AN AUTHOR has delved into the Welsh Archives in search of anything paranormal dating from 1837 to 1901.

Mark Rees’ research into chilling prophecies from beyond the grave, poltergeists who terrorised remote farmlands, and more than a few ingenious hoaxes along the way, has uncovered a Barry tale.

Mr Rees said: “In one very unusual tale reported in the Barry Dock News in 1892, a gang of vigilante ghost hunters took it upon themselves to track down a spook which had been sighted in Pencoedtre.

“They camped outside what they believed to be the haunted house, but instead of catching the spectre, they brutally attacked an innocent woman - and ended up in court for their efforts.

“The perpetrators were James Moist and husband and wife Alfred and Rosina Palmer, who were charged with assaulting Mary Ann Carroll shortly after midnight.”

The court hearing record the account of the events.

“Mrs Carroll left home in order to go to meet a woman who managed a shop for her at Holton Road.

"While going along the road towards Cadoxton, she met a crowd of about nine men and boys.

“There was also a woman amongst them.

“Alfred Palmer came up to her and held up his hands and said: ‘Stand back, you ghost!’ the account added.

“He and his wife then struck her, after which Moist beat her badly, and ‘blinded and choked her with blood.’

“He also threatened to blow her brains out.

“She was also thrown to the ground and again abused.”

Evidence was given, and Timothy Mahoney, who had been a part of the gang, attempted to defend the trio by explaining that “having seen in the Barry Dock News that there was a ghost at Pencoedtre, we went to watch the place which it was said was haunted.

“They saw Mary Ann Carroll come across a field and get over the hedge. Alfred Palmer went on to meet her, and held up his hands, and said ‘Stop ghost, stop!’

“Mrs Palmer then smacked Mrs Carroll in the face, when the latter picked up stones and threw them at the crowd.

“Moist consequently struck Mrs Carroll one blow in the face, but there were no further blows given.”

The Bench refused to grant an adjournment, and the defendants were fined 40s each and costs, or fourteen days’ imprisonment with hard labour.

Ghosts of Wales: Accounts from the Victorian Archives by Mark Rees is published by The History Press and is on sale, priced £12.99.