Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Shocking Suicide at Dunston, 1888 (c.NZ230626)

From the Monthly Chronicle of North-Country Lore & Legend, August 1888 –

July 7 – A shocking case of attempted murder, followed by the suicide of the perpetrator, occurred at Dunston, near Gateshead. About eight o’clock in the evening, Sergeant Green and Police-Constable Lindsay, the only two policemen in the place, were informed that John Swaddle, a waterman, had gone into the house of Thomas Dawson, and assaulted him with a poker. They went and turned Swaddle out, the latter making no disturbance about the matter at the time. An hour later, however, the officers came across Swaddle carrying a double-barrelled gun, which he immediately levelled at the sergeant and fired. Green reeled and fell, shot in the left side. Lindsay rushed at Swaddle, who fired at him also, the result being that the constable fell to the ground. Swaddle, after a moment’s glance at his two victims, ran off, taking the gun with him, in the direction of the River Tyne. Green, meanwhile, assisted by the people of the village, his wounds being serious, was conveyed with all speed to his home. Lindsay had received a large number of pellets in his arm and back, but was not so dangerously hurt as his superior. Swaddle, on reaching the riverside, threw his gun into a boat, and jumped into deep water. He soon rose to the surface, and was seized by a man who was in the boat and dragged on shore. An unattached locomotive soon afterwards came steaming along the Redheugh Railway close by the river towards Gateshead. Swaddle jumped to his feet, sprang over the low wall at the side of the railway, and flung himself upon his face right in front of the advancing engine, which literally cut him in two. Swaddle, who was 41 years of age, left a wife and a large family; and the jury, at the inquest on his body, returned a verdict of death by suicide. 

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