1871: Aldeburgh – Serious Charge of Shooting

At the Woodbridge Petty Session, on Thursday, before F.G. Doughty, Esq. (chairman), W.P.T. Phillips, Esq., and the Rev. C.G. Archer, Samuel Smith Ward, of Aldeburgh, fisherman, was charged with having on the 20th of January last, assaulted Job Chatton, of Aldeburgh, pilot, with intent to do him grievous bodily harm.

Mr. Jones appeared for the prosecution, and Mr. Chamberlin for the defendant, – Job Chatton said: I am a Trinity pilot, living at Aldeburgh, and was on the River Alde in my punt on the evening of Monday, the 30th of January, on an open space of water called the Little Bight, on the Sudbourne side. I was after wild fowl; it was a light night, and I believe I could be seen at from 80 to 100 yards between half-past six and seven. After I had just slewed my punt I heard a gun fired, and found that I was shot in the head, face, arm and shoulder.

I saw it was Ward who had shot, and in answer to me he said, “It’s me.” I replied, “Yes, and a pretty ‘me’ you have made of it. You have shot my eye out and broke my arm.”

Prisoner replied, “If you had not slewed your punt round I should not have shot you. I did not do it for the purpose. Where’s your painter?”

Prisoner took hold of the painter and towed me to my great boat. Prisoner said it was loose shot, not cartridge. As he was towing me he said “You are not dead yet: you are moving about.”

After getting me on board my own boat prisoner washed my face with some warm water, which was on the fire for my tea, and helped me on with my coat, remarking that my eye was only bloodshot. He tied up my head and put me on shore, saying that he did not shoot me for the purpose, and recommended me to get home as soon as possible. He led me on the quay and about 15 yards beyond and then left me.

I went to Mr. Hele’s, the surgeon, and had to go to bed, where I remained for five weeks. The next day after Mr. Powell, from the Opthalmic Hospital, came to me and took the residue of the eye out.

Ward was about 20 yards from me when the shot was fired. He came up right astern of me: it was very unusual to come up astern. In my judgment the act was done intentionally. I am sure he could see me before he fired: it was so light I could have seen a sparrow on the top of his head. I had seen prisoner on Friday before the Monday: he said, “You are very fond of your gun, aren’t you?” I said, “Yes, and you are too, aren’t you?” He said, Some of us will get shot soon, and it will make very little difference whether some of us are dead or alive.”

I gave directions for the prisoner to be taken into custody on the 4th of February.

– Cross–examined by Mr, Chamberlin: I have known Ward ever since he was seven years old; up to the time of this occurrence we were friends. He had been master of the pilot cutter in which I served. I had seen Ward on the Monday morning, when he borrowed a hammer of me. When shooting wild fowl a man lies down on his belly to shoot at them. Until I was shot I did not know Ward was there with his boat. I was lying in an angle of about 45 degrees; if Ward had known I had been there it would have been wrong of him to come up astern of me. I thought from the first it was an intentional act on the part of Ward; I believed so then and do so now. He was not more than 20 yards from me.

Mr. Thos. W. Ferrand Gerard, a gentleman living at Aldeburgh, produced a plan made under his superintendence, and said he told Chatton he would back him up in the prosecution.

Mr. Nicholas Fenwick Hele, surgeon, Aldeburgh, said he examined the prosecutor on the evening of the 30th of January, and found his left eye was entirely destroyed and his arm much injured. The injury to the arm was permanent, but prosecutor was now out of danger. Believed there were about 59 shots remaining in Chatton’s person now.

– Cross-examined: Chatton never told me it was an accident; he never said Ward was not to blame. 

– At this point the case was adjourned till Thursday, the 20th inst.

The Bury and Norwich Post, and Suffolk Herald, Tuesday 11 April 1871

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