Three steps to heaven !

Hertfordshire Mercury, 8th April 1916


At Herts Quarter Sessions, Thomas Watson, 23, a soldier, was charged with wounding Thomas Cockle, a comrade, at Aston on 27th February.  He pleaded guilty.

Mr Fulton, prosecuting, said the two men were in the Royal Engineers together and had been good friends.  Cockle was giving some chocolate to other friends, and Watson, who seemed to have taken offence, drew out his trench knife and invited Cockle to fight.  Cockle declined and walked away.  Watson, however, still feeling offended, followed Cockle into another room and again asked him outside for a fight.  A struggle took place whereby Cockle suffered four knife wounds, one of which pierced his lung.

Captain Heaven of the Royal Engineers gave the defendant an excellent character reference, and explained that, in answer to a question from the Chairman of the Bench, the defendant was of American origin and that such knives were not part of British standard army issue.

Mr Tindal-Atkinson, defending, explained that there had been two fights, and that the trench knife had not been produced during the first of these.  He said that Cockle was the larger of the two men and had caused considerable hurt to the defendant.

The Bench retired, and the Chairman, after their return, said that the prisoner must consider himself very lucky not to be on trial on a charge of murder.  The Bench had been amazed that Cockle had escaped with his life.  They were at a loss to understand how such a serious matter could have arisen out of such a trivial occurence.  The prisoner was sentenced to 12 months’ hard labour.

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