Unsolved Murders

Beatrice Prendergast

Age: 56

Sex: female

Date: 7 Jun 1930

Place: St Jamess Mews, Brighton

Source: www.truecrimelibrary.com

Beatrice Prendergast was found dead in an alley.

She had been stabbed three times in the chest, twice through the heart with either a knife or dagger but no weapon was found nearby.

Her murder was linked to an earlier attempted murder of another woman who had been stabbed while in the company of Beatrice Prendergast in August 1929. A man was charged with her attempted murder but acquitted. The woman that had been stabbed had said that she thought that she had mistaken her for Beatrice Prendergast. When she came from Tunbridge Wells to Brighton to give evidence she asked the police for her fare back to Tunbridge Wells saying that she was too afraid to stay in Brighton. She said 'I am convinced that the man who stabbed me last August killed Beatrice Prendergast and I am also certain he mistook me for her. I saw his face and would recognise him. I believe he is now following me. The Brighton Police have advanced me my fare and I am going back to Tunbridge Wells as soon as I possibly can'.

Beatrice Prendergast had lived on Cavendish Street in Brighton.

Her body was found by a stockjobber's clerk that had lived on St. James Street in Brighton when he came home in his car at about 12.30am on the Sunday morning. He said that he had been driving along St. James Street with his headlamps on when about 40 yards from the street entrance he saw the body of a woman. He said 'I swerved to avoid running over her. The woman was lying huddled up on her face'. He said that he then put his car away and returned, passing her body thinking that she was drunk and then went off to find a policeman and went back with one. When the policeman had a look with his torch they saw a pool of blood and found that she was dead.

The policeman said that she was clasping her handbag with one hand and her hat was about five yards away. When her body was lifted, five shillings fell from her right hand.

Not a lot was known about her. She was believed to have arrive in Brighton about six or eight months earlier and had spent about two or three months in the infirmary, although a pub landlord said that she had been a regular customer of his for twelve years.

She had been seen in West Street in Brighton earlier on the Saturday night with a man aged about 45 who spoke with an Irish accent but her movements after 10pm could not be traced. The licensee of the Cranbourne Arms said that he had seen Beatrice Prendergast in the private bar two or three times on the Saturday evening but that she had always been alone. He said that she probably met the Irishman that she had been seen with on her way home after closing time. He said 'She had been coming here for twelve years and with two or three other women would sit on the private bar. She was very reserved and would never exchange a word with anyone unless she was spoken to'.

Police said that they were searching for an Irishman about 6ft tall. Soon after the inquest members of the CID drove off in the Flying Squad's fast car, possibly to arrest the Irishman that was later charged with the other woman's attempted murder but acquitted.

The doctor that carried out her post-mortem said that death would have followed within two or three minutes after she had been stabbed and that she had not been dead for more than two hours when she was found.

*map pointers are rough estimates based on known location details as per Place field above.

see Taunton Courier, and Western Advertiser - Wednesday 18 June 1930

see Western Morning News - Wednesday 11 June 1930

see Hull Daily Mail - Tuesday 08 July 1930

see Exeter and Plymouth Gazette - Wednesday 09 July 1930

see Lancashire Evening Post - Monday 09 June 1930

see Lancashire Evening Post - Friday 04 July 1930

see Western Daily Press - Wednesday 11 June 1930

see The Scotsman - Monday 09 June 1930

see Lancashire Evening Post - Monday 30 June 1930