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January 1934: Uralla – after the explosion, the inquiry by the Coroner

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The Uralla Times, Thursday, January 18, 1934,
Part 1,
Part 2,
Part 3



The District Coroner (Mr. H. W. Vincent), at Uralla yesterday, held an inquiry touching the fire and explosion which destroyed S. Bow & Sons’ store on Jan. 2. Exhaustive evidence given failed to throw any light on the matter, and an open verdict was returned.

Sergeant Willard conducted the examinations on behalf of the police, Mr. Solomon of McLachlan Westgarth & Co., Sydney, appeared for the insurance’ companies interested, Mr. Smith represented the Trustee, and Mr. Biddulph, of Mackenzie and Biddulph, represented S. Bow & Sons.

The following evidence was taken:

Sergeant Willard stated: At about 11.30 p.m. on 2nd inst I was in bed at the Police Station, Uralla, when I heard a terrific explosion. I jumped cut of bed and saw that the store premises of S. Bow & Sons was on fire. I dressed and ran to the scene of the fire.

The whole building was in flames, the side walls of the brick building, had collapsed and the roof was strewn on both sides of the building, the sides of the roof being practically in one piece and the building and contents almost razed to the ground. There were large tiers of bricks blown out in one piece lying outside the building. Everything had been blown outwardly.

The iron skillion attached to the main brick building within which the office was situated was burning fiercely. A number of people had obtained buckets and with water from the iron tanks the fire was confined to the store premises, and the cottage, back store, and bakehouse were saved.

I saw an iron drum lying on the verandah of the store. I was informed that it contained a little kerosene. Some little time after it blew up. The top was blown off and there was a dense volume of black smoke.

Mr Shears asked me to help save the iron safe, as it contained the cash and books. Water was thrown on to that part of the building and the iron wall cut open and the safe removed, and later it was opened by Mr. Shears in my presence and the cash and books removed. They were intact. The handle had burnt off the safe.

Portions of the stock were found scattered outside the fire and it was gathered up and removed to the Court House by the Police. A bathing costume and a shirt (stock from the store were hanging on the telegraph wires in front of the building, showing they had been blown there by the explosion.

At the Court House, a brick building about two chains distant from the store, the front windows were broken and a large quantity of plaster shaken from the ceiling on the verandah.

At the Post Office, a two-storied building, situated about 100 yards on the west side of the store; eight windows were broken, two ventilators blown from the brickwork, the clasp on the door of the telephone exchange room was practically blown off, just hanging by a small piece of wood, which had splintered off the door.

I have made inquiries into the origin of the fire and I am unable to throw, any light into the matter.

By Mr Solomon: I saw Mr Shears at the fire that night. The iron safe was outside the main brick building. It would be about 20ft or 30ft from the seat of the explosion. The iron safe was separated from the brick building by a brick wall. The latter did not collapse till next morning.

By Mr Biddulph: I was one of the first to arrive on the scene of the fire. There were no flames near the iron drum (of kerosene) at that time. I heard the explosion myself. It would not be possible for it to be caused by a visitation from the heavens or a meteor.

William Gordon Rixon stated: I am a Carter employed by Trickett’s Ltd. About 11.30 on the night of 2nd Jan. my brother Frederick and I walked out of the back door of my brother’s home in Maitland street, when I saw the reflection of a fire in the direction of S. Bow & Sons’ store. We ran towards the store and when near the corner of Hill and Maitland streets I saw the reflection of fire issuing from the rear of the store. Almost immediately the roof began to rise and an explosion occurred scattering the building, and the whole of the premises burst into flames. There were no other people in the vicinity when we arrived on the scene, I did not hear a motor vehicle of any kind being driven away. There were no flames visible, only a reflection of fire and smoke from the back of the building. After the explosion there was very little smoke.

By Mr Solomon: It took me about three seconds to get at the store. The fire issued from the rear of the store just prior to the explosion.

Frederick A. Rixon stated that when be and his brother got to the corner, almost immediately an explosion occurred in the store. The roof and walls were blown down and debris thrown into the air. The whole of the building then burst into flames.

Thos. Hassett stated: I commenced work at the power house in Hill street about 4 p.m. on 2nd Jan. I was about the works all the afternoon and evening and about 11.30 p.m. I was in the office at the works doing some writing when I heard a very loud explosion. The building shook and papers and other things that were hanging around the wall fell on to the floor. I got up from the table and looked at the engine. I then noticed a glow through the windows. I ran outside and saw S. Bow and Sons’ store on fire, in the back portion. All the walls were blown out and the roof was scattered on either side of the building. There was general store goods such as hats and clothing scattered about the street in front of the shop. I then blew a distress whistle. All the lights had been fused. A number of people then commenced to gather around the fire. When I first looked at the fire there was no person in view. I have had a good deal of experience in explosives, having been a miner and I am of the opinion that the explosion was caused by gelignite or gelatine.

By Mr. Biddulph: I have been a mine dredge manager for many years. I have had a great deal of experience with explosives. I think if the explosive had been gelignite it would require 25 or 30 lb of explosive. 5 lb would not cause it.

By Mr Solomon: I think 60 lb would be a cubic foot, perhaps a little more, in size. Such a parcel would be noticed by any person about the store.

By Mr Biddulph: I heard only the one explosion. A very definite one.

Keith Newman stated: About 11.5 p.m. on 2nd Jan. I left the car rank in Bridge street and went home. I put the car in the laneway at the side of the house and went into my home, had a look round and went to bed, about 11.15 p.m. About 5 minutes later I heard what appeared to be a benzine tin being kicked or knocked over. I thought it was in my garage. I got out of bed and saw a reflection of a fire on the bowser bowl in front of my garage. I then went out the back door, and heard a crackling noise like a fire burning. I then went to the front of the garage. Before reaching the street I heard an explosion. I then saw paper and other matter flying through the air from S. Bow and Sons’ store. The building was in flames. The roof was off and flames were issuing from the whole of the building. When I first went in to the street, I did not see any person in the vicinity of the fire. I did not hear a motor car being driven away. The reflection on the bowser would be from a fire and not from an ordinary light. There was a red glare and a little black smoke in the air over the front of the store.

David J. Wallace stated: About 11.15 p.m. on 2nd Jan., in company with my parents and brother and sister, I returned to Uralla from Armidale in our car. I put the car in the garage and went into the house. I came out about five minutes later and was walking down the back yard when I saw a reflection of a fire in the direction of S. Bow and Sons’ store. The reflection was very bright. Immediately after I saw the reflection of the fire an explosion occurred at the scene of the fire. I saw timber and other materials scattered in the air. The reflection of the fire was of a yellowish colour. My brother then came out of the house and we got into the car and drove along Hill street, when I saw Bow’s store was on fire. The whole of the building had collapsed and the fire was burning furiously. There were a number of other people at the fire when we arrived.

William Tet Fong stated: I am a member of the firm of S. Bow and Sons. I first went into partnership with Wallace Bow about July 1929, and since that date I have had charge of the drapery department. There has never been any explosives kept on the premises to my knowledge other than a few rifle and gun cartridges. I have no knowledge of explosives and I have not at any time handled explosives of any description or purchased them for any other person. About 8.45 p.m. on 2nd Jan., in company with my brother Harry, I left home, which adjoins the shop, and went to Mr Ward’s residence at the railway station and remained there until 11.30 p.m. We were inside. We heard an explosion. We rushed outside and saw a glow of fire coming from the direction of the store. My brother and I got into the motor cycle and went to the store, where I saw that the whole of the building had collapsed and was burning fiercely from one end to the other. I pushed out the solo motor cycle which was in the shed, and a push bike, and with others pushed a Fiat car out of the shed. The fire had too much hold on the store building to do anything with it. When we were leaving the residence there was a light in the office of the store, which to my knowledge was the manager and Wallace Bow balancing the books.

To Segt. Willard: I recognise the door produced as the back door of the shop. I have never noticed the door mark shown me before.

By Mr. Solomon: I heard all about the Guyra fire in 1931 at S. Bow & Sons when it occurred. I know there had been transactions between the two firms. I know of them generally. There was an exchange of drapery goods. The transaction extended back quite a few years. I remember when the firm was in Werris Creek. I don’t know the exact time. Periodically there was a balance. The last balance prior to the Guyra fire would be known at the office, not to me. I had some stock at the store at the time of the fire. It was supposed to have come from Werris Creek. There was not much of it. When they took over the Guyra business, the Werris Creek business was closed. I would not know the amount of the stock. I don’t remember how many suit cases were at my home when Mr and Mrs See Lun were arrested. I know there were quite a lot of suit cases. I supplied them with a certain number of goods. I supplied them with clothing and so forth as they were destitute. I don’t know of the insurances on the business. As far as I know the firm was insured with the Scottish Union and London Co. I know after the Guyra fire, the Scottish Union cancelled the policy. I don’t know the date. I do not know what was done with the policies after the cancellation of the policy. Mr Bow would be able to apprise you of the insurance. I looked after the drapery only. Through the influence of Wynn, Roberts, Brokers, we secured the present insurance. We had tried to get insurance prior to that just before Xmas. 1931. I could not say with what companies. I do not know the names of any agencies. As far as I know we did not try through local agencies. Wynn, Roberts, secured the insurance for us through Douglass & Co. wholesale grocers.

Wallace Stanford Bow’s statement to the police, which was put in as evidence, detailed his financial dealings. George, William and Sam Tet Fong were in partnership with himself. The business continued financially sound until well into 1932, when they loaned the firm of S. Bow and Sons, Guyra, about £700 for expenses in enabling them to defend a charge of arson in connection with a fire which destroyed their business premises about Easter 1931. This together with the depression caused them to fall behind in the business undertaking and necessitated them contracting a large amount of book debts. At a meeting of creditors in March last it was decided that the firm would be allowed to carry on business. Since assigning its estate the firm had paid its creditors about 10s. in the £, leaving a balance of about £2000. Since Mr Shears had taken charge, together with book debts collected by him, the business had shown in improvement and the firm expected to be clear in about 12 months. When the estate was assigned, the trustee took over all insurances, excepting that on the building.

Witness, continuing, stated: Accounts for December purchases are still owing, making a total of about £3000 due to creditors. I would be at a loss by a fire destroying the business, as put the whole of my share in my mother’s will, which amounted to £1950, in the business, together with my labour during the past five years. There is no written agreement between the Set Fongs and myself. They would not benefit by a fire destroying the building and contents.

Witness said that, with his wife and two children, he went to Kempsey on 23rd Dec, and returned to Uralla on 27th Dec. He remained at Uralla until 31st Dec. On the night previous he made up the books with Mr Shears in order to allow the latter to go on holidays on 1st Jan. On 31st Dec., in company with Mr Fuller. C.P.S., Mr Boston, his wife and family, he went to about 15 miles beyond Deepwater trout fishing and returned home about 8 p.m. 1st Jan. He did not leave Uralla again. He went to the store about 8.30 a.m. on 2nd Jan. and carried on his usual duties until 6 p.m. As they did not complete the balancing of the books on 31st Dec. he returned to the store about 7 p.m. with Mr Shears, and remained there until about 9.10 p.m. when both left the shop. Mr Shears went in the direction of his home and witness returned to his own home.

Continuing, witness said: I did not leave my home until about 11.30 p.m. when I was awakened by an explosion, I got cut of bed and went to the children’s room to see if they were all right. My wife got up. She said “Go across and see if Gay (meaning my brother Herb’s wife, who resides next door) is all right.” I opened the front door and saw that the store was on fire. I ran to the scene of the fire. All the walls were lying on the ground and the fire was burning from end to end of the shop. Mr Shears and the police were there. Mr Shears said to me: “The safe, Wal.” I said “Damn the safe we want to save the house.”

Witness said that as a result of the fire he would be financially embarrassed. Had the fire not occurred he felt confident they would have been clear of their creditors in 12 months.

“About 12 months ago,” said witness, I received a letter from William See Lun, who was partner in the Guyra store, claiming that he owed them £350 for cash loaned. I replied to this letter through Mr. Biddulph, and nothing has been heard of it since. I did not owe these people any money. The business done with them whilst at Guyra was done by change of cheques for business purposes. The Guyra firm, which Mrs See Lun was interested, has not paid me the £700 loaned to them for the purpose of defending the charge of arson.

By Mr. Buddulph: I see the door produced. It is the rear door of the brick building. I have not seen the mark shown me on the door before. I feel sure that it was not there.

By Mr Solomon: I have not got the letter written to me by the solicitor for Mrs See Lun.

Prior to the Guyra fire the two firms used to exchange cheques also draperies. I could not remember when the last clearing up took place. At the time of their fire I did not owe them any money. They did not owe me any. At that time I was about square. The £700 loaned by me was for the trial all through, for the Armidale Trial. That was the actual money paid to them for R. D. Meagher, Sproule & Co. It was arranged jointly by my brother Herbert and Mrs See Lun. There was no suggestion that Herbert was mixed in it at all. Mrs Lun asked for further funds to carry on the appeal. I refused it. She was not the best tempered woman. She was angry and her language was not the choicest. I have not seen her since. They asked me for money all along. When the letter was received from the accountant, I put the matter into the hands of Mr Biddulph. I am a married man. Contents of my home were insured with the Scottish Union at the time of the Guyra fire. They cancelled the policy. They cancelled everything that went through. I cannot remember the date. It would be about 8th May, 1931.

My private property is insured with the Commercial Union. It was taken out the same time as the policy on the brick building. They were all taken out in the month of December, 1931 I did not try to get my furniture insured in the meantime, They remained uninsured until December 1931. I tried to get policies through local agents I think, I wrote to the Country Traders in Sydney. They would not take it on nor would the Commercial Union. Finally I got my insurance through the good offices of Douglass & Co. I have never had fire in my private place. I have never had a claim on the company. The three Tet Fongs lived in the home at the store. They are bachelors. There were two Packard cars, one belonged to me and one to George Tet Fong. I think it was his car that was at the Tattersalls Hotel in Armidale in 1931. Mr Shears received £6/10 per week for wages. The Trustees received 1 per cent on turnover. The average monthly turnover would be between £1100 and £1200. The percentage would roughly amount to about £130 or £140 annually. The partners used to draw pocket money, not wages. I got £1 per week and all goods and clothing which was charged to me. There were no partnership deeds. Under the arrangement with the Tet Fongs, we shared equally in the profits, There was no consideration shown for capital invested in the business, purely personal friends. We had a balance sheet produced up until 30th September, 1933. I have not a copy of it. The amount of the liabilities at the time of the fire would be approximately £3000. It could be no more. I do not know the exact figures. Up to the time of the assignment the amount of the liabilities would be roughly £3600. There would be more stock at the time of the fire than at the assignment. Roughly two or three hundred pounds more. My book debts had decreased. Mr Shears had been pressing some of the debtors. Some of them for large amounts, some of them we had taken Court proceedings for. I have never been threatened by any of the debtors. It was nearly impossible for the gelignite to be in the store at 9 p.m. when I left. I have no theory as to the cause of the fire.

To Mr Biddulph: I am a very heavy loser by reason of the fire. I am not on the best of terms with Mrs See Lun. I am on bad terms with her. The reason I helped her was to help my brother who was interested in the recovery of the insurance money. I remember the stock left with me after the fire at Guyra. The majority of the stock was for the purpose of exhibits at the Supreme Court. It was to show a Judge and Jury that my brother had been asked down. I had nothing to do with the explosion, nothing whatever. If the business was to continue, my creditors would have been paid off within 12 months. At the time of the fire the business was making progress.

By Mr Smith: When Mr Shears and I left the door shown me was locked. Mr Shears is in full charge of the business now.

By Segt. Willard, I left the premises through the door shown me.

Samuel Tet Fong stated that he is member of the firm of S. Bow and Sons, and is in charge of the grocery department. He had no experience with explosives and had never purchased explosives for himself or any other person. There were no explosives stored in the shop other than a small quantity of rifle and gun cartridges. He left Uralla about 9.30 p.m. on 30th December, in company with Herb Bow, George Tet Fong and Jean Cochrane, by car and went to Laurieton. They arrived back at Uralla about 11.45 p.m. on 4th January.

Alfred Henry Shears stated: I am an accountant employed by the trustees R. W. Hall & Co., of the assigned estate of S. Bow & Sons. I commenced duty on 25th March 1933. Walter Stanford Bow assisted me in the office and grocery and drapery buying. William Tet Fong had charge of the drapery department. George Tet. Fong had charge of the grocery department, Sam Tet Fong senior grocery assistant, Harry Tet Fong junior grocer, Keith Nelson, junior grocer. All these persons with the exception of Harry Tet Fong and K. Nelson, were members of the firm of S. Bow & Sons. When I first took charge of the business I checked the stock that had already been taken by F. W. Johnson for the creditors in the assigned estate a week previous. I found the stock amounting to £3800 to be correct. From then on I took periodical check of the stock and forwarded returns from time to time to the Trustee, as well as taking charge of all cash on hand at that time and subsequent receipts, and also attended to the banking. Since taking charge of the store business has been considerably improved and was in quite a solvent state and the sum of £1900 had been paid to the creditors, reducing their liabilities to such an extent that they would have been able to satisfy their creditors in full within 12 months. The stock on hand at the time of the fire would amount to about £4000. The building was owned by Gilbert S. Bow, of Walgett. I was due to go on a fortnight’s leave on 1st Jan. As Wallace Bow was absent from town, and it being necessary for me to have him with me to balance the books and take over the cash, and he not returning until late on Monday evening, I was prevented from leaving until following evening, and owing to the pressure of business on Tuesday we were unable to balance the books until Tuesday evening. About 7.20 p.m. Tuesday, 2nd, I went to the store and in company with W. S. Bow, we balanced the cash and books and left the premises about 9.10 p.m. Before leaving securely locked the premises and left by the back door, I did not see any person in the vicinity or about the premises. There was nothing in the store that would cause an explosion. After leaving the store I walked along Maitland street to Mr Bow’s, residence, where I said goodnight to him and went to my own home. After arriving home I put the wireless on and prepared a bath and packed my port with the intention of catching the midnight train for Sydney. I did not leave home after returning from the shop at 9.10 p.m. until about 11.30 p.m. when I walked on to the front verandah and heard a violent explosion. I then walked on to the footpath and saw a blaze which took to be at the electric light station opposite S. Bow & Sons’ store. I subsequently found the fire to be in the store. When I arrived at the scene the whole building was in flames, the side walls had collapsed and the roof was strewn on either side of the building. I ran around the side of the building near the bulk store. There were number of people on the scene. I said to Herry Tet Fong “Shift the benzine and other inflammable matter from the store room.” This he did and put it at the rear of the house. Later the Sergeant and myself burst open the side wall of the office and put a rope around the safe and pulled it out on to the street. Later, in the presence of Sergeant Willard, I unlocked the safe and found that the content, including money, was as I had left it. On the morning of 4th Jan., in company with Constable Dogan, I made a search of the debris and found the remainder of the till and about £1/10 in small change which is always left in the till over night. When I left the shop on the evening of 2nd Jan. I did not leave any light burning. Whilst in the office I used the electric light. As far as I know I did not leave any match smouldering in the building. Wallace Bow was smoking cigarettes that night. During my reign of office there has not been any gelignite or explosives stored in the building. I left the main building by the back door. I see the door produced. I see the mark shown to me. I have not seen It previously. I don’t think it was on the door previous to the night of the fire.

By Mr Smith: Wallace Bow was the only man who had an interest in the assets. The others had working interests only. There was £4 in the two tills. We have accounted for all the moneys in the till except the sum of 8/. There was definitely no robbery.

By Mr Solomon: Since I took over in March 1933 the business has improved to the extent of at least £1000 up to 1st Jan. 1934. The creditors at the time of the assignment were £4033. The creditors now are £3779 without taking into account any remuneration for the trustee. The liabilities have now decreased by more than £254. I would say by approximately £1000. I did not prepare the list in March. It was prepared by Mr R. W. Hall. According to my books the liabilities have decreased by £1000. So far as I know the figures shown to the insurance coy. are correct. The stock as at 1st Jan. was more by £400 than at the time I took over. The book debts would be about £1400 less. The liabilities are less than when I took over by £300. I would not say the business has lost £700 since I took over. My salary is £6/10 per week. The trustee is getting 1 per cent on turnover. His profit on trading for period of six months was shout £300. The expenses of administration would be about £600 or £630 per annum. According to the balance sheet the creditors were £3642, deferred liabilities now are £3779.

By Mr Smith: The position is now better off than at the time of the assignment.

By Mr Biddulph: I have kept close eye on the conduct of the business. I have found all partners very honest. The creditors were very satisfied with the position of the business. I attended meeting of the committee in Sydney recently. Every member expressed their appreciation of the rate of progress. I gave George Tet Fong permission to go on holidays. I cannot assist the Coroner in any way as to the origin of the fire. Prior to George Tet Fong going for his holiday, Mr Fuller, C.P.S., and I questioned him as to some fishing kit. I did not see him again until I saw him in Sydney on Tuesday or Wednesday last, about a week after the fire. I live about 300 or 400 yards from the scene of the fire. Practically the whole of the stock was destroyed by the explosion.

At this stage the lunch adjournment took place.

Upon resuming, witness Shears was again questioned by Mr Solomon. He stated: I have ascertained what payments have been made to the partners. Sam Tet Fong received £104 from April 1933 to end of year, W. Tet Fong £124, George Tet Fong £129/3/9, W. S. Bow £162/0/9. Those amounts total £520. They received much less than the award rates. The net profit for the period was £311. If the firm had been sold up at the time of the fire, the creditors would have received payment in full.

George Tet Fong stated: On 30th Oct. last a man named William Gluck of Rocky River, asked me If I was going to Armidale. said I am. He said “Will you bring me back a packet of gelignite.” I went to Armidale that day with Herb Bow. Herb bought the packet of gelignite at Richardson’s. We brought the gelignite to Uralla and it was handed to Gluck either that night or the following morning. He paid 10/- for it. That was the only gelignite explosive of any kind I have had any dealings with whilst at the store.

Gilbert Cecil Bow, of Walgett, stated that he owned the store. He had received £3/10 week rent from S. Bow and Sons. The premises are insured in Commercial Union Assurance Co. for £1000, The property was quite clear. It was mortgaged to Bank of N.S.W., but it was cleared some time in December 1933.

By Mr Biddulph: I mortgaged the building to assist my brother in the business. It was for $200. The Bank was paid off by me.

Constable John Dogan, of Tamworth stated: I arrived at Uralla on 3rd January and commenced inquiries in connection with the fire and explosion. I was later joined by Detective Sergeant Comans and we made an examination at the scene of the fire and explosion and a careful search of the debris was made. We found that the roof had been blown on either side of the building across the roadway and in the yard and the timber smashed to splinters. The plate glass windows from the front of the store were smashed to fragments across the street. Portions of the stock were thrown some distance across the roadway. Pieces of timber including portion of the frame of the back door were found on the roof of a shed in the yard. On examination, of the door frame, we found the Yale lock intact, and discovered marks of round shaped or pointed jemmy or similar instrument close to the lock, indicating that the panel had been prized from the door in the vicinity of the lock. In our examination we found the iron safe, which was located in the office in the skillion, intact. It contained the books, insurance papers and £18/16/5½ in cash. We also located the remains of the till of the drapery department and found almost the whole of the silver and copper that it contained. Almost all of the silver and copper in the grocery dept. till was found. From the general appearance of the debris, it would appear that the store was well stocked. With Mr Hall, the trustee of the estate, an examination of the books was made and they were found correct. Mr Parsons, of the Explosives Dept, made a thorough search and examination of the debris. His report is produced. As the result of our inquiries we were fully satisfied that the persons conducting the business were in no way responsible for the explosion or fire. I am of opinion that the explosion occurred in the manner as described by Mr Parsons. We interviewed and took statements from all persons connected with the firm and premises, checked up the statements and have verified them. We made full inquiries from the surrounding district regarding the sale or loss of explosives, but have been unable to obtain any information that would be of value. We also made very careful inquiries in other directions but were unable to gain any information that would assist in ascertaining who was responsible for the destruction of the building and contents by fire and explosion.

Constable Dogan produced photographs of the debris, taken by Mr. Parsons.

Explosive Expert’s Report.

Mr. Parsons’ report was: “‘From statements given to the police and the extent of the damage, I formed the opinion that (1) the explosion was caused by about 25lb of a high explosive, probably gelignite; (2) the explosive had been placed on the floor in the centre line and towards the rear of the building; (3) the explosion was initiated by fire rather than fuse and detonators. An attempt was then made to find the spot above which the explosive had been placed. No definite depression could be found since, firstly, most of the explosive force had been expended on the wooden floor, and, secondly, heavy rain had fallen in the interim. However, one of the small brick piers was found with one corner broken off, probably by the explosion. Records from surrounding towns were examined, but no definite source of supply of explosives locally could be traced. The opinion is held by the police that the explosion was one of malicious intent by some person, and not in any way attributable to present occupants. The fact that no attempt was made to open the safe and the contents of the till were not touched discounts any theory of burglary. After investigation of all known facts, I consider that the opinion given above is substantially correct.” – S. PARSONS, analyst and inspector.

Open Verdict

This concluded the evidence. In returning an open verdict, the Coroner said that, although human hands must have caused the fire and explosion, there was no evidence as to the actual perpetrator.

Mr Biddulph asked, in view of the likelihood of suspicion resting on his clients, S. Bow and Sons, would the Coroner give an assurance in that regard.

The Coroner: In view of the evidence that the firm had everything to lose and nothing to gain, I find there is not the slightest reflection on the firm nor the trustees.

Written by macalba

November 21, 2020 at 8:41 pm

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