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Keith Lyle Giffin (c1898 -1915)

By May 1, 2012No Comments


On Wednesday the Coroner (Mr Kinna) held an inquest at the residence of Mr Alexander Giffin. Touching on the death of Keith Lyle Giffin, his son, when the following evidence was adduced:

At about 5.30pm yesterday afternoon I was informed by Richard Frogley that Keith Giffin had met with an accident. I visited Mr Giffin’s wheat paddock at once, and found the body alongside a plough. After an examination, I considered life extinct. There were several slight abrasions on the face, but no deep wounds. I examined the body, but there were no marks of external violence. When removing the body to his father’s house, from the way the head moved I concluded his neck was broken. The body was fully clothed. I have known the deceased for over nine years; his habits were very steady and he bore an excellent character.

I am a farmer residing at Manildra and father of the deceased, Keith Lyle Giffin, whose body is the subject of this enquiry. The deceased would have been seventeen years of age on the 2nd June next. He was my oldest son, and a member of the Church of England. He had no property; he assisted me in working on the farm. The deceased went to work between one and two o’clock yesterday afternoon. He was ploughing one of the paddocks about 15 chains from the house. He was using a three furrow jump plough. He had five horses attached to the plough and was driving them. Shortly before six o’clock Richard Frogley informed me that Keith had met with an accident. I immediately came home and went with Constable Madden to the place of the accident. I saw my son Keith lying dead. I called to him, but there was no reply. I came home and left the matter in the hands of the police. I could not do anything – the shock was too great. He was a steady, good, hard working boy. About three weeks before his death the deceased had one or two fainting fits. I do not know the cause of these fainting fits, unless it was from shock. Young Paddison met with an accident, and when examining the place where the accident happened the deceased fainted. This was the first time I ever knew of the deceased fainting. I did not see the accident.

I knew the deceased Keith Lyle Giffin. I was along the road coming from school yesterday afternoon about 5 o’clock. I saw the horses Keith was driving bolting into the bush. I asked Archie Goodman: “Where’s Keith?” He said the same to me. We started running up the railway line, and Enid Giffin, a sister of the deceased, was running towards us. She sang out: “Go get a man”. Archie ran up to Mr Maddison’s and I stopped with Enid. When I got up I unhooked the horses and led them from the plough. Keith was caught in the plough; his head was facing downwards, and between four irons; his stomach was on the lever, and his leg was on the wheel. His trousers were torn. Hilton Giffin was with me at the plough; we went to the stable to get a bridle, caught Mr Giffin’s horse and rode for the doctor. When I first saw Keith I thought he was dead. I touched him and called out: “Keith! Keith!” but he did not answer. I do not know the reason for the horses bolting; they were in the ploughed ground, just on the bushland. His head was not bent back when I saw the deceased; he was in a sort of semi-circle.

JOHN HENRY WARD, a labourer, deposed:
I knew the deceased. I did not see the accident. I took the deceased out of the plough – the near and middle feet of the plough. His stomach was over the lever; his feet and hands were dragging. I had trouble extracting him from the plough. Myself and two other men assisted in getting him out of the plough.

DR MITCHELL deposed:
I am Government Medical Officer, residing at Molong. I have this day examined the body of Keith Lyle Giffin. Death had taken place over 12 hours previously and under 24 hours, in my opinion. There were marks or numerous abrasions and bruises on the face and right hip; his cervical vertebrae were fractured high in the neck. I did not make a post-mortem examination. Death in my opinion was due to a fractured neck, and probably instantaneous.

The coroner returned a verdict of accidental death whilst driving a plough.
For further information see Manildra Memories folder at Manildra Library