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Adapted by Eric Jenkins, 11th July 2003, from Wellingborough News 8th January 1943, p.1
Murder and Suicide
at “The Gables”, New Year’s Eve 1942

The inquest was held at the Wellingborough Court-house on Midland Road, before J Cairns Parker, Coroner, and a jury of eight. They had the option of viewing the bodies, but decided that the police photographs would suffice. The deceased were Arthur Clifford Sumpter, aged 44, and Betty Margaret Barratt, alias Gallay, aged 24.

Frederick James Tyman, a nurseryman, of 41 Purvis Road, Rushden, testified first: “Sumpter was my brother-in-law. He was a retired boot operative. Before the last war, he was employed in Rushden. In the war he was wounded, and he was in hospital at Newcastle, where he got to know a collier owner named Embleton. They became good friends. He returned to Rushden, and when Embleton died in 1930, he left him £30,000. In 1936 he purchased The Gables. I cultivated the grounds for him, as nurseryman. Sometimes my wife and I lived there, but we left some months ago. Eighteen months ago, Mrs Gallay came to keep house for him, and they lived together as man and wife. He seemed to be very attached to her, and he became jealous of her. That caused “tiffs”, but not serious ones. Three months ago, she told me there was trouble about a soldier who had been to the house when Sumpter was not there. After that row, she left, and went to her mother at Higham Ferrers. She told me that Sumpter told her to go. She was away for two days and nights, and returned on a Sunday before Christmas. I had a conversation with her on Boxing Day. She told me she was going to marry the soldier, and Sumpter knew. I used to go there at 6 o’clock every morning, and let myself in with my key. I stoked up the central heating, and made tea. I took it up on a tray to Mrs Gallay’s door. Their bedroom doors were opposite one another. The doors were both open, and I could see into their rooms. I usually found them together, in either of the rooms. There were two double beds. I knew that Sumpter had a revolver and ammunition in a drawer in his bedroom dressing table. I last saw him alive on Tuesday afternoon, 29th December, when I left the house at three o’clock with Mrs Galley. On Wednesday morning, I spoke to them, but I couldn’t see them. They were both in bed. That was not unusual. I next visited on Thursday morning, soon after eight. I took the tea up, and put it on a chair outside Mrs Gallay’s room. The door was partly open, and the light was on. I could hear Sumpter snoring, and I knocked the door, and then took the black-out down on the landing, and in the bathroom, before I went downstairs. I was working out in the grounds, and returned at nine o’clock. From the bottom of the stairs, I could see the tray and tea still on there. I brought it down, and made frsh tea, and took it up. I knocked Mrs Gallay’s door. I heard Sumpter snoring, so I tapped the door again. There was no answer. I looked round the door. They were both lying on the bed in their pyjamas. There was no bedding o0ver them. Mrs Gallay had her mouth open. Her hand was cold and stiff. There was blood on the bed. I saw the revolver near Sumpter’s right leg, just out of reach of his right hand. I did not touch anything, but I ‘phoned the police immediately. Sergeant Tansley arrived.”

Laura Dorothy Barratt, a widow, of Ingleside, Cemetery Lane, Higham Ferrers, was Mrs Gallay’s mother. In answer to the Coroner’s question, she explained the reason for her daughter’s alias. Her real name was Betty Margaret Barratt. She was a single woman, and had assumed the name Mrs Gallay after she had a child, by a man named Gallay.

The evidence of Dr. G. B. Lean, of Rushden, finished the story left off by Frederick Tyman. “I arrived at 10 o’clock on Thursday morning. Gallay was on her bed. She had been dead about six hours. There were three bullet wounds in the chest and one in the arm. The chest wounds were fatal. Sumpter was still breathing. There was a mass of blood in the region of the right temple, and a bullet wound in the left shoulder which was not serious. He was taken to the Northampton General Hospital, where he died.”

Notes: Paul Harrison, in an excellent essay, “Together Forever!” in his book of “Northamptonshire Murders” tells the story of the relationship ending in the deaths of Arthur Sumpter of Rushden “Betty Gallay” of Higham Ferrers. He disputes the inquest verdict that Sumpter committed suicide, having murdered his former mistress. The evidence of the main witness at the inquest, as reported in the Wellingborough News makes an interesting story. Paul questions the notion of murder and suicide, suggesting that intentional suicide by Sumpter would not have resulted in such injuries. However, there was a clear motive, and in an emotional situation, this could have been murder followed by a botched suicide.
Caroline Richmond tells us she has researched the family and the name should be BARRETT.

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