Haines (Rabbitts), Leonard

Haines (Rabbitts), Leonard           1919 May 30th        Steeple Langford

Young Farmer Drowned at Steeple langford

The circumstances of a bathing fatality at Steeple Langford were related to the Coroner for South Wilts (Mr F H Trethowan) at an inquest held at Hanging Langford on Saturday, on the body of Leonard Francis Haines (otherwise Rabbitts) which was taken from the river from Thursday evening.

Walter Haines, a farmer, of Hanging Langford, said his baptismal names were Joseph William, and his surname Rabbitts. Leonard Francis Haines was his son, and was a farmer. He was registered as Leonard Francis Rabbitts, but usually went by the name of Haines, which was the name in his Army papers. He was discharged from the Army owing to a gunshot wound in one ankle. His age was 20 last December. Witness last saw him alive soon after 5 o’clock on May 22nd, when he told him he was going to bathe.

Herbert Edward Down, a private in the Somerset Light Infantry, whose home is at Hanging Langford, said he went with Leonard Haines and his brother Amos to bathe at Flowden’s Hatches at Steeple Langford. Leonard could swim well, but soon after he got into the water he seemed to get into difficulties, so he called Amos and they went to his assistance, but he disappeared below the surface. Amos dived down and said he caught hold of Leonard’s hair, but could not get him up. Witness could not get hold of him, not see him, so he sent for help and let the hatches down. The body was recovered about three-quarters of an hour afterwards.

Amos Haines gave corroborative evidence.

Joseph Bryant, farm labourer, of Steeple Langford, said he helped to take the body out of the river. He did not think there were any weeds in that part.

Dr E W Lewis, of Codford, said he had attended Leonard Haines for a wounded ankle, and added that that trouble would not prevent him from swimming. He had not complained of a weak heart. Death was due to drowning. According to a statement made by his father, Haines had just before bathing partaken of a hearty meal, which might account for sudden failure of the heart when he entered the water.

A verdict to the effect that death was due to “Accidental drowning” was returned.

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