18 January 1902

A Nasty Fall

One of the employees of the Ashton Corporation Electricity Works in Wellington-road, named Thomas FORD, whilst walking near the wall which surrounds the Corporation refuse destructor at the rear of the electricity works, found a man named James Henry LAMB, labourer, of 8 Pitt-street, Ashton, lying at the foot of the wall, having apparently fallen from the top of the wall, a distance of some 20 feet. On examination it was found that LAMB had sustained a fractured thigh and other injuries. The horse ambulance was sent for and the man was taken to the residence of Dr HUGHES, junr, who examined him and ordered his removal to the Infirmary, where he was taken. On being subsequently questioned, LAMB, who did not appear to be in his right senses, said he thought he was at the station, and he was endeavouring to scale the wall to gain access thereto when he fell to the ground.

Patrick DUNN, a young fellow, was on Monday hauled up before the magistrates on a dual charge — (1) drunk and disorderly, and (2) assaulting Constable George LAWTON whilst the latter was in the execution of his duty.— The officer said that on Saturday night at 9.40 he saw a great crowd of people in Chapel-street, and upon going to the spot he found DUNN with his coat and vest off, and was pulling a woman about. Witness requested prisoner to put his clothes on and go away quietly, but he refused to do so.

The constable took DUNN into custody, whereupon the latter caught LAWTON by the legs and tried to upset him. In the scuffle prisoner kicked the constable several times on the lower part of the body, and assistance had to be obtained to get the man to the Town Hall. Several women endeavoured to rescue prisoner from the officer's custody, including the woman GRAHAM (who was dealt with by the same bench) and a woman named BALL.

The Chairman: Have you any questions to ask?— Prisoner: I do not remember coping him.— (Laughter.) — Councillor HOPWOOD: It is no credit to you saying that.— Prisoner: I did not know I was locked up until I woke in the cell on Sunday morning.— For being drunk, DUNN was fined 2s 6d, and costs, and for the assault 10s 6d, and costs or 14 days imprisonment, Alderman FENTON remarking that the police must be protected.

On Wednesday an inquest was held touching the death of Wm SHARRATT, who was found hanging at his home, Parkbridge, on Saturday night. The following evidence was given:

Mrs SHARRATT, the mother of deceased said: I live at Dingle Terrace, Parkbridge, Alt. Deceased was named William SHARRATT, and was 17 years old. He had enjoyed good health. He was serving his time as roller-turner at Parkbridge Ironworks. About 11 o'clock on Saturday evening deceased wanted to wash his feet, and I left the house. I was away about three-quarters of an hour. On returning home I found the front door locked. It was a customary thing for him to lock the door. I called "Now, Willie," and he replied "In a minute."

I waited about, and then called again, but I got no answer. I then went to try the back door, but that was also fastened. I thought he had fallen asleep or had a fit. When I could get no reply I threw some dirt up to the bedroom window and awakened my son George, whom I heard call out: "This lad has hanged himself." When I went the towel was not tied to the clothes rail. He had not been an eccentric boy. Sergeant HOLMES asked witness if she had not used the word eccentric herself.— Witness: Well I don't know what it means.

George SHARRATT said: "I live at Dingle Terrace, and deceased was my brother. I last saw him alive about twenty-five past eleven o'clock on Saturday night. I went to bed then and left deceased sitting besides the table downstairs. I believe my mother was out at the time.— In answer to the Coroner witness said that his mother left the house of her own accord, and when Coroner said that was an extraordinary thing to do, witness said that he really did not force his mother out.

Continuing, he said: I was awakened by hearing something against the window, and thinking it was my mother, I came downstairs. I found my brother hanging by a towel, which was fastened by two hooks in the ceiling. I couldn't say whether the towel was tied round his neck.— Sergeant HOLMES: Didn't you tell Constable FOWLER that you found the rope round his neck? Witness: I can't say.— The Coroner: Was he an eccentric lad? Witness: He was very particular.— Coroner: How came he to be hanging? I think he had been doing gymnastic exercises. He had swung on the hooks before.— You had no idea that the towel was round his neck? Had he to be cut down? Yes, he had to be cut down.

A Juror: He had not said anything respecting trouble with anybody? No, not in the least. He had played football in the afternoon.— Another Juror: Did the lad try any experiments? Yes.— Had he talked about BILLINGTON, the hangman? Yes, three or four days before.— Juror: I think it is possible that he had been experimenting that. Sergeant HOLMES: Was there anything on his head? I did not notice anything.— Coroner: Had he a handkerchief on his head? No reply.— The Coroner: Tell the truth and don't hide anything. Witness: I saw a handkerchief lying about. I can't say whether it was round his head.

The father of deceased said: I was called up by my son George who said that his brother was hanging by the roller towel. One end of the towel was over the clothes-rack and the other was tied to the hooks. I never looked for the handkerchief but cut him down as quickly as possible. I didn't call him a strange lad. He had nothing to do that for. He never did it wilfully.— Coroner: That is for the jury to say. Sergeant HOLMES: Was there anything on his head? Witness: Someone told me that there was a handkerchief round his head.

The Coroner: That is the whole of the evidence. No doubt death was due to strangulation. The only question is whether it is a case of suicide. It is a very extraordinary affair. I think the parents are keeping something back. The Jury: Yes. — A Juror: I worked with him and knew him to practice gymnastics.— The Coroner: Yes, but that is not gymnastic work. He had either got execution on the brain and was experimenting, or otherwise it was a case of suicide. No doubt he deliberately tied the towel.— A Juror: He was fond of experimenting.— Coroner: Very extraordinary affair. It is a very extraordinary case altogether, but it is entirely to decide upon.

He must have been experimenting some very extraordinary thing.— A Juror: I have known the lad some time, but I never dreamt that he would do such a thing.— Coroner: That is the case with most of the suicides. It is really a case of suicide, but if you have any doubt about the affair return an open verdict.— A Juror: It is a strange thing that the mother should leave him alone while he washed his feet.— Coroner: If you don't think this is a case of suicide leave an open verdict , and say the evidence was not satisfactory enough. I don't know whether he has been a troublesome lad at home or not. The Jury had a short deliberation, and then returned an open verdict, embodied as follows: "Strangulation by hanging by a roller towel, no evidence to show how, or by what means he came to be so hanging by the neck."

In conversation with the father on Wednesday afternoon, he, the deceased usually did this washing, but although he called it washing his feet, he got a mug of water on the hearth, locked the door, and washed his body all over, stripping himself. When they found him hanging he was quite naked.

At the Ashton County Police Court, on Wednesday, George HOLT was summoned for assaulting his wife and daughter. Defendant did not appear.— Mr J B POWNALL said he appeared on behalf of Mrs HOLT, and she alleged that her husband assaulted her on the 4th instant, and she sought for a separation. It appeared that the parties had been married some 28 years, and there were six children living. Their married life had not been a particularly happy one, in consequence of the defendant taking a lot of drink. The assault in question was only one of a series of assaults committed upon her from time to time during their married life and she now took advantage of this opportunity to come before the Bench for redress.

On the 4th, at 7 o'clock in the evening, he gave her 1 for housekeeping expenses. Later on he wanted 1s 3d back, and before she could give it him he rushed at her, caught her by the wrist and with the other hand threatened to strike her. A daughter interposed, and asked him not to commit any assault. He then turned upon the daughter, and said he would do for her. The two tried to prevent him, but he thumped his wife in the breast violently — a very dangerous thin to do in view of the many cases of cancer which had occurred. A police officer then came upon the scene, whereupon the defendant ran upstairs, and challenged the officer to fight if he would come up, but deeming discretion the better part of valour, he did not accept the invitation.

A summons was taken, and immediately defendant received it he turned his daughter out. He afterwards packed a portmanteau up and departed, intending that he should not come back. His client had not seen him since, and he had not turned up to answer the charge that morning. He was a quarryman, and could earn good wages. After hearing the evidence, the magistrates would be justified in making the usual separation order. — Mrs HOLT, the daughter, and a police officer gave evidence bearing out Mr POWNALL's statement.— The Bench expressed the opinion that defendant had committed an aggravated assault upon his wife, for which he would be fined 1 and costs, or one month. For the common assault upon the daughter he would be fined 5s 6d and costs, or 14 days. They also granted a separation order of 10s per week and the custody of the children to the wife.

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