Unsolved Murders

Raymond Anthony Coggins

Age: 4 months

Sex: male

Date: 13 Oct 1939

Place: 6 Caygill Street, Salford

Source: discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk

Raymond Anthony Coggins died from injuries.

A man was tried for his murder but was acquitted.

It was alleged that the man had hit Raymond Coggins after he had lost his temper when Raymond Coggins wouldn't stop crying, however, he was acquitted.

The case files contain definitions of murder and manslaughter and although the man was acquitted of murder, it was possible that he had not also been charged with manslaughter, or that his acquittal was otherwise due to a technicality of that nature.

Raymond Coggins lived at 6 Caygill Street, Salford with his mother and was one of nine children.

The man that was tried for his murder was 21 years old and was a lodger at the house and would look after the children when the mother went out to work as a daily help.

The man admitted that he had thrown Raymond Coggins down onto the sofa once in a fit of anger, but denied that he had done anything else.

The man had been lodging at 6 Caygill Street since 4 March 1939, but the mother said that she had known him for two years before that date. The mother added that the lodger was not Raymond Coggins's father, but he was made its godfather.

The lodger had formerly been in the Navy but was discharged around March 1939.

The mother said that when she left for work at Pullens in Greengate, Salford, not far off, she had asked the lodger if Raymond Coggins was alright and said that the lodger replied, 'Yes, I have just given him a bottle, and I'm just getting him to sleep'. The mother added that the lodger’s condition at the time was alright.

The mother said that she got to Pullens at about 3.10pm and had only been there for about ten minutes when the lodger came into the shop and said, 'Come home quick, as baby seems to have fainted'. The mother said that she then put on her coat and straight away ran to her house, followed by the lodger. She said that the lodger arrived at the house a minute or two after her.

The mother said that when she got to the house, she found Raymond Coggins on the couch with a blanket covering it from its waist down. She said that she then took the baby up and said, 'Oh what is the matter with him, there is no life in him, he must be dead'. She said that she then told the lodger to go for a doctor, but said that after a few minutes the lodger returned, saying that he could not find the doctor. The mother said that she then told the lodger to run for a policeman which he did.

A policeman said that the lodger came to him at 3.40pm on 13 October 1939 at a Police Box at the corner of Collier Street and Deansgate and asked him for a doctor as a child had died.

The policeman said that as he was going to 6 Caygill Street with the lodger, the lodger said, 'I was nursing the child when it suddenly died in my arms'.

The police later arranged for Raymond Coggins to be taken to Salford Royal Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

When Raymond Coggins was first examined, he was found to have marks on his face, red spots on both cheeks and a discolouration of his eye, which his mother said had happened in an accident a week earlier, saying that he had caught his eye on the side of his carriage. However, the medical evidence stated that the bruise was recent.

Raymond Coggins's post-mortem stated that his cause of death was shock following rupture of the liver, and it was said that that rupture of the liver was caused by violence, either by a blow in the abdomen or by being banged on some fairly hard object.

Another pathologist that examined Raymond Coggins said that he thought that Raymond Coggins had suffered at least six separate blows to account for the marks on his body and that more violence would have been required to have caused them than simply being bounced on the soft part of the couch. He also added that he thought that the rupture of his liver must have been caused by a blow of considerable violence and could have been produced by a blow from a man's fist. He added that he did not think that Raymond Coggins's injury to his liver could have been caused by him being bumped on to the soft part of the couch but said that it could have been caused by his abdomen catching a projecting part of the couch such as the arm.

After the lodger was told of the medical evidence, he admitted that he had banged Raymond Coggins down on the sofa saying that he lost his temper because Raymond Coggins would not stop crying. He said that when he then picked him up, he was white and so he put him on the sofa and ran off for his mother.

At the end of his statement he said, 'I am sorry what happened for my temper got the best of me'. When he was first charged with manslaughter he said, 'I am sorry it was in the heat of the moment'. The lodger was then charged with murder and replied, 'I did not murder him'.

In his statement the lodger said, 'Whilst I was in the house alone this afternoon with Raymond, he woke up crying. I picked him up and tried to console him but without result. I nursed him for a bit. I put him down on the sofa and he still cried. I picked him up again and he wouldn't stop crying so I banged him down on the sofa, I kind of lost my temper and Raymond stopped crying right away. I picked him up and looked at him and he seemed a little white. I got frightened and put him on the sofa, he didn't move so I rushed off to tell his mother. She came back with me and picked him up and he was dead. I rushed for the doctor'.

At the trial the prosecution said that the lodger had struck Raymond Coggins several times on various parts of his body after he started crying and then finally either gave him a sufficiently powerful blow to harm him fatally or flung him with considerable violence.

However, the lodger was acquitted.

see National Archives - DPP 2/694