This second post on the death in 1934 of farmer Jim Dawson is to look at theories on what happened. The programme about the case was riddled with inaccuracies and unsubstantiated claims, as pointed out in her book "Wall of Silence" by Jennifer Cobban, great niece of Jim Dawson. I remember an old man saying that he knew the name of the killer and that Dawson was shot in mistake for him. This, I believe was Tommy Kenyon. Kenyon was pursuing the daughter of neighbouring farmer, Tommy Simpson, and they did have a scuffle. Nancy Simpson did go skinny dipping with Kenyon, and other local lads, but she did have an affair with Jim Dawson, whom some thought of as being the father of her child. Kenyon commented that Simpson may have thought of him as being the father, but there was no proper explanation for the brawl, so Kenyon was only speculating. So here we have two scenarios; Was Dawson shot for being the father? Or was he shot in mistake for Kenyon? This clearly points the finger at Tommy Simpson.
Yet, why use an airgun? A shotgun would have done the job proper. But then again, could you argue the case of wounding or merely hurting somebody, in order to make a point? It would certainly avoid the situation of standing on a trap door with a bag over your head and a rope around your neck. Was it Kenyon wanting to do such an injury to his rival for the affections of Nancy? Kenyon was alibied by a couple of his friends. He drank with them at the Red Pump Inn and then went with them by car to the Star & Royal in Clitheroe. For him to be the shooter, it meant his friends had lied for him, but why should they do such a thing? Plus, surely there would have been a number of witnesses at the Clitheroe pub, to say he was there? Kenyon did alter parts of his story, years later, which is always suspect, but regardless, there are the alibi witnesses he was drinking with. He supposedly gave a deathbed confession to the killing, saying it was over Nancy, but again, this confession is contradicted by the friends he was with.
Another theory is that Dawson was hit accidentally by a poacher firing at some small animal. A reasonable point. But why would he be hit so high up? Small animals run along the ground, and to hit a man in the shoulder would make the poacher, an incredibly bad shot. Or could it have been a ricochet? Tommy Simpson committed suicide, allegedly soon after the shooting, and it is still assumed that it was over this shooting. That thought carries on to this day, as I found doing a little research. Jenny Cobban revealed the truth. Simpson hanged himself TWO YEARS after the death of Dawson, but it was over his farming business. Was Jim Dawson shot by another jealous male? Quite possible. He was very much a ladies man, despite his age, and a middle aged Romeo sweeping young women off their feet, could cause deep resentment to much younger men.
There are any number of theories or explanations for this incident, and it will no doubt run and run, and be regarded as a whodunnit classic in the mould of the Julia Wallace murder a couple of years before.