An extraordinary little tale played out in Wellington’s Magistrate Court in 1915 of a hat-pin stabbing and the young woman who had done it.
It came on the back of hat-pin hysteria. Hat-pins were regarded as lethal weapons and some council’s even went so far as to have by-laws about them.
The two main players were a 17-year-old girl Marjorie - usually called Madge - Cardno and a hotel porter called George Clark.
She was charged with putting a hat-pin through his chest - twice.
On October 7 at the Hotel Cecil, Clark saw Majorie outside the hotel about 7.30pm. Majorie said she went to the hotel to meet a young man she had been seeing.
When he wasn’t there, she saw Clark who greeted her. She said she was hot, having hurried to meet her young man and Clark offered her a drink.
She thought he would offer her a soft drink. He told her there was a sitting room she could wait in, but it turned out to be a bedroom. She protested but he told her to sit on the bed and bought her a drink of porter which she said she did not want and he then brought her a small bottle of beer.
She asked him if she could have a needle and thread to fix a buckle on her gaiter - a covering usually worn over a shoe in bad weather.
She drank a little of the beer and Clark returned with the sewing equipment but also a revolver.
Marjorie told him she was scared of it and he put it away before producing a black case that had a syringe in it.
The next moment Clark put his arm around her waist and attempted to kiss her, pushing her down on the bed. He pushed one of her hands above her head, near her hat.
Marjorie struggled and called out, to no avail. He said he couldn’t and wouldn’t wait and began to pull at her clothes.
Marjorie wasn’t having it though. She pulled the hat-pin from her hat and stabbed him.
She got to the door but found it locked. Even then, bleeding profusely, Clark tried to keep her in the room but eventually gave up the key.
Clark’s side of the story made her look bloodthirsty saying he took her to his bedroom and got her a drink. A few minutes later she stabbed him.
He denied he had done anything. He was taken to hospital and Majorie was arrested, covered in blood.
The case never even made it to a jury - Magistrate Daniel George Arthur Cooper immediately decided no jury would believe Clark’s account and discharged Marjorie who had been dubbed the hat-pin heroine by the newspapers.
Despite the case making headlines, almost nothing is known about either of them from there.
So for completeness, the magistrate who dismissed the case was Daniel Cooper who presided in Wellington courts for many years as well as being a top ranked footballer.
He died on June 26, 1935 and was cremated at Karori Cemetery.
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