Unsolved Murders

Basil Tiplady Bell

Age: 47

Sex: male

Date: 19 Oct 1940

Place: Farham By-Pass

Source: www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

Basil Tiplady Bell was found dead at the foot of an embankment off of the by-pass in Farnham on the morning of 19 October 1940.

He was an antiques dealer and had lived at 49 Southgate Lane in Reading. He exported antiques to Australia.

He was found at the foot of a retaining wall on the by-pass.

His post-mortem found that he had died from shock following contusion of the abdomen and other injuries, some of which were consistent with his having fallen from a height. However, he said that there was no evidence to show how his injuries had happened.

It was noted that he had usually carried about £25 in £1 notes with him in his wallet which was not on him when he was found. However, his wallet was later returned by post to his address in a brown paper parcel, but it only contained his identity card and some tickets, the money being missing.

His distant cousin said that Basil Bell had business interests in Australia where he had a partner and said that they had had an arrangement in which either partner had a right to carry on the business for twelve months if anything happened to the other. She added that there was a sister in Australia who would attend to everything.

She had initially described herself as Basil Bell's sister, but later admitted that she was a distant cousin.

The cousin said that Basil Bell had no property in the United Kingdom. She said that Basil Bell had received regular drafts from Australia and that for the previous five or six years they had been paid into her bank account because someone had tried to forge his name to a cheque on his account. She said that his bank was the English, Scottish, and Australia at 3 Gracechurch Street, and that her own bank account was with the New South Wales Bank at 29 Threadneedle Street.

She said that when Basil Bell wanted money, he would come to her for it.

At the inquest the Coroner asked the cousin what right the money had to be in her account and whether she could distinguish between his money and her own personal money and the cousin replied, 'Yes, definitely'.

The cousin said that she was going to ask Basil Bell's partner whether he wanted her to continue shipments, as she had been used to buying for Basil Bell.

The cousin said that she was certain that Basil Bell had had £25 with him when he had left to go by train to London because he had said, 'I will take £10', and said that she knew he had had the balance before.

When the Coroner asked the cousin whether she knew why Basil Bell would be in the Farnham, or Aldershot area she said, 'No'.

The Coroner then asked the cousin, 'Is it true that he received £50 or thereabouts the day before he left home?', but the cousin replied, 'No'. The Coroner then asked the cousin, 'Is it true that there was some discussion between you about this money?', but the cousin again replied, 'No'.

The Coroner remarked that matters had been suppressed, and at that point, 7 November 1940, adjourned the inquest for a week and told the cousin that she must produce documents from the banks and the shippers.

The inquest resumed on 14 November 1940. When the judge asked about Basil Bell's personal estate it was reported that the cousin had made a vague answer about an agreement in Australia, but that that would only apply to his property in Australia and not England.

A man said that his firm had held a will for Basil Bell in England and said that he thought that it was curious that the cousin had not known of the will. He said that one of the witnesses to the signing of Basil Bell's will was a packer that he employed. He said that the will was not executed by his firm and said that he understood that it was then in Australia.

The Coroner noted that according to the cousin, money belonging to Basil Bell was in some way intermingled with her own. It was noted that the money that Basil Bell was receiving in drafts from Australia was for him to buy antiques for export. It was heard that at the time of his death, the cousin had been holding £179 14s of Basil Bell's money. It was noted that since his death, payments had been made in respect to Basil Bell's funeral expenses, doctor's bills and two cables to Australia, leaving £159 2s 6d.

When the Coroner examined the financial documents, he said, 'Taking the year, there were credits amounting to between £1,500 and £1,600, apart from other items'.

At the inquest, the cousin was advised to retain the money belonging to Basil Bell until she found someone qualified to receive them.

The police also said that they had possession of a gold watch and some other property that had been found on Basil Bell's body, and said that they would hold it until they were claimed by a relative.

The Coroner then told the police, 'If there is no claim within six months, you might let me know and I will get in touch, if necessary, with the Treasury solicitors'.

An open verdict was returned.


see West Sussex Gazette - Thursday 14 November 1940

see West Sussex Gazette - Thursday 31 October 1940

see Belfast News-Letter - Thursday 24 October 1940

see West Sussex Gazette - Thursday 07 November 1940