Scammel, John

Scammel, John         1918 August 23rd             Tisbury

Sad Case of Suicide

Grocer Worried by Controlled Prices and Coupons

A visitor to Tisbury named John Scammel committed suicide on Thursday in last week by throwing himself in front of an approaching railway train. It appeared from the evidence that he had been suffering from a nervous breakdown brought on by business worry and a personal bereavement.

The facts came before the Coroner for South Wilts (Mr F H Trethowan) at an inquest held on Friday.

Edwin John Perrett, farmer, of Polden’s Farm, West Tisbury, gave evidence of identification. He said that John Scammmel was his brother-in-law, and was 54 years of age. He had just sold his grocer’s business and lived in Portsmouth. Three months ago he came to stay with witness for the benefit of his health, as he had had a nervous breakdown and suffered from sleeplessness. He subsequently went away, but came again on Wednesday, August 14th, and did not seem to be as well as on his first visit. He was very strange at times, and often went near the railway line which ran close to the house. About two months ago his son died and he never seemed to get over it. He had no financial worries, but his business had worried him, owing to the controlled prices and the coupons, etc.

George Henry Harris, of Exeter, an engine driver on the L & SWR, stated that on August 15th he was driving a train from Exeter to Salisbury. As it approached Polden’s Farm at 11.50am he saw a man moving from the top of the embankment towards the line. The engine was then about 30 yards away. Witness sounded the whistle, and then saw the man, when he got to the bottom of the bank, jump towards the engine. At first he did not think he meant to get in front of the train, but after the whistle had sounded it was quite obvious that he was trying to do so. He pulled up as quickly as possible and informed the guard.

Albert Bennett, a signal and telegraph inspector, living at 55, Wilton Road, Salisbury, said he was travelling on the train and heard the whistle sounded near Polden’s Farm. When the train pulled up he and William Baggs went back along the line and found the body. One foot and one arm were cut off, as well as the top of the skull.

William Baggs, a foreman platelayer, of Railway Cottages, Salisbury, corroborated Mr Bennett’s evidence.

Dr H A Baber, of Tisbury, deposed that he attended Mr Scammel three months ago for a nervous breakdown, great depression of spirits and sleeplessness. His health improved, but his mind was somewhat unhinged. He had seen the body and found that the injuries to the skull were sufficient to cause death.

A verdict of “Suicide whilst of unsound mind” was returned.

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