Unsolved Murders

Frank Fletcher Burton

Age: 34

Sex: male

Date: 15 Sep 1920

Place: Talbot Street, Nottingham

Source: www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

Frank Fletcher Butler died on 15 September 1920 after being hit by a car driven by a woman.

The woman was tried for his manslaughter but was acquitted after the prosecution offered no evidence.

At the inquest it was heard that the car that the woman had been driving had collided with him and crushed him against a wall as he was crossing Talbot Street.

When the woman heard the verdict against her, she sprang to her feet crying, 'Oh, don't say so! I would not hurt a fly! This is terrible'. It was then said that in a state bordering on hysteria she knelt at the table near to where the coroner was sitting and exclaimed between sobs, 'Oh, you would not be so cruel! I have thought so much of his wife. It was a pure accident. I would pray to you to think of it again. Oh, what shall I do?'. She then calmed herself with what was described as obviously great effort and resumed her seat and then in a resigned tone, which was described as a strange contrast to her previous outburst, said, 'It doesn't matter, it can't be helped'.

A woman that saw the incident said that she was in Talbot Street in the roadway going towards Derby Road when she saw the motor car come round the corner and saw Frank Butler walking towards her. She said, 'I am afraid that the driver was not looking where she was going, but talking to her companion with her head quite turned, and I felt that if she did not look quickly where she was going she would be either on the kerb or ----. Just as I was thinking why she did not look where she was going, I noticed the man with his back towards it, walking in front of the car, and I realised his danger. I stopped and shouted. 'Mind the man', but the warning was too late'.

She said that both the driver and Frank Butler seemed unaware of each other, and that they both realised the danger at the same time. She said that before Frank Butler could get out of the way, he was struck in the middle of the back and picked up on the bonnet. She said that the woman driving the car hesitated and then turned her car round with Frank Butler still on the car and went straight towards the factory wall on the opposite side of the road. She said that Frank Butler was then crushed against the wall and added that she had heard no hooter.

Another person that saw the incident said that the car had been going between 10 and 12 miles an hour. He said that he assisted in pushing the car off Frank Butler and noted that the brakes were not on.

The man that had been in the car with the woman denied that she had been talking to him at the time and said that the car had been going slowly.

When the woman that had been driving the car gave evidence, she said that she was the owner of the car and had a clean licence and had been driving for four months. She said that the time she had been driving very slowly and that as she had got to the corner, she had remarked to her passenger, 'This is a nasty corner, I don't like driving here'. She said that she had her foot on the brake at the time and had sounded her horn repeatedly. She said that just as she reached the corner Frank Butler stepped off the kerb in front of her car and she immediately swerved to the right and applied her hand brake. She said that when she hit the factory wall she was thrown forward on to the steering wheel and that at the time the clutch was out, and she was travelling very slowly.

The doctor who operated on Frank Butler after he was admitted to hospital said that he died five hours after admission. He said that Frank Butler had been suffering from a ruptured liver and that his abdomen was full of blood and concluded that his death was due to his injuries.

When the jury returned their verdict, they said that Frank Butler's death was due to carelessness on the part of the woman who had been driving the car and that they did not believe that the brakes were on and considered that the hooter was never sounded.

When the woman was committed for trial at the following Assizes she said, 'It was a pure accident'.

The case was known as the 'Motor Case'.

Frank Butler was a stained-glass artist.


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


see Nottingham Journal - Saturday 06 November 1920, p8

see Nottingham Journal - Friday 05 November 1920

see Nottingham Evening Post - Wednesday 29 September 1920