Attempted poisoning of Coledale Hospital matron: Nurse acquitted of murder

Coledale Hospital Matron, Annie McIlveen


Accused of having put poison in a glass of milk for the matron at the lllawarra Cottage Hospital at Coledale, Aurore Rosberg, 42, was found not guilty at the Central Criminal Court today.

Rosberg, a nurse, was charged with having administered strychnine to Annie McIlveen, with intent to murder her, and, alternatively, with having administered strychnine with intent to injure her. The Crown case was that, on a supper tray served by Rosberg on the night of June 22 to the matron and two other sisters, there was a glass of hot milk, and when the matron swallowed a little she noticed its bitter taste. An analysis revealed that it contained strychnine.

“I am entirely innocent,” declared Rosberg, from the dock.

She had prepared the supper in the kitchen, from which she was absent for some time, she said. Any other person could then have entered the kitchen, which had two doors and two windows. She had been on the nursing staff of Coledale Hospital for two years and eight months, and there was no reason why she should try to poison the matron.

Drank Some Herself

When the matron asked her to taste the milk, she swallowed some, taking three sips. “Had she been aware that the milk was poisoned she would have been afraid to drink any. Further, if she had put poison in the milk, there was nothing to prevent her, while she held the glass of milk in her hand, from dropping the glass, apparently by accident, or throwing the contents into, the fire.

Rosberg added that it was she who advised the matron to have the milk kept for analysis.

The Jury’s verdict acquitting Rosberg was greeted with applause by some of the people in court.

The Jury added a rider that in its opinion there had been apparent laxity in the control of poisons at the hospital.

Rosberg was discharged.

– The Sydney Sun Tuesday 27 August 1940

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