Conisborough Shooting Affray – Miner Committed for Trial

January 1921

Mexborough Times, January 8th, 1921

Conisborough Shooting Affray

Miner Committed for Trial

At Doncaster, on Friday, John Richardson Hannam, miner, of Highfield road, Conisborough, was charged:

1. With shooting with intent to murder Thomas Grork, miner, 10 Wellington Road, new Edlington, and

2. With shooting with intent to murder George Cocksedge, miner, 27, Don view, Conisborough, on the night of December 10.

Prisoner was defended by Mr Rufus Hartley.

Superintendent minty, in opening the case, explained that the prisoner spent a certain amount of time at the Star Hotel, and the Three Horse Shoes Hotel, Conisborough. A number of Irishman, including the man Grork, also spent some time at the Star.

It was alleged that there was a little unpleasantness there earlier in the evening, and when Grork left the Star he appeared to have been badly assaulted. After turning out time, he was making his way home, and the other man Cocksedge, was doing the same when the prisoner, who had apparently gone home and fetched his gun, came rushing down the road. Two shots were heard and Cocksedge was wounded. He (the superintendent) was placed in the unfortunate position of having to call some of the prisoner´s friends to give evidence against him.

Dr W.J.McClure said Grork was brought to his surgery at 11 PM. He was suffering from a contused wound over the left eyebrow, ¼ inches long, and a wound on his head 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 inches deep and long. This could have been caused by the gun produced, or any blunt instrument. The injuries to the face, which included cuts to the lips, could have been caused by a fall. At 11.15 Cocksedge was brought to the surgery for treatment, suffering from gunshot wounds in his right upper arm, and he ordered the removal to the Infirmary.

Replying to Mr Hartley, he said Grork was under the influence of drink. His injuries were not consistent with a fall on to the edge of the kerbstone. Cocksedge made a statement that he was going home quietly and soberly when he was shot, he did not know by whom. He was sober. Seventeen Wounds Dr Hoff, house surgeon at the infirmary, said there were 17 punctured rooms in Cocksedge´s right upper arm and elbow he extracted some of the pellets. He was of the opinion that the goal must have been fired from a distance of four or 5 yards, and from the side of the man.

He could not produce the pellets extracted because they had been thrown away. He gave instructions to preserve them. He was of the opinion that the shop was what he knew as number 4.

Ambrose Mangham, miner, 11, St John´s Road, new Edlington, spoke to a quarrel in which some Irishmen were concerned, and who were alleged to have threatened prisoner, – who went home. He later left the house, and after two or 3 min. Witness followed to see where he had gone. As he was going through the archway he heard the report of a gun, and on-going in the direction of the sound, he came up to the prisoner in the Doncaster road. He saw a lot of men run down Highfield road when they heard the shot. While he was with prisoner PC Davidson came up. Prisoner had the gun produced in his hand, and witness took charge of it. He had not seen prisoner with the gun previously. He knew he had one.

Later, he went back up Highfield road, when he saw Cocksedge, who complained that he had been shot. He was taken to see the doctor by the prisoner’s son.

Replying to Mr Hartley, he said after the adjournment, George Cocksedge, one of the injured men, said there was some haggling in the Star Inn. After he left there he went to a club, and just after 10 o´clock was proceeding home alone. At Highfield Road he saw the prisoner and Mangham and one or two other men. He said “good night” to them, and walked on. Coming up the road from Conisborough, was a body of other men, ther e would be 20 of them. They went up Highfield road, and he heard some of them say, “come on the – – – – lives up here.”

Witness said he followed the men, and when about 60 yards up Highfield road, he heard the men all shouting. They all seem to be drunk, and then there was a report of a gun. The men came rushing back, and witness jumped off the road onto the footpath to let them go by. He then got shot. Before he was shot he heard the report of a gun. Two shots were fired. He saw the flash, and was knocked silly. The gun seemed to be from 4 to 6 yards away. The prisoner was a friend of his. The role was full of Irishmen, all squabbling one against another. If Hannam fired the gun, it would not be with the intention of shooting witness. He might have been shot by an Irishman; he did not know who shot him. The gum produced will kill a rabbit at 25 yards, but at 70 would not kill a fly Superintendent Minty, informed the magistrates that Grork, it had been discovered since the opening of the case, was unable to attend court owing to illness, and a telephone message had been received that the doctor at certify to this effect. At this the case was adjourned until Tuesday, prisoners bail being renewed. Police Denial. PC Davidson said that Grork came to him and complained of having been assaulted. He saw him attended to and then followed him down Edlington Road. He heard a sharp, and later so prisoner five straight down Highfield road. Prisoner rushed up to Grork, and brandished the gun, holding it by the barrel. After that he levelled the gun at Grork, who was struggling to get away. Prisoner was then locked up. He made no reply when charged Witness, in reply to Mr Rufus Hartley, denied that prisoner was assaulted while in the cells at Conisborough Police Station. PC Moulden was also questioned by Mr Hartley on this point, but denied having struck the prisoner. It was the first time he had heard of such a suggestion.

Thomas Grork, a young Irishman, who appeared in the witness stand wearing a bandage around his head and looking very ill, said he visited the Star Hotel, at Conisborough, at 6.30 on the night in question, and later went to the Three Horseshoes where he met some more Irishman, and they stayed drinking until closing time. After turning out, he was knocked down and kicked while on the ground. As soon as he got up he ran to Doncaster Road in the direction of home. Then he met another Irishman, who handed him his cap which he had lost. He was sober but admitted to having had 6 pints of beer. When passing Highfield road, he heard a shot from about 10 yards up the road, and later saw three men come down the Road. One of them was carrying a gun, and he shouted “Hands up: are you English or Irish?” As witness was turning to get away, he was struck on the end with a butt end of the gun. Previous to this the man levelled the gun at the witness and, as he turned around to escape, he was struck. He did not know who struck him, and could not identify him. He was still under the doctor, and had not been able to do any work since the assault.

Michael Rackford, of New Hill, Conisborough, corroborated.

Replying to Superintendent Minty he said he was too frightened to stay and assist the Constable. He could not identify the man with the gun.

To Mr Hartley, he said he heard the noise of a quarrel. After leaving the public house, and he saw the man soon after.

Roger Butler, another Irishman, replying to Mr Hartley, strongly denied that he said that every Englishman ought to be put in the sea. Such a remark was never made. He admitted there was a discussion, and that the landlord told them to shut up or go out, but the landlord never remonstrated with witness, nor told him he ought never to have made the remark. It was not true that he apologised for saying it. They were attacked as they were going home, about 30yards from the Mona Club, and about 50 or 60 yards from Highfield Road. He went back to the Mona club for a cap, and when asked what was the matter, he told them that they had been attacked, and some men who lived at Edlington volunteered to accompany them. They followed the men were attacked them for the purpose of finding out where they lived. There were five of them.

Charge Reduced

Arthur Goodwin, miner, gave evidence bearing out this statement. John Middleton, also living at Edlington, said he heard three shots after the first, and “like a good soldier.” He ran. Mr Pettifer, magistrate’s clerk, intimated that the magistrates were not prepared to commit the prisoner on the charge of shooting with intent to murder, but subject what Mr Hartley said, they were prepared to commit him on a charge of inflicting grievous bodily harm on the two men. Mr Hartley commented on the conflict of evidence, and said there was no evidence to show that the prisoner fired a gun that night at all.

The magistrates decided to commit the prisoner for trial, and renewed his bail. They also complimented PC Davidson for his conduct on this night and for the manner in which he had given his evidence.


Supt Minty

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