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100-YEARS-AGO: SALFORD SHOOTING SENSATION


History With Flynn

Lucy Pugh, 19 a cotton operative at Connels Mill on Ancoats Lane, Manchester was walking down New Bailey Street, Salford when she came to the junction with Chapel Street, when Robert Lomas, 23 walked up to her and shot her in the face.

Now that I have your attention I shall tell you the the full story of this shocking incident, of a violent and doomed relationship, which happened in September 1919,  and is hardly Mills and Boon material.

Lomas who resided at Islington Drive appeared at Salford Magistrates Court charged with, felonious, unlawfully and maliciously wounding Lucy Pugh with intent to cause grievous bodily harm by shooting her with a pistol on Chapel Street.

He pleaded not guilty and was remanded in custody for a week whilst police investigations were made.

Lucy had been taken to Salford Royal Hospital for treatment to her injuries, she had lost a lot of blood with a bullet wound to the left side of her face which exited through the right side of her cheek, she made a remarkable recovery and would soon be facing Robert Lomas in a courtroom.

The police inquiries revealed that Lomas and ex-soldier had been seeing Lucy for about seven months, but it was a very volatile relationship with him often making death threats to her family.

Lomas was then remanded to the Manchester Assizes to stand trial and was defended by a Mr Nolan, described as being, "a well known coloured barrister and Mr J. Thorpe prosecuted for the Crown Court.

Lucy told the crowded court that she was walking home from work with a friend who also worked at Connels Mill when Lomas approached her and asked, "Where were you last night?"

She told him that she had stayed in with her mother when she felt a blow to the face and passed out.

Mrs Pugh was called to give evidence and it soon became clear that there was no love lost between her and Robert Lomas.

She said that he was a regular visitor to the house and not always a welcome one, and on one occasion she came home to find him sat on her sofa, he jumped up and knocked chairs over and shouted, "I am Robert Lomas, I have had four brothers in the army and I will do all the Pugh family in, and I don't care for anybody" and then added, "You will soon be needing three coffins"

P.C. Hunter told the court that on the evening in question he was on duty in Chapel Street with P.C. Lorinson when he heard a gunshot, they raced to the scene and saw that a man named Robert Craddock had tussled Lomas to the ground.

They arrested him and a search revealed three live cartridges in his jacket all capable of being fired from the revolver which they also confiscated.

He was taken to the nearby police station and was told that he would be charged with the offence listed, however Lomas showed no remorse and said that he would plead not guilty at court.

Finally Dr Ghosh from Salford Royal Hospital gave evidence and stated that he treated Lucy Pugh for her injuries and said that if the bullet had deviated slightly it would have severed an artery which would have killed her instantly.

Mr Nolan for the defence must surely have known that he was fighting a losing battle in this case, however he did try and plead for his client.

He said that Lomas's threats had been carried out in a "boisterous mood", one way of putting it I suppose, and then added that when he pulled the revolver out he had no intention of firing it, merely to frighten her when it suddenly exploded in his hand!.

For good measure he chucked in that Lomas had been drinking that day and had also served his country in the war, receiving injuries in the process.

The jury retired to consider their verdict and were only out for a few minutes before they returned to declare that Lomas was guilty.

Justice McCardie described the offence as a cowardly attack with a revolver on a girl.

He sentenced him to seven years imprisonment.

The paper said that in court Lomas was seen waving at friends in the public gallery and smiling, and rather prophetically was seen to hold up seven fingers before the sentence was handed down, hopefully Justice McCardie had noticed this act of bravado and took him up on his suggestion.


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