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Murder mystery of Warwickshire Police officer which went unsolved

THE George and Dragon wasn’t a bad place to be on duty, especially on a chilly winter’s day. Set right beside the canal wharf in the Warwickshire village of Fenny Compton, it was a popular watering hole, better known to locals as the Wharf Inn, for obvious reasons. Police Constable William Hine arrived mid-morning on Monday, 15th February 1886, with orders from his superiors to keep a discreet look-out for any trouble at the cattle sale being held there. But the day proved to be uneventful.

After waiting to see the last customer off the premises, he said goodbye to landlord Joseph Hardman, and about 10pm set off to walk the mile back to his cottage and waiting family. By midnight, he had not returned home.

The next morning, when there was still no news of him, a team of police officers began to search the fields and surroundings of the pub with its wharf buildings, boathouse and stabling, while men positioned on both banks of the canal with long ropes began systematically dragging the water in 2ft sections. Eventually, on Saturday night, a large pocket-knife was found lying in a ditch hidden under a thick bramble hedge. The weapon had two blades – one was open and smeared with congealed blood. Six feet away, near a footpath, they found spots of blood and signs of a violent struggle. Seven yards further on, a police helmet with a long dent across it was lying on the ground. Superintendent George Hinde went to break the bad news to Emily Hine, who identified the bloodstained knife as her husband’s and then fainted from the shock.

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