Yesterday (Friday) afternoon, G. Dyson, Esq., coroner, held an inquest at the Shoulder of Mutton Inn, Lockwood, relative to the death of a little boy named Thomas Garside, aged about twelve years, who resided at Netherton. The deceased, together with three other boys, who were all employed at Dungeon Mills, went, during the dinner-hour on Thursday, into Dungeon Wood, to gather bilberries. As they were thus employed, one of the boys said, “the gamekeeper’s coming.” when they all ran off. The deceased, not aware that he was so near the edge of a precipice, overbalanced himself. As he was slipping down, he caught hold of some tender branches projecting over the edge of the rock, but these proved to be but of little support, and the poor little fellow was precipitated to the bottom of the quarry, a distance of 23 yards. Two other boys, seeing him fall, greatly endangered their lives by running down the side of the rock, almost as steep as house side, on stepping-stones. Deceased evidently fell on his head, as his skull was fearfully fractured, and the brains scattered about the place. It appears that the former wood-watcher was a very severe man, and was in the habit of setting his dog, which is a very savage animal, at any children he saw near the wood. At the time of the accident, the boys set a report going that the watcher had set the dog at them, which caused them to run away. This, however, proved to be erroneous, as the former gamekeeper had been removed, and another man had taken his place, who, at the time he was seen by the boys, had no dog with him. After the jury had viewed the body of deceased, and the scene of the accident, the following evidence was given :—
Ben Gledhill said he, along with four other boys, was getting bilberries in Dungeon Wood, on Thursday, at dinner time. They knew they had no business there. It was about two o’clock in the afternoon. They all knew where the delph was. They ran away because they saw the keeper about six yards off. He was going up towards Butter-Nab, and had a stick in his hand. He shouted out to them, but they could not tell what he said. They thought he was shouting for them to go away. As they did so, saw Sykes get hold of a bough of a tree at the edge of the delph. They all tried to slide on to a rock, except one boy, who went round another way. He saw the deceased fall. Sykes, one of the boys, said to deceased, “catch hold of my leg.” If deceased could have got hold of his leg, they could have pulled him up, as he held to the branches, but he could not, but slipped to the bottom. The reason they ran off was because they thought it was the old keeper, who always set his dog at them. The keeper did not follow them, he, witness, did not see a dog with the keeper, who went straight forward, and did not come to the bottom of the delph. The next witness called was Wellington Coldwell, aged 11, who spoke to being in the wood. The deceased was frightened when he saw the keeper, and set off running, and could not stop himself. Law Sykes called to deceased to get hold of his leg, but he could not. Witness looked from the top of the precipice and saw deceased laid in the bottom, with his eyes open. Witness then ran down the road to the mill and gave information. The keeper held up a stick in his hand, and called out to them, which caused them to run away. They did not know there was a fresh keeper. The keeper went forwards up the wood. Witness knew where the rock was, but deceased did not ; and before he (witness) could warn him, he fell to the bottom.
Hannah Green said she was coming down the wood about two o’clock, when she met the keeper. He was going towards the Butter-Nab, away from the delph. It was, to the best of her knowledge, from 100 to 200 yards from the place of the accident where she met him. There was no one with the deceased when she got there. The other boys had gone to the mill, and the people were running up to the wood to where the deceased was laid.
Daniel Fearnley said he had only been watcher of the wood a week. On Thursday morning he went to Heaton Lodge by the 8:40 train, and returned about dinner time. Having missed both the omnibus and train from Huddersfield to Lockwood, he walked to the latter place, and entered the wood from Hanson Lane, and proceeded right forward up the wood towards Butter-Nab. He was not within 50 yards of the place where the accident occurred. He met a woman in the wood, and she was the only person he saw. He had a stick in one hand and a teapot in the other. He had no dog with him. Witness did not see the boys at all, but went forward to the Butter-Nab. He did not know of the accident until the policeman went and told him. The dog at the time was chained up at the Butter-Nab. It had not been taken out since Monday last, when he (witness) took it to Huddersfield to get a muzzle for it.
After a short consultation, the foreman said the unanimous opinion of the jury was, that the death of the boy was purely accidental, and that there was no blame whatever attaching to the gamekeeper.