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Confrontation at Burchett's Farm Haywards Heath ends in manslaughter charge

Updated: Oct 2, 2020

Dundee Evening Telegraph - Friday 22 October 1937



Prosecution Story of Struggle

A charge against Sidney Herbert Jones (37) described as a labourer, of Burchetts Farm, Brighton Road, Haywards Heath, Sussex, was reduced to one of manslaughter at Haywards Heath to-day. Jones had been charged with the murder of Harold Sykes (40).

Mr G L. Paling prosecuting, said that Jones worked at Burchetts Farm, which was occupied by a Mrs Doris Woolbridge and her daughter, aged 7. Mrs Woolbridge had been parted from her husband for five years. She had known Jones for seven years and Sykes for two.

Sykes had lived with her. Both he and Jones wanted to marry her after she had obtained a divorce. As a result, there had been much quarrelling.

Disturbance at Night.

On September 14 Jones came to Mrs Woolbridge's farm to lodge.

On October 4, after going to bed, she heard a disturbance downstairs, and went into Jones' bedroom and told him that someone was outside. Knocking on the back door of the house then began, and she suggested that it was Sykes, and that if Jones stayed in bed Sykes would go away.

Mr Paling, producing a pick-axe shaft referred to it as "this formidable weapon," and said, "There can be little doubt there was a fight of some description between these two men, and Jones struck Sykes on the head with this weapon. "

'A formidable weapon' - a pickaxe handle was the murder weapon

“The magistrates may consider Jones was not actuated by malice when he struck the blow, and that he did not intend to inflict any grievous bodily harm upon Sykes.

A Thin Skull.

"In those circumstances, you may think no jury can convict this man of murder," said Mr Paling. _ But in his submission a jury could clearly find him guilty of manslaughter.

The pathologist found that the man's skull was a thin skull."

Mr Paling read a statement in which he alleged Jones referred to a struggle with Sykes and said that he thought he hit Sykes with a stick.

The magistrates reduced the charge to one of manslaughter, and evidence was then called.


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