Barnes, Edmund

Barnes, Edmund    1890 May 3rd






On Saturday afternoon the City Coroner (Mr G Smith) held an inquest at the Infirmary on the body of a lad named Edmund Barnes, eight years of age, of 2, Griffin’s Court, Fisherton, who met with his death the previous evening from injuries received by some iron railings falling upon his head. Mr W C Wells was chosen foreman of the jury.

William Penny, carrier between Salisbury and Wilton, was called. He said that he was in Griffin’s court about ten minutes or quarter to seven o’clock the previous day with his van, unloading furniture. He did not see the iron railing fall on the deceased but he heard the boy cry out. He ran to the lad’s assistance, extricated him and loosened his collar as quickly as possible. With the assistance of two men named Andrews and Street he got the child to the Infirmary as he thought that was the best thing to do.

The Coroner : What should you consider to be the weight of the railing?

Witness : I should say the weight of the iron would be about 2½ cwt.

The Foreman : It’s a gate, Mr Coroner.

Mr Scamell : No, it is a piece of iron railing. I should say the weight of it would be about 5 cwt.

The Foreman : So should I.

The Coroner (to witness) : Do you know the child? Had you seen him before?

Witness : No, sir.

Mr Scamell : Was the child right under the railing?

Witness : His head was right under it, but not his body.

The Coroner : Did you see any string attached to the railing?

Witness : No, sir. My little boy who was with me said he saw the lad putting some string upon it.

The son of the last witness was next called. He was a little lad and did not know the nature of an oath, but the jury decided to hear what he had to say. In reply to questions he said he saw the deceased climbing upon the railing. He also saw him put some string upon the iron work, just before the railing fell, but he did not see it fall over him as he was then at the front of the van minding his father’s horse.

The next witness was Henry Street, butcher, of 5, Griffin’s Court, who said he was in the court about twenty minutes to seven, when he saw the deceased climbing upon the railings standing by the side of the court. Witness was then going indoors. He had not been inside his house more than about two minutes before he heard someone say, “Young Barnes is killed.” He immediately went out and saw the deceased lying in Mr Penny’s arms. He assisted to bring him to the Infirmary.

The Foreman : Was he conscious at all?

Witness : He was quite unconscious. He did not speak.

Mr Saunders : Did you see any other children there?

Witness : There were a lot of children playing about, but the deceased was the only boy I saw upon the railings.

Another Juror : Do you know who it was said that Barnes was killed?

Witness : No, I do not know who it was.

In answer to several questions as to how the accident occurred, the witness said he believed the deceased got upon the top and over-balanced the railings.

Henry Barnes, father of deceased, said he was a drover. The child was about eight years and a month old. He was not at home when the accident happened, but he met the two men coming down to the Infirmary with the deceased. He believed the railing belonged to Mr Arthur Foley, and he heard that orders had been given to shift them but it had not been done.

Mr Scamell said he believed the railings were on Mr Foley’s own property.

Archdale Lloyd Sharpin, house surgeon at the Infirmary, was the last witness called. He said the deceased was brought to the Infirmary at about seven o’clock the previous evening. Witness examined him and found he had two cuts on the back of his head, one on each side, and on the upper part of his face and head there was a large swelling and a blood tumor. Blood was flowing from his nose and soon after admission he vomited some blood up from the stomach. He could discover no bruising upon any other part of the body. There was a slight bruise upon his chin. The deceased was more or less unconscious up to the time of his death. The child died about nine o’clock. He should say that probably the injuries were caused by something heavy falling upon the head. He attributed death to the fracturing of the base of the skull, and a laceration of the brain.

At a suggestion of a juryman Mr Penny was recalled, and stated that the boy’s head was lying upon the left side, on the ground.

It having been previously suggested that the jury should view the scene of the accident they now proceeded to do so. The iron railing in question formed part of a quantity leaning against the wall of a shed opposite the cottages without being secured. The portion that fell on the deceased was left lying in the pathway, and it probably weighed about 3½ cwts. The jury closely examined the spot, and having returned to the Infirmary, brought in a verdict of “Accidental Death,” the Coroner being authorised by the general consent of the jury to see Mr Arthur Foley and ask him to secure the railings to prevent any further accident of the kind.


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