Outrage at Conisboro’ – Attacked in Bed – Bedroom Like a Slaughter-House.

September 1906

Mexborough & Swinton Times, September 1, 1906

Shocking Outrage At Conisboro’
Man And Wife Attacked In Bed
Awful Scenes
Bedroom Like A Slaughter-House

Early on Thursday morning rumours spread among the inhabitant’s of Park Road, Conisboro’, of the enactment in their midst, in the small hours of the morning, of a tragedy which promised to have far-reaching and terrible consequences. Closer investigation did a great deal in the direction of qualifying this impression, but at the same time there is no doubt that shortly before 4 o’clock on that morning, another was added to the already long list of cases of squalor and brutality with a strong mingling of the element of drunkenness with which the district of Conisboro’ has been far too closely identified.

In Park Road, a portion of Conisboro’ when is given up almost solely to the mining element, lives a miner named James Dagnall, employed at the Cadeby Main Colliery, who is in the happy position of owning the house in which he resides. Co-habiting with him are two separate families, namely James Dalton and his wife, Annie Dalton, and Patrick McHale and his wife. Dagnall is a widower with four children. Our representative succeeded in gaining information which revealed a sad state of depravity with the not uncommon vices of jealousy and drink in combination, making a very substantial source for the crime which has been enacted.

Dalton, it may be mentioned, has only just served a term of two years imprisonment for robbery with violence at Mexboro’, and during that time his wife, who is Patrick McHale’s sister, has acted in the capacity of housekeeper to John Dagnall, the landlord. Returning to the house on Park-road, last Friday, after his period of enforced exile, James Dalton at once proceeded to make arrangements for the removal of his family to Mexboro’ it being his object, presumably, to set up an independent establishment.

Meanwhile, so our representative learned, James Dagnall had conceived a liking for his housekeeper, and had on more than one occasion expressed his resentment at the proposed separation.

On the other hand Dalton had commented with indignation on the state of affairs which confronted him on his return, and had bestowed his censure equally on these by whom he was surrounded. This, it would appear had by, no means impaired the relations of the two men, Dalton and Dagnall, who since Friday last had gone about drinking.

The Outrage.

The appearance of friendliness was maintained, and Mrs. Dalton, in the course of an interview with our representative, stated that on Wednesday evening when she with her husband was retiring to rest, Dagnall had wished them ‘good-night’ cheerfully enough, and appeared to be normal as to disposition. Early in the morning, however, the McHales, who slept in the garret, were awakened by one of Dagnall’s children, who rushing into the bedroom, informed them that ‘daddy had come upstairs and gone into the room with a hatchet.’ The child had been sleeping with the other children in the next room to that of the Daltons, and had seen Dagnall through the open door.

Previous to that a noise indicative of a struggle was heard by Mrs. McHale, who was about to prepare her husband’s breakfast – the time being 3-30 a.m. – and McHale having to journey to Silverwood Colliery, where he was employed. Presumably, from previous experience, the McHales set the noise down to the fact that Dalton was engaged in a process of thumping his wife. Of this idea they were soon disabused by the boy, who brought them news of the serious state of affairs. It is understood that, proceeding to the front bedroom, in which Dalton and his wife were sleeping, McHale carrying in his hand an oil lamp, beheld Dalton with terrible injuries to his throat, protecting that portion of his anatomy with one hand, and at the same time warding off an attack by Dagnall with the other, exclaiming: ‘Oh, you dog!’

Questioned by our representative Mrs. Dalton stated that she also had been active in resistance, and the protection of her husband had resulted in the infliction of a severe wound on her right forearm. These had been medically treated, and seven stitches had been necessitated.

It is thought that Dalton was first stunned by a hatchet and afterwards a razor had been brought into requisition. That instrument had also, it is probable, subsequently been used by Dagnall in order to cut his own throat, for he was seen to be labouring under such an injury, which, however, was comparatively slight.

Meanwhile McHale had set down the lamp and had rushed out into the street, rousing the neighbourhood. P.c. Thompson was summoned, and Dr. Craik was also early on the scene. It is alleged that in response to the officer’s query as to who was responsible for the outrage, Dagnall pointed to Mrs. Dalton as the cause. It is also said that Dagnall had stated that all he was sorry for was that he had not finished Mrs. Dalton, whom on several occasions he had described as a ‘nondescript.’

Both men were transferred to the Doncaster Infirmary by means of a cab, and subsequently by train. Mrs. Dalton remarked that the unfortunate man’s head was almost severed from the trunk. Others, however, do not take such an extreme view of the case, and it is thought that the skill and attention, which is inseparable from the management of the Doncaster Infirmary, should succeed in effecting the recovery of the man.

There is nothing in the temperament or in the past record of Dagnall to indicate the possibility of this regrettable affair, except as has already been suggested the two destroying elements of jealousy and drink.

A dramatic touch was given to the business by the fact that Thursday was the day selected for the removal of the Dalton family to the new home at Mexboro’.

A Gory Bedroom.

The bedroom presented a shocking sight, and everything was rendered repulsive by a wholesale besmattering of blood. The bed itself resembled more than anything a slaughterhouse, or a shambles, and there were evident signs of a terrible struggle having taken place. The injured lay on the side nearest to the window, and it was from that side that the attack was made, so that as Dagnall does not appear to have had a light the escape of Mrs. Dalton may be regarded as providential.

Mrs. Dalton still suffers considerably from shock, and is to be commended for the promptness and courage which enabled her to frustrate the apparent designs of Dagnall. Inquiries at the Infirmary on Thursday evening elicited the fact that both men are progressing as well as can be expected.