HE looked totally bewildered and very feeble. Staggering into the dock, Edmund Sandstedt, 75, collapsed into a chair, leaning on the arms moaning and looking about him in a vacant manner. He had been due to appear at Hampshire Assizes a week earlier on March 3, 1917, but was so ill as a doctor confirmed by letter, his non-attendance was excused and his case adjourned. But could it now go on?

The retired master mariner had been charged with the attempted murder of his wife, Henrietta, and attempted suicide, following a drama at their home at Pinewood in West End on February 1. She had got up at about 4am to make a cup of tea when she suddenly saw a peculiar expression in his eyes as he grabbed her by the neck and tried to throttle her.

"His grasp was a very terrifying one and it seemed as though he was tearing my flesh," she told Southampton magistrates at the committal proceedings. "I said 'Oh, dear, what is wrong with your nails?' He took no notice but pulled me onto the bed and pinned me down. I struggled and we rolled onto the floor where he gave me a gash on my forehead. I tried to free myself but found it impossible as he held onto me. I do not know how I did it but I got to the window and put my hand on the Venetian blind. It came down and frightened him. It was only after a fierce struggle, I succeeded in freeing myself and ran to a neighbour."

Mrs Sandstedt said her husband had been unwell since October. Until then, he had been a loving husband and they had been on the most affectionate terms during their 20 years of marriage. "Since his illness, he has become very irritable at times."

Neighbour John Baker, a nurseryman, saw her husband standing at the front door, bleeding from several wounds. He ushered the wife into his house and after tending to her, contacted the doctor and the police.

Daily Echo: Royal South Hants Hospital.

Dr C H Powers dressed Sandstedt's injuries which had been inflicted with a razor, and sent him for further treatment at the Royal South Hants Hospital.

Of his illness, he said: "I attended him in the latter part of last year when he was peculiar in his speech. I continued to visit him till the middle of December. He got irritable, principally through an inability to express himself which might have been and probably was one of the first symptoms of insanity coming on."

Sgt Baugh described their home as being one of "great state of confusion. There were several pools of blood and other marks of it. Two safety razor blades had blood stains on them. When he was charged and asked if he had anything to say, he did not seem to understand and did not reply."

Daily Echo: West End, as featured in an old undated postcard

Stanstedt was committed for trial at the Assizes, appearing before Mr Justice Ridley on March 10. Defence barrister S H Emanual said he was unfit to plead and called Dr Richards, medical officer at Winchester Prison, who confirmed he had been keeping Sandstedt under observation and had no doubt about his mental state. "He is incapable of understanding the nature or following the proceedings of the court."

The judge directed the jury it was their duty under the circumstances to say he was not fit to stand his trial and he would be taken care of if they agreed. They accordingly did so and Sandstedt was ordered to be kept in custody until His Majesty's Pleasure was known.