Affray in Wood -Shots at Keepers by Alleged Poachers – Four Men Charged.

January 1928

Sheffield Daily Telegraph – Saturday 14 January 1928

Affray in Wood.
Shots at Keepers by Alleged Poachers.
Four Men Charged.
Rotherham Court Story of Early-Morning Fight.

Herbert Juby, a gamekeeper, of Firbeck, who was seriously injured in an affray in Barton Wood, Dinnington, on December 9th, between keepers and alleged poachers, made his first appearance in court in connection with the case yesterday.

Four men were brought up at Rotherham West Riding Court charged with having acted together and shot Juby with intent to murder him. There had been several adjournments owing to the serious condition of Juby.

The prisoners were Thomas Heaton (37) a labourer, of Norwell, near Newark; Joseph Charles Jones (54), miner, of 36, Mare Croft, Worksop; John William Hall (25), a miner, of 4, Chapel Walk, Worksop; and Jack Richardson Hannan (60), of Conisborough.

It was intimated that the defence would probably be an alibi. Mr. A. S. Furniss prosecuted on behalf of Mr. A. O. Peach, of Firbeck Hall; Mr. H. Morris, of Sheffield, defended Hall and Jones; and Heaton and Hannan were defended by Mr. L. H. Brittain.

Mr. Furniss said that there was a second charge with regard to another keeper, Thomas Edward Austin. Early in the morning of December 9th, Juby, who was head keeper to Mr. Peach, and who lived at The Kennels, Firbeck, heard shots fired in the direction of Barton Wood, between Dinnington and Gildingwells. He got out his car and with three other keepers went in the direction of the sounds. In the corner between Barton Wood and Lodge Lane, where there was a narrow projection, the incident complained of occurred. Two of the keepers had been previously dropped with the object of going down the top side of Barton Wood and the car, which proceeded along Lodge Lane, stopped some distance from the entrance to the wood. The other keepers went towards the wood. The object was to surround the place where the poachers were at work.

Threat to Shoot.

Two of the keepers went down the north side and the others were on the west side. At the bottom of the wood they heard sticks crackling and various other shots fired. Eventually the keepers saw the poachers. Each had a gun, with which they covered the keepers and said that if they approached a step further they would kill them. An attempt was made to rush the men, one of whom was collared by Richard Juby. The two fell to the ground and the younger Juby was getting the better of his man when two shots were fired at point-blank range in the semi-darkness, but, fortunately, both missed. Juby, however, saw smoke coming from the ground at his feet while he was down. The keepers tried to get round the poachers, who went backwards towards the road. Austin, a keeper, was seen by the poachers, one of whom said; “Shoot that at ten yards’ distance, Austin was shot at and received a number of pellets through his cap, being struck on the nose, forehead and ear. He had a fortunate escape. Austin called out: “Look out, they have shot me!” and went towards the road.

The poachers evidently thought they were going be captured. The elder Juby was closing when one of the poachers some distance away, said; “Shoot the ——–!” and immediately all three of the poachers fired. He was shot through the foot.

Hit by Stones.

Another of the poachers took two large stones and threw them as bard as he could- Juby received one in the stomach and the other hit him in the middle of back. Things were then getting a bit serious. The keepers rushed at the men, who were still backing. When they reached the waste ground near the gateway the poachers put up a determined resistance. Several shots were fired. Eventually Hannan struck Juby, and at the same time Heaton was being tackled by a keeper named M’Gurk. Heaton had a gun, which was brought down on M’Gurk’s head and broken. Juby rushed towards Heaton. Two of the poachers threw up their guns and at point-blank range— two yards distance—and Juby was shot, receiving a full charge practically in the centre of the back. Two more stones were thrown and the keepers were called off.

Juby received medical attention and was afterwards removed to Rotherham Hospital, where he remained until a week ago. He was saved only by the amount of clothing he was wearing and his physique. He was in danger for some time, and he had between 50 and 60 shots in his body. He had also a charge in the foot. The occurrence was reported to the police, and Inspector Harrison was soon on the scene. When daylight came it was found that there was unimpeachable evidence of the affray. There were found broken gun and a line of footprints from Barton Wood towards Swinton Hill Wood. There (Mr. Furniss) thought it would be shown that there were footprints made by boots Hannan had been wearing. Boots which corresponded to a print which had been taken were found at the house where Heaton and Hannan had been living prior to the affray. With regard to the stocks which were found, Heaton was seen holding one of-the guns, the stock of which had been broken on M’Gurk’s head. Around the stock of one gun was some wire, and that would identified by a farmer who Jived near Norwell as being the gun he had borrowed from Heaton. A labourer who also knew the gun would identify. Two of the men were bald. It was well known that when poachers were in any kind of trouble they put their caps in their pockets, and Richard Juby, who had held down one of the men would identify him by his head.

Injured Man’s Story.

The defence would probably be an alibi, but after hearing the evidence about footprints, gun stocks and the movements of the men, he thought that no mistake could have been made. He would prove that all four men were seen a Worksop public house the day before the affray. Heaton would be identified by Juby and his son and the two other keepers, Austin and M’Gurk; Hall by Austin; Hannan by both Jubys and Austin, and Jones would be recognised all four.

Herbert Juby, in evidence, bore out the opening statement of Mr. Furniss with regard to the journey to the wood and said that when approaching the wood M’Gurk and Austin were dropped at Letwell Lane, a spot about 200 yards away from the road. It was a light night and dry. He heard his son shouting: “Come on, they’re here! He then heard shots and someone cried Shoot the ——-. The four men were walking backwards. Their guns were up, and they were waving them from side to side. He identified Jones, who shot at Austin, who was on his flank. Austin cried out, “Be careful; I am shot!” The three other poachers each fired once. All the time they were retreating towards the lane. When they got to the lane he and the three other keepers also got into the lane, and they then had the poachers in the middle. He himself shouted out: “Rush them!” They closed and he got hold of Jones. While trying to throw him he was struck by Hannah in the face with his gun stock.

Wounded in Back.

Witness let of Jones and attempted to throw Hannan, and while lifting his foot someone shot him in the foot. Jones and his son were then on the ground. He noticed that the stock of the gun, being pointed by Heaton at his son, was broken. He rushed at Heaton to save his son, and was struck by stones. Two shots were fired, and he received the charge in his hack and dropped into the hedge. He called the keepers off. Mr. Furniss produced Juby’s jacket, waistcoat, and shirt which bore extensive bloodstains. They had a hole through which shots had penetrated, then gave evidence of identifying three of the men while he was in hospital.

Cross-examined Mr. Morris he said that the affray lasted about eight or ten minutes. Answering Mr. Brittain he said that Austin saw him in hospital and told him the names of the men who had been arrested. He denied that that helped him at the identification parade. Richard Herbert Juby corroborated his father’s evidence. During the affray, he said, he closed with Hannan. He had not the slightest doubt that it was he. When the poachers were backing towards the lane they said that if they (the keepers) went nearer they would shoot. He heard two shots fired simultaneously. Heaton’s gun was smoking and he saw his father fall. He grappled with Jones, who called out, “Don’t leave me, chaps! The will strangle me!”

While his father was still lying in the hedge-bottom he (the witness) saw the poachers throw stones him. In company with the police he visited Norwell, near Newark, and he saw Heaton with another man. They went into a field where he saw they had a gun and a rabbit. Heaton’s companion was recognised as Hannan.

Worksop Waiter’s Evidence.

Donald M‘Gurk corroborated the evidence regarding the struggle.

James Edward Austin said that after somebody had called out “ Shoot him he received a charge of shot in the face. He bound up his wound with a handkerchief. He saw Hall load his gun and he called out to the younger Juby to let go of Jones, as he thought Hall was going to shoot. He identified all the prisoners the men who were in the wood.

Henry Eyre, waiter at the Black Swan Hotel, Worksop, said that on December 8th two strangers came into the tap-room. He now knew them as Heaton and Hannan. They returned in the evening when there were about eight customers in the room, among them being Hall and Jones. The last-named were not together and he did not see any conversation taking place between them and Heaton and Hannan. On December 9th both Hall and Jones visited the hotel, but did not see Heaton or Hannan again until picked them out at identification parade.

After further evidence the case was referred to the West Riding Assises. The Magistrate  (Mr. T. Beeden) remanded the prisoners in custody