21st December 1859

Man dies after being shot in the buttocks

Mr Jones and William Francis Le Cocq learned a very difficult lesson shortly before Christmas 1858. The two men were inspecting a gun, which they didn’t realise was loaded until Jones, a draper, fired it. As the Jersey Independent and Daily Telegraph reported the following evening, “Mr Renouf, a carpenter, who was in the adjoining room at work, received the contents in the right buttock. Mr Jones, attracted by his shrieks, came to his assistance and found him weltering in his blood.”

It was no mere flesh wound, either. Two doctors inspected 51-year-old Renouf on site and found that not only had the gunshot penetrated his buttock; it had passed through his hip and perforated his intestines and bladder. At that point, his fate was all but sealed.

A fateful accident

Nicholas Renouf lingered for a while but succumbed to his wounds the following lunchtime – the 21st – while Jones, his unfortunate killer, was still watching over him. The only consolation, slim though it may have been, was that Renouf remained sufficient consciousness to assure him that it had been an accident for which Jones was in no way to blame. Had Renouf not been on a ladder at the time, there’s every likelihood he would have survived the unfortunate incident, even if he had still been struck by the bullet shot from the gun. However, the angle he was at meant that there was nowhere for the bullet to go other than upwards, which is how it came to perforate both his bladder and intestine despite first entering him through the buttock.

At an inquest held that afternoon, Jones and Le Cocq explained that they had planned to take a walk through St Helier to see the skaters, and decided to take a gun with them, but first wanted to make sure it was in a usable condition. When Jones pulled the trigger, its condition was indeed proved to be perfect.

An alcoholic prescription

By the time the doctors arrived, it was obvious Renouf was in a lot of pain, although the victim initially thought he’d been shot in the hand, and then in the back. Realising there was nothing they could do to save him, they prescribed brandy and water, perhaps in an effort to dull the pain.

It may have done little to ease Jones’ conscience, but the inquest’s jury absolved him of blame, ruling that Renouf had died as the result of “a wound accidentally inflicted upon him the previous day by the discharge of a gun loaded with shot, fired by Mr William Jones, who believed the gun was not loaded.”


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