Some remarkable evidence was adduced on Tuesday at an inquest held on the body of Richard Stanley, a gipsy, of Bristol, whose parents are well known in the West of England as travelling gipsies.
On Sunday evening, while encamped on Chimney Down, Hockworthy, Stanley cut his throat with a knife he used in the making of wicker baskets. This not proving fatal, in a frenzied state he rushed to his caravan (marked 'R. Stanley, of Bristol'), loaded a double-barrelled gun, and, pointing it to his head, fired it off by means of his right foot.
At the inquest, held by Mr. F. Burrow (Cullompton), Mrs. Stanley said she was talking to an old man (about 5.30 on Sunday afternoon) about purchasing one of their horses. Her husband came out of the van and said;
Sunday is not the day to make a deal.
Just afterwards the deceased cut his throat in front of them, and the man she had been talking to ran away frightened. She then ran to a neighbouring farmhouse, occupied by a man named Harford, and asked him to come and help her. He replied;
I can't, I have got my cows to milk, and got to go to church. Go to the other farm, across the field, there's two able chaps there. (sensation)
Won't you come and save a life?
But the man refused to render any assistance.
She went to the farm mentioned by Harford, but neither of the occupants would accompany her back to the scene of the tragedy. When she got back, however, she found her husband lyin in front of the van dead, with a gun by his side.
The next witness called was William Bradford, retired farmer, about 70 years of age, of Hockworthy. He said he saw the deceased cut his throat, but had not the nerve to render assistance, and walked away (sensation).
In summing up, the Coroner said it was an extraordinary thing that a man should consider that the milking of his cows and going to church were of more importance than saving the life of a fellow-creature, as might have been done had measures been taken at once to prevent the deceased from committing further injury to himself. At the same time, there was no legal obligation on the part of a person to render assistance in such distressing cases.
In returning a verdict 'That the deceased committed suicide whilst of unsound mind' the foreman said the jury were very sorry that no help was given by Harford to the woman, if not to her husband. It was a most inhuman thing, and he was sorry that he bore the name of an Englishman.
I agree with you.
The deceased, who was 31 years of age, leaves a wife and four children.
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Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette - Thursday, 11th September 1902
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