LITTLETON MARKET GARDENER’S SUICIDE – Worried about price of Asparagus
An enquiry was held at the Evesham Police Station on Friday evening by the District Coroner (Mr H Basil Harrison) into the circumstances surrounding the death of Edwin Knight (43), a market gardener, of Council Houses, Middle Littleton.
Knight, who had 15 acres of land, had worried about his work and the crops. The poor prices realised for asparagus recently were said to have caused him considerable worry, as he had five acres of asparagus ready for cutting.
The first witness called was James Knight, a market gardener, of Blackminster, near Evesham, brother, who gave evidence of identification. He said he last saw his brother alive at about 9 pm the previous evening when he went home with him. He then appeared the same as usual. He had never heard his brother threaten to take his life. Deceased had a lot of ground and work and thought he, with other market gardeners, had worried about the land and the crops and the price of asparagus. Deceased had no financial difficulties as far as he knew. He was not an excitable man, and was not despondent.
Mrs Knight, the widow, who broke down in giving her evidence, said that deceased was quite happy when he went to bed the previous night. In the middle of the night he complained of having a bad head and went downstairs and got two aspirins. He returned to bed. She knew he was getting up at 4 am to go asparagus-cutting and when she awoke just after six o’clock he had gone. On Tuesday night he complained of a bad head. He had worried about the large supplies of asparagus in the markets, for he had such a lot. He had only worried this week. He was afraid he was going to “knock himself up”. He arrived home at 9 pm and after hearing the weather report on the wireless he retired at 10.10 pm. Her husband had 15 acres of land, having taken another four acres last March. He had had two sons to help him. She could not account for her husband’s action. She saw an empty razor case on the table when she came downstairs, and she sent her son to look for his father.
Ernest George Knight, son, said that he worked with his father on his land. He saw his father last about 5.30 pm the previous evening when deceased was going back to work. His father then seemed the same as usual. He had been worrying lately about the land and the work generally. Apart from that deceased appeared all right. His father had never complained to him about being unable to sleep. At his mother’s request he went in search of his father on Friday morning. She told him she had found the empty razor case on the table. He found his father lying in a hedge of an orchard 15 yards away from the house. He saw at once what had happened and went straight to the police station.
PC Whiting said that he went to the orchard at about 7.10 am, where he found deceased lying on his back in a hedge, clasping a razor in his right hand. His right hand was covered with blood. The throat was cut from ear to ear. There were no signs of any struggle. It was quite clear to him that the wound was self-inflicted. Deceased was lying in a pool of blood.
In reply to the Coroner, witness said that there were no bruises or marks on the body or anything to arouse suspicion of any foul play. There was no note or anything in writing on the body.
The Coroner said he would return a verdict of “Suicide whilst temporarily insane”. He thought deceased had been over-working himself and worrying about it, and under the strain he had given away. He expressed his sympathy with the widow and family.