Engineer, Threshing and Haulage Contractors

The Headley Wife Murder Charge

Reported in the “The Hants and Sussex News” on the 15th November 1916.


The trial of James Smith, 54, engine driver, of Rockpit Cottages, East Liss, for the wilful murder of his wife Emma, at Headley, on Sept. 1st by shooting her with a revolver took place at Winchester Assizes on Monday before Mr. Justice Rawlatt. Mr. J. R. Randolph. K.C., with whom was Mr. Raymond Goddard, instructed by the Director of Public Prosecutions, were for the prosecution, and Mr. C. G. Talbot-Ponsonby, under the Poor Prisoners’Act, defended the prisoner.

After hearing the evidence and counsel’s speech for the defence, the jury found prisoner guilty of manslaughter. Prisoner did not go into the witness box, but the Rev. E. F. S. Ramsbotham of Liss, gave evidence as to how his wife’s leaving him had upset and distressed the prisoner.

The Judge, in passing sentence of twenty years’ penal servitude, said he could hardly see any justification for the crime. He regarded the verdict of manslaughter as being separated from murder by only the thinnest distinction.