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1929: Tragic suicide as colonel was 'distressed with the idea of becoming an invalid'

Updated: Mar 8, 2022

West Sussex Gazette - Thursday 24 January 1929


THE INQUEST EVIDENCE. News of the death on Thursday of Lt.-Col. A. T. Middleton. who was found lying with a revolver in his hand, at Courtmead, Cuckfield, came as a shock to the people of Horsham, for he was one of the most popular residents of the town for a number of years.

Col. Middleton, who was in his 81st year, came of a well-known family in Sussex, particularly in the Horsham district., from which he moved with his two daughter, just over a year ago, after the death of his wife. He had been living at Cuckfield only a short time. His regiment was the 13th Royal Hussars. and he was a member of the United Services Club. Major R. C. G. Middleton, his son, Has a large interest in a number of cinemas, and was married some tour months ago.

Miss Winifred Middleton discovered her father lying dead on the floor of the lavatory, with a bullet wound through his bead and a Service resolver attached by a cord to his right leg.

Broad Street c1915 colourised - image courtesy of Cuckfield Museum - Courtmead Road is on the left

Dr. E. F. Hoare (Coroner for East Sussex) conducted the inquest, on Saturday. Miss W. Middleton said she and her father had dinner usual on Thursday evening, at seven o'clock. and at eight deceased said he was going to bed. Witness went to the library to listen to the Wireless.

At about 10.15 she went to inspect the house before going to bed, as her father was forgetful about lights, and noticed a light in the lavatory. On opening the door, she saw her father lying on the floor, with a coat over him, and his head in a pool of blood. He was dead. She telephoned for Dr. Glenn. Her father had suffered severely from sciatica and bladder trouble, and had a "perfect horror", of being ill and in pain. There had been talk of an operation, but he had been persuaded against that. on account of his nervous temperament. He could not bear being dependent on anyone.

Dr. Glenn (Haywards Heath) said he had attended deceased for sciatica, and last saw him alive on the morning of his death. Witness was called at 10.15 p.m., and found deceased lying dead on the lavatory floor with a bullet in his mouth, a revolver beneath him. The bullet had passed through his head and through the ceiling. Deceased had looped a cord round his neck, one loose end being attached to the trigger and the other tied round his right knee. Deceased must have held the revolver in both hands and dropped his knee to pull the trigger. Death was due to laceration of the brain from the bullet wound, and must have been instantaneous. Deceased was inclined to want an operation for bladder trouble. but dreaded having to have the attention of a nurse. When witness saw him in the morning he asked witness to visit him again on the following Monday, so he could have had no idea then of taking his life.

Pc. Webb also gave evidence as to the position of the body, and said the revolver contained four live and one spent cartridges. The revolver belonged to his son. Major Middleton, and was a Webley Service pattern. Deceased had had it since last August.

The Coroner, recording a verdict of "Suicide during temporary insanity,” said it was evident that deceased was distressed with the idea of becoming an invalid and being a nuisance to anyone.

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