Unsolved Murders

Margaret Paterson

Age: 41

Sex: female

Date: 16 Jun 1940

Place: 170 Hessle Road, Hull

Source: www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

Margaret Paterson died from head injuries on Sunday 16 June 1940.

The man that she lived with said that she received her injuries when she fell and hit her head against a door jamb, adding that he didn't strike her, but he admitted that they had had violent quarrels in the past.

Margaret Paterson died from shock due to haemorrhage and compression of the brain following head injuries.

She was found by the two sons of the man that had lived with Margaret Paterson. They said that when they went to 170 Hessle Road, they found Margaret Paterson lying face down on the floor. They said that her face was on the edge of the front room doorstep, and the top of her head was up against the door jamb. They said that their father was in the room and was staring at something in a bowl and said, 'She fell down'.

The two sons said that they then carried Margaret Paterson to a couch and tried to revive her but were unable.

The police noted that they had been called to 170 Hessle Road previously and had taken action.

A police inspector said that when he questioned the man after Margaret Paterson was found dead, he said to him, 'You were heard quarrelling', and said that the man replied, 'That's nothing fresh'. The police inspector said that the man made a similar remark when he was told that Margaret Paterson had been heard screaming. When the police asked the man why Margaret Paterson had been screaming, the man said, 'It's the Red Biddy. She is off in about three minutes'.

The man said that his wife had died five years earlier and he had met Margaret Paterson in a public house and made arrangements for her to lodge at his house. He said that she was a heavy drinker and brought bottles in, noting that once when he returned from a holiday, he found 80 bottles hidden away. He also added that Margaret Paterson was violent under the influence of drink.

When the man spoke about what had taken place on the Sunday he said, 'I went out into the yard. She was in a very bad temper, apparently owing to her head, or the drink she had. I came in again, intending to make a pudding. She was sitting on a chair, and I was just going outside to get some water, when she got up and fell over the chair. She was shouting. She toppled over backwards and fell with her head on the step. I did not take any notice, because I thought she would get up again. I went outside and got water. On returning, she was still laid there, and almost immediately my sons came in'.

He said that he didn't touch or strike Margaret Paterson.

He added that she had previously thrown kettles and bottles at him and chased him out of the house.

When a doctor was asked how he would account for the head wounds that he found Margaret Paterson to have, he said, 'It has been stated to me that they were due to a fall, but I think they were more consistent with blows on the head, caused with a blunt instrument, because both bruises appeared to be of a similar severity.

A policeman said that he found no instrument that could have been used to have caused the injuries and described the man as a 'very decent natured man'.

An open verdict was returned.

However, it was heard that it was in the light of what a neighbour from 172 Hessle Road had said that there was no alternative but to return an open verdict, but the Coroner noted that he thought that the neighbour’s evidence had been biased. He said, 'I think that, in her statement, she is a little biased. She has been upset by these people rowing next door, and she may have exaggerated her statement'.


see Sunderland Daily Echo and Shipping Gazette - Wednesday 19 June 1940

see Hull Daily Mail - Wednesday 19 June 1940, p5