Unsolved Murders

Francis Johnson

Age: 47

Sex: male

Date: 21 Apr 1925

Place: Ashbourne Road, Ashbourne

Francis Johnson was found on Ashbourne Road with a fractured skull.

It was thought that he had been run over whilst walking home along the main road between Ashbourne and Buxton. He was left in the roadway where he had fallen with a fractured skull.

His body was later discovered by a man who had been driving from Ashbourne to Buxton at 10.20pm. He said that just before he reached the spot he saw a car with brilliant headlights travelling at nearly 50mph travelling in the opposite direction pass him.

A policeman said that he had left Buxton with an ambulance for the scene and that whilst there he pulled up a car travelling at a very high speed which was the man that was charged. The policeman said that when he told him that there had been a fatal accident the man became very agitated. He said then that he noticed a bump in the man's mudguard and said that it was free from dust. He said that the next day when the car was examined at a local garage in the morning he noticed that the front axle, in a position corresponding to the dent on the wing, was also free from dust as though it had been wiped clean.

A man was charged with his manslaughter but the charge against him was dismissed by the Buxton magistrates on the grounds of insufficient evidence.

The man that was charged admitted that he had passed the scene but said that a dent in the mudguard of his car had been done the night before. However, after the Bench saw the car a police witness swore that the dent that they had seen was not the same dent that the police had found. He said that the dent they had seen on the near wing was three and a half inches lower and suggested that dent had been made since he had first seen it.

A doctor who examined Francis Johnson's body said that his injuries were consistent with him having been struck violently from behind. When questioned he agreed that if a projection had caused the wound then portions of tissue would have adhered to it.

It was also said that if it had been the man's car that had run Francis Johnson over then the force would have been sufficient to had crumpled the wing and to have smashed the headlights.

Francis Johnson was a labourer from Sterndale Moor Cottages.

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

see www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

see Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer - Wednesday 29 April 1925

see Northern Whig - Monday 11 May 1925

see Western Daily Press - Monday 11 May 1925

see Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer - Monday 11 May 1925