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Not Dead but Sleeping - Sensational Singleton Incident
Argus - Saturday, 8th September , 1900 A remarkable case is reported from Mt Hope, seven miles from Singleton. On Wednesday a messenger told the local police that a man, named Robert Dunn, employed recently to do some grubbing for MR R.Spinks, was found dead in his hut that morning. It was explained that the other occupant of the hut, named Martin, had examined Dunn and had found him stiff and cold in the bunk. Satisfied that life was extinct, he shut the door and reported the matter,with the result that word was sent to Singleton to that effect.
On the police receiving the information, they at once communicated with the Coroner and Mr Bowman, the Government Medical Officer, and everything was arranged to visit Mt Hope on Thursday morning to hold the inquest, even to the ordering of the coffin. Early in the day, Mr Spinks who lives in Singleton, reached the hut and was horrified to see Mr Dunn eating his breakfast with Martin. Explanations followed and it was shown that during Wednesday afternoon, Dunn came around and got up, much to the surprise and consternation of Martin.
Mr. Spinks thereupon returned to Singleton and reported the facts, just as Mr.Pinchin, the Coroner was ready to start out with Dr Bowman, to hold the enquiry. Soon afterwards Dunn appeared in town himself, driving the milk cart and apparently there was nothing much the matter with him. He said, during a conversation, that during the past few days he did not feel well, one of the symptons being numbness in the hands and wrists and probably when Martin thought he was dead, he was in a state of Catalepsey.Cases are not unknown to science, where people, seized by this condition, have been believed to be dead.
On Thursday however, Dunn appeared to be very much alive and was apparently worth a paddockful of corpses. It does not fall to the lot of many men to have a Coroner and his jury ready to go through the formality of an inquest, while the coffin is in readiness to receive the remains, and all the time the person is alive and well.
Dunn, who is practically a stranger in the district, regarded the whole matter as a huge joke and nearly choked with laughter when he related that that morning he had read in the Argus the report that he had been found dead in his bunk the day before. When questioned closely regarding the matter, not much sense would be elicited from him and in no way could be be induced to treat the affair seriously.
It is said that a few days previously, Dunn was picked up in a similar condition on the road, but he recovered quickly on that occasion. Having completed his work at Mount Hope, he journeyed north on Thursday evening.