Unsolved Murders

Hannah Graves

Age: 85

Sex: female

Date: 2 May 1934

Place: West Dock Street, Hull

Hannah Graves died from burns.

She was found in a smoke-filled room with the bedding on fire.

An open verdict was returned.

The Coroner said that there were some curious features about the evidence and that much had not been satisfactorily cleared up. He added that he was not satisfied as to how Hannah Graves had come to be on fire.

At the inquest, Hannah Graves's son was questioned about the steps that he had taken after he had found his mother on fire. The Coroner later said, 'While I fully appreciate the circumstances in which Hannah Graves's son was placed when he discovered the room full of smoke, which as he says, was choking him, I find it a little difficult to understand why he did not take some steps immediately on behalf of his mother. I feel however, I am not justified in making any further comment'.

The son had said that he had gone downstairs to make a cup of tea for Hannah Graves and that it was then that he first noticed the smoke. He said that he then ran back upstairs to her bedroom and found it full of smoke, and that he then fell on his knees and tried to find Hannah Graves. He said that he pulled up the blind and opened the window, and also threw out the burning mattress.

However, he said that he then ran back downstairs again as he could not breathe in the bedroom and assistance was then forthcoming.

When a policeman asked him what steps he had taken to see that Hannah Graves was dead, the son said, 'She could not have lived in that smoke'. He also added that his own eyebrows were singed, and his hand burned.

When the policeman asked him whether he had taken any steps to remove Hannah Graves from the room, the son said, 'I could not stay in the room. You could not expect me to be calm and collected at a time like that'.

A chief inspector with the fire brigade said that the fire was probably caused by the striking of a match. He said that Hannah Graves might have lit a match with which to see to open the door and that having done so, she might have got back into bed and dropped the match on her bedding which would have then become ignited and then set alight to her night attire. He said then, that in her pain, she might have rolled off the bed. He went on to explain that there was a partially burned candle stood on the table and two boxes of matches in the room.

The Coroner then asked the chief inspector whether he thought that it was reasonable to strike a match when there was an electric torch there, and the chief inspector said, 'Yes'.

When the Coroner asked the chief inspector whether he would have thought that if Hannah Graves had screamed, whether anyone in the next bedroom would have heard it and the chief inspector replied, 'I should expect them to have'.

The Coroner then asked the chief inspector whether it was equally possible that Hannah Graves might have struck a match that had ignited her clothes and that the shock of that had caused her to fall and that her ignited clothes might have then set fire to her bed, and the chief inspector said that that was quite possible.

The medical evidence stated that Hannah Graves died from shock due to burns.

see www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

see Leeds Mercury - Wednesday 02 May 1934

see Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer - Wednesday 02 May 1934

see Birmingham Daily Gazette - Friday 27 April 1934

see Hull Daily Mail - Tuesday 01 May 1934