AS part of our weekly Crime Files series, we are taking a look back at the archives to bring you stories from Herefordshire's history.

The following story dates from 1893.

SIX men were charged with feloniously killing labourer William Prosser through assaulting, terrifying, and causing him to be exposed while naked at night in Herefordshire in 1893.

Clodock men William Davies, a 34-year-old miller, 32-year-old Leonard Miles, 17-year-old Charles Lewis, and 21-year-old John Williams, all farmers, and labourers Thomas Jones, 18, and Walter Griffiths, 22, all pleaded guilty when they appeared before Hereford assizes in March of that year.

The court heard the prisoners, all of whom were described by prosecutor Mr Moreton Brown and highly respectable men, had been drinking and playing pranks at the Cornewall Arms Inn in Clodock after attending a funeral that day.

After leaving, they had taken a man named John Cross from his bed and rolled him in the snow, and dipped another man, Edwin Chappell, in the river Monnow, before heading to Mr Prosser's cottage.


When he heard them, Prosser, who had been in bed, jumped out of the window carrying his clothes and tried to escape, but was caught in the road by the prisoners and rolled in the snow.

Prosser managed to escape, running towards the Garn Farmhouse about half a mile away.

He was found dead the next morning, hanging by the only clothes he was wearing, a shirt and a waistcoat, from the fate of a cottage some three quarters of a mile from his own home.

A medical examination found he had died from syncope brought on by exhaustion, cold, and fright.

The defence argued that it had been a practical joke, and that the six had no idea that such a disastrous result would be the consequence of their actions.

The judge, Mr Justice Grantham, said the manner in which the prisoners had treated their victims was revolting, but that he had heard with pleasure of their exemplary characters and believed they had worked themselves into a frenzy through drink.

He did not believe the prisoners had any intention of causing Prosser's death, Mr Justice Grantham said.

Griffiths and Davies were sentenced to 12 months' imprisonment with hard labour, while Miles Williams, and Jones received four months' imprisonment with hard labour.

Lewis, who had turned Queen's evidence, was jailed for three days.