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.

Secret testimony

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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Other events that occured in May

Priaulx Library opens for the first time 1st
Horse racing returns to L’Ancresse race course 2nd
Guernsey deportee, nurse Gladys Skillett was born
“Twink” goes missing on its way to Guernsey 3rd
Role of Chief Minister of Guernsey abolished 4th
Guernsey Airport opened for business 5th
Alderney debated in the House of Commons 6th
Songs of Praise comes from Guernsey 7th
Final issue of Deutsche Guernsey-Zeitung was published 8th
Guernsey was liberated from German occupation 9th
A Guernsey retiree’s £1m offer attracts 57,000 requests 10th
A liberation celebration ended in disaster 11th
Guernsey plays Tottenham Hotspur 12th
Guernsey’s telephone wars broke out 13th
British papers reported Dame of Sark’s deportation 14th
The States of Guernsey bought Aurigny 15th
Alderney was liberated at the end of the second world war 16th
Herm goes back on the market 17th
A mainland murder with a Guernsey connection 18th
Guernsey declared a State of Emergency 19th
Wartime diplomat Wilfred Gallienne born in Guernsey 20th
Hauteville House is bequeathed to the City of Paris 21st
Guernsey poet and painter Denys Corbet was born 22nd
John Doyle was appointed Lieutenant-Governor 23rd
The Imperial Hotel opened for the first time 24th
Elizabeth College is founded in St Peter Port 25th
Game of Thrones actor Roy Dotrice was born 26th
Head of Guernsey CID is shot in St Peter Port 27th
Work started on the Victoria Tower
Guernsey’s first paid constables were hired 28th
Guernsey woman advised to leave for her safety 29th
Occupation stories occupy the mainland papers 30th
“Overdose” verdict in Guernsey farmer’s death inquiry 31st