Within days of the murder of Mary Kelly, a witness had come forward to offer, what seemed like, some important information concerning her final hours.
George Hutchinson walked into a police station to say that he had met Mary on Commercial Street at around 2am on the day of her murder.
According to the statement he gave to Inspector Abberline she had asked him if he would lend her sixpence but, since he had spent all his money at Romford market, he was unable to oblige.
Mary duly told him that she’d have to find it some other way and headed off along Commercial Street. As she did so, a man walking from the opposite direction tapped her on the shoulder and said something to her. Hutchinson didn’t hear what it was but he saw both the man and Mary Kelly start laughing. Mary Kelly then led the man back along Commercial Street. They walked straight past Hutchinson and turned into Dorset Street.
Hutchinson followed them and saw them stand chatting outside the entrance to Miller’s Court for a few minutes before the man placed an arm on Mary’s shoulder and she leant forward and kissed him. The two of them then went into Miller’s Court.
According to Hutchinson’s statement, he went into the court but could not see them, so he came out and stood under a lamp on the opposite side of Dorset Street for around 45 minutes. He saw nothing else of them and so left the scene.
Hutchinson then went on to give the police an incredibly detailed description of the man. Indeed, the description was so detailed that many commentators since have questioned its veracity.
But why would Hutchinson want to lie about what he’d seen?
If he was lying, then the solution might well lie in the fact he had met Mary Kelly just as he described. It is possible that when/if she met the man on Commercial Street Hutchinson had followed them and had stood outside Miller’s Court for those 45 minutes.
Whilst waiting there he was seen by several witnesses who later described him to the police.
When he heard of the murder he realised that his presence at the scene, so close to the time of the murder, might well implicate him. At which point he may well have decided to either invent the mysterious man to take suspicion away from himself, or, if the man did exists, he talked up the description of him for the same reason.
Interestingly, however, Inspector Abberline appears to have set great store in Hutchinson’s statement, so perhaps George Hutchinson was blessed with the gift of total recall after all!