man was clean shaven, but witness did not understand that when she did not see the man’s face. In America Lambie said consistently that she did not see his face, and that she identified him by his walk. Barrowman said at first that the prisoner was very like the man, and then she said that he was the man. Witness remembered that she first said that prisoner was something like the man, and then she said that he was very like the man. Witness did not call that a confident identification. In the case of Barrowman, at least, the identification took place after she had seen a photograph of the man. Barrowman described the man’s nose particularly, and it was by the face that she professed to go.


   She said that the man’s nose was turned a little to the right side. Slater’s nose did not turn to the side. When the girls were taken into the police office in Glasgow to identify Slater, witness presumed that they were looking for the man they had seen in America. There were none of the eleven men who was the least like Slater. Q. – Do you consider that to be a fair way of conducting an identification – to have the man who was to be identified in presence of a number of others who did not bear the slightest resemblance to him? A. – I do not know that it is for me to say. He was not in charge of the matter. Q. – You do not wish to criticise your superior officer? A. – No.

   Lord Guthrie said Mr McClure would have his opportunity of commenting on this matter. It might be extremely awkward for strangers to be asked to come in to such an identification.

   Mr McClure said the Metropolitan police acted on an entirely different principle. They always got in outsiders.

   Witness said that the prisoner did not ask to be put in any position, and he never objected to marching and showing his face in any direction. During the process of identification a coat which was not his own was put on the prisoner, and he was identified in it by Lambie. The coat was exactly the same colour as Slater’s coat produced in Court. His own coat was not available at the time. Mr Warnock, Sheriff criminal officer, and witness examined the prisoner’s luggage for the purpose of finding any garments similar to those which the man was stated to have worn, and seeing whether there were any blood marks. Witness saw no blood on any of prisoner’s clothes. He found no brown boots, and he did not find seven or eight hats, though Warnock might have seen them. There was none that he would describe as a Donegal hat. He saw no check trousers or spats in the luggage. He could not say what the stains on the waterproof were. They were not very distinct, but they were visible. There was a good deal of blood in the room. There were signs of blood having run down the whole length of the coal scuttle; there were bits of the woman’s brains on the rug, and a great deal of blood had run on to the carpet. From the appearance of the room witness would imagine that the murderer would have a good deal of blood about his clothing. He would expect that there would be more blood on the murderer than was found on the waterproof.

   By the Court – It would depend on how the blow was given how much blood would be on the man’s clothes.

   Cross examination continued – The head was all smashed, and the probability was that there would be a great deal of blood on the murderer’s clothes.

   By the Court – The rug which was found over Miss Gilchrist usually lay in front of a sideboard at the other side of the room.

   Lord Guthrie – That would increase the probability of the man having more blood on him.


   Shown a small hammer which had been found in the prisoner’s luggage, witness stated that he would not say that it was not the weapon with which the murder was committed. It was a light hammer, but if used with force it might have been sufficient. His theory was that part of the hammer shaft had been scraped. There was coal dust at the top where the wood joined the head. From the other end of the wood being blacker than the rest, it seemed as if a dirty hand had grasped the hammer. The top of the wood seemed rougher than he would expect a plain wooden handle to be. Shown a new set of tools of the same kind as those found in the prisoner’s luggage, witness said it might be that if a person with a hand covered with coal dust gripped it, the clean handle would become the same as the old hammer.

   By the Court – Slater’s luggage was recovered from the Government stores. The box with the coat and the hammer was down in the hold on the voyage across. At the time when the warrant was issued for Slater’s apprehension, it was known that the diamond brooch which he had pawned was not the same as that which was missing.


   Arthur Montague Adams, 51 West Princes Street, Glasgow, said that about seven o’clock on the night of 21st December he heard in his house, which was below Miss Gilchrist’s, a sound like a thud and three distinct knocks, as if she wanted assistance. His sister Laura drew his attention to it, and sent him up instantly. He ran upstairs to Miss Gilchrist’s bell three times. The house door was apparently locked, and the lobby gas was lit. While he was standing at the door he heard a sound like chopping of sticks in the kitchen. He imagined that the maid-servant was in, and he went downstairs again and back to his house. He told his sisters that the house was all lit up, and that he did not think there was anything wrong. His sister Laura made him go back again, as she thought there must be something wrong. He went back, and rang the bell. When he had his hand on the bell he heard the servant girl Lambie on the stair. He said to her that he thought there was something wrong, and she said it had been the pulleys in the kitchen that he had heard. The girl opened the door. Witness, who was standing at her back, said he would wait. Just as the door was opened a well-dressed man appeared. He said nothing, but walked past witness, who did not suspect anything until the man had passed. The girl ran into the kitchen, and said it was all right. When she came out of the kitchen witness said, “Where is your mistress?” Lambie, who had looked into the dining-room, said, “Oh, come here.” Witness went in, and saw the horrible spectacle. He then took Lambie to the entrance to the common stair and told her to wait until he came back. He went after the man as hard as he could, but it was of no use. The man had walked quite coolly until he got past witness, and then he went “like greased lightning” down the stair and banged the door at the foot. Witness could not swear to the man having a moustache. He looked like a commercial traveller or a clerk. He had a light overcoat, and appeared to be well dressed. He had nothing in his hands so far as witness could tell. Immediately he had passed witness, the man darted. Witness did not touch Miss Gilchrist, thinking that his best plan was to make after the man as fast as he could. When he returned he found Lambie and a constable there. They entered the dining-room and uncovered the body. Miss Gilchrist was just breathing. Witness then ran for Dr Adams. Witness stated that in New York he said that Slater closely resembled the man. Slater was the only man he pointed out. It was the general appearance of the man he went by. In Glasgow he had no difficulty in pointing out Slater.

   In cross-examination, he said that Slater had been pointed out twice before he proceeded to give his evidence in New York. He told the Commissioner that Slater closely resembled the man, but it was too serious a thing to identify a man on a passing glance. It would be inaccurate if Lambie said she was at the door when the man passed her. The man had passed witness before Lambie went into the kitchen. Witness did not see anything special about his nose. He was wearing dark trousers and a light coat, but witness was not definite about the colour of the coat.

   Re-examined – Lambie was just going to enter the kitchen when the man appeared. She would have a good opportunity of seeing the man; she stood and stared. She was thoroughly taken aback and excited. Prisoner was the man whom he saw in New York and in Glasgow.

   By Lord Guthrie – The lobby was fully lit. Witness had a front view of the man; Lambie had a side view.

   Laura E. Adams, sister of the previous witness, deponed to hearing a noise in Miss Gilchrist’s house and of asking her brother to go upstairs to see about it.

   William Warnock, sheriff criminal officer, Glasgow, examined by Mr Morrison, K.C., said he took possession of Slater’s luggage in New York, and brought it to Glasgow, where it was opened in Slater’s presence. He found in the luggage a waterproof coat, a hammer, and a hat. Among some papers in the trunk was a business card bearing the name and designation “Oscar Slater, dealer in diamonds and precious stones, 33 Soho Square, Oxford Street, W.” He also recovered an account form showing a purchase transaction from D. R. Jacobs, diamond merchant in New York, of a brilliant of extra fine quality in February 1908. There was also found an extract of Slater’s marriage. There were no dentist’s instruments or materials in the luggage. Slater walked with his toes slightly pointed inwards, and when he raised his left foot his knee projected a little.


   Police-Superintendent Ord said that in consequence of inquiries made at the railway stations he discovered that two single tickets for London had been issued by the 9.5 train from the Central Station at Glasgow, and on 29th December he received information from Liverpool that Oscar Slater had arrived there on the 25th, and he and his companion had sailed on the Lusitania under the name of Mr and Mrs Otto Sands. He made the arrangements necessary for the identification of the man when he returned to this country.

   In cross-examination he said he was not aware that the Caledonian Railway time-books for that night showed that two single third-class tickets were taken from Liverpool, and that Slater and his companion travelled in a third-class carriage to Liverpool. He was satisfied that Slater went to Liverpool and covered up his tracks. Q. – Have you not information that goes to show that from 21st to 25th December Slater was going about billiard-rooms and other places quite publicly in Glasgow? A. – The information is the other way. He had not been seen at the club the night after the murder. Witness did not know that he had been found frequenting billiard-rooms. He did know that he had been at Cook’s offices. He had not heard that on 21st December Slater wrote to the Post Office Savings Bank in London asking that a deposit should be posted to Glasgow, as “I have an urgent call to America.” That was the first time he heard of the letter. Witness had no doubt in his own mind that Slater’s hurried leaving of Glasgow on the 25th December was on account of his description having appeared in the Glasgow evening newspapers of that date.

   On re-examination, the witness said that in the course of his inquiries he ascertained that on 9th December Slater communicated with Dent, of London, regarding a watch, and bade him return it by 30th December to the address, 69 St George’s Road. On 21st December Slater asked Dent if possible to sent the watch at once; and two days later he telegraphed to Dent – “Must have watch; leaving to-morrow night for the continent.”

   Constable William Neill said he knew the prisoner by sight about five or six years ago in Glasgow. For about a month he had been in the habit of visiting a club in Grant Street.


   Annie Gillies, 6 Brooklyn Place, Govan, said that on 10th November she sold at the shop in which she was employed a set of tools, including a hammer, pincers, &c., for half-a-crown. She did not think the handle of the hammer was in the same condition now. She thought it had been washed.

   Cross-examined – She was not very confident that it had been washed.


   James Barr, a member of the Sloper Club and the Motor Club, both situated in India Street, Glasgow, said that he knew the accused by the name of Oscar Slater. He knew him by sight about ten years ago in Glasgow, but did not see him for four or five years until November 1908. He was asked to propose Slater for the Sloper Club, but demurred at first, as Slater’s reputation was not good. Latterly he agreed, and Slater was elected a member. Some days before the murder he heard that Slater was going to America.

   By the Court – Slater did not appear to have any occupation. He was a very cultured man.

   Gordon Henderson, clubmaster of the Motor Club, said that Slater came late on the night of 21st December to the club and asked if he had any money to lift. He seemed to be very anxious to get money. He was wearing a fawn-coloured overcoat and a Donegal hat.

   Cross-examined – Witness thought it rather strange that Slater should go to him. He thought Slater had been playing cards, and wanted money to win back money he had lost.

   Peter Crawford McLaren, pawnbroker’s manager, said that on 18th November the accused, under the name of A. Anderson, pledged for £20 a diamond brooch. On 9th December he received a further advance of £10, and on 21st December an additional one of £30.

   Police-Inspector Rankin said he examined the back green behind Miss Gilchrist’s house on 22d December, and found the auger. The grey hair appeared to be combings.

   When the Court rose the Lord Advocate said he might finish his evidence by lunch-time to-day.

   Mr McClure said the evidence for the defence might be finished to-day, but if not the evidence would be closed in time to allow the trial being concluded to-morrow.

Scotsman, Thursday 6th May, 1909, p.10.







   A NOTE of tragedy that has not been so obvious during the earlier part of the Slater trial marked the latter portion of yesterday’s proceedings in the High Court of Edinburgh. The impression was due partly to the picture afforded of the prisoner’s domestic life, partly to the disappearance of the feeling of curiosity and expectancy which marked the opening of the trial, and partly to the consciousness that the trial is now nearing its close, and that the fateful verdict of the jury will soon be given. Yesterday the prisoner appeared in the dark tweed suit which he wore on the previous day. With bright sunshine outside, and consequently a good light in the Court-room, efforts were made by one or two newspaper representatives to photograph Slater; but Lord Guthrie, on noticing the cameras, gave directions that they should be removed.

   Slater’s negotiations for a berth for himself and his wife on the Lusitania were detailed by one of Cook’s clerks in Glasgow, and by the Cunard clerk in charge of the second-class berth department in Liverpool. In the application form which Slater filled in at the Liverpool office he gave his name as Otto Sando, and the Cunard clerk recalled that Slater remarked to him that he was not “Sandow the strong man.” Asked if prisoner was the man in question, the witness said, looking at Slater, “Yes, that’s the man, clearly, and you recognise me too.” Slater, apparently taken by surprise, nodded in acquiescence.


   A club associate of Slater, a cycle dealer in Maryhill, said they used to play a game of cards called “Mucky,” in which any number of players can take part, and which is understood to be also known as “Vingt-et-un.” [“Twenty-one”] Misses Margaret and Isabella Fowlis, who lived in the flat above that occupied by Slater at 69 St George’s Road, described what they had observed of the household. Various men went out and in Slater’s house at all times of the day, and there were also one servant and one lady. Some importance is attached, in connection with the identification of the man seen near the victim’s house at the time of the murder, to the question whether Slater was clean shaven or whether, he had a moustache at that time. Both ladies agreed that Slater – who was known to them as Anderson – had no moustache. The elder sister was quite certain, as he had looked up when she was watching over the bannister when his luggage was being taken away on 25th December. This, and the evidence of several other witnesses, is contrary to that of the barber who shaved Slater regularly, and who said he had a considerable growth on the 25th December, although his moustache had been shaved off some time previously. Lieutenant Gordon, of the Glasgow Police, said, with regard to the two women who took up the occupancy of Slater’s flat after he left, one of them, Mrs Freedman, told him they had come from London two days previously, on the 24th December, and that Slater had arranged with her for taking up the flat. She also said that “Madame,” by whom witness understood Mrs Slater, had left with Slater for Monte Carlo. She had called on 25th December, and found Slater packing up and Mrs Slater crying. Mrs Freedman had then given Slater £25 as a loan. She and her companion had returned to London by 8th January.


   Not until the last witness of the prosecution appeared was there any new incident or development in the Crown evidence. William Sancroft, car conductor, however, gave a clear account of an incident on his car, two days after the murder, of which he had retained a well-defined impression. A man came hurriedly on to his car, and went up on top. When the witness came to give him a ticket, the man, he noticed, held his head down. He held out a penny with one hand, keeping his right hand in his pocket. In answer to the conductor’s question where he wanted to go to, he only mumbled something, and the conductor took it he wanted a penny ticket, which would take him to Possilpark. A boy was sitting near him, reading an evening paper, and the conductor asked him if there was any clue to the murderer. The boy said not yet, and that he did not think there was any likelihood of getting him. Thereupon the man suddenly got up, pushed conductor aside, and ran down the stair in a hurry. The conductor went after him, but had only got three steps down when he saw the man running at full speed across Garscadden Street. He had not travelled as far as the halfpenny station when he left the car. The conductor was a good deal struck by what happened, and spoke to the driver about it, keeping the car waiting about a minute. “Would you know the man again?” asked the Lord Advocate. “Most assuredly I would,” said the witness. “Look at the prisoner,” the Lord Advocate directed; “is that he?” “Yes,” witness replied without hesitation.


   This, with the reading of prisoner’s declaration, concluded the case for the prosecution; and after the luncheon interval the hearing of witnesses for the defence was proceeded with. A man named Cameron, who was smartly dressed in frock coat and white striped waistcoat, with a black tie encircled with a gold hoop in the form of a serpent set with diamonds or other stones, stated that he had known Slater since the time of the Glasgow Exhibition, and described how he and Slater spent their evenings – at the skating rink, the music halls, and in the Sloper Club after Slater was made a member. Slater gave him his address in San Francisco before there was any question of the murder. The point of this witness’s testimony was that on the day before Slater’s departure he had been with him in various public places, and Slater had betrayed nothing to suggest he was a fugitive from justice. The Lord Advocate’s cross-examination brought out some personal details as to Slater. The witness said Slater was a gambler, and he became aware that, like a great many more who came to Glasgow, he lived on the proceeds of women. He met Slater often in a gambling club in Grant Street in the year 1901. In reply to Lord Guthrie, witness indicated that he knew of no qualification Slater had had to be a dentist. He considered that he called himself a dentist in order to have the appearance of having an occupation. “Where was he on Monday, 21st December?” asked Lord Guthrie. “Of that,” was the reply, “I have no conception.” Neither could he say anything of his movements on 20th December.


   A compatriot of the prisoner, Max Rattmann, 23 Cromwell Street, New City Road, Glasgow, a stoutly-built, well-dressed man, stated that he had seen a letter in Slater’s possession with regard to his going to America about ten days before the murder. He saw Slater in Johnston’s Billiard Rooms on the evening of the murder. Slater left about 6.30 P.M., saying he might see him in the evening at the Palace Music Hall. The Lord Advocate elicited from Rattman that he was a commercial traveller for a firm in Germany, but that he had no place of business. Asked if his real name was not George Schmidt, witness at first said no, and then said he had once called himself that. He knew Slater five years ago in London. He mentioned several places where he met Slater, and explained that they were gambling places. As to Slater’s means of living, he understood he was a “gambler and sportsman.” Witness at the time kept a restaurant in Albemarle Street. He had seen Slater in possession of jewels, but could not tell where the diamonds came from. He could not explain why Slater took the name of Otto Sando when he went away. The Lord Advocate questioned witness closely as to a letter witness had received from Slater, written before he sailed for America on the Saturday morning. It was in German, and witness translated one of the sentences – “Absolutely suddenly having left Glasgow, I forgot to say good-bye to you, because Freedman’s girl took over my flat.” The Lord Advocate expressed surprise that Slater should forget to say good-bye “because Freedman’s girl had taken over the flat,” but witness could give no other reason from the letter. He took it that the girl had been wanting immediate entrance to the house. The letter from Slater also stated that “the French girl” was going on from Liverpool to Paris. “The French girl,” he explained, was the person living with Slater at the time. He had heard since that the girl went with him to America. Josef Auman, a German acquaintance of Slater, had been in the billiard-room on the evening of the murder, and noticed Slater there. On finishing his game witness went home to supper – about three minutes’ distance – which he usually had at seven o’clock. Slater had left a few minutes before the game ended.


   One of the witnesses for the defence was Audrée Junio Antoine, the “French girl,” who lived with Slater in Glasgow. She is tall, attractive-looking, dark-haired, young woman, who gave her age as twenty-three. She was quietly but stylishly dressed in a grey cloth dress, with large straw hat, trimmed with broad green and black ribbon, linen collar and tie, and sable furs. She looked pale and a little anxious, and once or twice glanced nervously at the prisoner. She gave her answers to accused’s counsel in a low, clear voice, with a foreign accent, promptly, but without animation. Her appearance and demeanour in the box conveyed a somewhat pathetic effect. Her story, elicited by the prisoner’s counsel, was that she had met Slater in Paris five years ago, when he was living apart from his wife. He “used to manage clubs.” She went abroad with him to America from Boulogne three years ago, after living with Slater in Brussels. The reason for this step was that Slater’s wife “bothered him and came after him.” She returned to Paris for two months because of her health. After standing in the box and answering counsel’s questions for about ten minutes witness began to grow deadly pale; and counsel, stopping in the middle of one of his questions, asked her if she was not feeling well. He explained to his Lordship that she was not strong, and suggested she should be allowed to give her evidence seated. The witness sank on to the seat in the witness-box, and put her hand, which was unnaturally white, to her face. A tumbler of water was handed to her, which with a trembling hand she raised to her lips. One or two medical gentlemen in the Court came to her assistance, and supported her from the Court-room. Counsel then announced that the doctors stated that she would not be able to proceed with her evidence for ten minutes or a quarter of an hour, and that he would meantime examine Catherine Schmalz, general servant with the previous witness, whom she named “Miss Junio.” Schmalz, who is German, and speaks English with a strong foreign accent, stated that on the night of the murder Slater came home as usual for dinner at seven o’clock. The cause of “Madame” weeping when Mrs Freedman called on the night of the departure was, she said, because Slater was going away, and would not take Madame with him.

   Audrée Junio Antoine, returning after an absence of half an hour, was given a chair in the well of the Court, and her examination was proceeded with. A point of interest in her evidence was that the diamond brooch, about which a good deal has been heard, was hers. It had been given to her by Slater two years ago. She explained that Slater wanted her to go back to her people in Paris in the meantime, while he proceeded to America. The Lord Advocate refrained from putting any questions to this witness, and the Court adjourned until to-day, when the rest of the evidence for the defence will be taken.


   Detective John Millican said he visited St George’s Road on Christmas Day at midnight. The name Anderson was on the door. The door was opened by a German maid, and he asked for Mr Oscar. She said, “No man here, no one but madame.” She also stated that madame was away for a short holiday. She allowed them to go into the house. On looking round he found a lot of papers lying in the front bedroom, including an address wrapper from Dent’s:- “Oscar Slater, Esq., c/o Anderson, 69 St George’s Road, Glasgow.” There was nothing in the way of baggage found, and there was nothing to indicate that a dentist’s business had been carried on. After he picked up the paper with the address he asked the servant about the man, and she said he was a friend of madame’s, and was away with madame for a short holiday. Witness asked if she knew where they had gone, and she did not answer.

   Detective David Lyon corroborated.

   Detective-Lieutenant William Gordon said, in cross-examination, that Mrs Freedman, one of the women at the house in St George’s Road formerly occupied by Anderson, said Madame and Anderson were away at Monte Carlo. The maid’s story was that they had gone to London.

   Helen Lambie, the servant girl who was in Miss Gilchrist’s service at the time of the murder, was recalled, but Mr McClure objected to her being re-examined. Lambie meantime being taken out of Court. He did not know, he said, the purpose of her being recalled, but at present it was, he thought, enough for him to say that she had been in Court since she was examined and had heard certain evidence – how much he did not know.

   The Lord Advocate, in view of the objection, did not call the witness.


   William Sancroft, tramway conductor in the service of Glasgow Corporation, was next examined. At five minutes past six on the evening of 23d December, he said, a man boarded his car at the end of Union Street next Argyll Street. The man went upstairs in a hurry, and seated himself at the front by himself on the single seat next the standard. The top of the car was not too brightly lighted. A boy was reading an evening paper on the other side. The man had a penny in his left hand, and his right hand was in his pocket. Witness asked him where he was going to, and the man just mumbled something, which the witness could not make out. He took it for granted that the man wanted a penny ticket, which took him to the terminus at Possilpark. After taking the man’s fare, witness asked the boy whether there was any clue to the murderer. The boy said “No, and I don’t think there is any likelihood of getting that.” Suddenly the man got up in a hurry, and pushing the witness aside, ran past. Witness went back after them, thinking that he had made a mistake in getting off there before the halfpenny stage was finished… He would most assuredly know the man again. The prisoner was the man.

   Cross-examined – Witness did not think that night that the man was the murderer. People usually went on to cars at their leisure, but this man ran upstairs before the other passengers got an opportunity of boarding the car. When the witness made the remark about a clue to the murderer the man must have heard it. He got up looked at witness and the boy, and left in a hurry. Witness could not say positively that the man heard the remark. He did not think there was any simpler explanation why the man left the car. He had not seen the prisoner before. The car was not well lighted where the man was sitting. Q. – Do you not think this has got on your nerves a little? A. – No, sir, it has not. If a person got a wrong ticket the conductor usually took the ticket back, when a mistake had been made. Witness had been unable to find the boy.


   The proof for the Crown closed with the reading of the prisoner’s declaration, in which Slater said that he knew nothing about the charge of having assaulted Marion Gilchrist and murdered her, and declared that he was innocent.


   James Dow, accountant’s office in Edinburgh Post Office, said that the accused’s letter in name of Anderson, asking repayment of the money he had in the Savings Bank, bore the post mark of 5 P.M., 21st December, and the reply was posted the following day. In name of Anderson, Slater received £49, 7s. 2d., and a balance of £39, 18s. 3d. His instructions for the uplifting of the money had been posted before the murder.

   Hugh Cameron, jun., bookmaker’s clerk, 140 Cambridge Street, Glasgow, said he had been a dealer in jewellery at different times. He went about clubs in Glasgow where gambling took place, particularly the Sloper and the Motor Clubs. He also used to go to the Mascot Club. Q. – What is the ordinary occupation of the people who attend these clubs in the evenings? A. – Almost anything. Some used the reading-room, some played billiards, and others played cards. Witness had known Slater since 1901. He saw a good deal of Slater in November and December. They employed themselves principally by going to the skating rink in the afternoon, to the music hall in the evening, and at night to the club, where card playing was indulged in until the morning. That was the ordinary way in which he and others passed the time. So far as he knew, Slater was never a dentist. About a fortnight before 25th December he, along with the others, heard that Slater was going to America. He spoke quite freely about his intentions. Before there was any talk of the murder Slater gave witness his address in San Francisco. Witness saw Slater on the Tuesday or Wednesday after the murder. He received from Slater a pawnticket to dispose of for a brooch which had been pawned for £60. Witness could not dispose of the ticket, and gave it back to Slater. He arranged to meet Slater at 5 p.m. on Thursday, 24th December, in the Tower Hall Billiard Rooms, but shortly after four o’clock they met in the street. Slater said he was looking for the Cunard Company’s offices. A few minutes before six o’clock he left Slater, whom he arranged to meet later on. A few minutes from eight he called at Slater’s house, and was told by the servant that a gentleman had called and Slater had gone out with him half an hour before. In November or December Slater did not wear checked trousers or light coloured spats. With the exception of his waterproof, his clothes were dark. Witness had never seen Slater wear a Donegal hat. On 24th December Slater had a short moustache, which was quite noticeable… He saw Slater several times between the murder and 24th December, and it never occurred to him that there was anything in the demeanour of Slater, his manner or habits, different from usual. He showed no anxiety to secrete himself at all, and there was nothing to lead one to suppose that he was a fugitive from justice.


   Cross-examined – Q. – Under what different names did you know the accused? A. – Anderson and Slater. Q. – When you first knew him what was the name he went by? – A. – Oscar Slater. Q. – What was he? A. – I was not aware when I met him what he was. Q. – After you became acquainted with him, what was he? A. – He was a gambler. Q. – Anything more? A. – A man, like a great many others who came to Glasgow, living on the proceeds of women. Q. – Did you know from the first that his mode of living was by the proceeds of women’s prostitution? A. – I cannot say I knew it at first. Witness first got to know in 1901. Witness could not say he knew that the accused had been a dealer in diamonds and precious stones. It would not be news to hear that he had been, for the others all more or less dealt in jewellery. After Slater’s second visit to Glasgow he disappeared again. He did not remember him saying where he was going. In November 1908 witness met Slater in Glasgow casually on the street. He gave him a card, “A. Anderson.” He did not tell him why he had taken the name of Anderson this time. Witness did not ask him the reason. Q. – Did you not think it curious that he should have changed his name the third time he came to Glasgow? A. – Yes. Q. – And when you thought so, did you not ask him the reason he had for taking a different name? A. – No. Q. –  Does it not seem curious to you now? A. – No. In the club “Anderson” was still known by the name Oscar Slater. Witness was under the impression that Oscar Slater was his German name. The Sloper and the Motor Clubs were very much of the same kind as the Grant Street and West End Clubs, which had been suppressed. Q. – Did he continue to gamble at both clubs? A. – Not so much in the Motor as in the Sloper Club. Slater was three or four nights a week in the Sloper Club. He did not know where he was on the other nights.


   Q. – So far as you know, had he any occupation? A. – Not that I know. Witness was conversant with the fact that he had pawned a brooch and some other things on account of being short of money. Q. – How did you come to know he was short of money? A. – I lent him £4 in December, which he repaid. Witness could not say how much money Slater had lost in gambling. Slater told him he had pawned jewels, but witness did not know where he got them. Witness knew that Slater had obtained £30 on a brooch, and on the 21st December raised £30 more upon it. He wanted to sell witness the pawnticket in order to realise money. He was anxious for witness to find a purchaser, but witness failed. The sum he mentioned to him was £10. Witness did not know that Slater could get command of about £50 from the bank. About a fortnight before the murder he told witness that he was going to America on account of a letter he had received from a friend in San Francisco. He was surprised to hear that his destination on 26th December was Chicago. Slater never told witness that he was going to New Zealand. Early in December he had said that he was going to Monte Carlo. Q. – In the card he set up to be a dentist. Did not you know otherwise? A. – I thought I did. (Laughter.) Q. – Have you seen any dentist’s instruments in his house in St George’s Road? A. – No. Q. – Or any sign of any business being carried on there? A. – No. Q. – How did you account for his leaving the house without mentioning it to the landlord; did it surprise you? A. – With a man such as he is nothing would surprise me. There was a few days’ growth on his moustache when he saw Slater last. Slater wrote to witness from New York. Q. – Were you his most intimate friend? A. – I question that very much. Q. – Did you know anyone who was more intimate? A. – Some of his own countrymen.


   Max Rattmann said he had been cited for the Crown, but had not been called. He had known Slater for the last six years. He and Slater were fellow-countrymen. Slater arrived in Glasgow on 29th October 1908, and witness met him nearly every day until 25th December, generally in a public-house in Buchanan Street. On the day of the murder witness was in the public-house in Buchanan Street, when Slater came in about 4.30 P.M. and offered him a pawnticket for £4. The ticket related to a brooch which had been pawned for £60. He refused to buy the ticket, but spoke to a mutual friend – Josef Aumann, diamond dealer – who said it was no use to him, as too much had been advanced on the brooch already. Witness afterwards went to Johnston’s billiard-room in Renfield Street, where he saw Slater at 6.30 the same evening. Slater left witness in the billiard-room at that hour, stating that he was going home to dinner. He next saw Slater in Johnston’s billiard-room about a quarter to eleven on the night of the 23d December. He received a letter from Slater in Liverpool. In the letter, which was written in German, Slater expressed regret that he had left Glasgow so suddenly without saying good-bye. When he saw Slater on 21st December he had a moustache a quarter of an inch long. He had a dark suit and a bowler hat.

   Cross-examined – Witness was a commercial traveller representing a firm in Germany. He had no place of business. His real name was not George Schmidt, but he had once gone by that name. He came to know the prisoner about five or six years ago, when the prisoner went about gambling clubs in London… He did not know why Slater took the name of Anderson. Slater was known to him as a dealer in diamonds. Q. – Did you just know he was a dealer in diamonds and precious stones because he had them? A. – Yes. Slater had told him he was going to join a friend in San Francisco. Witness did not know his destination was Chicago. In a letter he received from Slater the latter stated that the French girl who was living with him in St George’s Road was going on to Paris from Liverpool, but witness afterwards learned that she had gone to America with Slater. The phrase in the letter which had been translated “surprisingly leaving Glasgow” meant “absolutely suddenly having left Glasgow.” Q. – Did he give any explanation in his letter about his absolutely suddenly leaving Glasgow? A. – Because Mrs Freedman had taken the flat over. Q. – That is the only explanation? A. – That is the explanation. On the 21st December witness reached home at ten minutes to seven o’clock, and he was in the billiard-room for some time after Slater left.

   By Lord Guthrie – Witness was a German by birth, and Slater told him he was a German. He did not know any person of German birth called Slater.


   Josef Aumann, diamond dealer, Glasgow, said that he first met Slater in a public-house in Glasgow in October last. About three weeks before he went to America Slater told him that he was going to America as soon as he got his house taken. Subsequently he asked witness to take his flat off his hands. Witness was in Johnston’s billiard-rooms on 21st December till about a quarter to seven o’clock. Witness played with Rattmann and Slater looked on. Some minutes before the game finished Slater left the room.

   Cross-examined – Slater arrived at the billiard-room about 5.30. His purpose was to get Rattmann to give him money for the pawnticket, and when Rattmann declined Slater went away. He did not look at the clock either when Slater came in or went out. Witness thought Slater was wearing a waterproof like the one produced.


   Catherine Schmalz said she had come from London to Glasgow on 4th November with the witness Antoine, who was known in London as Mrs Junio. Slater got up about nine o’clock, and sometimes he went out in the morning. He was always in for lunch, and for dinner at seven o’clock. She heard three weeks or a month before they left Glasgow of the proposal to go to America. Slater was never out of the house on Sundays, and he was not out on Sunday, 20th December. Witness was quite positive that he was in the house at dinner that night. She did not notice any difference on the 21st on Slater’s ordinary custom of coming home to dinner, and there was no departure from his ordinary habits during the week. Two letters arrived by the morning post. In the afternoon, when he came home for lunch, he said that witness could go on Saturday. Q. – Go to where? A. – Go to London and find another situation. Mrs Freedman arrived on the Friday. On that day arrangements were made to go away. Men came at 8.20 at night for the luggage. Slater, madame, and the witness went together to the station in a cab. Slater told witness to say, if anyone asked, that they were off to Monte Carlo. He did not explain why. Q. – Do you know of any reason why they should have run away from Glasgow? A. – Mr Slater’s wife bothered him. Q. – Do you know anything that would associate Mr Slater with the murder that was committed on Miss Gilchrist? A. – No. Q. – Did you see any change that week from the ordinary household habits? A. – No. Q. – Did you see any attempt to burn clothes or wash clothes that had been stained? A. – No. Q. – Did the household just go on as usual? A. – Yes. Q. – Are you perfectly certain that upon Sunday night Mr Slater dined in, and was never over the door, and on Monday was home just about the usual hour? A. – Yes. Witness said she broke some coals with the hammer that was produced in Court. So far as she knew, the hammer was never out of the house. Slater had his moustache taken off about a fortnight or three weeks before he left Glasgow. By the time he left the moustache was growing again, and was quite noticeable.


   Cross-examined – Madame, when witness was engaged by Slater for her, received gentlemen in the house in which she lived. One of them was Slater. He came more often than the others, and stayed once or twice. Witness had not heard madame called by the name of Keibrow. It was Slater’s business of dentist that took them to Glasgow. Witness heard him say that to her mistress, but she did not know at that time that Slater was a dentist. She had never seen him doing any work of that kind. She supposed they took the name of Anderson so that his wife would not find them. She could not explain why, when he was safe under the name of Slater in London, he should go to Glasgow and take the name of Anderson. Sometimes the dinner was late, and he got it between half-past seven and eight o’clock. Witness did not read about the murder, and did not know that one had been committed. She did not hear Slater say that he would have to go to San Francisco, and that madame would have to go to Belgium. She heard him say they would have to go to San Francisco because of madame’s health. She saw madame weeping one day because Slater had said that he would go ahead of madame, and she said she wanted to go with him. Witness had a weekly engagement, and was paid 8s. a week.


   The witness, Antoine, on returning, was provided with a seat in the well of the Court. Slater, she said, did not go out of the house on Sunday, 20th December. He never went out on Sundays. A Mr Reid and his son called in the evening, and stayed until half-past ten or eleven o’clock. He never departed from his ordinary practice during the last week in Glasgow, and never missed his dinner at home. There were no clothes burnt or washed. There was nothing to lead her to believe that he had any hand in the murder. There was no change in his habits. Two letters were received on the Monday morning – one from San Francisco and the other from London. The London letter bore that Slater’s wife was bothering a Mr Rodger, through whom Slater had paid money, for more money. As a result of the letters Slater said he was going, and he gave notice to Schmalz. The diamond brooch which had been pledged was witness’s. It had been given to her by Slater about two years ago. Witness and Slater began to pack up on Christmas Day. Slater said witness should go home to her people in Paris, and she wanted to go with him to America. In the end he said she could come with him. The reason he gave why she should not go was the bad weather. She did not wish to wait until the summer time. They all went together to the station in a cab. They did not go separately. Witness thought Slater told Schmalz to say they were off to Monte Carlo for a holiday. The reason was on account of his wife in the first place, and so that the landlord and furniture dealer might not trouble Mrs Freedman about the flat. Shown the hammer found in Slater’s trunk, witness said it was used for breaking coals. She did not know of it having been washed or scrubbed. So far as she knew, it had never been out of the house. She had never seen him doing anything that might lead her to suppose he was trying to get rid of stains, and there was no change in his conduct. During the last week he was making inquiry at shipping offices. She had not known him to have checked trousers or light spats. When they left for America he had a quite noticeable moustache, and he could not have been taken for a clean shaven man.

   The Lord Advocate did not cross-examine the witness.

   The Court rose at twenty minutes to seven, to resume this morning at ten o’clock.

That ends the trial for Oscar Slater. Rather less exciting and varied as the 3 trials we’ve heard previously. Is this due to a lack of evidence, do we think? Is the fact Oscar doesn’t seem to have owned the clothing, said to have been worn by the murderer, indicative of his innocence, as to the murder, at least? We can’t say he lived a life of clean-living, as it seems evident he was certainly quite the gambler, and apparently a pimp, in order to maintain his lifestyle. Do we think his character will go against him more than the witness statements and frugal evidence the police have managed to obtain for this case? We’re set to find out in the next, and last, instalment of this case, and the very final episode of our true crime series. We may see you for it. Take care.

Narration by Jenny

Art by Alex

Intro-Outro by Tony ‘Lucky Dog’ Wilson

Greysteil by Paul Burns.

2 thoughts on “Oscar Slater – Trial (Podcast)

  1. I’m firmly convinced Slater did it. My book “Oscar Slater: A Killer Exposed” comes out May 29, 2023.

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