27th May 1949
Head of Guernsey CID is shot in St Peter Port
Chief Sergeant Harry Dyson was shot in the side in St Peter Port. It was 12.45am on 27 May 1949. He had been questioning a youth, accompanied by PC Robert West, at Ville au Roi.
Dyson had only taken over as head of Guernsey CID two days previously. He was rushed to the Princess Elizabeth Hospital, which by then still hadn’t officially been opened.
Fortunately, it was in use, though, as Dyson was in a critical condition. He had a bullet lodged in his left side, and was bleeding heavily.
Inquiries and an arrest
The following morning, Guernsey Police intercepted a 17-year-old. A student of St Peter Port College, he’d been boarding the mail boat to Southampton. Although he wasn’t initially arrested, they did ask him to help them with their inquiries into the shooting.
Those enquiries led to an arrest. On the Monday after the shooting, a 16-year-old student was charged with attempted murder. When he was brought to trial at the Royal Court, John Michael Bennet Lawes-Wittewronge, the son of a baronet, said that he always carried a weapon on him to give him confidence. In this instance, he’d been carrying a Luger, loaded with eight rounds. Lugers were used by the German troops that had occupied Guernsey during the second world war.
Lawes-Wittewronge was allowed to give his evidence in secret after the court had been cleared. He stated that, as a boarder at St Peter Port College, he shouldn’t have been out of the college building when he’d been caught. He insisted he’d fired the shots in the hope of creating a diversion, which in turn would allow him to escape. His intention had not been to hit either policeman.
On 30 June, he was found not guilty of attempted murder, but guilty of wounding Dyson with intent to resist arrest. He was put on probation for three years. The verdict was delivered by a split jury that had voted eight to two in favour of the eventual decision.
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