Unsolved Murders

Philip Newman

Age: 5

Sex: male

Date: 18 Jun 1938

Place: Mill Road, Campsea Ash, Suffolk

Source: www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

Philip Newman was knocked over by a car.

He was found injured in Mill Road at a lonely spot between Pettistree and Campsea Ash in Suffolk where he lived at 1 Council Houses, on 17 June 1938, and was taken to hospital where he later died the following night, Saturday 18 June 1938.

At the inquest, evidence was heard that a black chauffeur-driven car had been seen in the vicinity of the accident.

It was heard that the only witness as to what had happened was a 6-year old boy that Philip Newman had been playing with but that his evidence did not seem very clear. It was said that the boy had said that he had been with Philip Newman as they were walking home from school when Philip Newman fell to the ground injured. It was heard that he then ran off to his mother's house and said, 'Philip is asleep in the road. A black car came along when we were getting down the bank'.

The boy said that on their way home from school they picked hogweed and had then gone off to look for bird's nests in the hedge at the top of the bank but said that they didn't find any and then went down again and were walking along the road on the left side when a black car in which a chauffeur wearing a peaked cap was driving, came along. He said that the door handle of the black car hit him on the left side of his face and that Philip Newman was then hit by a mudguard which threw him past him. He said that Philip Newman then rolled on the bank a little way and that the black car went straight on.

He said that he tried speaking to Philip Newman but said that he didn't answer and so he ran off and told his mother.

It was heard that the boy had said that the car had been moving very fast.

The boys mother said that when her son came home he told her that a car had hit him and knocked him into a hedge and said that the right side of his face and ear were very red and necessitated the attention of a doctor.

The Coroner noted that it was a little curious that the car had struck the boys ear without touching his shoulder or clothing.

It was heard that although there was the suggestion that a motor-car had been involved, Philip Newman's sandal was discovered on the top of a bank which was said, did not seem consistent with a motor hitting him in the road.

His mother said that a neighbour came along and told her that Philip Newman was lying asleep or unconscious by the roadside and said that she then rushed out to see. She said that one of his shoes was off and his face was covered in blood. She added that his cheek and chin were bruised but that he had been lying down as though someone had laid him to go to sleep, lengthways on the grass verge. It was also stated that his hair was ruffled.

She said that she was certain that he had been hit by a car.

A man that had been working in a field nearby said that at about 4.15pm he had seen the top of a dark car pass in the direction of Pettistree. He said that the car had a ventilator on the roof. He said that shortly after, he was cycling home at about 4.30pm when he saw a boy lying beside the road and thought that he was asleep.

A farmer said that at about 4.30pm he had been driving a horse and cart near the railway bridge when he had met a car in which there were two ladies and a child. He said that the car went off towards Rendlesham.

A man that examined the place said that he found Philip Newman's shoe about half-way up the bank and said that he could see the place where the other boy had been thrown into the hedge, saying that the grass and brambles there had been broken down.

A policeman that examined the bank said that it was about four feet high and was covered with long grass, bushes and bracken. He said that there was a narrow track up the bank that could hardly have been caused by a body rolling down it. He also added that the were no marks on the road to suggest that a vehicle had been involved.

A mechanic at a garage in Melton said that a woman brought her car to his garage at about 5pm on 17 June 1938 and asked him to beat out two small dents in the nearside front wing on which he said there were also slight scratches. He said that the woman appeared perfectly normal and had said that she thought that the dents had been made in the yards of the Crown Hotel in Woodbridge or at a parking place. He added that he didn't think that there was the slightest evidence that the wing had been tampered with, stating that the dust on the wing was evenly distributed.

The doctor that examined Philip Newman said that whilst his external injuries were slight, his internal injuries were severe. However, he stated that his external injuries did not suggest that he had been struck by a moving vehicle.

He said that there was considerable injury to the blood vessels of his brain and that his death was due to cerebral compression due to cerebral confusion.

When asked whether he thought that his injuries could have been caused by him falling onto the road, the doctor said that that might have been possible, at which point he was interrupted by Philip Newman's mother who said that if he had fallen on the road then he would not have been laid out as he was. She added that she had washed his feet and legs of scratches afterwards and said that she had found that his trousers were torn.

A woman from Skipton Road in Keighley, who had flown in from Amsterdam to give evidence, said that she could not say how a dent came to be caused in the wing of her car, but said that if she had collided with a child that she would certainly not have driven off. She also noted that her car had a sunshine roof and not a ventilator.

She admitted to having been in the district on 17 June 1938 and said that in the afternoon, after driving from Woodbridge to Waldringfield and back, drove with her 18-monthold son and his nurse to Chillesford and Orford, befiore proceeding to Hungarian Hall at 4.30pm. She said that the objective of the drive was to show the nurse the countryside. She added that she didn't go to Campsea Ashe and had never been nearer to Campsea Ashe than Ufford Crown until after the hearing. She said that after tea she had gone to the garage in Melton to collect an account and that when she had got there she noticed the dents in the wing and asked the mechanic to remove them. She added that she did not know how the dents were caused and said that they were certainly not made whilst she was in the car.

She said that the following morning she left for Shoreham to join a yacht.

The Coroner said that there was not enough evidence to implicate the car in the collision and or enough evidence to implicate the woman, noting that that was unless she was deliberately lying, but added that he could see no reason why the jury should say that. However, he added that it was curious that the description of the car that the man in the field had given was similar to that of the woman's car and also curious that she should have had dents in her car. However, he said that based on the route that the woman had given that he could not see how she could have come as far north as Campsea Ashe and unlikely if, having knocked a boy down, that she would have taken her car to a garage within half-an-hour to have the dents removed. He also said that if she had then it was unlikely that she would not have shown some signs of nervousness.

The Coroner also noted that the only evidence to connect Philip Newman with being hit by a car was that of the other boy and said that it was a very curious story, adding that he thought it was inconceivable that he had made it up, but notted that on the other hand he didn't think that it could have happened as he had said, stating that the shoe found on the bank supported the theory that Philip Newman had caught his foot in the bramble and had fallen down the bank.

An open verdict was returned.

Philip Newman was described as 'the darling of the village'.


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


see Birmingham Daily Gazette - Saturday 30 July 1938, p1

see Northern Whig - Tuesday 21 June 1938

see Belfast News-Letter - Saturday 30 July 1938

see Dundee Courier - Saturday 30 July 1938

see Daily Mirror - Tuesday 05 July 1938

see Nottingham Journal - Monday 20 June 1938

see Diss Express - Friday 05 August 1938