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CRIME CHRONICLES: A gruesome Rickmansworth demise at the turn of the century

 Published on: 10th December 2022   |   By: Bryn Holmes   |   Category: Uncategorized

For those of you left exhausted by the crimes of the modern age, it’s always interesting to look back into the past and see what criminal justice looked like more than 100 years ago.

This month’s feature tells the story of a man from the local area who met an untimely and unpleasant end on the railways.

Middle-aged John Ayton died in September 1915. He was an Uxbridge native who had already survived a brush with death 12 months earlier, having been struck by lightning and nearly blinded as a result.

Mr Ayton had never held down a job in his life and was living off of money that had been left to him.

On the morning of September 18, 1915, railway labourer Daniel Fenner came across Mr Ayton’s cold, stiff and headless body near what is now Rickmansworth Tube station.

At an inquest on Friday, November 25, the first police officer to attend the scene of the incident, PC Saunders, detailed how the incident may have been a suicide.

However, this theory was contradicted when PC Saunders revealed that he had recovered a pawn ticket, a postal order deposit receipt, and sundry articles from the body, implying Mr Ayton’s intention to go on with things the next day.

Eventually, the jury returned an open verdict that the deceased was found dead on the line.

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