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Burglar killed as falling fence 'guillotines' him during robbery attempt

Essex Police reported this week that a man attempting a burglary on an 89-year-old widow was killed when a section of wooden fence he was trying to crawl under 'guillotined' him on the back of the neck.
Essex Police reported this week that a man attempting a burglary on an 89-year-old widow was killed when a section of wooden fence he was trying to crawl under 'guillotined' him on the back of the neck.
Dave Conner, Creative Commons

It isn't every day one reads of a man guillotined, but comes a story from Essex, England, where a burglar was "guillotined," as it were, by a falling fence. It would appear that the burglar found out in the most unfortunate way that although the fence didn't do much in the way of keeping him out, it was rather effective at not allowing him to leave.

To explain: The International Business Times reported (via Yahoo News UK and Ireland) March 8 that Stephen Pope, a 34-year-old man attempting to burglarize the Waltham Abbey, Essex home of an 89-year-old widow Thursday, was stopped as he tried to escape when a section of a wooden fence he was crawling under succumbed to gravity and plunged groundward, landing on the back of the burglar's neck.

Two men, alleged to be Pope's accomplices, were reportedly holding up the section of fence but their hold slipped, according to The Sun (per IBT).

Neighbors said that the widow, Ilonka Simon, had caught the three men after they had entered her a garden on her property. One told The Sun: "There were three men in the back garden when the house owner came out and started to have a real good go at them."

The men went to make their escape, the witness said, and two of them held the wooden fence up while the third began to crawl under. "The whole thing came crashing down on the back of his neck," he observed.

Stephen Pope was declared dead at the scene after authorities and an ambulance were called. Although it was initially believed that the thief had died of a broken neck, he apparently died of a heart attack, according to the Daily Mail, when the fence fell on him.

Essex Police said a post mortem to establish how the man died would take place Friday.

The other two men were arrested and a pillowcase of stolen goods was found next to the lifeless body. It wasn't clear if the stolen items were from another or other burglaries, or if the goods had come from the widow's house. Pope lived in Waltham Abbey as well.