Unsolved Murders

Michael Strange

Age: 6

Sex: male

Date: 8 Dec 1941

Place: Westleigh, Colesdown Hill, Billacombe

Michael Strange was run over by a lorry on the morning of 8 December 1941.

He was taken to the Prince of Wale's Hospital in Greenbank, Plymouth in a Plymouth St. John Ambulance, where he was certified as dead. His post-mortem revealed that his death was due to a fracture of the skull and laceration of the brain. It was also stated that Michael Strange would have died immediately after his collision with the lorry.

The police said that they were interested in tracing the driver of a large brown cattle lorry that had a covered top that had travelled from Plymouth to Paignton on the Monday morning, 8 December 1941.

The lorry driver was described as wearing a blue overcoat, collar, and tie but no hat. It was stated that there had been a brown suitcase in the lorry.

It was thought that the lorry had collided with a wall at the junction of Colesdown Hill and Billacombe Road at about 8.15am and that Michael Strange, who had been standing there, apparently waiting for the school bus to Hooe, was fatally injured. His mother said that Michael Strange had been eager to go to school early on the Monday and had left home at about 8.30am to walk to the corner where he caught the bus to Hooe School.

It was thought that the driver of the lorry was unaware of the accident. It was also thought that he had been a stranger to the district as before he had reached the road junction he had stopped to ask a youth the way to Paignton.

The youth had then mounted the lorry and had ridden with the lorry to the junction and then directed the driver to Colesdown Hill. The youth said that after he returned to the junction he found Michael Strange lying amongst the debris of the wall. The youth said that when he was in the lorry, as they had turned a bend in the road, that he had heard a bang but that at the time he had presumed that it had been cattle moving in the back of the lorry. He said that the driver made no comment at the sound of the bang.

A policeman said that about 1 1/4cwt of stone work had been dislodged at the corner near the dead boys home and that a pillar about three feet high had been dislodged.

At the inquest, the coroner said that he was unhappy with the police over the matter of tracing the lorry driver, whose full description had been furnished, saying that it appeared that no publicity was given to the case until four or five days after the death of Michael Strange.

However, at the same time he paid tribute to a particular policeman who had prepared a model of the scene of the collision between Michael Strange and the lorry driven by the unknown man.

When the coroner summed up and returned an open verdict, he said that there was a lorry driver somewhere in the district who must know that he hit the pillar on the corner of the road where Michael Strange met his death, and said that in view of the publicity given to the case, that he must have known that he was involved in the case.

He also added that he was willing to recommend to the proper quarters that steps be taken to improve the corner of the road at Colesdown Hill where Michael Strange had waited to catch his bus to school.

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

see www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

see Western Morning News - Saturday 03 January 1942, p5

see Western Morning News - Tuesday 09 December 1941

see Western Morning News - Saturday 13 December 1941

see Western Morning News - Saturday 20 December 1941