Unsolved Murders

Eileen Woollard

Age: 20

Sex: female

Date: 17 Sep 1932

Place: Paddington, London

Eileen Woollard died from an illegal operation on 17 September 1932.

She died from syncope or heart failure due to abortion and septicaemia.

The pathologist said that it might have been possible for an instrument to have been used without leaving any sign although he added that abortion sometimes took place by a woman falling or through illness.

An open verdict was returned stating that her death was due to septic abortion.

Eileen Woollard was buried on 20 September 1932 at Brockwood Cemetery. However, it was noted that her mother had failed to attend. Another daughter, alarmed, went to her mother's shop in Farnborough and found it locked and then the police were called who forced an entry and found that she was dead, with the woman from the shop next door, in a gas filled room. They were found holding each other.

The police also found two bottles in the room, one containing iodine and the other, which was empty, having contained chloroform.

Eileen Woollard's mother had been a milliner and had lived in Lynthorpe on Salisbury Road in Farnborough and the friend had been a hairdresser and had lodged in Osbourne Road in South Farnborough.

The hairdresser was Russian and had been in England for about 11 years. It was said that she had belonged to a wealthy Russian family before the revolution and had had many servants.

The inquest on Eileen Woollard's mother and the Russian doctor returned a verdict of suicide by coal gas poisoning.

Eileen Woollard had been taken to the nursing home in Paddington for an operation before she died.

The Coroner said that her case bristled with difficulties. He said 'In all these cases, it is extremely difficult to obtain definite evidence. There is always a conspiracy of lies and a conspiracy of silence, and now the mouths of two people involved are closed in death. Everything seems to point to this poor girl having been subjected to criminal interference, with the result that she lost her life, her mother lost her life, and the Russian doctor lost her life. I have a pretty definite suspicion in my mind as to exactly what took place.'.

At her inquest when a doctor from Upper Wimpole Street was questioned by the Coroner, the Coroner said 'I am forced to the conclusion that you are not telling the truth'.

At the inquest, Eileen Woollard's sister denied that she knew that Eileen Woollard was due to become a mother.

A policeman that had interviewed Eileen Woollard's mother before she died said that the mother had told him that she had found in the previous fortnight that her daughter was not very well. She had said that she and the Russian doctor had then gone to see a doctor and that she then took Eileen Woollard to the nursing home where she later found her to be desperately ill. She had said that later, another doctor was called, and an operation was consented too and on the morning of 17 September 1932 the operation took place. She said that the doctor had told her that after the operation there was a slight chance that it would save her life.

Eileen Woollard's sister said that prioer to Eileen Woollard being taken to the nursing home in London, Eileen Woollard had been confined to her bed and that a doctor came nearly every day. She also said that the Russian doctor also came to the house nearly every day.

When the Coroner asked the sister whether she knew that Eileen Woollard was expecting to become a mother, she said that she didn't and said that neither did she know that someone had done something to her. The Coroner then asked the sister to look at a letter after which the sister said that she had thought that Eileen Woollard was going to have an operation for appendicitis.

The sister said that she didn't know that an illegal operation had been performed and said that she remembered Eileen Woollard going to London with her mother and the Russian doctor on the night of 13 September 1932. She also said that she remembered tearing up a letter which was later found in the wastepaper basket which she said was a letter to a friend asking not to divulge that her sister was going to have, or had had, an operation for appendicitis.

A sister at the nursing home said that she received a call at the home on the Wednesday asking if they had room for a patient noting that the doctor didn't say what the matter with her was. She said that Eileen Woollard reached the nursing home at about ten o'clock and that she had a temperature of 103 and looked very ill.

The Coroner said 'Obviously it is a dangerous case and probably a criminal one, and so long as the law regards criminal abortion as a most serious felony, and regards the person who procures it, and in procuring it causes death, as being guilty of murder, so long is it the duty of a Coroner to endeavour to find who was the person who performed an illegal operation in a case such as this. The girl is dead, her mother is dead, and the Russian doctor is dead. It is a terrible tragedy, all arising out of this conspiracy to get rid of this girl's pregnancy, I am afraid by illegal means.'.

The Coroner also noted that the person who alone could be said to have been in charge of her case, took no part in seeing her after 5.30 on the Friday from when he had left her in the hands of the other three doctors and did not sign the death certificate. The Coroner went on to say 'I have indicated in my questions to him what my view is as to his conduct in this case. He seems inclined to agree with me, and that on reflection it would have been wiser to have had nothing to do with the case. I, therefore, do not feel called upon to say anything further on that subject. This case bristles with suspicion.'.

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

see www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

see Taunton Courier, and Western Advertiser - Wednesday 05 October 1932

see Coventry Evening Telegraph - Wednesday 21 September 1932

see Coventry Evening Telegraph - Wednesday 28 September 1932

see Daily Herald - Thursday 29 September 1932

see Dundee Evening Telegraph - Wednesday 21 September 1932

see Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer - Thursday 29 September 1932

see Hull Daily Mail - Wednesday 28 September 1932

see Hull Daily Mail - Wednesday 21 September 1932

see Edinburgh Evening News - Wednesday 21 September 1932