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SKELETON IN THE GORSE. Six years' old Mystery Repealed. On Wednesday Mr. Herbert Price, district coroner, held an inquest at the Sessions liousfc, Milford Haven, into the circumstances attend- ing the finding of a skeleton in the gorse, near Hubbcrston Fort, supposed to be that of a sergeant-instructor in the R.G.A., who mysteri- ously disappeared about six years ago. Mr." J Ll. 'LX. J 'vTt.li:J.11 uf the j--y. The following evidence was given. William John, butcher, Hakin, said he oc- cupied some land near Fort Hubberston. He was down there on Friday afternoon, the 17th, and saw a white object right down in the bottom of the furze, about two yards from the edge of the cliff. He went within two yards or so, and seeing it was a human skull he did not like the idea of handling it. lie reported at home what he nad seen, and on Sunday he and -3 LU Llll' 11(, j. i the remains of a man. His brother touched the object with a stick, and they saw from the stripes on the clothes that it was the body of a soldier; otherwi33 they did not disturb the lemains. It was an unfrequented spot where they found the remains. They were lying be- tween Fori Hubberston and Gorsewood House. P.S. Win. Evans saipt about 12.30 p.m. on Sunday he received information from the last witness, and t ccompanied by him and two constables they visited the spot. In a gorse cover about six feet high and very thicx, and about 40) \arJs from Hubberstcn Fort, th':l found the remains of a man lyim; on His face. The remains were covered with a soldier ■ uniform, that of a sergeant-instructor in the R.G.A. The remains appeared to have la n there for several years. The flesh had entirely gone. Underneath him was a field service cap, and open razor (produced). The bones appeared to be complete, except some of the finger bones. In the clothes were a silver watch and chain, maker "Samuel, Manchester," No. 125,752; also a half-sovereign, and two penny pieces. When removing the body again he found another shilling. On the cap was the number 81,508. The remains were removed to the mortuary. The Foreman asked did the number on the cap correspond to the regimental number, and the Coroner said they would find that out later. Thomas Wetherall, labourer, Venn Farm, Llanstadwell, said he was formerly a sergeant in the R.G.A., and was stationed at Fort Hub- berston at the same time as Stafford. On the 22nd of June, 1902, about 5.30 a.m., he saw Stafford come up through the gateway. He was dripping wet, and told witness he had fallen into the water. Witness suggested he should change, and lent him certain articles of clothing, including a field service cap. About 6 a.m. Stafford left witness. He seemed ra- tional enough. Witness had known him for two or three months. The regimental number on the cap was not witness' number, but lie had two caps which he bought at a regimental sale, and it was possible the cap was one of these, though witness could not recognise it. The badge was such as Sergt. Stafford would be wearing. Witness never saw him again. About 12.30 that day the non-commissioned officers missed Sergt. Stafford, and next day search parties were sent out, but without re- sult. William Gardiner, sergeant in the R.G.A., stationed at Fort Hubberston. said he was there in June, 1902, and knew Sergt.-Instructor John Stafford. He saw him on the 22nd of June about 9.30. He was then in the passage leading to the sergeants' mess. Stafford had an over- coat on him, and a field service cap. Witness did not see that he was wet, but Stafford told witness he had been out for a walk and fell in the sea. Witness had to go on to parade, and saw no more of him. In the course of con- versation Sergt. Stafford said he wanted to shave, and he borrowed a razor. He was queer in his manner, and had been drinking heavily for two or three days. He borrowed a razor from Gunner Bowen. Sergt.-Major George Kerrison, R.G.A., sta- tioned at Fort Hubberston, said he had charge of part of the records at the Fort. From these he found that John Stafford held the rank of sergeant-instructor in gunnery on the permanent staff of the R.G.A. He was a native of St. Margaret's parish, Leicester; born 5th February, 1873, and would be, therefore, 29; years of age at the time of his disappearance. In the regimental orders of July 21st, 1903, Stafford was gazetted as a deserter. Deputy-Chief Constable James reported the result of inquiries from the Leicester police, who were asked to communicate with John Stafford's mother and tell her there were no means of identification beyond the clothing and articles found in the clothing. The Chief Con- stable of Leicester had that morning sent to say that Stafford's mother had married again, but had given up a warranty of her son's watch, issued by Samuels, Manchester, 12,572, 24th December, 1901. The figures in the num- ber of the watch varied by one figure with the watch found upbn deceased. The Deputy-Chief Constable added that he had received a letter from the Llanelly police stating that an old soldier had called there to say he lent Stafford a razor numbered 307, and if the one found bore that number he claimed it. The rust and dirt upon the razor, however, made it impos- sible to decipher it. Dr. W. S. Griffith said he had examined the remains, which were those of a mature man; all the bones were there save a few small ones from the fingers. It was impossible to say what was the cause of death. The Coroner made a carel al summing up, and gave directions to the jury, who found that the remains were those of John Stafford, who was found dead.








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