Alfred James Gore 'Jim' Hellyer


“The alleged child-murder case came to a sensational
end yesterday. The accused, Alfred Hellyer, after appearing at
the Magistrate’s Court in the morning, was taken violently ill
in the police cells in the afternoon, and was removed to the
Hospital, where he died shortly before eight o’clock. Death,
it is understood, was by poison self-administered.

“Hellyer was arrested at Belfast on Sunday morning on
a charge of having murdered an illegitimate child, named
Clifford Gunning, of which he was alleged to be the father.
When the child was born he informed the mother he intended
to have it adopted, and with that object in view he arranged
to meet her on the Belfast Road, where he was to take
charge of the infant for the purpose of handing it over to the
people who were to act as its future guardians. The girl, in
company with a married woman, accordingly went to the
place mentioned by the young man, where he joined them.
He expressed annoyance at the presence of the third party,
and spoke rather severely to the mother of the child for her
want of fore-thought in allowing the other woman to
accompany her. The child was handed over to him and he
walked away in the direction of the River Styx, wheeling
his bicycle in one hand and carrying the baby with the other.
The mother, shortly afterwards, returned to her home in
Dunedin, and in reply to questions put to her there explained
that she had left the child with the father in Christchurch.
The police, not imagining for a moment that anything was
wrong, but simply to make sure the child was not being
boarded out in an unlicensed home, interviewed Hellyer here
in order to ascertain the whereabouts of the child, but the
man, notwithstanding the positive statement of the mother of
the child, supported by the other woman, denied point blank
having ever received the child. Suspicion was then aroused,
and Hellyer was warned not to leave the town, and he agreed
to remain. He disappeared, however, shortly afterwards, and
all trace of him was lost until Friday last, when it was
ascertained that he was hiding in a stable in Belfast. On
Sunday morning he was arrested by Constable Pratt and
brought to Christchurch lock-up by Detectives Eade and

“He remained in the lock-up until yesterday morning,
when he left, in custody, to attend the Magistrate’s Court.
On entering the lock-up he was duly searched, and his
belongings collected together and lodged in the strong-room
in the usual way. In one of his pockets was found a glass
phial containing some white tabloids, and that was removed
with his other property. Early yesterday morning he asked
Constable Wright, the watch-house-keeper, to give him the
phial, explaining that he wanted to use the contents for the
purpose of deadening toothache pains from which he stated
he was then suffering. The constable complied with the
request and gave the prisoner the contents of the phial, but
retained the phial itself in his possession. Whether Hellyer
then made use of the tabloids for the purpose indicated is not
known, but at all events he appeared at the Magistrate’s
Court at half-past ten in apparently normal health, although
he seemed to be suffering from a mental anxiety natural
under the circumstances.

“At the Court he was charged firstly with killing the
child, Clifford Gunning, on or about March 2nd; and,
secondly, with stealing a bicycle on April 12th. [There is
surely something strange about these dates? ALT] Chief
Detective Chrystall, who represented the police, applied for a
remand till April 30th, which was granted by the presiding
Magistrate, Mr H.W. Bishop, Mr E.T. Harper, counsel for the
accused, offering no objection.

“Bail was not applied for, and the accused was escorted
back to the Police Depot. The fact that he had obtained
possession of the contents of the phial was apparently known
only to himself and to Constable Wright, for on the part of
the other police officers no misapprehensions existed as to the
safety of the accused while in their custody. He was given
his dinner with the other prisoners, and left in a cell until the
afternoon, pending his removal to the Lyttelton Gaol, where
prisoners on remand are lodged.

“When a constable went to fetch him shortly before 3
o’clock he found him lying in a sort of stupor.

“It was at once apparent to those in attendance that his
condition was grave in the extreme, and Dr Symes was
hastily summoned. He found the prisoner suffering acutely
and in a very grave condition. The symptoms pointed to
poisoning, probably with prussic acid.

“The doctor ordered the patient’s removal to the
hospital, and a stretcher and an express being hastily
requisitioned, the patient was conveyed to the institution as
speedily as possible, arriving there a few minutes before 3
o’clock. He was subjected to the proper treatment at the
Hospital, but he never rallied, and finally succumbed shortly
before 8 o’clock.

“After Hellyer had been removed to the Hospital a
careful search of his cell was made, and a few small
fragments of some kind of whitish tabloids were found. As
cyanide of potassium is sometimes put up in this form it is
understood that this poison was the cause of death, but an
analysis of the stomach is being made with the object of
ascertaining definitely to what poison death was due. The
fragments found in the cell are also to be subjected to
chemical analysis, to ascertain whether they are identical with
the contents of the phial, and the poison found in the

“An inquest will be held in the Hospital this afternoon.

“From time to time when they first suspected that the
child had met with foul play the police have been making
diligent search to discover the body of the child, but so far
without success. The River Styx has been carefully examined,
also the surrounding country, but no trace of the missing
baby has been found. The search, however, is to be
continued, until all reasonable attempts have been exhausted.”


courtesy of Bob Stewart




Please Sign Guest Book


Home | Photo Album | Guest Book | Contact Us