15th September 1880

Jersey girl is killed by a slamming door

Centenier Le Feuvre was doubtful when, on dispatching one of his constables to Fort Regent to investigate the death of a four-year-old girl, the constable returned with a somewhat unusual story: a report that the girl, Catherine Barker, had been killed by a slamming door. Unable to leave it at that, Le Feuvre visited the fort himself to check the facts of the case.

Story rings true

At the subsequent inquest, reported in the The Jersey Weekly Press and Independent, he told the court that “I found his statement was quite correct. I saw the body of the deceased, and on examining it discovered two wounds on the back of the head… and noticed traces of blood upon the ground near, and on the door.”

The army surgeon, who had returned to Fort Regent from Elizabeth castle around 20 minutes after the accident confirmed that the door had fractured the girl’s skull. Examining the door, he noticed that the lock was badly worn, allowing the strong wind to catch it, despite the fact it was “not partly open, but pushed right back”.

Girl given brandy

The young girl wasn’t killed outright and the first people on the scene reported that she was gasping for breath. A staff sergeant pulled out her tongue to aid her breathing before giving her brandy, at which point he noticed cuts to the back of her tongue, caused by her teeth. She died ten minutes later. The jury passed a ruling of accidental death and recommended that the door in question be better fastened in the future.


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