Unsolved Murders

Stephen Arthur

Age: 74

Sex: male

Date: 21 Jan 1925

Place: 68 Oving Road, Chichester

Stephen Arthur died from burns.

He was taken to hospital unconscious but died. He was admitted on the Monday, 19 January 1925 after suffering from severe burns to his right thigh, buttock and right leg and died on the Wednesday, 21 January 1925 at 10.20am. He never regained consciousness.

The cause of death was given as shock caused by the burns.

He was found by the milkman who called at his house on the Monday morning to deliver him some milk. He said that opened the door and went in, which he usually did, and found that the house was full of smoke. He said that he then saw Stephen Arthur sitting on his sofa dressed only in a shirt and with his legs stretched out into a fire that was burning on the floor. He said that it was obvious that Stephen Arthur was unconscious and only just breathing and so he went next door where he informed Stephen Arthur's married daughter, and then went off to continue his milk round. He said that he thought it best not to touch him.

His daughter said that when she went in only a part of the floor was smouldering. She said that she didn't move him and called a neighbour and then went to telephone for a doctor and the police.

She said that he had been childish in his ways since his wife had died and added that he had been in the habit of poking the fire a lot and lighting fires at unusual times.

She said that he had been in the house alone since the previous Thursday when some lodgers had left.

The neighbour who lived down the road said that the daughter fetched him and he went to Stephen Arthur's house and then the daughter went off to telephone for help. He said that there was a hole in the floor and that the side opposite Stephen Arthur was still smouldering. He said that Stephen Arthur's foot was resting in wood ashes but that there was no fire burning in that part at the time.

When a policeman arrived he laid Stephen Arthur out on a blanket on the floor and poured oil over his burns and then he was removed to hospital.

He said that the hole in the middle of the room was about a yard square and that the part of the couch that was over the hole was also burnt and scorched and that there was also a badly burnt chair in the room which Stephen Arthur had had his arms resting on. He also said that the room was in disorder.

He said that there were no signs of a fire having been set in the fireplace and suggested that Stephen Arthur, who was not clothed, might have been sleeping on the couch and when waking up cold had lit a fire on the floor without realising where he had lit it.

The Coroner said that he was surprised that neither the milkman nor his daughter had moved him. He also said that he found it improbable that he had Stephen Arthur had started the fire in order to take his own life saying that burning was the most unlikely method that anyone would employ.

He was formerly a jobbing gardener.

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

see www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

see Portsmouth Evening News - Thursday 22 January 1925