At the Wheatsheaf Inn yesterday (Monday) afternoon Mr G Vere Benson, Coroner for East Sussex, held an inquest on the body of John Haylor, who was found drowned in Bedlam Pond, on the Cuckfield road, on Sunday morning.
Mr J Denman was chosen as foreman of the jury. Joseph King, landlord of the Wheatsheaf Inn, said that deceased was his brother-in-law. He was 60 years of age. He had been in the Army over 21 years, and was discharged as unfit for further service in 1880, receiving a pension of 1s a day. He served 14 years abroad, and had two medals and, on leaving the Army, was in possession of two good conduct badges. He had been living at Cuckfield about two years, and worked as a general labourer. He worried about being out of work for a few days, and witness had not seen him since June 1st.
He was fairly sober, and witness thought him a little queer in the head. He had been very irritable lately. James Finch, labourer. Keymer, deposed to knowing the deceased. He passed him near Bedlam Pond on Saturday night about six or seven minutes to eleven. They said ‘Good-night’ to each other. Nothing more passed between them. Deceased was dressed in the ordinary way. He would have had to go back to the pond. Morris Jacobs, watchmaker, London, said he was walking from Brighton to London, and was walking by night, as it was cooler.
On passing the pond he saw a coat and vest hanging on the railings, and then a pair of shoes and a cap on the bank of the pond, he found there was a body in the water, and he tried to get it out, but could not do so, and he then went for assistance. The Coroner commended witness on hie conduct. John Cleaves, Bedlam Cottage, Cuckfield. said he was called by the last witness at three o’clock on Sunday morning, and be helped to get the body out of Bedlam Pond.
It was almost 14ft from the edge, in a stooping position, in 5ft of water. Deceased’s jacket, waistcoat and handkerchief were on the rails, and his cap was placed on his shoes. There were footprints down to the water’s edge. It looked as if deceased walked right into the pond. PC Hilder, stationed at Cuckfield, said that about 20 minutes to four on Sunday morning he was called, and on getting to the pond found the body had been got out.
The footprints leading to the pond corresponded with deceased's stockings, and the clothes were placed as described by previous witnesses. He only found Army papers in the jacket of deceased. The jury returned a verdict of ‘Suicide while temporarily insane’.
Mid Sussex Times 12 June 1900
Contributed by Malcolm Davison.