28 May 1904
Hyde Butcher in Custody — A Farmyard Struggle
At Dukinfield Police Court, on Wednesday, Henry Gilbert
WATSON, butcher, of Clarendon Place, Hyde, was charged
with unlawfully shooting Samuel Lester SMITH, a joiner,
of 27, Godley Hill, Godley.
The evidence of the injured man, who is
employed by the Great Central Railway Company, was that
on Sunday afternoon, accompanied by Abram DAVIES, James
TAYLOR, and Daniel ATKINSON, three Godley men, he had
a stroll through Hattersley. The public road passes through
the yard attached to Field’s Farm, and as they passed
along SMITH patted the head of the farmer’s dog.
The prisoner, WATSON, who was standing near
the house, which belongs to a relative, remarked that
he wished the dog had taken hold of SMITH, and the latter
replied that if it had done he might have taken hold of
him (WATSON). An altercation then ensued, and eventually
the prisoner took up a three-foot rail and threatened
to split prosecutor’s head open.
In self-defence SMITH closed with WATSON,
and after a struggle threw him to the ground. Prisoner
then got up, and as he (SMITH) was walking away one of
his companions shouted, “Come on, he’s coming
with the gun.” He turned sideways, prisoner pointed
the weapon at him, and fired at a distance of 20 yards.
He received the shot in his right thigh. He returned to
Hyde and saw Dr. SCOTT, who had twice probed for the shot.
He could not, however, recover it, and he was in great
The Mayor (to prisoner): I suppose you went
deliberately to the house for the gun? — Prisoner:
I was bound to get it. There were four of them, and they
kicked me in the head. I did it in self-defence. —
Cross-examined by the prisoner, the prosecutor denied
that knocked him in the gutter, and that his companions
maltreated him. — Did you kick my teeth loose? —
Superintendent CROGHAN said the offence
was a very serious one, and had the shot been a few inches
higher, death would have been instantaneous. — The
magistrates remanded prisoner, and refused to allow bail.
Prisoner was again brought up in custody
at the Dukinfield Police Court, on Thursday, before Alderman
C. H. BOOTH (chairman), J. KERFOOT, and Mr. W. S. LOWE.
He was undefended, but took notes of the evidence. His
father and his wife and child were also present.
Samuel Lester SMITH said: I live at 27,
Godley Hill, Godley, and am a joiner in the employ of
the Great Central Railway Co. at Godley. Last Sunday afternoon
I and three companions went for a walk along a footpath
leading through Field’s Farm, Hattersley, of which
the prisoner’s father is tenant.
In going through the farmyard I saw a dog
fastened to a chain close to the path. I patted the dog
on the head. The prisoner was standing at the door of
the farmhouse, some 15 yards away. After I had patted
the dog prisoner remarked to me, “The dog ought
to have bitten you.” I replied, “The dog is
He then said, “It ought to have got
hold of you.” I replied, “If it had I might
have got hold of you.” Prisoner then picked up a
rail about 3ft. long, and came over a wall towards me.
He said, “I will split your ----- head open.”
When he had got within a yard of me he raised the rail
to strike me.
I closed with him, and we got on the ground.
I was on top, and I took the rail off him. He then ran
towards the house, and I walked on. At this time my companions
were standing a few yards below, and could see what took
place. One of them shouted, “Come on, he’s
coming with a gun.” I turned round sideways, and
saw the prisoner pointing a gun at me.
The Chairman: Did he fire? — SMITH:
Yes, and shot me in the right leg above the knee and above
the thigh. — The Chairman: The gun was charged with
shot? Yes. The prisoner said something, but I could not
catch what it was. I walked to my friends, and the prisoner
came after us with the gun again, and said, “I will
do for you next time I hit you.”
On the following day I went to Dr SCOTT,
of Hyde. I have suffered considerable pain ever since,
and the pellets have not yet been extracted from my thigh.
— Superintendent CROGHAN: Did you know the prisoner?
— SMITH: I have never spoken to him in my life,
but I know him by sight. I know his father lives at Field’s
Prisoner: When you came through the farmyard
past the dog, was it close to the footpath? Yes. —
How many yards was it from the dog to the building? —
The Chairman: Let me point out that you are charged with
shooting this man. There mere fact of the dog being off
the footpath, or so many yards away from the building,
won’t add very materially to the issue. What have
you got to show is why you, did shoot.
Prisoner: You say I picked up a piece of
rail 3ft. long? — SMITH: Yes. Didn’t you say
would do me and the ---- dog and all? No. Didn’t
say you knock me down? No. — And didn’t you
kick me in the mouth? No. — And didn’t all
the others kick me? No. — Didn’t they say
“Give it him now you’ve got him down?”
No. — Didn’t I run into the house? Yes. Didn’t
you follow me? No. Didn’t my wife see you? I don’t
know; I didn’t see her.
Didn’t I get a gun? Yes. — Did
I put it to my shoulder? Yes, just as I turned round.
— Didn’t the gun accidentally go off? No,
it did not. — How many yards were you away? About
20. — If I was 20 yards away and shot you on purpose
with a 4in. shot cartridge, don’t you think there
would be more than two pellets in you? I don’t know.
— The Chairman: You might be a bad shot and missed
Prisoner: Didn’t your friend say,
“Has he hit you?” Yes. — What did you
say? I said you had hit me. — What did I say? I
don’t know. — Didn’t I say, “Thank
God, I have missed you”? No. — When I followed
you down the field again had I the gun? No. — Didn’t
one of the other men say he would smash my head open?
No. — And didn’t I call you cowards? I could
not tell what you said.
Superintendent CROGHAN: When your companions
shouted that prisoner was coming with the gun did you
turn round? Yes. Had he the gun at his shoulder then?
Yes. — Deliberately pointing at you? Yes. —
As if he was taking aim? Yes.
Dr Robert SCOTT, practising at Hyde, said
SMITH came to his surgery on Monday, and complained of
having been shot. He examined his right leg, and found
on the outside of the thigh a puncture and a certain amount
of bruising. He probed the wound four inches, but could
not locate any pellets. SMITH came the following day,
and witness again probed the wound with the same result.
The Chairman: I suppose it is not an uncommon
thing to probe and not find a bullet? — Dr SCOTT:
No. There was contused wound on the inside of the left
thigh, but no penetration of the skin. There was no scorching
of the clothing. — Superintendent CROGHAN: If SMITH
had faced the prisoner the results would have been worse.
— Dr SCOTT: Yes, the shot might have hit the femoral
artery. — Superintendent CROGHAN: And he might have
bled to death.
The Chairman: He might have died, but he
has not. — Superintendent CROGHAN: I apply for a
remand until Monday at Hyde. — The Deputy Clerk:
Have you any application to make for bail. — Prisoner’s
father: Yes. — The magistrates then granted bail,
prisoner in £20 and his father in another £20,