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


Cranmer Local History Group Newspaper Archive

Grantham Journal
Saturday 20th June 1914
Whatton Tragedy - Prisoner at the Assizes. The Verdict

Before Mr. Justice Horridge, at Notts. Assizes, Wednesday, John Frederick Houghton (27), corn merchant, waa charged with the murder of his father, William Houghton (61), farmer, and his brother, Jasper Arthur Houghton (20), at on February 10th. Prisoner, who leaded not guilty, maintained a generally stolid emeanour, and sat back in a chair which was provided for him in the dock. Mr. C. B. Marriott and Mr. J. G. Hurst prosecuted for the Treasury, and Mr. J. J. Parfitt, K.C., and Mr. W. M. Freeman defended.

The facts shown in connection with the terrible tragedy were that Mr Houghton, his wife, and their two sons were in the dining-room at the farmhouse on the night in question, all being apparently on the usual friendly footing. Fred, as accused was called, after saying good night, went up the stain which led from dining-room go to bed. was followed shortly afterwards by Jasper, when Mrs. Houghton heard the sound of a gun-shot. Mr. Houghton proceeded to the stairs to see what had happened, and he was going up when there was a second loud report, and he fell dead at his wife's feet. Mrs. Houghton called out : What's the matter " and Fred replied: " It's gun, mother." He came down and placed some shot cartridges, which were alive, on the table. A double-barrelled breechloader which had belonged to Jasper was, he said, found by him on the staircase. Only the right barrel had been fired, that the person who discharged the two shots must have re-loaded the weapon.

When spoken to by Mr. Harrop, deputy chief constable, he said, "It s a bad job for mother, but I don't mind so much about ine, I am the eldest son, and father has no will." A statement by his mother that he saw a man run across the stackyard, drew from him the remark, " Take no notice of mother ; that's all imagination." Prisoner had had authority to draw on his father's account in the London City and Midland Bank, at Melton Mowbray. In February last this account was overdrawn to the extent of 3,800, and prisoner had given a guarantee 2,500. He persuaded his brother Jasper insure his life for 1,000, which was later increased to 10,000, and afterwards to 13,750. The statement was made that Jasper would come into income of 100,000.

Mrs. Houghton, who was in deep mourning, and accompanied by a nurse, painfully gave evidence againat her son, who showed considerable emotion and shed tears.

Evidence was further given that the accused was subject to attacks of epilepsy, during which he had to be held down. Accused had gambled heavily in maise.

Dr. Eaton, of Bingham, attributed the deaths of the deceased to shot wounds in the head and upper part of the body.

A police-constable, who waa called in after the tragedy, said that Fred seemed to '' take no interest the matter."

The trial concluded on Thursday. Evidence was given that prisoner had fourteen epileptic attacks in prison, and three doctors expressed the opinion that he was insane at the time of the crime. The jury found that Houghton was guilty, but that waa insane the time. He was ordered to be detained during his Majesty's pleasure.

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