Unsolved Murders

Archie Edward Cook

Age: 47

Sex: male

Date: 14 Dec 1940

Place: Bristol-Gloucester Road, Whitminster Pitch

Source: www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

Archie Edward Cook was found lying on top of his bicycle.

He was a labourer and had lived on the Bath Road in Eastington.

On the day he died he had been off to work for the first time in 17 weeks following an illness.

The place where he was found was on a straight piece of road on the Bristol-Gloucester Road that was 24ft 2in wide and had a traffic line in the centre. A blood mark was found on the nearside footpath facing Gloucester.

The doctor said that Archie Cook had suffered a fractured jaw, a fractured skull and had multiple abrasions and cuts to his face and head. He concluded that his cause of death was a fractured skull. The doctor also said that Archie Cook had a chronic ulcer in his stomach that showed signs of becoming cancerous.

The doctor added that a simple fall would not have been sufficient to have caused all of the injuries that Archie Cook had suffered and said that he thought that he must have been struck by a moving object.

At the inquest, the doctor was asked whether he thought that considering Archie Cook had been off work for 17 weeks' whether he thought that the exertion of restarting work and climbing the hill on his bicycle had caused him to become exhausted and to have fallen, but the doctor said that he thought that that was unlikely.

However, when the doctor was asked how long he though Archie Cook would have lived, given his condition, the doctor said, 'I think he would have lived less than 12 months'.

A woman who lived in Prestwick Terrace in Whitminster said that on the morning of the incident she had been cycling towards Gloucester and remembered seeing two lorries approaching her and said that she saw one of them overtake the other, however, she added that she took no further notice of them and heard nothing unusual happen.

A soldier who lived on Glegram Road in Gloucester said that he had been walking down Whitminster Pitch on 14 December at about 7.15am when he saw a lorry approaching from Bristol . However, he said that before it reached him it reversed and then stopped and said that when he drew level with it the driver called out to him. He said that when he went over to the lorry, he saw that the lorry driver was standing by the body of Archie Cook who was lying on top of his damaged bicycle.

He said that although Archie Cook was seriously injured, he was not dead. He said that he then asked the lorry driver whether he had knocked Archie Cook down, but said that the lorry driver told him that he hadn't, and added that the lorry driver then told him that he had been over taken by another lorry, and that the driver of that lorry had told him that he had knocked a man over and that in consequence he had driven back. When the soldier asked the lorry driver whether he had taken the name and address of the other lorry driver, he said that the lorry driver told him that he hadn't.

When the soldier at the inquest was asked whether he had noticed anything peculiar about the position that Archie Cook was in, the soldier said that the position that Archie Cook had been in struck him as peculiar because if he had been riding when the accident had happened, he would have probably been astride his machine and if he had been pushing it, unless he were left handed, he would have probably been underneath the bicycle. He added that he didn't see the lorry driver move Archie Cook.

A passenger in the lorry that had stopped said that the lorry that he was in was en route for Avonmouth. He said that he remembered passing another lorry down the incline but said that he didn't hear or feel anything to suggest that the lorry that he was in had touched anything. He said that his attention was then attracted by a lorry driver flashing his lights and said that when he told the driver, the driver stopped the lorry that they were in. He said that the other lorry then overtook them and that as it did so, the other lorry driver told them that there was somebody in the road further back and that he didn't know whether the lorry that they were in had knocked the man down or not. The passenger in the first lorry said that he and the driver of the lorry he was in then decided to go back to investigate.

The lorry driver of the first lorry said that he had no reason to believe that an accident had occurred until the other lorry driver spoke to him. He said that he had been driving with his side lights only on. He said that when the other lorry driver spoke to them, he said, 'There is a man lying on the road back there, and if anyone saw you pass me there, they would blame you for it even if it was not you'. The driver said that he then returned to where Archie Cook was lying, but said that he didn't touch anything until the police arrived.

The lorry driver said that he had begun to pass the other lorry which he said was travelling at about 15 miles an hour when he could see down Whitminster Pitch. He said that the road ahead of him was then clear and that he saw no lights.

When his lorry was subsequently examined, no signs of new damage were found.

A policeman said that when he arrived at the scene, the lorry driver told him that he knew nothing of the accident. He said that he examined the lorry carefully but could find no marks that suggested a recent impact.

The policeman said that a message was later broadcast and that drivers of lorries on the road had been interviewed with the object of tracing the other lorry driver, but that they had had no success.

The Coroner noted that efforts had been made to trace the other lorry driver, and noted that unless something very unexpected happened, he doubted that he would ever be traced and concluded that the only course open to them was to record an open verdict, adding that Archie Cook's injuries had probably been caused by him being knocked down by an unknown motor vehicle.

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

see Gloucester Journal - Saturday 04 January 1941

see Gloucester Journal - Saturday 21 December 1940