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Tuesday 30th November 2021  

Extraordinary determined suicide in a gaol

South London Chronicle - Saturday 07 January 1871

Extraordinary determined suicide in a gaol

On the 3rd inst. Mr. John Gregory held an inquest in the county gaol, Leicester, on the body of Joseph Webster, forty-nine, manufacturer, of Quorndon. It appeared that the deceased was sentenced at the summer assizes 1863 for the manslaughter of a man at Mount Sorrel, whose death he caused by backing his own horse and trap over the quarries at Mount Sorrel. For this he was sentenced to eighteen months hard labour, but in the latter part of the year turning insane, he was removed to Fisherton Asylum, where he remained until about five years ago.

Latterly he had quarrelled with his wife, and threatened her, for which offence he was sentenced by the Loughborough magistrates to confinement in the county gaol for twelve months in default of finding sureties for 200. He was admitted into the gaol on the 30th ult., and on the following afternoon took the usual bath. While in the bath the reception warder Shipman heard him making a noise, and on going to him found that had wrenched off the gas bracket, and was trying to push it down his throat. The warder got him out of the bath into an ante-room, when he picked up a pair of scissors which lay on a table (the warder having been employed in cutting tickets to number his clothes) and commenced to stab himself in the throat on the left side, penetrating the jugular vein. The warder and assistants tried to secure him, but he kept them at bay by stabbing at them with the scissors, inflicting some slight injury. At length he dropped the scissors and then commenced to tear open the wound with his fingers. Mr. Flowers, house-surgeon at the infirmary was sent for, but deceased so was violent that chloroform had to be administered before his wounds could be dressed. He died in half an hour.

Evidence was given reflecting on the Loughborough bench in sending the deceased to gaol when arrangements were almost completed for his admission into the asylum, and the jury returned the following verdict That death was occasioned by deceased being committed to gaol instead of being sent to the asylum, the gaol authorities not being made aware of his being in an unsound state of mind, as proved by the medical certificate; also, had he been attended to as insane he might have been still alive.

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

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