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One of the most melancholy stories which have been heard in a court of justice for many years was .told at the last Bedford Assizes. Dr William Storey, a man in' good position, who had reached the age of 68, and had practised as a physician for 44 years, was convicted of having wilfully set fire to his own dwelling-house, and sentenced to penal servitude for ; five years. Such a sentence on a man of so nearly three, scorejyears and ten is in itself an unusual one, and must be regarded as almost equivalent to condemnation to death. The circumstances, however, left no doubt of his guilt He had taken the house in 1877, and insured his furniture for LSOO. This sum was greatly above its value, which seems to have been less than L2OO. He had got into arrears of rent, and had otherwise fallen into difficulties on account of his bad habits. He seems to have thought that in defrauding the insurance company he should liberate himself from his pecuniary troubles, and get a little money with which to furnish another house, and begin housekeeping again. One day last August his wife was away from home, and he was left in the house alone with the boy who carried out his medicines. He sent the boy to Luton on an errand, and he was told not to return till eight at night. Just after two in the afternoon Dr Storey was seen to leave his house by the back door, and soon afterwards a man passing by saw smoke coming out of the front windows. He got into the house by the back way, and found the door leading into the front hall locked. Having burst it open, he saw that the smoke came from a heap : ,of burning paper and sticks which had been piled on the wooden staircase, which it had already fired. This was soon extinguished, and meanwhile the police had arrived, and had made their way upstairs. There thgyfound similar preparations for firing the , house. One fire was burning in the bath-room, another in the front bedroom, and there were preparations for a fire on the top of the attic staircase. At four o’clock Dr Storey returned and exclaimed to the inspector that he had heard the house was on fire. The inspector replied that he must himself have done it, and Dr Storey answered that somebody must have done it after he left. There was no room for doubt that a • most deliberate though clumsy attempt had been made to burn down the dwelling.

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Bibliographic details

Ashburton Guardian, Ashburton Guardian, Volume III, Issue 514, 21 December 1881

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A MEDICAL MAN IN TROUBLE. Ashburton Guardian, Volume III, Issue 514, 21 December 1881