Object of the month
Manslaughter by man trap
Sidney Taylor lived in Chatham with his brother and elderly father. The house was often empty during the day and, in 1952, the house was broken into and £30 was stolen from a tin trunk in the bedroom.
Taylor made a spring gun, or mantrap, in the trunk by mounting two lengths of pipe on a metal platform and loading a 12-bore shotgun cartridge into each pipe. He covered the ends with another short section of pipe and connected the firing mechanism to the lid of the trunk.
On 10 July 1952, Noah Eastwood, ‘a person of known bad character’, broke into the cottage and found the trunk. He raised the lid, setting off the homemade guns. Both 'barrels' exploded and Eastwood was seriously injured, dying ten days later.
At the post-mortem examination, 83 pellets and 3 pieces of cartridge wad were removed from his body.
Sidney Taylor appeared at Kent Assizes on 27 November 1952, charged with manslaughter. The verdict was absolute discharge.