26th September 1876

Jersey man dies 10 days after a fight

When Richard Blampied picked a fight with the brothers, Francis and Abraham de la Mare, he could never have imagined that it would lead to his death ten days later. Indeed, he seemed entirely recovered from the battering he received at the brothers’ hands when, the following day, the constable of Trinity visited him at his home to check on his condition.

The constable found him to be much recovered, although the night before he had observed a large bump on the back of Blampied’s head, from which he was bleeding heavily. The constable asked Blampied whether he would like him to arrest the brothers but Blampied, who was happily smoking his pipe, said no and claimed that the fight had been all his own fault. Indeed, all he wanted was for the brothers to forgive him.

Brother’s forgiveness

In his own words, recounted at the eventual inquest and quoted in the Jersey Independent and Daily Telegraph of 7 October 1876, “It’s you my boys; I’m not dead yet… above all things, I would not wish anything to be done. I was in the wrong, for if I had been at my house nothing [would] have happened.”

So the constable let it go, but Blampied’s wound wasn’t healing and, the following week, he had no choice but to bring the brothers into custody, whatever Blampied had said. For Blampied was dead.

The doctor had been called several days earlier when Blampied complained of stiff muscles and difficulty swallowing. The doctor diagnosed tetanus, and it appears he may have been right, as the stiffness got progressively worse over the next few days.

Killed by tetanus

Ultimately it was the tetanus that killed him but, had it not been for the fight, Blampied would likely have lived. It all came down to that nasty bump on the back of his head. When the doctor asked Blampied’s family about it, they revealed that it was a tumour that he’d had for a while. When Blampied had been knocked down, he’d landed on it, it had split and started to fester, producing pus that the doctor believed caused the tetanus.

It was up to the courts to decide whether the tetanus, if caused by a rupture of the tumour, left the brothers criminally liable. Abraham de la Mare was charged with assault in his brother Walter’s pub. The matter was anything but quickly resolved, with de la Mare frequently returned to custody over the next five months to await trial. His hearing took place in January 1877 at which he was represented by an accomplished advocate who referred to several legal texts to argue against his client’s culpability. Thus, it took the jury less than ten minutes to return a unanimous verdict of not guilty.


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