MENTAL health patient Norman Ashton shuffled towards attendant Thomas Henchey and told him: “You want to go to the pantry and see Mr Trubridge. He is covered in blood.”

There he found his colleague staggering about with a deep wound to his head. Nearby he saw a blood spattered broken portion of an iron grating used to cover part of a gas installation at the institution.

The victim, Reginald Trubridge, 50, received urgent medical assistant at the scene before he was moved to Salisbury Infirmary where he died.

Ashton, a 48-year-old labourer, was seen walking in the garden of the Old Manor, a private hospital in the city where he had been detained. Shown the piece of grating, he confirmed he had not only broken it but had also struck Trubridge with it.

“He appeared quite concerned,”

G J Ball, appearing for the Director of Public Prosecutions, told magistrates when Ashton appeared at the committal proceedings in 1941 on a murder charge.

“We contend that it is part of his insanity that he thought he had a grievance against the dead man.”

Magistrates also heard of an interview Ashton conducted with Inspector Yeomans as he was being taken to Winchester Prison. “He said, ‘Serves him right. He got my wife . . .”

At that point, Ashton shouted: “I don’t think this evidence is admissible, gentlemen, because it is my son and I cannot see that as permissible evidence.”

Ashton, the inspector added, had also told him: “And he was trying to get my daughter on the mat.”

Once again, Ashton interrupted the proceedings. “I grant that second statement is correct.”

Accepting he had a case to answer, magistrates ordered the labourer to stand trial. However Mr Ball said Ashton should be kept in custody for as short as possible and instead of committing his case to Hampshire Assizes, it should be sent to the Old Bailey.

The court agreed.

Ashton appeared in court the following month when it was established he was unfit to plead.

He was ordered to be kept in “strict custody” until the King’s Pleasure was known.