The Trials of Louisa Collins ‘A Poison Crown' by Gina Schien
First episode of DEADHOUSE Tales of Sydney Morgue
A 51 minute major production of a drama about woman tried four times, condemned and executed in the man's world of late nineteenth century Sydney, Australia. Women finally got the vote ten years after Louisa died.
Louisa Collins was born near Scone in NSW. In 1865 she married the older, dependable Charles Andrews who moved his growing family to the swampy Sydney suburb of Botany in the early 1880s. He became a wool washer, a job that used chemicals such as arsenic. The family also took in lodgers like the handsome young Michael Collins.
In 1886 when Andrews discovered that Collins and Louisa were lovers he evicted all the boarders. A month later he started getting terrible stomach pains. Louisa briskly organised his will and when Andrews died two days later she went straight into town to claim the money. Two months later she married Michael Collins. But they didn't prosper. In fact, Collins gambled away most of Louisa’s inheritance. In June 1888 he suffered the same mysterious, gut-wrenching symptoms as Andrews.
Suspicion fell on Louisa even before Collins died. When arsenic was found in his body Louisa was arrested and Charles Andrews was exhumed. The tiny particle of arsenic the doctors found was enough. The police charged Louisa with two murders.
The Collins case captured the public imagination. People packed the courthouse to watch the ‘Botany Borgia’ murder trials. Not one trial, but four. Louisa’s eventual death sentence sparked public satisfaction and public outrage.
‘A Poison Crown’ transports you to 19th-century Sydney and brings to life the characters who fought for and against Louisa’s appointment with the gallows.
Producers: Stephen Carnell, Amanda Asquith, Mike Dengler
Writer: Gina Schien
Director: Liviu Monsted
Sound Engineer: John Hresc
Composer: Luna Pan
Cast: Jacqui Robson, Kyla Ward, Chris Miller, Stephen Donelan, Leof Kingsford Smith, Wendi Lanham, Alex Smith, Sandra Campbell, Liviu Monsted, Shaun Foley.