"Western Morning News, Thursday 16 March 1905
EXETER HEAVITREE - Plymouth Colonel's Death. Sad End To A Distinguished Career. - Mr H. W. Gould held an Inquest at the Wonford Asylum, near Exeter, yesterday, on COLONEL ALFRED SADLER, M.V.O., aged 48, lately retired from the Ordnance Department. Mr W. e. Gray appeared for the Asylum authorities; Mr G. H. Hext, of Torquay, for the relatives. - Dr L. M. Churchill, Assistant Medical Officer, said deceased was admitted on May 19th, 1904, having been transferred from Plympton House Asylum.
He was described as having suicidal tendencies. He was very depressed when admitted, and imagined he had committed all sorts of sins; he had an idea that his money affairs were all wrong. His condition improved for a while, and in the summer he was able to go out and watch the cricket and in the evening play cards; but latterly his condition had been worse. He was kept in a gallery, in which he was practically always under observation. There were twelve patients in the gallery, and eight attendants engaged there, two being constantly engaged. Deceased slept with an attendant. At half-past eight on Tuesday morning witness was called by Attendant Channing to the deceased, who had been found in his room suspended from a gas bracket, about six feet from the floor, by means of a bed sheet.
He was unconscious. They tried to bring him round with artificial respiration and their efforts were continued for nearly an hour, but to no avail. Deceased had immediately previous had his bath. Particular instructions were issued to the attendants to keep him under constant supervision. Attendant Hills had charge of him and should have kept him under observation until he came down to breakfast, unless he was handed over to someone else. Some months ago deceased put a cord round his neck in the billiard-room in the presence of other patients. Death was due to heart failure, the result of shock produced by attempting suicide. Deceased had suffered from a weak heart. The sheet had not been placed round the neck, but under the chin. - The Coroner: You are not prepared to say death would have taken place without this attempt? - No. - Charles H. Hills, attendant, said he received the deceased under his care on Tuesday morning from Attendant Totterdale, who had slept with him.
Witness took him to his bath at eight o'clock and afterwards back to his room, when he left him to attend to another patient. he passed his room five minutes later and thought he had gone down to breakfast, as usual. Charles R. Totterdale, attendant, said when he left deceased with the last witness he took over another case. - Henry Channing, charge attendant of deceased's gallery, said finding deceased did not appear outside the dining-room at the usual time, he went to his room and found him suspended from the gas bracket. He at once took him down and fetched Dr Churchill. It was Hills' duty to have seen deceased down to the dining-room, although he had other patients to attend to. Hills was in the gallery when he missed the deceased. - The Coroner said the evidence certainly did show that the deceased was left by himself in a room when he should have been under the observation of Hills.
He had no doubt the Asylum authorities would make due inquiry as to that. - The Jury returned a verdict of "Suicide whilst of Unsound Mind," and passed a vote of condolence with the widow, in which the Coroner and Mr Gray concurred. - The deceased was well known in the Three Towns, where he had a large circle of friends. He was a native of Plymouth, and for some years was stationed at the Gun Wharf, Devonport. he was a son of the late CAPTAIN SADLER, of Stonehouse, and entering the army in 1874, joined the Ordnance Department and cut out for himself a fine career. For some years he was engaged in departmental work and after twenty years' service received promotion to captain. He attended his majority on April 1st, 1896, and was promoted to lieut.-colonel a year later. He served in the Zulu war in 1879, and in the subsequent operations against Sekukuni, receiving the medal with clasp.
He had been stationed at Hongkong, the Barbadoes, Ceylon, and other distant parts. During the Boer war he was largely responsible for the superintendence of the stores at Woolwich Arsenal, being second in charge, and for his services was made a M.V.O. After the war he was ordered out to South Africa, but was invalided home, suffering from melancholia, and he quite recently retired. He leaves a widow, who has latterly been residing in Exeter. The funeral takes place tomorrow afternoon in Plymouth Cemetery."