Wounded by a shotgun blast, 18-year-old Alice Middleton lay in the lane outside the home of Henry Quartly, a 55-year-old builder living in Porlock, Somerset. When Police Constable Joseph Greedy was told of the shooting, he went to the scene and saw that the girl did not seem to be seriously injured. Then he heard a shot which seemed to come from Quartlys cottage.
Entering it, he saw nobody about and went quietly up the stairs. On reaching the landing he saw Quartlys sister pacing a bedroom. “Look out, Mr. Greedy,” she cried, “else he will shoot you too!”
Stepping into the bedroom, Greedy found Quartly hiding in a curtained-off recess and clutching a double-barrelled shotgun. The constable promptly knocked the gun from Quartlys hand, threw him to the floor and shouted for assistance. Neighbours rushed up the stairs and held Quartly while Greedy handcuffed him.
There was a fresh scar on Quartlys lip and cheek, his moustache was singed and there was a hole in the ceiling above where he had been standing. Moments earlier he had tried to shoot himself but had missed.
“What have I done?” he asked as he was taken to Dunster police station. “You have shot Alice Middleton,” Greedy told him.
“Oh, no! I didnt intend it for her. I intended it for Tacker.”
This was Henry Pugsley, a 59-year-old fishmonger and Quartlys neighbour, and Greedy knew there was a long-standing feud between them. What he didnt know until he returned to Porlock was that the builders dispute with the fishmonger had ended.
In the excitement and confusion of Quartlys arrest, everyone had assumed that the constable knew that the girl lying in the road was not Quartlys only victim. As Quartly was being handcuffed, Pugsley lay dying a few yards away on a sofa in his home. He had been shot in the shoulder, and two witnesses had seen him stagger into his home, blood pouring from his back, while Quartly stood nearby with a smoking shotgun.
The previous October Pugsley had made a complaint to the police. He said he had been at home when Quartly came in, swearing at Mrs. Pugsley and shouting that he would have sex with her.
Taken before magistrates, Quartly had denied swearing. He said the trouble arose from his friendship with Thomas Heard, the Pugsleys young lodger who had told him that 51-year-old Fanny Pugsley had been touching him and making sexual advances. Quartly said he had therefore decided “to speak to Mrs. Pugsley.”
She had told the court that Quartly had said she should leave young boys alone and try to get a proper man.
The case against Quartly had been dismissed, but on JUNE 3rd, 1914, he had received a second summons because Pugsley had made another complaint against him. So that evening Quartly had fired his shotgun at the fishmonger, killing him and also injuring Alice Middleton.
At the inquest Pugsley was stated to have died from shock due to haemorrhage after his right lung collapsed, riddled with shot, and more shot penetrated his liver. Henry Quartly was sent for trial and admitted committing the murder when he appeared at Somerset Assizes.
He was duly convicted, and when asked if he had anything to say he said, “It has all been through his wife. She has been the cause of all this trouble. It was she that began it and left her husband to bear the burden of it.”
Sentencing him to death, Mr. Justice Atkin told him: “You got your gun, went to your garden, and shot him in the high road in front of his house and almost in the presence of his wife.”
“I wish I had shot her. She deserved it,” Quartly interrupted.
He kept his own appointment with death on November l0th, 1914, at Shepton Mallet Prison where Thomas Pierrepoint hanged him.