Unsolved Murders

Walter William Bowkett

Age: unknown

Sex: male

Date: 6 Aug 1913

Place: Highnam, Goucester

Source: www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

Walter William Bowkett died after a fight with his brother. His brother was tried for his murder but acquitted.

When Walter Bowkett's brother made a statement he said, 'My brother and I left Gloucester between seven and eight to go home in the trap. When we were near Highnam my brother all at once punched me in the face. After he had punched me a few times we both lumbered out of the cart, and we had a free fight in the road, and we knocked one another down several times. We were fighting in the road for about a quarter of an hour, and my brother got the worst end of the stick. I should think he knocked me down in the road about six times. We had both had a few half-pints of drink but were not drunk'.

An ostler at the Lower George in Gloucester said that Walter Bowkett and his brother came into the hotel yard at about 4pm on 5 August 1913 and then later left at about 7.30pm. He said that they had both had some drink but said that they were quite capable of driving.

A man from Lassington said that he was returning from Gloucester when he was overtaken by Walter Bowkett and his brother in a trap near the crossroads. He said that they started quarrelling when he was about 50 yards behind them. He said that Walter Bowkett's brother then got out of the trap and led the pony for a little way, noting that they were still quarrelling at the bottom of Highnam Pitch. He said that Walter Bowkett's brother then got back into the trap again and said that they then commenced to thump one another.

The man said that Walter Bowkett's brother then got out of the trap again and then when they got to the top of the pitch, Walter Bowkett's brother then pulled Walter Bowkett out of the trap head first.

He said that when Walter Bowkett's brother got Walter Bowkett on to the path he started to punch him in the head and kick him in the back.

The man said that Walter Bowkett then lay there quite still and said that as he passed, he heard Walter Bowkett's brother say, 'I will kill you before I get home'.

A cyclist who lived in Rudford said that he had been cycling from Gloucester on the night of 5 August 1913 and said that when he got to the top of Highnam Pitch he saw Walter Bowkett on the ground with Walter Bowkett' brother standing over him. He said that when he asked Walter Bowkett's brother what the matter was, Walter Bowkett's brother replied that Walter Bowkett had knocked him out of the cart and that he had given him 'a d----- good hiding'. The cyclist said that Walter Bowkett was in a very bad state and added that Walter Bowkett's brother was under the influence of drink.

A woman from New Hall in Tibberton said that when she was at the scene, she heard Walter Bowkett's brother say, 'Let me get at him', in a rather antagonistic spirit. She said that she then fetched the police.

A policeman said that when he arrived at Highnam he saw Walter Bowkett on the ground and said that when he asked Walter Bowkett's brother what the matter was, Walter Bowkett's brother said, 'We have been fighting. It is all right, let me take him home. The policeman said that Walter Bowkett was then taken to the infirmary and Walter Bowkett's brother was detained.

The house surgeon at the Royal Infirmary in Gloucester, said that Walter Bowkett was admitted at 10.15pm on 5 August 1913 and had been suffering from a fractured skull and a fractured jaw and died from his injuries the following morning.

He noted that there were no bruises on his body and no indications that he had been kicked in the back.

Walter Bowkett's brother later said at his trial that he and his brother had worked together for several years and had always been friends but said that Walter Bowkett was very quick tempered when he had had a drink. He said that on the night of 5 August 1913, Walter Bowkett, contrary to his usual practice had want to drive and that he had tried to get the reins off of him as the mare was a likely one. He said that Walter Bowkett refused to give up the reins and that on the second occasion after he got into the cart, he said that Walter Bowkett punched him in the jaw which he said made him giddy. He said that when he got out of the cart again to get possession of the reins, he suddenly jerked them and said that Walter Bowkett then fell out of the cart sideways on to his head. He said that he then 'rousled' Walter Bowkett with his foot, and then later looked to see how he was breathing. He added that the witness that said that he saw him punching Walter Bowkett must have mistaken his shaking of Walter Bowkett's head for punching him. He added that when he had said that he had 'wanted to get at him', he said that he had wanted to do him good.

When the judge summed up he said that 90% of crimes of violence began in a public house and that this case was one of them. He added that Walter Bowkett's brother's story was plausible, but wholly inconsistent with his previous statements.

However, Walter Bowkett's brother was found not guilty and discharged. It was noted that on the Coroner's inquisition for the charge of manslaughter, he would go before the other court on the following Thursday for a formal verdict, but it is not clear what he meant or what the verdict was.


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


see Gloucestershire Chronicle - Saturday 01 November 1913, p9