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 1878.

A HEREFORDSHIRE baker was left with his bowels protruding after he was stabbed while overtaking on the way home from a wake in 1878.

An inquest held in Bromyard in October that year heard that the victim, baker Richard John Box, of Broad Street, Bromyard, had left home on August 19.

His brother, William Henry Box, who lived in the town's High Street, said that the next time he saw him was at about 11pm that night, lying on the sofa of a local doctor's house and bleeding profusely from a wound to his stomach.

Richard Box survived until October 5, the inquest heard, with his brother rarely leaving his side until he succumbed to his wounds.

The court heard that the unfortunate Box, who was 25-years-old, had gone to a wake at Bishops Frome on August 19 in the company of veterinary surgeon Henry Chambers of Sherford Street and grocer William Taylor.

The trio, who were in a horse-drawn cart, overtook another man, John Bentley, on a hill as they headed home from Bishops Frome.

But, Mr Chambers said, Bentley accused him of hitting him with his whip as they passed, which he denied.

Bentley had followed them, he told the inquest, "using bad language all the time", until they stopped and Box got out of the cart, asking Bentley what he meant by insulting them, before pushing him over.

The row descended into a tussle, before Box shouted that he had been stabbed and needed to be taken to a doctor.

His friends rushed him to Bromyard, where he was handed into the care of the doctor and the local police sergeant was informed.

Bentley, who was arrested for wounding Box, admitted to the officer that he had stabbed Box, claiming he had no other option as it was three against one, while a pocket knife was found on his person.


Dr Etheredge, who treated Box for his wounds, said the injury had left the bowels protruding from the body, and that he had considered the case hopeless from the first.

"The wound was sufficient to cause death, and it caused death," said Dr Etheredge, who had also carried out a post-mortem on Box after his death.

"There was nothing else in the body to cause death. The blow must have been of great force."

The inquest jury returned a verdict of manslaughter against Bentley.

Bentley appeared before Gloucester Assizes in November of that year, where he was sentenced to seven years' penal servitude after pleading guilty to manslaughter.