Annie Heart and the poisoned salmon sandwich mystery that resulted in one of the biggest trials Cornwall had ever seen

Annie Heart and the poisoned salmon sandwich mystery that resulted in one of the biggest trials Cornwall had ever seen

When Alice Thomas died of poisoning, suspicion fell on her friend Annie Hearn who was tried for murder. Rob Bonser-Wilton writes about how events were not quite as they seemed and resulted in a trial the likes of which Cornwall had never seen before.

Annie Hearn – Poisoned Salmon Sandwiches on a 1930 Trip to Bude

Sarah Ann ‘Annie’ Everard was born on June 2 1885 in Legsby Road, Market Rasen, Lincolnshire. She was a pupil of the town’s Wesleyan Day School and Grimsby Secondary School. In 1904 aged nineteen, she moved to Harrogate to teach at her aunt’s cookery school. She nursed her sick mother at Grindleford, near Sheffield for two years until she died, and then nursed her sister Mabel, who was suffering from consumption, until she died in 1917.

It was an episode rooted in 1919 which suggested Annie’s personality might have had a difficult relationship with the truth. Annie claimed that on June 6 1919 she had married Dr Leonard Wilmot Hearn in London, and placed an announcement to this effect in a Harrogate Newspaper. In the same newspaper there appeared notification of Leonard Wilmot Hearn’s death on June 12: ‘suddenly at Bedford House, Southampton Row, London. Wilmot Hearn, M.D., recently returned from service in France.’ In 1931 when the story of Annie Hearn, the Cornish salmon sandwich poisoner, gripped the nation, Daily Mail reporters could find no trace of the marriage or the death in the registers of Somerset House, and the medical register contained no Dr Leonard Wilmot Hearn.

Read more: Doomed lovers in real-life Cornwall hotel murder mystery

Mrs Annie Hearn’s first reported brush with the criminal courts occurred on New Years Eve 1919 , when she and her sister Lydia ‘Minnie’ Everard appeared before Weston-super-mare magistrates, charged on remand with stealing articles of jewellery to the total value of £51 15s, the property of Annie Henrietta Bullus, proprietoress of a boarding house ‘The Woodlands’, Worle, near Weston-super-mare, where the sisters had resided between November and December 1919.

The Wells Journal of January 2 1920 reported that the hearing of the case was delayed due to Annie Hearn being seized with a fainting attack. It was in fact only Annie who was tried before the Somerset Quarter Sessions on Thursday January 8, when she was found not guilty of the alleged theft and discharged by the court.

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  • June 25, 2023