Unsolved Murders

Arthur Izzard

Age: 34

Sex: male

Date: 22 Oct 1938

Place: Chatham Mental Hospital, Canterbury

Source: www.truecrimelibrary.com

Arthur Izzard was beaten over the head whilst returning from a shopping expedition.

He was a patient from Chatham Mental Hospital and was found unconscious on Saturday 22 October 1938 near a footpath leading from the hospital. When he was found he was still clutching his shopping bag in his hand.

He had seven wounds to his head. It was thought that he had been hit with something like a tyre lever.

He died six hours after he was found.

His death was due to a fractured skull. He also had two other head injuries.

It was thought that he had been attacked by a powerful man that he had known and whom had given him no cause for suspicion. It was thought that the attack had taken place in the open and in the full view of anyone within quarter of a mile.

He had been one of 59 patients who were out on parole that afternoon, although he was the only one of them who was known to have taken that path.

It was heard that Arthur Izzard was in the habit of walking into Canterbury every Saturday to perform shopping commissions that other patients had given him. When he had left he had had 7s 8d for buying things for other patients. When he was found he had only 2s 4d on him and a bag he used for carrying his personal money was missing.

It was thought that he had gone out wearing a dark cloth cap at the time, but no trace of it was found. A theory later put forward was that the murderer had taken his cap and put the murder weapon in it and then put it in his pocket.

The police later searched the surrounding woods, fields and rubbish dumps in the hope of finding the bag and cap.

They said that they had found a piece of wood that they thought was the murder weapon.

The police also found an imitation platinum tiepin in a tuft of grass a few yards from the spot where Arthur Izzard was found but said that they were unable to find anyone who could identify it although some patients said that they had previously seen it being worn about the hospital but could not say by who. At the time of the murder investigation it was on display in a glass case in the entrance hall of the hospital.

Police said that they had narrowed down their investigation until suspicion rested on a certain number of persons, although did not directly point to any particular person specifically. They also said that they were concentrating their investigation on 58 parole men.

The police noted that the investigation was made more difficult by the fact that many of the patients had given statements, that upon investigation, proved to be totally inaccurate.

The police said that they ruled out the oldest men at the hospital as suspects, but issued all the other patients new clothes so that they could examine them. Their examination of the clothes included turning out their pockets and subjecting them to microscopic tests.

The police said that a man had been seen in a spinney below the scene of the crime and along the road leading to the hospital between 12.45pm and 1.50pm on the Saturday and asked him to come forward as a possible witness.

The investigation had also sought a man who was described as an Irish man with very glaring eyes, but the police later said that they thought that they had traced that man and had ruled him out of the investigation.

The footpath that he had gone along was in a thickly-wooded section of the grounds of the hospital and was used by patients for their afternoon walks.

When the police attended the inquest at the hospital, they went in plain clothes to prevent any atmosphere of excitement spreading among the 1,700 patients there.

Later in November 1938, an anonymous letter was sent to the police with certain information and the police appealed for the sender of the letter to come forward. Following the letter, the police made a search of a belt of trees on the north side of the hospital road which was divided from Larkey Valley Woods by the Hospital road, which was thought could have been a line of approach to the crime.

Arthur Izzard was from Tonbridge. He had been described at the hospital as the perfect patient.


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


see Shields Daily News - Monday 24 October 1938

see Gloucester Citizen - Monday 24 October 1938

see Gloucestershire Echo - Tuesday 27 December 1938

see Hampshire Telegraph - Friday 30 December 1938

see Dundee Evening Telegraph - Monday 07 November 1938

see Hull Daily Mail - Thursday 03 November 1938

see Yorkshire Evening Post - Wednesday 02 November 1938

see Gloucester Citizen - Friday 28 October 1938

see Western Daily Press - Tuesday 25 October 1938

see Gloucestershire Echo - Wednesday 02 November 1938

see Dundee Courier - Monday 24 October 1938

see Dundee Evening Telegraph - Monday 24 October 1938

see Hull Daily Mail - Monday 24 October 1938