Date: 20 Jan 1920
Reuben Mort was killed during a burglary at his home.
He was found in his house suffering from head wounds and said that he had been assaulted by a man who had demanded the keys to his safe. He had said that the man who had assaulted him was a big man but was unable to say much more before relapsing into unconsciousness.
He was found by his neighbour who was awakened early on the Monday morning by a knocking on the wall and upon going into his house found him lying on the floor.
Examination of the premises showed that the drawers in the kitchen had been forced as if in a search for the keys to the safe but that the safe itself had not been tampered with.
Reuben Mort was last seen before the assault by a weaver who lived nearby. She said that she was passing after church and saw him standing at his door and stood and spoke to him for a while about church affairs. She said that he invited her in to have a talk and she went in. She said that he seemed in his usual health and said that his nephew had been to see him that evening but had gone home. She said that she stayed for about ten minutes and that when she left he had shut the door but could not say whether he had locked it.
The next that was heard of Reuben Mort was when his neighbours were woken up by banging on the wall at 4.30am. The husband had got dressed hastily and went to the back door but found it locked but noticed that part of the scullery window was out and that a piece of brown paper that had been over it was lying on the scullery floor. The husband then stuck his head through the window and called out, 'Hello! Reuben' and said that Reuben Mort replied 'I am glad you have gone'. Reuben Mort then unlocked the door and let them in and said 'I have had a man in to rob me'. He held his head down and his neighbours could see his head was covered in blood.
Reuben Mort then sat down in a chair in the kitchen. There was a rope on the floor and Reuben Mort said, 'He brought this to tie me up with'. He then said that he had wriggled and the man was not able to tie him up. He said that the man then demanded his keys, hit him and then said, 'I will kill you'. When the neighbours asked what sort of man had attacked him Reuben Mort said, 'A fairly big one'.
When the police arrived they saw Reuben Mort on a sofa in the kitchen with a bandage on his head and blood on the floor between the table and the sofa. The cupboard door was open and drawers in a chest had been opened and ransacked, and upstairs two drawers in a chest had been forced open with some instrument which had left a dent 1in. to 1.5in. wide. A third of the scullery window was open leaving an aperture of 38in. by 17in.. When the policeman questioned Reuben Mort he relapsed into unconsciousness.
Reuben Mort was taken to the infirmary at 11.55am on 19 January 1920 where he was found to have terrible head injuries including lacerations in four places and fractures to the top and back of his skull. He also had a broken finger and his hands were bruised. He died later that evening at 6.30pm. The doctor said that in her opinion death was due to a fracture of the skull caused by blows caused by a blunt instrument.
Reuben Mort was a retired blacksmith and had been a blacksmith in the village for over 50 years.
A reward of £100 was offered for effective information about the circumstances of his murder.
It was noted that Little Lever was a long, straggling village from which a man could easily escape by striking across country and making in the direction of either Bury or Radcliffe.
Reuben Mort was known to be of eccentric habits and was reputed to have kept his money in his house.
see Cornishman - Wednesday 25 August 1920
see Cambridge Daily News - Tuesday 20 January 1920
see Lancashire Evening Post - Saturday 24 January 1920
see Sheffield Independent - Thursday 22 January 1920
see Western Daily Press - Wednesday 21 January 1920
see Lancashire Evening Post - Friday 30 January 1920
see The Bolton News