Shooting of Thorpe at Danbury

Ipswich Journal 17011888



On Sunday afternoon James Saunders, 17, and Thomas Thorpe, aged 15, both labourers, working and living at Rumbold's Farm, Danbury, went out on the farm to shoot ringdoves. They took with them a single-barrelled gun, which they loaded with No. 3 shot. How long they had been shooting and with what success is not known, but about 3.30 they saw two constables approaching and hastily tried to get out of sight.

The constables were P.C.'s Hurrell and Brown, who were searching for a couple of poachers. they heard the report of the gun, hastened forward, and saw the lad Thorpe lying in the bottom of a ditch, with a large gunshot wound in his right breast, from which blood was gushing freely. The other lad was not in sight.

The constables conveyed the poor fellow to his father's tenement on the farm, which was a work of difficulty, as each movement caused intense pain to him and made the blood well out. Dr. Hart was immediately sent for, and then the constables, from what the young fellow had told them, went to search for Saunders.

They founds the gun in the hedge where Thorpe had fallen, and Saunders they discovered hidden in a closet in mortal fear. He was apprehended upon a charge of unlawfully wounding his companion, and conveyed to the Shirehall, Chelmsford.

Upon hearing of the case and its serious aspect, Mr. Raglan Somerset, Deputy Chief Constable, set off, accompanied by Mr. Hockley, clerk to the Magistrate's clerk, to Rumbold's Farm, calling on their way for Mr. J. Thomasin Foster, J.P., of Great Baddow, to take the dying lad's deposition. They arrived too late, however; the poor fellow died at 5.30 from the terrible wound in his right lung.

From what Hart had told them it is doubtful, had they arrived earlier, if they could have taken Thorpe's deposition, since he soon lapsed into a state of semi-unconsciousness.

Dr. Hart saw from the first that it was a hopeless case. It is a great satisfaction to know that before dying Thorpe told the doctor that his wound was the result of an accident, and that Saunders was not specially to blame.

It appears that the couple, when they saw the policemen, attempted to hide the gun in the hedge butt end first, and no doubt the trigger caught in a twig, which caused the gun to be discharged.

The deceased said that both were pushing the gun into the hedge, but this the prisoner distinctly denies. Saunders, who is in great grief, was on Monday evening brought before Mr Foster charged with causing the death of Thorpe. He was discharged.

An inquest was held on the body of the injured lad by Mr. J. Harrison, coroner, on Monday afternoon. A verdict of "Accidental death" was returned.