CRIME IN OLD ROTHERHAM: Killed over game of marbles

AT 6pm on July 19 1895 some young boys were engaged in playing marbles in a garden at Parkgate when a 13-year-old lad named Alfred Harwood stopped to watch the game.

One of the boys was Harry Lockwood aged 15 who lived with his mother at Holly Bush Street, Parkgate. Harwood asked if he could join in with the game and Lockwood told him 'no' and told the younger boy to go away. Harwood slouched off miserably and had only gone about 12 yards, when he picked up a stone which he threw at Lockwood. The stone hit Lockwood in the back, before falling to the ground.

Then Harwood saw Lockwood pick up a piece of a brick to throw at him, which he described later as being as big as a man's fist. The brick struck Harwood at the back of the head and it immediately started bleeding profusely. He fell down in the road and a crowd gathered before he was picked up and taken home.

Harwood lived with his brother in lodgings, and so his landlady attended to him, but the young boy grew steadily worse. On Saturday August 3 Harwood was taken to the surgery of Dr Pickin at Parkgate, but the doctor not realising the seriousness of his condition, at first tried several different remedies of his own. Having no success, he finally sent him to the Rotherham hospital on Wednesday August 7. 

Sadly by then tetanus had already set in and it was very clear that the boy was dying. It was decided to take his deposition and he was attended by Alderman George Neill and Mr George Clews, the assistant magistrates clerk. Also there were Harry Lockwood's mother, Police sergeant Barclay and Mr Stanley Riseley the hospital house surgeon. After hearing the boys statement Harry Lockwood was taken into custody and appeared before the magistrates on Monday August 12 charged with unlawfully wounding Alfred Harwood.

The young man stated that he and Harwood had always been good friends, and they had no quarrel with each other. He told the magistrates that when he threw the brick, he had no intention of killing the younger boy.

The Superintendent of the Rotherham Police, Major Hammond told the court that Harwood was not expected to recover, and he had been informed by the house surgeon that it was unlikely that he would last the day, and he asked for a remand which was granted. Harwood died on Tuesday August13  and Lockwood was then charged with manslaughter.

On Friday August 16 an inquest was held at the Rotherham Hospital in front of coroner Mr Wightman. Lockwood was present at the inquest in the custody of PS Barclay, and he was represented by Mr A P Aizlewood. The first to give evidence was Harwood's brother John Charles. He said that on July 19 Alfred had been to school and after tea went on an errand for the landlady. He was brought back home about 5pm bleeding from the back of his head. Herbert Simpson another 14-year-old, told the inquest that when the brick hit Harwood, he dropped to his knees and held his head in his hands.

Dr Alfred Robinson stated that he had held a post mortem on the boy, and found a small scalp wound about 1½ inches long at the base of the skull. Externally it looked like it had healed, but internally he found there was evidence of tetanus which was the actual cause of death. 

The coroner summed up and told the jury that under the circumstances they would have no option but to send Lockwood for trial. The next morning Harry Lockwood was brought before the magistrates at the newly opened Police Court on Frederick Street The magistrate said the prisoner had committed an illegal act by throwing the piece of brick, which had caused the death of another human being. Harry Lockwood was found guilty and sent for trial.

At the Leeds Assizes on December 3 1895 the judge, Mr Justice Grantham addressed the Grand Jury before the trial took place. He told them that: “If this was a case of homicide by misadventure, it would be a sad thing for the defendant to be tried for that he did not intend to do. Should they come to the conclusion after hearing the witnesses that the boy had no wilful intention, they would be doing a service to the country as well as to the lad, by finding it had not been necessary to send him there for trial.”

On December 7 when all the evidence had been heard, the jury gave the verdict of not guilty and Harry Lockwood, thankfully was dismissed.  

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