Conisborough Affray – Father sent to Prison – Quarrel over Sixpence

December 1925

Mexborough and Swinton Times December 11, 1925

Conisborough Affray
Father sent to Prison for Shooting Son
Quarrel over Sixpence

Charges arising out of the Conisborough shooting affair last July were heard at the West Riding Assizes at Leeds on Tuesday by Mr Justice Salter.

John Richard Hannam (56) miner of Highfield road Conisborough, was charged with shooting at Percy Hannam, also of Highfield Road, with intent to murder him, and also with wounding him with intent to do grievous bodily harm at Conisborough on July 31.

In pleading guilty to the charge, prisoner said “Not guilty of intending to murder, guilty of unlawful wounding.”

Mr WP Donald of Sheffield, prosecuted for the Crown, and Mr G.H.B. Streatfield defended.

The Quarrel

Mr Donald said the two men had a dispute about the money which was due to them as their share in some work at the pit, and this quarrel was continued as they rode home on their bicycles. About 50 yards from the bottom of the street where they lived they dismounted, and the quarrel went on again.

During this phase the son offered to strike his father, and he was only prevented from doing so by the intervention of a man named Mitchell, who succeeded in pacifying them, and the father went home. Afterwards when the son was helping to get in some coal, his father came back, and the quarrel was resumed.

The father was heard to say, “If he comes up yonder I will shoot him.” He then went home again, invited his son to follow, and saying what would happen if he did. The son, apparently incensed with his father, followed him down the passage leading to the latter’s house.

Two Shots

The son would say, went on Mr Donald, that as he got into the yard he saw his father standing near to the kitchen with a gun. As the young Hannam approached, his father fired, and the pellets entered his son’s right arm. It would almost seem as if the son had lifted his arm to strike his father.

As a young man was going down the passage,his father again fired and this time the pellets entered his sons back, in the region of the kidneys. The father followed nd, according to witnesses, was going to reload the gun, but he was dispossessed of it before he could do so. The prisoner then went to Sheffield, where he was arrested later the same night. He enquired about his son’s condition, and when told he was serious, he said, “A lad that will rob his father deserved it.” He also said, “I did it from my own house, anyway.”

The son Percy Hannam, was the first witness, and he corroborated Counsel’s statement. His arm was bandaged and in a sling.

Cross-examined, he said he did not lift his arm to strike his father.

35 Pellets Extracted

Dr J.W.Wilson, house Surgeon at the Doncaster Infirmary, said he found 34 punctured wounds on the back, and 34 or 35 pellets in the elbow. The disablement of the arm would certainly be permanent. Hallam’s condition when admitted to hospital was critical.

Cross-examined, witness said the position of the arm wounds were such that the pellets might have entered the arm whilst it was raised.

At this stage the hearing was adjourned until Wednesday, when evidence was given by Maud Alice Hannam, wife of the victim and evidence of John Hawksworth, of Conisborough, who was unable to attend court owing to illness was read.

Fathers Story

Prisoner, giving evidence on his own behalf, said the trouble arose over his sons allegation that there was sixpence short in the money he had been paid. They quarrelled on the way home, and the son knocked him down. Later his son threaten to knock his brains out. A man named Wilson came between them, and he (prisoner) went home.

“Percy followed me home,” went on the prisoner, “and came down the passage. As he came towards me his arm was raised as if to strike me, and I fired because I was afraid. The gun was in the kitchen. I fired again to frighten him. I had the second cartilage in my pocket for a week.”

Deliberate Aim

In defence, Mr Streatfield argued that the prisoner had no murderous intent, for that such a short range he could hardly have missed if he had. He deliberately aimed at the elbow. He was afraid of being attacked, and was entitled to use force, but there was no doubt that he was not entitled to use the force he did use. He was not guilty of having used that force with intent to kill. He was guilty of unlawful wounding.

Summing up, his Lordship said that because of the danger of a fight and a man’s fear of it, he was not entitled to stab or shoot another man. This trouble arose – as others have done – when men had been drinking, though there were no doubt thirsty on coming out of the pit. If they had been content with 1 pint each this might never have happened at all, but the prisoner had 6 pints and the younger Hamman four, when they quarrelled over sixpence.

The jury found Hannam “Not guilty” of attempted murder, but “Guilty” of shooting with intent to do grevious bodily harm. They recommended mercy on account of provocation.

His Lordship, in passing sentence of 18 months imprisonment with hard labour,  told the prisoner he was a very violent man, and had maimed his son for life.