Engineer, Threshing and Haulage Contractors

The Headley Shooting Tragedy

Reported in the “The Hants and Sussex News” on the 27th September 1916.


James Smith, the Liss engine driver, who, on Sept 1st, fatally shot his wife, Emma Smith, at Headley and then attempted to commit suicide, was brought up at the Whitehill Police Court last Wednesday before Sir Cecil Brett, c.s.i, and Mr. Gerald Hall to answer the capital charge. Prisoner was brought from Winchester by train in the custody of two warders, and was accommodated with a seat in the dock. He listened to the proceedings apparently unmoved.

Mr. Harold Barker from the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions appeared for the prosecution, and Mr. Percy C. Burley, of Petersfield, for the defence.

Seven witnesses were called, but these did not include the labourer, William Davey, whose relations with the deceased woman formed the subject of close enquiry before the Coroner.

Prisoner’s young daughter, Elsie, repeated the evidence given at the inquest. With regard to her discovery of a revolver case and box of cartridges at the cottage at Liss, witness said her father, when questioned about the revolver case, said it was an old one which he had owned for many years, and himself put it in the grate for witness to burn. He did not answer when asked about the cartridges.

William Holden also gave evidence, and the story of the shooting was related by Archibald Bellinger, of the Arford Stores, Headley.

P.C. Mileham, P.S. Clark, Dr. E. J. Leslie and Supt. Reuben also gave evidence.

Prisoner, who reserved his defence, was committed for trial at the Assizes in November next.

Mr. Burley made an application to the magistrates under the Poor Prisoners’ Defence Act and after some discussion the Clerk (Mr. A. F. M. Downie) undertook to bring the application to the notice of the Clerk of the Assizes.