Unsolved Murders

Frank Cave

Age: 61

Sex: male

Date: 20 Oct 1940

Place: Appleford Farm, Godshill, Isle of Wight

Source: www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

Frank Cave was shot in the back with a shot-gun.

A 25-year-old woman that he had been living with and who acted as his housekeeper was tried for his murder but acquitted at the Hampshire Assizes at Winchester on Thursday 19 December 1940. She said that she had shot him accidently.

The pathologist that examined the scene and Frank Cave's body said that he thought that Frank Cave had been shot whilst he was bending over a sink in the scullery in the back from a range of about five or six feet. The pathologist also stated that Frank Cave had a small abrasion on his nose which he said he thought he had received when he had fallen forward onto the sink.

The gun was said to have had a very heavy pull of nearly 8lb, compared to a usual pull of 3 1/2 to 4lbs on most guns.

Frank Cave was found by his daughter who had lived in a cottage near the farm after the housekeeper came running to her and said, 'Come quick, the old man is shot'. He died in her arms.

His daughter said that whilst she was attending to Frank Cave, the housekeeper went on with her normal duties.

At the trial it was heard that the motive was jealousy as there was no sign of a struggle and the housekeeper had appeared quite composed afterwards.

When she was asked how it had happened, she said, 'We were struggling and the gun went off. It was either he or me. It was all over the party coming rabbiting'. It was heard that the party she was referring to was the wife of a soldier who went to the farm on rabbiting excursions.

She said that Frank Cave had struck her and threatened her with the gun and that as he was leaving the kitchen for the scullery, she snatched the gun from him from behind. She said that she then went backwards whilst Frank Cave took a few steps forward and that the gun then went off by accident.

The housekeeper said that they had been arguing earlier over the woman that had been to the farm for rabbiting during which Frank Cave hit her in the eye and caught her by the throat. She said that she then resumed her work in the kitchen and then said, 'The next thing was that I heard a door creak. I turned round and saw him standing in the scullery door with the gun pointing at me. He looked guilty. I rushed towards him, and he started walking towards the scullery. I took the gun away from him, catching hold of it about the centre. The gun came away quicker than I thought, and I went backwards. All I know is that the gun went off'.

The court heard that the housekeeper had met Frank Cave when they had a road accident and she later went to be his housekeeper. She said that they later had three children together.

The housekeeper said that she thought that Frank Cave had been carrying on with the other woman but said that she was not jealous of her.

She said, 'He would not let me take the children. All I wanted to do was to leave him if I could take the children'.

The other woman said that she thought that the housekeeper was Frank Cave's wife and said that she was unaware that their association was causing Frank Cave and the housekeeper trouble between them. She said that she had been to the farm with her step-brother on the day of the shooting to go rabbiting.

It was heard at the trial that Frank Cave had previously threatened the housekeeper with a gun about two years earlier when she had gone off to her mother's and that her mother had taken the gun off of him. After Frank Cave left, the police then went to see him as the housekeeper had told them that he had gone off in his car with their two-month-old child.

The housekeeper also said that on one occasion, Frank Cave had said that he would 'do in' both her and their babies. She said that she then summoned her mother who, when she arrived, found Frank Cave in the kitchen with the baby boy and his gun.

When the judge summed up, he said, 'Someone loaded the gun with a single cartridge. I think you will treat it as an accepted fact that it was the man who did this. It was the person who put the cartridge in to the gun who was, in the first instance, responsible for the tragedy'.


see Portsmouth Evening News - Wednesday 13 November 1940

see Portsmouth Evening News - Saturday 02 November 1940

see Daily Mirror - Tuesday 22 October 1940

see Portsmouth Evening News - Thursday 19 December 1940

see Lincolnshire Echo - Friday 20 December 1940

see Newcastle Evening Chronicle - Friday 20 December 1940

see Daily Record - Wednesday 13 November 1940

see Manchester Evening News - Tuesday 12 November 1940

see Derby Daily Telegraph - Monday 21 October 1940

see Daily Herald - Tuesday 22 October 1940

see Aberdeen Press and Journal - Friday 20 December 1940

see Derby Daily Telegraph - Friday 20 December 1940