|Wellingborough News 24/05/1889, transcribed by Peter Brown
THE RUSHDEN SHOOTING CASE
At the Northampton County Court on Wednesday, before his Honour Judge Snagge, Eleanor Dunkley, 111, Lower Thrift street, Northampton, single woman, sued Robert Fuller, jun., 74, Ethel street, Northampton, riveter, for £50 for damages caused by her being shot at Rushden, on New Year’s Day. She alleged that she was shot through the defendant’s negligence in discharging the loaded gun at her. Her claim included £30 for nursing from 1st January to 6th March, and £5 5s. for medical attendance. Mr. Ellen (Howes, Percival, and Ellen) appeared for the plaintiff, and Mr J G Phillips for the defendant.
Mr Phillips said that the defendant in the case was quite a lad, and the question was the amount of damages. He was prepared to make certain proposals with a view to settling the case without a hearing. It had been a matter of extreme regret to the defendant, and at the time of the affair the defendant and the plaintiff were on the very best of terms, and were intimate friends. Whatever might be said about the negligences of the defendant nothing was intentional on his part, and something might be said of the negligence of the person who left the gun with the breach open, and a cartridge in it. He thought he should be able to prove that the defendant had never before in his life held a gun in his hand.
His Honour: Does that improve matters? The first time he ever held a gun in his hand, and he pointed it at the young girl, and pulled the trigger.
Mr Ellen: But that is not true I can prove your Honour.
Mr Phillips: Well, I know that is no defence. He may have had a gun in his hand, but he never pulled a trigger. It had never occurred to the defendant that the gun was loaded. Ignorance is no plea; but the weapon was one of peculiar construction, a converted rifle, and when the breach was not open the cartridge could not be seen.
At this point Mr Phillips handed the gun containing the fired cartridge to the judge. It would be noticed that the cartridge could not be seen when the breach was closed.
Mr Ellen said the cartridge even now was visible. When the gun was in the state it would be at the time of firing, and when the affair occurred, it would be brighter and shine more clearly.
Mr Pillips called attention to a statement of Mr Ellen that the cartridge was so far in the gun that it could not be drawn when the shooting party returned to the house at Rushden, and Arthur Berry laid down the loaded gun. Something should be said of the negligence of those careless persons who left guns about for silly young people to use.
His Honour: But two wrongs don't make a right.
Mr. Phillips: No, your honour. The young man was exceedingly sorry for what he had done. He was earning nothing.
Mr. Kllen: Oh, no!
Mr. Phillips said he was earning very little; only 12s. a week. Of course the judge could, and probably would, make an order upon him, but Mr Phillips would suggest that an attempt should should be made to settle the matter by bringing the third party into the matter, a friend of the defendant, who would make an offer for some sum to be paid down in settlement. In a few moments, he believed, a volunteer could be found.
His Honour: The only question I have to determine is whether the damages claimed are a penny too much.
Mr Ellen said Mr Phillips seemed to admit the defendant’s liability; and they might take evidence as to the damages.
Mr Phillips: Of course, I cannot say there is no culpable negligence.
His Honour: It is a mere question of whether £50 is too large a sum.
Mr Phillips said an offer was made.
Mr Ellen: £10 down has been offered, with costs. I cannot accept that.
In reply to His Honour Mr Ellen said the defendant was about 18 or 19.
The plaintiff, Miss Dunkley, said that as a result of the accident her left arm had been amputated. A part of her ear was also carried away. She was unable to leave Rushden for 9 weeks after the accident. She formerly worked at shoe fitting, and she used to earn about 15s. a week. Since the accident she had done no work at all.
After a conference between the two solicitors, Mr. Ellen said that they had managed to agree to a sum to be paid to the plaintiff. He added that he had been asked to state that in bringing the action, which was of course merely a civil action, though the plaintiff had suffered heavily and complained of great neglect, she did not allege any criminal intention.
His Honour: I am quite sure of that.
Mr Ellen: We have agreed to accept judgment £20 and costs, under a satisfactory arrangement which has not come before the Court.
The Registrar suggested the verdict should £20 1s., so as to carry costs on the higher scale, but Mr Ellen said he did not wish for it.
His Honour said that £20 was not one penny too much.