Unsolved Murders

Percy James Hallet

Age: 63

Sex: male

Date: 31 Aug 1945

Place: 23 Kemps Buildings, Staverton

Percy James Hallet was found dead in a water-butt that had a foot of water in it.

He was a dairyman and had been living at 23 Kemps Buildings in Staverton.

He was found in the water-butt on Friday morning, 31 August 1945.

His death was described as strange.

A doctor said that when he arrived, he saw Percy Hallet lying on the ground on his back with the upper portion of his body being wet. He said that there were no marks of violence on his body as far as he could see and that his body was still warm.

He said that death was due to asphyxiation caused by drowning.

Percy Hallet's daughter said that Percy Hallet had a small milk round and lived alone, noting that she had frequently asked him to go and live with her in Chippenham but that he had refused, telling her that he preferred to carry on his small business in the village. She noted that he had complained of giddy attacks recently but said that as far as she knew, he had no worries.

One of Percy Hallet's sisters-in-law said that she looked after Percy Hallet and did certain household duties for him. She said that he had previously complained to her about fainting attacks but said that when she last saw him shortly before 8am on the Friday, when he had been smoking his pipe, he had appeared to be happy and well.

She noted that Percy Hallet always swilled his churns and cooled his milk in the water butt where he was found.

However, she said that she could throw no light whatever on the tragedy, saying that Percy Hallet had never complained of having any troubles, noting that if he had had some that he would have confided them to her.

The licensee of the Old Bear Inn in Staverton said that he had known Percy Hallet for about 30 years and described him as a happy-go-lucky type of individual.  He said that he was called to the yard at Kemps Buildings on the Friday by a neighbour and saw Percy Hallet with his head in the water-butt which was standing upright and with the water up to his waist. He said that he didn't move his body in case there had been foul play. He added that Percy Hallet had been to his pub the night before and had appeared to be bright and cheerful.

A policeman that later arrived said that he removed Percy Hallet's body from the water-butt and said that when he then looked, he saw about a foot of water in it. He said that there was nothing to indicate how Percy Hallet had got into the water-butt and that Percy Hallet had left no note of any kind that could be found.

When the coroner summed up he said that in the absence of any evidence to indicate how Percy Hallet had fallen into the water, he should return an open verdict.

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

see www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

see Wiltshire Times and Trowbridge Advertiser - Saturday 08 September 1945, p2