Hertfordshire Mercury, 8th December 1906
On Sunday night, shortly before ten o’clock a squabble took place between some men who were in the Woolpack Inn, Puckeridge, and they were ordered to leave the house. When outside fighting is supposed to have taken place, and shortly after 10 o’clock, Ernest Moore, the son-in-law of the licensee, upon going outside found a man named Walter Wright lying in the road unconscious and apparently in a serious condition. The man was taken inside and died a few hours later.
An Inquest was held at the Woolpack Inn on Wednesday afternoon, before Dr E. Collins, (coroner), and a jury of which Mr J. Chapman was chosen foreman.
Dr M. B. Foster, of Puckeridge, stated that he was called to the deceased by a policeman at 10.30 on Sunday night. Deceased’s skull was an abnormally thin one, and witness found no evidence of other injuries except bruising on the lips.
Ernest Moore, dealer, son-in-law of the licensee of the Woolpack, stated the deceased had lodged there about eighteen months. He used often to come home the worse for drink and was of rather a quarrelsome disposition.
…. Witness thought deceased was very bad, and seeing P. C. Frith go by told him about it and asked him to look at the man, and the Constable fetched a doctor. By doctor’s orders deceased was brought into the house, and the Constable and witness remained with him till he died at 2.30 a.m.
By Supt Duke: He did not know why deceased and Hankin – the two lodgers – went out with the other men. When he looked over the gate, when he went to lock the stable, he saw Herbert Hankin and Wallace fighting a little distance away up the road – about fifteen yards from the deceased. He did not consider it his duty to go outside and see what the scuffling was about.
…..The Coroner: Did you tell Mr Moore you had knocked him down?
Moore: No, I never told no one.
Coroner: Did he actually strike you?
Moore: No; he struck at me twice, but never actually hit me.
Coroner: Why did you hit him?
Moore: He came at me again and I hit him in self defence. What anyone would do under the same circumstances. Yes, sir.
In reply to further questions witness said he had never had a row with deceased before. The whole trouble was caused by witness pouring a little beer into a quart pot by way of a lark. He (witness) offered to pay for another pint sooner than make a row.
The Coroner remarked that he thought the witness had given his evidence very straightforwardly. It was a serious matter, and it was unfortunate that it resulted as it did. Everyone would have done the same under the circumstances.
A Juror: He would not have been an Englishman if he didn’t.
Supt Duke said that after the last witnesses’ evidence, with the Coroner’s permission, he did not propose to call any further evidence.
After some discussion the jury returned a verdict of manslaughter against Hutchin, adding a rider their feeling being that the act was done in self-defence.