Affray at Twinstead

London Morning Herald 23rd June 1851Monday 23 June 1851



The fearful encounter between the police and Mr. Cook and three burglars, at Twinstead, has resulted fatally, Poole, one of the wounded robbers, having died in Hedingham Police Station from the effects of his wound, and mortification having set in.

It is most satisfactory to the public that the prompt measures of the county police led to so speedy an apprehension of the three parties. When it was found the fellows had escaped, a horse was procured, and one of the officers sent off instantly to Sudbury, with directions to give information to Mr. Cross and the other police constables, that Poole, Dawson, and Prike, whose persons were known to the men who had so gallantly struggled with them, had committed a burglary, and requesting them to use their utmost exertions for their apprehension, a course which soon led to their capture.

Superintendent Hoy also arrived, and having obtained further assistance, the neighbouring woods and fields were scoured, whilst he himself proceeded to Sudbury, where he found that Cross, acting upon the information given to him, had captured Prike. He was taken to Mr. Cook's house and identified. Again Superintendent Hoy, with two policemen, proceeded to Sudbury, and there succeeded in obtaining information, in consequence of which he went with Cross and others to a lodging-house in Mount Street, where the other two men were found in bed, when it was ascertained that in addition to the wounds in the head, Poole had also been shot in the left arm at the time time Flower, the labourer, was injured by the accidental discharge of Mr. Cook's gun. He was removed to the police station at Hedingham, where every attention was paid him, but he died on Monday afternoon. Mr. Cook's man is at present going on favourably, and Jones, the policeman, though severely wounded in the affray is doing well.

On Tuesday an inquest was held on the body before Wm. Codd, Esq., Coroner, when the following evidence was adduced:-

William Humphries, one of the county police, proved he was watching the premises of Mr. Cook, as stated last week, when he saw deceased and two other men come into the garden at the back of the house, and eventually two of them got in at the kitchen window. Witness endeavoured to secure the third, but he escaped; and he was in the act of assisting Eldred, another policeman, in at the window, when he heard the report of a gun; the parties had then been nearly five minutes in the house. Jobs, the policeman, who was in the house, called out that Mr. Cook had shot his own man, and that the robbers were breaking out at the front door. Witness ran round the house, and saw one of the men getting over the gate. he pursued him, bit it being very dark he lost sight of him. He immediately returned to the house, where he found two pairs of boots, the robbers having run away without them.

Mr. G. Cook, farmer, examined. -Early in May last, an attempt having been made to break into my dwelling, I have since kept a man in the house, and obtained the assistance of the police to watch the premises. I generally kept a loaded gun in the house. On the night of Monday, the 9th instant, I went upstairs to bed, about ten o'clock, my usual time, having first secured all the doors and windows. I did not go to sleep, and about twelve o'clock I heard some noise. Soon after I heard a rattling of the glass and a noise down below, and I then thought some one was in the house. I lighted a candle, and taking my gun with me, I went downstairs, and into my dining-room, where I saw my man, John Flower, struggling with a man upon the floor. I don't know whether it was the deceased or not. I did not know him. I then threatened the man, if he did not keep quiet, I would shoot him. He then snatched hold of the top of the barrel. The gun was cocked. I cocked it as soon as I heard the noise. In my struggle to keep the gun it went off, when my man Flower called out, "Oh I am shot!" he then let the man go, who immediately got up, snatched the gun from me, and struck me with it, and running out of the room, struck Police-constable Jones with it in the passage, who was struggling there with another man.

Soon after the parties made their escape. I did not then know that the party who was struggling with my man had been shot. I found a great quantity of blood in the room and passage. Jones, seeing the man beating Flower, who he knew was wounded, released the man with whom he was struggling in the passage, came to Flower's assistance, and both the men then escaped.

Peter Richard Cross, of Sudbury, proved the capture of the deceased and Dawson in bed, as stated above, the latter having on his wrist the handcuff placed there in the struggle by Jones. While in custody he heard the deceased say that Mr. Cook came down the stairs and placed the gun against his ear, on which he got hold of the barrel to prevent his shooting him, and in the scuffle the gun went off.

F. N. Fitch, Esq., said he examined the deceased's left arm, and found a gun-shot wound midway between the elbow and shoulder joint, extending three inches up the inner side. The limb was much swollen, and was stated by the deceased to be extremely painful. He was very low and the vital powers extremely depressed. Witness prescribed poultices and fomentations, with opiates, and attended him two or three times a day, finding on each visit the swelling extending, and the constitution rapidly giving way. He gave him Port Wine and Brandy, with ammonia and morphia, but he continued to sink, and died on Monday.

Witness attributed his death to the shock given to the nervous tissue, and to the inflammation of the skin and cellular tissue, occasioning irritation, under which he sank. Witness had since extracted several shots from the arm, all of which were jagged and flattened. Only three or four were found upon the bone, do that some of them must have been flattened before they entered the arm, and he thought it possible that they had first passed through the arm of the man Flower. He also found a piece of cloth in the wound. All the time he attended him the deceased received the greatest kindness and attention from Superintendent Hoy.

The Coroner then summed up the evidence, explaining the circumstances, and the law of the case, and the jury returned a verdict, in effect - Accidental Death.