Date: 13 Feb 1924
Philip Nash Gee was found done to death in his shop.
He was found on the Sunday morning lying dead partly under the counter of his lock-up shop. He was last seen alive at 7pm on the Saturday night by the landlady when she went to collect the rent from him. He was later discovered by a policeman at 3am on the Sunday morning who found the door to his shop still wide open. The light in his shop was seen to be burning until about 8.30pm.
The main thoroughfare which his shop was on was filled with people at the time buying goods at the shops or the multitude of stalls that crowded the street every Saturday.
The couple that lived directly over his shop said that they returned at 10.05pm and found that his door was standing open and that thinking that it was strange that his door should be open while there was no light in the shop shouted in asking if he was there but got no answer. They then went to get the police who arrived and looked about with a flash lamp but saw nothing. The policeman then locked the door with a master key and then sent word to Philip Gee's home that the outer door to his shop was open.
The couple ran a little shop in the same building selling cheese and bacon, etc., at a stall. The wife of the couple said 'My grand-daughter was left in charge of the shop here, and about 8.30 a woman came in for some sweets. We are only separated from Mr Gee's premises by a glass door and a passage, and we could hear every movement made. At any rate, while my grand-daughter was busy getting the sweets, the woman who was standing near the wall that separates the two places thought she heard some scuffling going on in Mr Gee's place. She did not wish to say anything to frighten my grand-daughter, but when she got out she saw a man of about 35 or so dash round the corner. As he passed her he gave her a piercing look, and seeing that she was taking stock of him he stopped running and started singing in the street in the pretence that he was begging. He had the tramp appearance and was slightly stooped and was wringing his hands. The woman did not attach very much importance to the thing at the time, but when she heard of this she made a statement to the police.'
The policeman later again sent word that the outer door was still open and when he learnt that Philip Gee had not returned home he went back to the shop to make a more thorough search and found Philip Gee lying dead behind the counter.
He had a large wound on the top of his head. It was said that the manner that his wounds were inflicted caused the opinion to be formed that the act was one of a disordered brain and a madman. The post-mortem revealed a number of scalp wounds and a fractured skull. The policeman that found him reported that bloodstains on a curved bar of a broken grate showed how the wounds had been inflicted and that whoever had done it had struck at him again and again as there were nearly a dozen wounds of which half a dozen could have been fatal.
It was thought that robbery was the motive. Police determined that Philip Gee probably had about ten shillings on him that night and all the money from his pockets had been taken. However, his killer had dropped 3s. 6d., a two-shilling piece and three sixpences in his haste which were found on the floor near his body. Philip Gee's snuff box was found on the counter and a rosary was in his pocket.
The police were searching for a man who was said to have been suffering from religious mania who had from time to time vanished from Spennymoor. The man was last seen in Spennymoor about two weeks earlier and had since been seen in Crook playing a violin in the street and also in Stockton.
They were also seeking a deaf and dumb tramp cobbler that had been seen acting in a curious manner near the scene and the country was immediately scoured for him. However, the search revealed that there had been three deaf and dumb cobblers near the place that night.
Philip Gee was a cobbler. He was described as a steady man and that he generally stayed late in his shop on Saturday nights. His shop on Whitworth Terrace was on one of the main thoroughfares in Spennymoor. Ordinarily he closed his shop about 7pm or 8pm but on Saturday nights often stayed open later to oblique customers who left their boots with him on the Saturday and required them to be repaired for the Sunday.
His trade was described as being dull but that even when there was no work to do he would remain in his shop till late in order to let late callers get their boots.
A man was charged with his murder but later released.
A few years later a man who was executed for the murder of a bank clerk was said to have implicated himself in the crime saying that 'I bet if they get the man who killed the bank clerk they'll get the man who killed the cobbler'.
Philip Gee was a single man and lived with his sister at Rose Cottage in Durham Road at the far end of town from his shop. He had a wooden leg and because of the distance from his home to his shop he would take his dinner into work with him.
see Derby Daily Telegraph - Thursday 14 February 1924
see Northern Whig - Tuesday 05 February 1924
see Leeds Mercury - Tuesday 22 January 1924
see Dundee Evening Telegraph - Friday 15 February 1924