Unsolved Murders

Cecil Walter Teesdale

Age: 29

Sex: male

Date: 3 Jan 1937

Place: Comforts Avenue, Scunthorpe

Cecil Walter Teesdale was shot at the breakfast table by his wife at their home on 28 December 1936 and died six days later on 3 January 1937.

His wife was tried for his murder and manslaughter at the Lincoln Assizes on 10 February 1937 but was acquitted. She had said that Cecil Teesdale had told her that the revolver that she had shot him with was loaded with blanks.

Cecil Teesdale was a butcher.

It was heard that he had been going out to bachelor parties and neglecting his wife. At the trial the prosecution said that the wife had become jealous because she had felt that Cecil Teesdale was going out to parties where she was entitled to go and accompany him, and that when Cecil Teesdale would get back late at night and the early mornings he would tell her about all the girls that he had kissed. It was also heard that as well as associating with other women that Cecil Teesdale would assault his wife and was indifferent to their son.

His wife said that Cecil Teesdale had told her that the revolver was only loaded with blanks an that she had only fired it at him to scare him. However, the prosecution said that there was no reason for Cecil Teesdale to have told his wife that the gun was loaded only with blanks if he had known it to be loaded with live ammunition. It was noted that there were no blank rounds in the house at all, only live ammunition.

It was also heard that she had fired the revolver once before in the lounge on a previous occasion after Cecil Teesdale had got home late, but on that occasion had said that it had been an accident.

At the trial, the prosecution said, 'A woman, a prey to jealousy, insists on knowing where her husband has been. Not receiving the answer she desires, she goes out and fetches a gun, which she naturally presumes to be loaded. Despite the sympathy which even I, as counsel for the prosecution, feel for the woman, it is your duty to enter a verdict upon this matter, a verdict according to your good judgement'. The prosecution went to stress that if the jury were of the opinion that the wife's action did not amount to a charge of murder, that she was plainly guilty of a criminal action which he said, in law, amounted to manslaughter.

When the defence summed up they said, 'I submit that if you accept the evidence the wife has given, your duty in this case is to return a clean verdict of not guilty of any charge. I ask you to accept it'.

The trial was popular, and it was reported that there had been a stampede of women to get into the court room. It was reported that at 7am, many women were waiting to gain admission, knowing that accommodation was limited and that specially chartered buses were running from Scunthorpe for it. It was said that when the main gates under the Castle ramparts were opened, women stampeded across the lawn and paths to the castle where the court was held and that in under a minute all the public accommodation had been filled and a large crowd thronged the cloisters.

It was also reported that women wept as the defence, with quiet eloquence and sincerity, argued her case.

It was reported that the real question in the trial was whether Cecil Teesdale had said to his wife, 'You cannot hurt me, they are only blanks', and whether his wife had believed him and that that had governed her actions.

When the judge summed up before the jury he said, 'Are you satisfied that the prosecution has proved to your satisfaction that the prisoner killed her husband by an unlawful act, and with the intention of causing death or grievous bodily harm. If that satisfaction is established, you will convict her of murder. If you are not satisfied, it will be your duty to consider whether you are bound to convict her of a very different offence, because you are bound to consider, if that person is not guilty of murder, she is guilty of manslaughter. I tell you quite frankly that, in my opinion as a lawyer, I cannot understand how you can fail to say that this woman is guilty of manslaughter'.

After the judge had summed up for 75 minutes, he asked for a box of cartridges to be handed to him and then said that it was quite clear that they were not blank cartridges.

It was reported that Cecil Teesdale's wife who had listened intently to the closing speeches and summing up had looked exceedingly pale.

When the jury returned their verdicts after 2 1/4 hours deliberation of not guilty to both charges, an applause in the court was suppressed, and the people in the public seats rose up and shuffled out. When the news was heard outside there were cheers by the crowd and an enthusiastic demonstration.

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

see www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

see Sheffield Independent - Tuesday 02 March 1937

see Western Morning News - Wednesday 10 February 1937

see Daily Herald - Saturday 23 January 1937

see Western Daily Press - Tuesday 05 January 1937

see Hull Daily Mail - Monday 08 February 1937

see Hull Daily Mail - Tuesday 09 February 1937