John Lee’s solicitor, Reginald Gwynne Templer, who is widely linked to the Babbacombe murder and suffering from a neuropsychiatric disorder affecting the brain and central nervous system, caused by syphilis infection, was reported to have been too ill to act properly for Lee’s trial in 1884. He carried on working for several years with the illness and was last reported appearing at Newton Abbot police court on the 2nd February 1886. The case was regarding poaching on a family estate at Stover. Working with him for the defence was Mr. Hutchings of the famous South Devon firm – also no stranger to the murder case and those involved.
The poaching case was reported in The Exeter and Plymouth Gazette – Friday 05 February 1886 (click to enlarge the image). By now Templer’s illness, in the Victorian era, known as ‘paralysis of the insane’, was well advanced and it’s symptoms quite public:
“Mr. Templer, who had endeavoured to conduct the case on behalf of Clarke (one of the accused), in attempting to address the Bench for the defence broke down, owing to a long and acute illness, but on slightly recovering said that Clarke had committed the offence through stress of hunger …”
On the 18th November 1886 Templer was admitted to Holloways Sanatorium in Surrey and would become completely incapacitated, bedfast, and died on the 18th December 1886, the process of his illness taking about three to five years on average.
The next time Templer was in the press was his death announcement published in The London Daily News – Thursday 23 December 1886.