Date: 11 Jun 1921
Albert Headley died during a fight.
He had been to the pub with some friends and had left to go home with a friend when they met a group of 12-14 gipsies who had been marching along the road in a military formation and had a fight. He was later found buy his wife and taken back to his house but when a doctor was called out he was pronounced dead.
Several people were charged with his murder and manslaughter but were acquitted at separate trials.
A builder's labourer said that he had been in the Plough and Horses pub on 11 June with Albert Headley and that they left at closing time but remained outside the pub for about 10 minutes talking. He said that whilst they were talking he saw a group of about 12 gipsies fall in on the roadside forming four's in military formation. he said that one of the gipsies took command and they went off marching towards Walshes Gate.
The builder's labourer said that he and Albert Headley then followed the gipsies along the road where they passed a man 50 yard along and bade him good night at his house. The builder's labourer and Albert Headley then followed the gipsies further along the road and when they were about 25 yards past the slaughter house gate the builder's labourer said they saw a man lying in the road as though he was hurt. He said that when he picked the man up and then turned to go up the road he was struck by 3-4 men.
The builder's labourer said that the men appeared as if out of space but said that he had seen them before. He said that he was knocked out and that when he came round he saw 3-4 men around Albert Headley and saw the man who was tried in 1922 but acquitted strike Albert Headley. The man that he saw strike Albert Headley was arrested the following year in the Isle of Wight and brought back to Crowborough for trial but acquitted. The builder's labourer said that he didn't recognise the other men. He said that he had known Albert Headley for 15 years and had worked with him. One of the other men involved who had been fighting initially with his friends was also tried in 1921 but acquitted.
The builder's labourer said after the initial fight he was sitting on the bank with his head between his hands and that the gipsies then came back for him and struck him with their fists and he lost consciousness and the next thing he remembered was someone coming to his assistance.
The builder's labourer said that they had done nothing to cause a quarrel and that that it had all arose after they had helped the gipsy they had found lying in the road up on to his feet. When cross examined he said that they had not deliberately gone up to the 5 gipsies and struck them and that he had not seen who had knocked Albert Headley down but added that Albert Headley would not have fallen down on his own. He also said that there had been no quarrel at the Plough and Horses pub.
Another labourer who had been drinking in the Rose and Crown pub in Crowborough said that he had left at about 10pm. He said that the gipsy camp was about halfway between the Rose and Crown pub and the Plough and Horses pub and was on his way home. He said that whilst going home he saw a string of gipsies, about 12-14 of them arm in arm, linked together, across the road, swaying to and fro and that they knocked him into the hedge. He said that no words were passed and that the more he tried to dodge them the more they dodged and that it looked like they were out for a row. He said that after being knocked down he went off as quickly as he could as he was afraid of a quarrel and said that he was stiff for a day or two afterwards. Shortly after he met Albert Headley and the builder's labourer along the road as well as the man at his house.
A grocer who had been living at the gipsies camp at the time said that after drinking in the Plough and Horses pub he had left and had given the order for his friends to form forms and that they had then marched 50 yards up the road where they then fell out and went straight to camp and that he knew nothing of any fighting.
Another man that had been living at the gipsy camp said that he had been at the Plough and Horses pub for most of the evening and had left at about 10pm and they he and his friends had all formed up outside and marched up the road to the gipsy camp skylarking but they kept falling out until eventually there were 5 of them and said that they were playing about amongst themselves in the road until they reached the slaughter house gate when he got one of his friends on the ground where they struggled until he was pulled off of the man. He said that he then went further up the road and then the man came after him again and then the builder's labourer who was the friend of Albert Headley hit the man he had been fighting with. He said then that Albert Headley and the builder's labourer came up to him and a fight ensued during which he saw Albert Headley fall but said that he had got up again.
The man said that they were all fighting 'all in together' and then a person made a remark to him and he walked off leaving the other men fighting. He said that they were all fighting on their feet like a lot of sheep. Then two of the men that he had been with and had been fighting overtook him and started singing and dancing. He said that the man who was tried in 1922 had been full of fight on the evening.
The man who was tried in 1922 was later arrested at 7.30am on 15 March 1922 on the Isle of Wight at a house on School Street, Oakfield. He denied that he was the man they they were looking for but the police said that he matched the description of the man that they were looking for and on the way to the police station admitted that the name of the man that they were looking for was the same as one of the names that he sometimes used.
The man who was tried said that he had been to the Plough and Horses pub on 11 June 1921 and that at closing time they had all formed up in marching order. He said that they were a jolly party and that forming up was part of the fun and that they then marched towards their encampment larking along the way and then breaking up near the milk house. He said that whilst they were larking the frivolity led to a row with two blokes who he did not know who he said came up interfering and trying to strike them. He said that both men delivered vicious blows to his party and that they all started fighting all in. He said that he did not fight any particular man and that when he left he did not see anyone on the ground saying that one man was sitting and the other was standing.
The following day he said he went to Burnt Oak for a feed for his horse and then on the Monday he went off hawking leaving his van at Crowborough as he didn't have a horse large enough to drive it. He said that the van remained in Crowborough for 2 months. He also said that he often went away from Crowborough for long periods and added that he did not cause the death of Albert Hoadley.
see Kent & Sussex Courier - Friday 31 March 1922, p9