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The Times – London

Tuesday, September 17, 1867


Cruel Murder. – On Sunday morning, about 1’oclock, a shocking affair took place at the village of Corstorphine, about three miles from Edinburgh. Mr. Robert Potter, a gardener, in the employment of Mr. Robert Tod, of Corstorphine-hill, and James Corstorphine, a gardener in the service of Mr. Hope, of Belmont, had gone shortly after midnight, to Gibson’s Dairy, for the purpose of seeing their sweethearts who resided there. Having gently tapped at the window, they waited for a reply. While the two youths were talking together close by a water-barrel at the north-west corner of the house, John Gibson, a widower, upwards of eighty years of age, father of the proprietor of the dairy, who had been disturbed by the noise, left his bed attired in his shirt and vest, and went to the kitchen door armed with a double-barreled shot gun, loaded with small shot, which he had for some time past been in the habit of keeping under his pillow. On going round the house and ascertaining whence the sound of the voices proceeded, he took his stand at the north-west corner, about 30 yards from the men, and levelling the weapon, discharged both barrels in succession at them. Both shots took effect.

After running for about 50 yards up to the lane leading from the dairy to the Edinburgh and Glasgow road, Potter fell mortally wounded, and exhausted by the loss of blood which was oozing profusely from his head and back. James Corstorphine, who had received the contents of the second barrel in his left arm, which was riddled from the shoulder to the elbow, stood over his fallen companion, unable to render him any assistance. Alexander Joss, Inspector of the Corstorphine Constabulary, who happened to be going his rounds at the time, was within a short distance of the house, and on hearing the report of firearms, came up and took the homicide in charge. On arresting him the officer demanded his gun, which was immediately surrendered. Upon being asked whether he had fired the shots at the two men, Gibson replied in the affirmative, and, so far from expressing regret at his conduct, he declared, "I would do it again." Potter was speedily conveyed to the house of his father, who has followed the occupation of a tailor in the village for upwards of 40 years. Dr. Fowler having been sent for, was in attendance at a very short time, but the unfortunate man had become quite unconscious, and remained insensible for about three hours, when lock-jaw supervened and he died about 7 o’clock. Corstorphine was taken to the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, on Sunday afternoon and had several of the pellets extracted. Gibson was conveyed under the charge of Superintendent Copland and Inspector Joss, to the Calton Gaol, where he now lies to await his trial. Gibson is rather eccentric in his habits, and he has a very violent temper. About a fortnight ago he ran after one of the maid-servants, who was not aware of having given him the least provocation, and attempted to shoot her, but the cap snapped and she escaped.