Dibben, Aaron

Dibben, Aaron       1877 January 20th           Fisherton

On Saturday morning last an inquest was held at the “Victoria Inn,” Fisherton, before the City Coroner, Mr G Smith, on the body of Aaron Dibben, who was found drowned about 200 or 300 yards from Long Bridge on the previous day.

The Coroner, in addressing the jury, said he didn’t know that the evidence would give them any information as to by what means the deceased got into the water, and there would be four hypotheses for them to consider, viz – whether he was put into the water by any other person, which would probably amount to murder; whether he fell into the water in a fit, thereby being accidentally drowned; whether he committed suicide by throwing himself into the water in a state of insanity, or whether he fell into the water accidentally.

These questions they would have to consider from the evidence which would be placed before them. Dr Good would be called and prove he had attended him for some considerable time, that he was subject to gout, that he had recently had a fit, and that he had no doubt in his own mind that on this occasion he was walking near the water, had a similar fit, and fell in accidentally. That, he thought, would be his evidence. It would be for them to come to their conclusions according to the evidence placed before them, and he had no doubt that evidence would lead them to a just conclusion.

Joseph Good, medical practitioner at Wilton, said he had frequently attended the deceased, and was sent for on Monday night, but as it was late when he got home that night he didn’t see him until Tuesday morning. He then found him suffering from a good deal of congestion about his head, and he told him he had had a fall the night before in the street from a fit. His instructions were that he should remain in bed for a few days. In the absence of his wife, who had gone out, he believed deceased told his son he felt better, and thought he should get up and walk off his medicine. He thought in all probability in trying to get home he had another fit, fell into the water accidentally, and was drowned.

The foreman of the jury (Mr Wells) said it had been reported that deceased’s life was insured, but Dr Good replied that it was not for the benefit of his wife or children in any way.

Charles Lampard, carpenter and joiner, East-street, Fisherton, said he went to Long Bridge on Friday morning just before 9. He saw what he thought to be a man, he should say between 200 and 300 yards below the bridge, on the meadows, and young Mr Crook, who was standing by, said he was confident it had been there during the whole time of the high water. He left after Mr Crook had assured him it had been there all along, and it was nothing but weeds, but went there again dinner-time, when he thought it appeared plainer, and said he would go to see whether it was a man. He went with two others, one of whom was man named Baker, and found it was the body of a man. Subsequently they brought it to Long Bridge, and afterwards to the “Victoria Inn.” The police were present.

Jessie Nash, barmaid of the “Plume of Feathers,” said she remembered the deceased coming to the “Plume of Feathers” she should think about 20 minutes to ten, on Tuesday evening, and she served him with six-penny-worth of brandy, which he mixed with water. That was all he had, and he didn’t appear to her to be at all intoxicated. He remained about 20 minutes, and no one was with him.

Superintendent Mathews stated that from information received he went to Mr Lywood’s garden, Crane Bridge-road, in company with Supt Stephens, of the county police. With a telescope he saw a body lying in the meadow on the opposite side of the river. The meadow was flooded and the body was partly in the water and partly out. He told a man named Pearce to get a boat and bring the body ashore, but in the mean time three other men had arrived on the spot and turned the body over. Pearce assisted to bring it to Long Bridge, and witness then directed that it should be conveyed to the “Victoria Inn.” He searched him and found 14d in coppers, a knife, a purse, and a handkerchief. The man was quite dead when brought to shore. Those who conveyed him to the “Victoria Inn” were Charles Lampard, Henry Case, Joseph Baker and Charles Pearce.

By a juryman : He had information, between 10 and 11 on Tuesday night, that the deceased was missing, and the police made inquiries o see if they could ascertain where he was gone, but it was impossible for them to do so. He sent a description of the deceased to Mr Superintendent Stephens, of the County Police, and he did everything he could to see if they could find him.

Arthur Dibben, son of the deceased, said he resided at 6, Church Fields, Fisherton, and his father, who was 54 last October, was a drayman in the employ of Pern, Heath and Waters. He was attended by Dr Good, of Wilton, who saw him last Tuesday, but witness was not present, neither was he present when the deceased went out. His mother was present, and also his sister. He had been told he left about 8 o’clock. About half past eight witness was going up Fisherton, on his way home, and as he passed the “Victoria Inn,” he saw his father sitting in the bar. He went home and when his father didn’t come home at half past 10 steps were taken to ascertain what had become of him. Witness first went to the “Victoria Inn,” and not finding him there went to the Castle Street Brewery, but didn’t find him, and gave information to the police. They looked about for him all night, but to no purpose. Deceased occasionally got tipsy, but when he last saw him he appeared perfectly sober.

Eliza Powell, wife of Joseph Daniel Powell, landlord of the “Bird in Hand,” Fisherton, said the deceased entered their bar between 9 and 10 on Tuesday evening, and called for six pennyworth of brandy, which was put in a big glass, and deceased filled it up with warm water. He said he had somewhere to go and dreaded the water, and she remarked, “If I dreaded the water I shouldn’t go to-night,” to which he made no reply. That night the water was very high. Deceased remained in the house about five minutes, and witness didn’t see which way he left. No-one was with him, and he didn’t appear in the least intoxicated.

A juryman stated that Mr Powell told him that deceased was in his house at quarter or half past ten, and another juryman supported the statement.

The Coroner was of opinion that Powell’s was he last place the deceased went to that evening, and he was perfectly sober. He thought he went from North Street towards Harcourt Bridge instead of turning round to the right as he might have done under ordinary circumstances.

As there was no evidence to show how the deceased got into the water the jury returned a verdict of “Found Drowned,” and Mr Lampard was complimented by the Coroner for the way in which he acted in the matter.

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