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Extraordinary suicide in a gaol

Liverpool Mercury - 3rd January 1871.

On Saturday afternoon a prisoner in the Leicester country gaol committed suicide under very extraordinary circumstances. The deceased was a man named John Webster, who lived at Quorndon, near Loughborough. Having been convicted of a savage assault on his wife, he was brought to the county gaol at Leicester on Friday. On the following day a turnkey took Webster to the bathroom to "bath" him, and on entering the room Webster seized a pair of scissors which lay among some papers on the table and stuck them into his neck. As soon as the warder perceived what his prisoner was doing, he rushed upon him, but Webster eluded his grasp, and tearing down a gas bracket which was fixed to the wall, he managed with that to keep the warder at bay with one hand, while with the other he continued to stab himself in the neck with the scissors.

The turnkey ran for help, and when he returned with another officer Webster had forced the scissors completely though his neck, the point emerging on the other side. He was soon overpowered and placed in a cell alone, everything with which he could further injure himself being taken from him. A medical man was sent for, and on his arrival Webster was found sitting in the cell with his hands in the wounds on either side of his neck, apparently trying to force his windpipe out. His wounds were immediately attended to, but in spite of all that could be done for him he died in about an hour.

The deceased was formerly a publican (The Royal Oak), and was much addicted to drink. A few years ago, he backed a horse and cart over a high cliff in Mountsorrel, killing the horse and a man who happened to be underneath. He was then committed to the assize for manslaughter, and was sentenced to 18 months' hard labour.

For an account of the Mountsorrel incident referred to above, see artefact 536 (April 1863) 'An extraordinary outrage in Leicestershire'.

 Submitted on: 2009-11-09
 Submitted by: Kathryn Paterson
 Artefact ID: 571
 Print: View artefact in printer-friendly page

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