Unsolved Murders

Percival Harris

Age: 18

Sex: male

Date: 24 Nov 1931

Place: Marsh Hill Farm, Great Kimble

Percival Harris was found in a cowshed with his head blown off.

Percival Harris was a cowman and was found by the farmer on the Wednesday morning.

A shotgun was found by his side.

Percival Harris had lived with his mother and brother in Bishopstone. He was said to have been in good health and had made no complaints. He had gone to bed the previous night at 10pm and went off to work the next morning shortly before 5am.  As he went out he said, 'Good morning, Mother'.

It was heard that Percival Harris had brought home a bicycle wheel and had told his brother that the farmer had given it to him. However, his brother said that he had gone to see the farmer and said that he told him that he had not given the bicycle wheel to Percival Harris and that he had stolen it and that if it wasn't returned by the next day he would call the police.

When Percival Harris was found dead, the bicycle wheel had been returned.

At the Coroner's inquest, the Coroner asked about a 10s note that had been stolen and asked Percival Harris's brother if he had asked for it back. His brother said that he had asked Percival Harris about the 10s note but said that Percival Harris had said that he had not seen it.

Percival Harris was found in the cowshed by the farmer at about 6am. The farmer said that it was Percival Harris's duty to commence work at about 5.30am and said that when he got to the cowshed he noticed that the cows were in the adjoining field where they had been all night which was unusual as they were usually in the cowshed by the time he arrived.

He said that as he went into the cowshed he found two paraffin lights on, one which was rather high and had blackened the glass. He said that the three doors were also shut which was unusual. He said then, that as he walked down the cowshed he saw Percival Harris lying in the gutter at the further end of the shed lying flat on his back. The farmer said that he saw that Percival Harris was badly injured in his head and saw a gun lying at the foot of his body at right angles to it with the butt between his feet. He said that the gun was his and was usually kept in the house but the last time he had seen it, it was in the old dairy and said that Percival Harris would use it on occasions to kill rats.

The farmers brother said that he had put the gun in the dairy about two months earlier.

When a policeman arrived, he found one spent cartridge in in the right-hand barrel of the gun. It was noted that Percival Harris had cartridges at his home and the cartridge found in the gun was similar to the ones that he had at home.

The doctor stated that Percival Harris had a gunshot wound to the head in the right temple bone and that he had lost part of his skull, both the frontal parts of his brain and his right eye. The shot had entered in a horizontal manner, the point of entrance being the right temple. He had a singeing on his hair on the right temple region and he had staining on his skin from the powder. The doctor said that the gun must have been fairly close to his head when fired.

The Coroner summed up by saying that he was satisfied that the cause of death was a gunshot wound but said that there was no evidence to show what had caused it and an open verdict was returned.

*map pointers are rough estimates based on known location details as per Place field above.

see www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

see Bucks Herald - Friday 27 November 1931