Alfred Wilkins was a market porter living at 17 Duval Street (formerly Dorset Street) at the time of the murder of Kitty Roman on 2 July 1909.
His evidence at the inquest into Kitty's death mirrors to a remarkable extent the evidence of George Hutchinson in the case of the murder of Mary Jane Kelly.
'At about 12 midnight on 1st [July] I was standing in Duval street when I noticed a man, a stranger to me'.
Wilkins then described the man as being about 28, five feet, seven inches, dark complexion, dark moustache and dark suit who 'had the appearance of being in the army', and continued:
'I then saw Kitty Roman, whom I knew by sight, coming towards me from Aldgate, she spoke to the man at the Bank door close to Duval Street, and they both walked down Duval Street into Miller's Court and remained there about a quarter of an hour. I saw him leave the Court and go towards Commercial Street.'
So we have a witness standing in Dorset (Duval) Street who saw the victim in this case taking a man back to her room in Miller's Court, while waiting in the street the entire time. Sound familiar?
In this case, however, Wilkins did see the man leaving Kitty's room. He turned out to be Kitty's murderer, Harold Hall.
There is an interesting twist in this story. A lot of people have speculated that Hutchinson was standing in Dorset Street because he wanted to rob someone (in particular the man he saw taking Kelly into her room).
Well it is almost certain that Wilkins was standing in Duval Street for a nefarious purpose of a similar nature.
Within two months of Kitty's murder, Wilkins was arrested for robbery with violence upon one George Smith, stealing from him one watch and chain.
Smith, a carpenter on board the SS Heron, was walking along Commercial Street on 28 August 1909, at about 11pm, when three men seized him. Two held his hands and one took his watch and chain. However, one of the men loosened his grip on Smith's hand which enabled Smith to grab one of his assailants round the throat while the other two fled. The man he grabbed was Alfred Wilkins. Smith called 'Police!' and P.C. Walker ran down to assist him and arrested Wilkins.
At his trial, Wilkins claimed he was just asking Smith for a drink but he was found guilty and sentenced to four months' hard labour. It emerged that Wilkins had several previous convictions.
Food for thought as to what Hutchinson might have been up to at the time.
18 JUNE 2020