Unsolved Murders

Edwin Youll

Age: 43

Sex: male

Date: 16 Nov 1951

Place: Newham Grange Farm, Ladgate Lane, Middlesbrough

Edwin Youll was found shot in the back of the neck and beaten to death near the entrance to a farm on the Friday night 16 November 1951.

He was a taxi-driver and was last known to have earlier picked up a fare at Middlesbrough railway station.

His body was found in the entrance to Newham Grange Farm in Ladgate Lane on the southern boundary of Middlesbrough.

His taxi was found abandoned about four miles away in Cannon Street, Middlesbrough. A girl also said that she saw a man run away from a car in Marsh Street that was later determined to have been Edwin Youll's taxi. It was said that the taxi was abandoned at 7.10pm, but it is not clear whether that was when the girl saw it or when it was found.

In the search for the murder weapons the police searched the area where Edwin Youll was found and along the route to where the taxi was found abandoned with mine detectors.

The police said that they thought that he had been shot with a .22 or .25 calibre pistol or revolver before he was battered. It was thought that he might have been battered with the gun after being shot. It was earlier thought that the murder weapon had been a .22 Winchester rifle that had been stolen from a Territorial Army armoury nearby, a theory that was believed by the police for about five or six days until the gun was later found in a field near the home of a 16-year-old boy. It was also noted that it could only then be eliminated from their line of enquiry on 3 December 1951 when the boy admitted the theft with his brother and a friend at a Middlesbrough juvenile court and was recommended for approved school training.

They also said that they thought that Edwin Youll murder was premeditated and that the view was strongly held that Edwin Youll had had two passengers in his cab and that they had induced him to stop and get out and that he had then been shot and kicked about in the head until he was dead. The police said that after Edwin Youll had dropped a fare in Maron Road that he had returned to the taxi rank at the railway station at Middlesbrough where he was seen to pick up two men, one in a light raincoat, and leave at 6.20pm, and added, 'It is obvious that this was Youll's last and fatal journey'.

The two men were described as being:

First Man

  • Height: Between 5ft 8in and 5ft 10in tall.
  • Build: Well built.
  • Clothing: Fawn or light-coloured mackintosh.

Second Man

  • Height: Shorter than the first man.
  • Clothing: Hatless.

One of the men was described as 'young and good looking', but it is not clear which one.

It was said that at least three motorists who passed the point in the unlighted Ladgate Road where Edwin Youll was later found had reported seeing something unusual, around 6.35pm, but said that they didn't stop to inquire. One man said that he had been driving down Ladgate Lane about a quarter of an hour after it was thought that Edwin Youll had left the taxi rank and had seen a stationary taxi and a man beside it striking something. The man said that he had been driving home with his wife and that he saw the taxi standing in Ladgate Lane and that although it was dark and raining, that he noticed a tall man standing beside the taxi striking at something on the ground. He said 'My wife called my attention to the man beside the taxi, she said, 'It looks suspicious''. However, at the inquest the man said that he thought at the time that the man must have been mending a puncture.

The critical times on the night of Friday 16 November 1951 were:

  • 6.20pm: Edwin Youll left the taxi rank at Middlesbrough station.
  • 6.35pm: Three people gave vague statements to the effect that they saw a stationary car in Ladgate Lane about four miles south of Middlesbrough with one man saying that he saw a man by the car hitting something.
  • 7.10pm: Edwin Youll's taxi is abandoned in Cannon Street and seen near Marsh Street.

It was said that the taxi's route through the town could mean that the killer or killers knew the locality, or perhaps lived in the town.

A house to house search was made around the Cannon Street area. The police said that they were calling door to door in Middlesbrough to ask 50,000 men living in the town, 'Where were you on Friday night, November 16?', noting that invalids and old, infirm men who obviously could not have committed the murder would not be questioned. It was noted that the police had decided on the mass questioning and process of elimination after reaching a point where they could make no further progress in the case. The police said that they thought that it would take them several weeks to question the 50,000 men.

The police said that they were also keeping watch on the railway station as well as the docks and wharves.

On Monday 19 November 1951, detectives and customs officers in Hull boarded the Finnish ship Penelope at King George Dock and searched for the revolver or pistol, and with three interpreters, detectives interviewed all of the crew that had been off duty after 6pm on the Friday 16 November 1951. The Penelope had left Middlesbrough on the Saturday night, 17 November 1951.

Edwin Youll's post mortem stated that it was thought that he had died from shock and haemorrhage associated with multiple fractures of the skull. It was noted that the bullet wound in the back of Edwin Youll's neck was not itself the course of his death although it was very serious.

Edwin Youll, who was described as a 'bespectacled cabbie', had lived in Bargate Street, North Ormesby, Middlesbrough with his wife. It was said that there was no evidence that Edwin Youll was anything but 'a genuine honest type' and it was noted that he had been complimented some time earlier for assisting a policeman and was on the night of Tuesday 10 November 1951 due to be presented with a 'Courtesy Week' award of £1.

The police cancelled all leave in the search for the murderer and put a special squad of thirty plain-clothes detectives together, among them the entire staff of Middlesbrough CID, who compiled thousands of reports and statements in connection with the murder.

It was said that they were seeking to find out, amongst other things, a motive for the murder. They said that they could find no evidence to support the theory of robbery stating that only a few shillings were missing from his pockets. They also added that they didn't think that it was a revenge killing.

It was noted that during the investigation a bloodstained suit was handed into the police by a local cleaners. The man who it was connected with was found to be missing from work on the Monday that the police enquired after him, however, he was later traced and the matter was said to have been satisfactorily cleared up.

During the investigation, the police were handed a torn clip of paper that was found at Waterloo Station by a woman cleaner in a refreshment room at 11pm on the Saturday 17 November 1951 which was said to have contained information that suggested an intimate knowledge of the shooting.

The note read: 'Saki and me got clean away from the job. The driver has had it now. I held him down, Saki kicked the back of his head in. We dragged him into the hedge back, and then drove the taxi back into Middlesbrough. It sure was a good idea to do the job near the Blue Bell because...'. It was said that there appeared to be an additional word, either 'it' or 'at', but that it could not be definitely made out because of the tear in the paper.

However, the paper had then been torn away at that point and there was no more of the message. The police noted that they didn't know whether the torn clip of paper was from a letter, a message or a diary entry.

The police said that it was possible that the note might have been a hoax, but said that it was a significant that when it was found that no mention had been made of two men being implicated in the murder, and nor had the name of the Blue Bell hotel been made public information, it being the name of the nearest lace to the scene of the murder. The implications being amplified by the fact that the note was found several hundred miles away in London less than 24 hours after the murder.

The police added, 'It is obvious from the note that the crime was partially premeditated. Once we know why the killing was planned, we shall be much nearer to a solution'.

The police said that handwriting experts were trying to build the writer's character from examination of the note, noting that the phrase, 'It sure was a good idea' indicated that the writer was probably a young man who had picked up film slang or a sailor who had travelled to Canada or the United States. The police added that Saki was a rice drink, but that in the North Riding of Yorkshire, a word sounding the same was applied to hawkers and the police said that they were investigating reports that Edwin Youll had known some hawkers.

However, the police added that they also wanted to hear from anyone who remembered anyone hearing a person called 'Saki' to let them know.

Edwin Youll's inquest was concluded on Wednesday 23 January 1952 and returned the verdict that he was murdered by some person or persons unknown.

The coroner said, 'How all this started and why it happened is a mystery'.

In March 1952 it was reported that a man serving a sentence in Durham Jail said that he knew who murdered Edwin Youll. It was also added that he had also said that he had knowledge about two other killings, but nothing more is known about the prisoners claims.

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

see www.truecrimelibrary.com

see National Archives - MEPO 2/9129

see Sunderland Daily Echo and Shipping Gazette - Monday 19 November 1951

see Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer - Monday 26 November 1951

see Belfast News-Letter - Wednesday 21 November 1951

see Daily Mirror - Thursday 24 January 1952

see Aberdeen Evening Express - Monday 03 March 1952

see Birmingham Daily Gazette - Tuesday 04 December 1951

see Daily Mirror - Saturday 24 November 1951

see Aberdeen Evening Express - Monday 19 November 1951

see Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer - Wednesday 21 November 1951

see Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer - Tuesday 20 November 1951

see Hartlepool Northern Daily Mail - Wednesday 23 January 1952

see Daily Mirror - Monday 26 November 1951

see Yorkshire Evening Post - Wednesday 23 January 1952

see Daily Mirror - Wednesday 21 November 1951

see Hartlepool Northern Daily Mail - Monday 19 November 1951

see Coventry Evening Telegraph - Monday 19 November 1951