The Conisborough Manslaughter Case – Sheffield Butcher Sent to Trial

October 1923

Mexborough & Swinton Times, October 20

The Conisborough Manslaughter Case

Sheffield Butcher Sent to Trial

A Second Party Summoned

The Doncaster West Riding Magistrates on Friday committed to the Assizes, on bail Jabez Cowley, Butcher, Clipstone Road, Darnall Sheffield, charged with the manslaughter of William Wyatt, miner, Sheffield Road, Conisborough, who died in Denaby Hospital on 25 September from injuries caused on September 7 through being knocked down by a motor van.

A Coroner´s Jury returned a verdict of “Manslaughter” against Cowley.

On Friday the occupants of a second van were also summoned. George Austin, junr, butcher, Sheffield, on driving dangerously and without a license and his father, Thomas Austin, for aiding and abetting

In these cases, the Bench said that the announcement of their decision would be deferred until after the Assizes.

In Cowley´s case evidence given at a previous hearing by one witness was that two cars passed him “like a flash of lighting”. Another said that he was walking alongside Wyatt, wheeling his cycle, when he was hurled through the air at a terrific pace and dropped some distance away.

Sergeant Elliott, Conisborough, now stated that he interviewed the Austins the day after Wyatt was injured the father told him that the son was driving, and that Cowley after knocking the man down passed in front of him and they nearly bumped. The younger Austin repeated what the father had said. The elder defendant, when told that he would be reported for aiding and abetting said “You cannot hang me for it.”

Mr Fenoughty submitted it was ridiculous to suggest that Cowley´s Ford car would travel at 50 miles an hour.

Cowley, in evidence said at the time of the accident he was travelling from 12 to 15 miles per hour. The car could not do 50 miles per hour even downhill.

He pulled out twice to pass Austin, and sounded his horn. There was never any question of racing. He noticed two men on the roadway wheeling a cycle between them. He immediately swerved, but as he was passing felt a bump. He pulled up in about 15 or 20 yards, and went back. He was never near the kerb. The accident occurred about 10.10. The street lamps at the spot were very low, and might as well have been out.

Cross-examined by Supt. Minty, Cowley denied having had more than two bottles of stout and a small whisky.

Thomas Austin, of Attercliffe road, Sheffield, and his son also gave evidence. They said there was never any suggestion of racing, and they were travelling at not more than 12 to 15 miles an hour.

George Henry Taylor, 490 Attercliffe road, Sheffield, who was riding with Cowley, and they seemed to be on three men in the roadway in a flash. Witness saw no cycle.

Joseph Horace Powell, New road, Sharrow, Sheffield, who was driving a ton lorry to Sheffield, and was overtaken by the defendants, said he was never more than 300 yards behind them. His engine was misfiring and he was travelling only at about ten miles an hour. His car was geared down, and its maximum speed was 15 miles an hour.

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