Shooting Near Lonely Bungalow

Essex Newsman - Saturday 8th August 1931Saturday 8th August 1931

Depression Follows a Southend Failure

On Saturday evening Dr. Macdonald held an inquest in a bungalow at Westley's Field, Bran End, Stebbing, upon Frederick Henry Perkins, aged 56, garage proprietor, Hoppers Road, Winchmore Hill, London who was found shot dead in a ditch near the bungalow on Friday afternoon. Mr. Perkins had used the bungalow, a wooden structure, for a summer residence, and he was there alone on Thursday evening. The bungalow is approached up a very narrow lane, and stands in a very lonely place, removed from other habitations, a mile from Stebbing Village.

Alexander Philip Perkins, son of deceased, stated that he lived with his father at the Winchmore Hill garage. He last saw his father alive at the Stebbing bungalow at midday on Thursday, when witness left to go to Winchmore Hill, with the intention to return for his father on the following day.

The Coroner: Had your father been worried lately? -The son: Yes. He attempted his life on March 1 last by drinking lysol poison. He was then worried about his business, but there was really no cause for him to worry.

Son's Discovery.

Witness added that he returned to the Stebbing bungalow at 11.30 on Friday morning, as arranged. He found the bungalow door not locked, but he could not find his father, and there was no note of any kind. He searched for him through the fields, and then made inquiries in Stebbing village, but could not hear of his father, so he returned to the bungalow, and at 2 p.m. he found his father lying dead in a ditch. Witness got down into the ditch, an felt his father's hand, and found he was dead. He wondered if his father had met with an accident, and he called in the police. When he last saw his father he seemed quite cheerful, and witness had not anticipated that he would come to any harm. The gun produced belonged to witness, and was kept with the cartridges at he bungalow. When witness left on Thursday his father said he was going out to shoot a rabbit.

P.c Harrington, Dunmow, said he received information from the son that Mr. Perkins had been found shot, and witness called Dr. Roberts, with whom he proceeded to the scene. In a ditch 3ft. deep, a hundred yards from the bungalow, was the body, lying in a huddled position, and a double-barrelled gun lay 15 yards from the ditch. The gun had been fired in both barrels, and there was an empty cartridge in each.

Witness and Dr. Roberts decided that there was grave suspicion of foul play, owing to the position of the 12-bore gun. Witness summoned Supt. Hyde from Saffron Walden, Insp. Mussett from Dunmow and Dr. Crawford from Bardfield. The circumstances were investigated, and the police were then satisfied that it was a case of suicide. Witness removed the body to the bungalow, where nothing was found to throw any light on the tragedy.

Doctor's InvestigationsĀ 

Dr. V. J. Crawford deposed that he was called by the police at 3.45 on Friday afternoon, and found the body lying in a ditch as described. The left arm was under the body, and the right arm across the abdomen, with the legs flexed. Witness went down into the ditch. There was a wound on the right side of the head, and the skin around it was blackened. The wound was severe, and caused the baser of the skull and the orbital cavity to be exposed, and part of the mouth was blown away. The man's tongue was found on the opposite side of the ditch to that on which the body lay. On turning the body over it was found that the lower jaw and face had been blown away. There was also a rugged wound on the left elbow, where the coat was riddled with shot. In the field, about ten yards from the body, lay the double barrelled gun.

The Coroner: Can you explain how a gun could have caused all the injuries you have described?

Dr. Crawford took the gun, removed the empty cartridges from it, and demonstrated how the weapon would have been held by deceased with the muzzles of the two barrels against his right face, and the butt of the gun extended straight out in a line. Deceased was a tall man with long arms, and he would just be able to reach the triggers with his right hand. The two barrels were fired with the gun held in that position, and the double explosion of the cartridges accounted for the extensive injuries.

The Coroner: With two barrels being fired together, would that account for the gun being carried some distance?

Dr. Crawford: Yes, with the gun being held in the air. There would be no resistance to take the double explosion.

Are you satisfied it was a self-inflicted wound?

I am quite satisfied it was. The force of the explosion from the two barrels would cause the body to fall in the ditch near which the man stood.

Dr. A. M. Roberts corroborated Dr. Crawford, and agreed with his conclusions, and Messrs. Alexander and William Perkins, sons of deceased, stated that they were satisfied.

The Southend Loss.

Charles Crow, thatcher, Stebbing, said he had worked for deceased for nearly a year. On Thursday afternoon, after finishing thatching a stack, he told deceased the job was done, and left him at 5.25 p.m. Deceased seemed quite cheerful. As deceased was alone at the bungalow, witness offered to stay with him for some time, but deceased replied, "Oh, no; I am going to read a book, and my son will be here in the morning with a motor to fetch me."

The Coroner (to the son Alexander): What position did you father occupy?

Alexander: My father was managing director of the Winchmore Hill Garage and 'Bus Co., which is a private family company.

Have things not been going very well recently?

They have been going quite well, but eight months ago we started a 'bus service at Southend at it turned out a failure. That loss at Southend rather depressed my father, but the London business was quite all right.

The Coroner: You think the failure of the Southend business depressed him?

Yes, it depressed him before, when he attempted to take his life with poison.

The Coroner said the doctors had gone into the circumstances very carefully, and had shown how the fatality occurred. He (the Coroner) found that death was due to gun shot wounds self-inflicted, and that deceased at the time was of unsound mind.

The Coroner and Insp. Mussett expressed sympathy with the relatives, and Mr. Perkins thanked Insp. Mussett for the kind assistance the police had rendered.