Date: 21 Jan 1908
Place: Bradley Leat, Newton Abbot
Henry Rendell was found dead in the Bradley Leat.
He had a black eye and other marks of violence on his face but it was thought that he might have received those falling in and an open verdict was returned.
The Coroner's jury went to the place where he had gone into the water which was described as a queer and dark place and saw where his stick was found on the bridge in Bearne's Lane.
When a doctor examined the body on the Sunday at about 12 o'clock he said that he had been dead for about six hours. He said that his mouth was full of blood-stained froth and that there was a contusion over his upper left eyelid and wounds near the knuckles on his right hand. He said that there were also superficial abrasions on the left side of his forehead, on his head and on his right temple. He said that the blow on the eye must have been caused before he had gone into the water but not days before because there was no colour change. He said that the wound could have been caused by falling over anything immediately before he fell in to the water.
He concluded that the cause of death was due to drowning.
He had been seen on the Saturday afternoon after the election at the Conservative Club in the lobby between 5.30pm and 6pm by the caretaker who said that she had asked him what he had thought of the victory and that he had replied, 'Grand'.
He was seen later that night by a woman at 10pm turning into the passage near the Old Commercial that led into Mill Lane. She said that he brushed up against her and a person that she had been talking to and trod on someone else's foot. She said that she said, 'Mind where you are shoving to' and that he had replied, 'Morrison Bell'. She said that he was drunk and that he didn't go into the hotel. He was also seen by another woman who had seen him leaning up against the double doors at the Old Commercial and that she had seen him earlier in the evening when he was excitedly swinging his stick about.
A boy said that he found Henry Rendell's stick on the bridge at about 10.30pm on the Saturday after returning to Mill Lane from the Old Commercial where he had had his supper beer.
The landlord of the Old Commercial said that Henry Rendell occasionally went through the passage on his way home and that he shut the passage at 11pm which prevented people from using it. He said that if there had been a row in the passage he would have heard it but not one at the bridge.
The next day, Sunday, a man who lived at Town Mill, Newton, said that he was looking from his bathroom window around 9.30am when he saw a man lying on his back in the Leat which crossed his premises. He said he went out to have a look and saw that the body had been caught in the small bridge and so he had the Leat turned dry and pulled the body out. He said that his premises had been all locked up at 6.30pm on the Saturday and the bridge where Henry Rendell's stick was found was about 150-200 yards away from where the body had washed up and that it must have been washed down from the bridge.
When he was pulled from the water his purse was still in his pocket and contained a half sovereign, seven shillings in silver and 1s 0.5d in coppers. His watch had also stopped at 3.05.
A police inspector who examined the bridge said that it was possible for anyone to catch their feet and fall into the Leat and that there were no signs of a struggle having taken place.
The Coroner said that there was nothing to show for how he got a blackened eye but that it was possible that he got it falling over the bridge and that there was no suggestion of foul play and the jury returned an open verdict.
Henry Rendell was a sergeant-major and a widower.
see Western Times - Tuesday 21 January 1908
see Exeter and Plymouth Gazette - Tuesday 21 January 1908