Police pay respects to fallen colleagues

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Two police officers who were killed during the infamous Sun Inn murders in Bedlington a hundred years ago have been honoured by their modern day counterparts.

Sergeant Andrew Barton and Pc George Mussell were shot dead along with Sarah Grice on April 15, 1913, in a crime that shocked the region.

In a service held in Bedlington Cemetary, where Sgt Barton and Pc Mussel lay buried side by side, police officers, staff and guests paid their respects last week.

Superintendent Gillian Mitchell said: “It is important we recognise the bravery of our officers, past and present.

“I would imagine the huge impact something like this would have had on the community at the time. We have today honoured the courage of Sergeant Andrew Barton and his colleague Pc George Mussell, who tragically lost their lives in the line of duty.”

The killer, former licensee John Vickers Amos had been sacked after he was accused of stealing money from the till of the Front Street West pub.

Pc Mussell, who had been called to the scene, was shot twice by Amos, while Sgt Barton who was on patrol nearby heard the gunfire and rushed to the pub.

Sgt Barton tried to reason with Amos but he too was shot twice by the gunman. Mrs Grice, the wife of the new manager, was also shot dead.

Amos fled the scene but was found hiding in a culvert following a three-hour manhunt. He was convicted of the three murders and hanged in Newcastle on July 22.

The 35-year-old’s death sentence came despite a 60,000 signature petition calling for his life to be spared.

Amos, a father-of-three, had become a hero due to his involvement in two mining explosions while working in the United States.

The facts of the case are disputed to this day and evidence, which emerged after Amos’ death, suggested that he had an accomplice.