Cranmer Local History Group
Researching the history of Aslockton, Scarrington and Whatton-in-the-Vale - Established 2001


Cranmer Local History Group Newspaper Archive

Evening Telegraph
Thursday 26th February 1914
Another Son charged with crime - one of the Victims Insured for Large Sum

Another Son Charged With Grime.
One of the Victims Insured for Large Sum.

The sensational domestic tragedy Nottinghamshire farmhouse, which resulted in the deaths of two members of a family and the arrest of the third, was the subject of & Magisterial investigation at Bingham Police Court to-day. The accused man, Frederick Houghton, described a corn factor, of Whatton-in-the-Vale, Nottinghamshire, is charged with the wilful murder both of his brother, Jasper Houghton, and their father, Wm. Houghton, Whatton on the 10th inst.

The prisoner, well-dressed young man of gentlemanly appearance, was brought from Nottingham Gaol by motor car, distance of about ten miles. Before alighting from the car, handcuffed to policeman, the back of the Police Court he was smiling pleasantly, and seemed quite unconcerned to the seriousness of his position. He was equally unmoved upon entering the dock.

Mr D. H. Prynne prosecuted for the Treasury, and Mr H. Bradwell defended. Opening the case for the prosecution, Mr Prynne explained that prisoner had been living at home with his parents at Whatton, and he and his younger brother, Jasper, had lived the happiest possible life. There was no reason to think that this man had grudge against anyone. On the night of the 10th inst. they had assembled together in the dining-room at about nine o'clock. At that time Mrs Houghton left the dining-room to attend a servant the kitchen. She returned in ten minutes, and she found only her husband and Jasper the dining-room, prisoner having left.

The kitchen had been cleared that day for the chimney to be swept. Over the mantelpiece there had always hung doublebarrelled breach loader in a red baize case. The gun was in that position at anyrate at six o'clock on the evening of the 10th inst. After returning to the dining-room Mrs Houghton remained in conversation five or ten minutes with her husband and Jasper.

The latter suddenly jumping up said must go bed, and rushed upstairs. A moment afterwards Mrs Houghton heard the report of a gun. Thereupon her husband, who also heard the report, dashed out of the room. The father rushed upstairs, and Mrs Houghton once more heard the report of a gun. She ran out of the room, and saw her husband fall backwards from the stairs. She saw the prisoner tho top of the stairs, and called out him, "What is it, what is it?" He replied, "Oh, mother, it's the gun." Mrs Houghton ran to the door and called for help and returned the kitchen, where prisoner joined her.

Father's Body in a Pool of Blood.

On the table was a gun with four loaded and two empty cartridges. A Mr Greasley, who had responded to the call for help, came in and saw the dead body of Jasper lying the top of stairs and that of the father in a pool of blood at the foot the stairs. Prisoner standing the fireplace in the kitchen said Mr " Someone has shot them." Mr Greasley took up the gun and said, " Well, no one else must be shot in this house."

Prisoner said had found the gun on the stairs and the cartridges at the foot the stairs, but Mr Prynne urged that if the cartridges were where he said they were they would have been pool of blood, whereas there was no blood on them.

To a constable who arrived accused said, " Here is the gun. I picked it up as I came downstairs." Subsequently Deputy Chief Constable Harrop called prisoner upstairs from the kitchen, and on the way accused, had to step over the dead body of his brother.

The officer said, "This very sad business for your mother." The answer given was a callous one. If it were suggested that prisoner was suffering from a mental disease, his reply went to support that theory, for replied, " It's a bad job for mother. I don't know so much about myself. He has not made a will, and I am the eldest son. I thought the noise was a picture falling from the landing."

Jasper, added Mr Prynne, appeared to have been shot full in the face, but the father's injuries were on the left side the head. He had apparently been shot while bending over his dead son.

 When charged the police station, prisoner replied didn't do it." Two days later a box containing 18 cartridges purchased by prisoner on the 31st January at Nottingham were found in the kitchen cupboard.

Mr Prynne contended that prisoner had a strong motive. The father had banking account with the London City and Midland Bank, and from 1906 prisoner had been authorised to draw cheques on behalf of his father.

The accused had guaranteed the account the amount of £2500, and on the 10th of February the account was overdrawn to the extent of £3800, and pressure was put upon both the father and the prisoner, but nothing was done. In January of this year prisoner had arranged for Jasper's life insured for £1000. After Jasper had passed the doctor, however, the policy was changed in amount to £10,000, and subsequently increased £13,700, that being the amount for which the policy was finally issued.

Accused received his commission agent for the insurance company, and then, said Mr Prynne, there were only two things be done so that might further benefit by the insurance. Those things occurred on the night the 10th.

At the mill on the 26th January, when the two brothers were there all of sudden Jasper appeared to nearly fall over the balcony to the ground. Jasper then said, "My God," but, added the advocate, I am not going repeat what was said.

Mr Prynne concludedóThis man must be committed for trial. On the face of it this was a cruel, callous, and heartless murder, which appears have been well thought out. The state of prisoner's mind is matter for after consideration.

Widow in Witness Box.

Mrs Houghton, dressed in deep mourning, appearing much distressed and attended by a nurse, then went to the witness box. She gave the age of her deceased husband as 61, the prisoner's as 27, and Jasper's as 20. Prisoner once or twice looked at his mother over the top of the dock, and then averted his gaze, either looking through window or bowing his head. She said after the shooting her son said, " Mother, there is a man there Go in, go in."

When she was going away from the house to summon assistance accused tried to push her back. She succeeded in getting away, but her son followed her and said, " You will be met at the bottom gate and shot."

A domestic servant named Arabella Rock, who had been in the service of the Houghtons for many years, said she couldn't say the gun was hanging over the kitchen mantelpiece on the night the tragedy.

Evidence was next given by Alfred Talbot, a farm labourer and neighbour. He said he was in bed when he heard the report of firearms, and got up. He went Houghton's house, where saw the prisoner. The latter, alluding to the dead bodies of his father and brother, said. " Someone has shot them and gone out of the back door." Witness did not see any strangers about.

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