Unsolved Murders

John Leys

Age: 58

Sex: male

Date: 20 Aug 1942

Place: High Street, Tring

John Leys was run over in the High Street, Tring by a lorry on 20 August 1942.

He had been on the pavement at the time.

The driver of the lorry said that he had swerved onto the pavement to avoid another vehicle and had thought that the pavement had been clear.

An open verdict was returned.

The lorry driver didn't give evidence at the inquest, although he had previously made a statement to the police which was read out.

John Leys had been employed at the Rose and Crown Hotel in Tring.

A woman that had lived in Buskers End in Tring said that she had been driving her car along the High Street when she arrived at the grocer's shop and the bank and put her hand out and gave the signal and stopped. She said that a lorry was passing on the other side of the road and that she saw another lorry going to pass. She said that she had stopped because she had wanted to give the oncoming lorry the right of way and that the oncoming lorry then passed her and disappeared and that just as she was going forward a vehicle hit her and then passed her on her near side.

She said that the driver of the lorry then stopped and got out and then asked her to back her car up. However, she said that she couldn't because her car was jammed against another lorry.

She said that she then got out of her car and followed the driver of the lorry and then saw John Leys lying on the pavement, saying that that was the first that she had seen of him.

A policeman that arrived at the scene said that he saw the lorry stationary on the south side of the High Street facing Aylesbury and level with the bank, with the rear level with the grocer's shop window and on the pavement. He said that the woman's Singer car was on the same side as the lorry and facing in the same direction and that the near side of the car was jammed tight against the offside of the lorry.

The policeman said that he then saw John Leys lying badly injured on the pavement on the south side of the High Street a few feet in front of the lorry.

He said that John Leys was then removed to the Royal Bucks Hospital.

The policeman said that there was a slight turning at the spot where the incident took place, but that visibility was good.

When the lorry driver's statement was read out at the inquest, it was heard that he had said, 'I am a lorry driver employed by Cowan and Co, 326 Chester Road, Manchester, 16. On Thursday, August 20th, 1942, I was driving a motor lorry, BXJ574 from Hayes to Banbury, at about 3.20pm. I was driving along High Street, Tring. As I entered the narrow part of High Street, I was flat out in third gear and travelling at about 19 miles per hour, which is the maximum for that gear. I saw a private car in front of me, stationary, as far as I could see. I intended to go on the offside of this, but then saw another lorry approach me. I applied the foot brake. But the engine kept going at full speed, because as I later found out, the throttle had sunk. In an attempt to avoid running into the back of the car which was in front of me I swerved on the pavement at my near side. I thought the pavement was clear, but apparently, the car obstructed my view of the man on the pavement, as I suddenly saw the man right in front of my lorry. When I did pull up I saw that the near side front wheel of my lorry was close against the body of a man, who was lying across the footpath. I had sounded my hooter continually when I realised what was happening. I have been cautioned before making this statement and have made it voluntarily'.

After the lorry driver gave his statement the police examined the throttle of the lorry and said that when they started the engine and pressed the accelerator down, it went down but jammed. They said that the lorry driver then told them that it was caused by a broken bracket and that the screw that should have held it to the chassis was missing.

The lorry driver then made an additional statement, saying, 'In my opinion the accident was due to a difficulty in the motor lorry. The accelerator rod was bearing the full weight of the front of the cab instead of the chassis bearing the weight. This is caused by a broken cab bracket through which the accelerator rod passes. This has happened before and been put right, but I have had trouble since then until the present accident'. The lorry driver added that there were no other difficulties with the lorry.

The coroner said that there was insufficient evidence to show how John Leys had received his injuries or how he came to be found in the place where he was lying, and an open verdict was returned.

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

see www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

see Bucks Herald - Friday 04 September 1942, p6