Unsolved Murders

Sidney George Spicer

Age: unknown

Sex: male

Date: 24 Apr 1920

Place: Thruxton Down, Andover

Source: www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

Sidney George Spicer was shot on Thruxton Down. He was found after 9pm on 24 April 1920.

He was a taxi driver and had been driving a Darracq car.

The doctor stated that Sidney Spicer had been shot from behind with no signs of a struggle. The post-mortem stated that Sidney Spicer had a bullet wound 2.5in. behind his left ear but added that the flesh was not singed. The doctor also found abrasions on his temple and nose and scratches on his left cheek and said that his mouth contained some mud. He said that the bullet was found embedded in the brain and had been flattened at the nose through contact with the frontal bone on the right side of the head. He added that the shot must have been fired from behind by a person on the left side of Sidney Spicer and that the firearm must have been held in a horizontal position and his death would have been instantaneous.

The doctor also said that Sidney Spicer's body must have been dragged face downwards as his waistcoat was covered in mud. However, the doctor said that there had been no struggle.

After shooting Sidney Spicer his killer had thrown his body into a hedge and then decamped in his car.

Sidney Spicer was last seen by his brother on the Saturday night as he was driving his car through Salisbury. his brother said that they merely exchanged a wave of the hand as greeting when they passed.

Sidney Spicer was last seen alive by another motor-car driver who had been at the Rose and Crown yard at 9pm when Sidney Spicer had driven in and set down four or five people. The motor-car driver said that Sidney Spicer had told him that he had a job awaiting him at Amesbury which was to go to Andover and had added that he was short of petrol. The man said that he let Sidney Spicer have a can of petrol which Sidney Spicer put beside him in his car and then drove off towards Amesbury, seeming to be in a hurry.

The main suspect in Sidney Spicer's murder was shot dead by the police near Penrith in Cumberland. At the inquest a verdict of wilful murder was returned against the man that was shot, however, it was thought that the case was more involved and that the man could have been set up by the political establishment in a vendetta following his alleged involvement in the Étaples Mutiny from 9 to 12 September 1917. It was noted as being the first inquest to declare a man guilty of murder in his absence.

A soldier that had said that he had met the main suspect in the murder of Sidney Spicer in Southampton on the day of the murder said that the man had told him that he was going to Bulford to get a car, either by fair means or with the aid of a revolver.

Another soldier said that the main suspect had come into the cookhouse at Bulford Camp at 11.30 o'clock on the night of 24 April 1920 and had asked for a drink. The main suspect had been driving a new grey Sunbeam motor-car. He said then that the man had invited him to go for a joy ride and that they went out in a motor, eventually arriving in Swansea on the Sunday evening and that during the journey the main suspect had burnt some clothes.

En-route it was said that they had stopped off at a garage in Gloucester on the Sunday morning for a tin of petrol and the garage proprietor on reading the newspaper description of the two men being searched for communicated with the police who examined the empty petrol can left behind which they found to be smeared with blood in places.

The soldier said that they slept at a hotel and in the morning, after avoiding two policemen, the main suspect had got rid of the car and advised him to return to Buford saying that he himself was going to go to London and that he last saw the main suspect on the train when he changed at Salisbury. The main suspect was said to have sold the Sunbeam car which was later traced to a man in Chelsea. However, it was said that the missing car was found in Swansea and had a bullet hole in the hood and so it was thought probable that it was sold to a man in Swansea who was from Chelsea.

When the private had got back from his joyride he was sentenced to seven days for being absent without leave during the week-end and was later shown a copy of a newspaper in the regimental barber's shop with a picture of a Darracq car similar to the one stolen. The person that had shown him the picture had said in jest, 'Perhaps you know something about this, you young scoundrel', but to the man's surprise the soldier collapsed. When he recovered he admitted that he had been on a joyride from Bulford to Cardiff at the weekend and told them about the man that he had been with who was the main suspect for the murder of Sidney Spicer.

It was said that the main suspect had gone from Buford to Swansea and then after through Wales and the North of England to Scotland for the seclusion of the Highlands and stayed for four days in Inverness. After being suspected in Inverness he then travelled south to a lonely shooting lodge in Tomintoul about 40 miles away. It was said that he shot a farmer and a policeman in Banffshire, getting away on a bicycle and then went South to Penrith where he was seen by some policemen driving a motorcycle and was then shot in a shoot out.

The main suspect was said to have been involved with a number of other murders including the murder of Nurse Shore on a train and the murder of a naked man found in a field. Other newspaper accounts associate him with many more unsolved murders in that period, in particular the Sunday Post - Sunday 13 June 1920 which connected him with the murders of Francis Buxton, James Kelly, Nellie Rault, Reuben Mort, Gerald Griggs, Edmund Wells, Florence Shore and some other cases.

Sidney Spicer was from Salisbury and had originally been a farmer but recently had owned a car and had had been driving motor-cars for hire for a man in Salisbury. One of his hands had been permanently injured by a gunshot accident and consequently he did not serve in the last war.

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

see Lancashire Evening Post - Wednesday 12 May 1920

see Sheffield Independent - Thursday 27 May 1920

see Sheffield Independent - Thursday 29 April 1920

see Western Daily Press - Wednesday 28 April 1920

see Falkirk Herald - Wednesday 09 June 1920

see Dundee Courier - Thursday 29 April 1920

see Sunday Post - Sunday 13 June 1920 (unsolved mysteries of the past year - latest theories concerning Percy Toplis)

see Wikipedia