Date: 13 Apr 1944
Joan Mary Pam Going was found dead in a flat in Macfarlane House, Fulham, on 13 April 1944.
The flat belonged to a naval officer, a Lieutenant, who had met her whilst stationed in Gravesend.
She had been four months pregnant at the time and her death had been due to an air embolism.
The pathologist said that Joan Going had been a healthy young woman with no natural disease and that instrumental interference had taken place probably about ten minutes before her death. He said that her death was due to an air embolism and that the instrument had been used with a degree of skill which he said raised his suspicion that Joan Going could not have done it herself, but said that it was only a suspicion.
A doctor at 4 Wandsworth Bridge Road in Fulham said that the naval officer went to his surgery and said, 'A young woman has collapsed in my flat, and I am afraid it will be too late'. The doctor said that when he asked her what had happened the naval officer replied, 'I don't know'.
The doctor said that he then went to Macfarlane House with the naval officer were he saw Joan Going dead on the floor in the sitting room in front of a gas fire.
A sick-bay attendant said that on Easter Monday, the naval officer asked him if he could borrow a syringe. He said that he chose one and asked for an astringent and Epsom salts as well. He said that the syringe was returned two days later wrapped up in a white linen cloth and that when he pressed the plunger a few drops of a white liquid came out that smelt like diluted Dettol.
The police said that when they searched the naval officers flat they found the remains of a torn up carbon carton bearing the name 'Leedo' in a lavatory pan.
A chemist in Gravesend said that on 12 April 1944 he had a telephone call from the naval officer asking him if he had an enema syringe and antiseptic crystals for douching. The chemist said that he could supply the items but that his shop would be closed and told him that he would leave the items in a parcel next door. It was noted that the syringe had been supplied in a box that bore the name ‘Leedo’ on it. The chemist said that he was later told that the parcel had been collected.
The naval officer had been seen by two employees of the Streatham Gas Light and Coke Company. The first, a laboratory assistant said that on 13 April 1944 at about 10am he had been working in the meter section at Macfarlane House when he saw the naval officer walking through the yard looking worried.
The other employee of the gas company said that he had seen the naval officer between 11am and 1pm on the same day walking in the direction of Mcfarlane House looking worried. He said that the naval officer kept glancing back over his shoulder. He said that just before 1am he saw an ambulance arrive and said that that was the first time that he thought that there was something wrong. He said that he had commented earlier on the naval officer's behaviour and had thought that he might have had a row with a sailor.
A detective-inspector said that when he questioned the naval officer at Walham Green police station, the naval officer told him that he had arrived at his flat at about 12.30pm on 13 April 1944 to find Joan Going in a bath in the kitchen. He said that he thought that she was in a coma and so he carried her into the sitting room. When he was asked whether he had ever interfered with her, the naval officer replied, 'Never'.
The naval officer said that he was married but was not living with his wife although he was on good terms with her. He said that his wife was a nurse near Chatham and that they had no children. He said that in 1942 whilst stationed in Gravesend he was introduced to Joan Going and her mother. He said that the first time that he became intimate with Joan Going was around June 1943 when he had a flat in Gravesend and Joan Going used to visit him. At the time he said that she was employed at a hair-dressing establishment in Leicester Square. He said that he later took the flat at Macfalane House.
He said that on 13 April 1944 he left the flat at 9.15am to go to his ship at which time Joan Going was in good spirits.
He said that when he returned at 12.30pm he found Joan Going sitting in the small bath with her arms hanging down limply and her lips blue. He said that he then carried her into the sitting room and put her on the floor in front of the gas fire and then subsequently called an ambulance and then went to Walham Green police station to tell them what had happened.
Whilst being questioned, the naval officer said, 'I can say definitely that I did not know she was pregnant. She never spoke to me on the subject'.
The police said that when they saw the naval officer the next day at Imperial House and asked him about a syringe, that he denied that he had removed a syringe.
Later, on 10 May 1944, the naval officer told the police that his previous statements required amendments and additions, stating that he had been suffering from mental distress when he made them. He said that he did have suspicions that Joan Going had been in a certain way and said that he did find a syringe in a carton which he said he cut up and threw away.
When the naval officer gave evidence at the inquest, he said that he thought it was fair to say that he and Joan Going had been living together. He said that he took the flat at Macfarlane House on Good Friday and that he and Joan Going arrived on 13 April 1944 at 1.40am. He said that when he left the flat for business that she was perfectly all right. He said that he was in Imperial House until 12.30pm and that the gas company employee was absolutely mistaken as to the time he said he had seen him.
When the coroner asked the naval officer why he had gone back to Macfarlane House, the naval officer said that he had gone back for his lunch. When he was asked whether his lunch was ready, he said that it was not. When the coroner asked the naval officer if he had connected the syringe with Joan Going's condition, the naval officer said that the thought passed through his mind. When the coroner asked the naval officer if it had occurred to him that Joan Going might have used the syringe on herself before he had arrived at the flat, the naval officer said, 'Yes'. When the coroner then asked the naval officer why he destroyed the syringe, he replied, 'I was in a panic'. When the coroner asked the naval officer why he had told so many untruths in the case, the naval officer replied, 'Because I became alarmed and was in a panic'.
When the coroner asked the naval officer whether he knew of anyone who might have performed an operation on Joan Going, he said, 'No'.
When the coroner summed up, he noted that the inquest was not a trial, but an enquiry into the circumstances surrounding Joan Going's death. He said that the object of the inquiry was to ascertain when, where and by what means Joan Going came to her death. He noted that the naval officer had given evidence and also that the doctor had referred to his suspicions, but that that was all that was, suspicion and that there was nothing positive, only suspicion, pure and simple, and thus there was an element of doubt.
He said that the jury had three alternatives, first, that if they considered that the naval officer had introduced an instrument which brought about Joan Going's death then it would be their duty to return a verdict of murder, which would mean that there was sufficient evidence to put the naval officer on trial at the Old Bailey. However, he added that the jury must know that suspicion was not enough.
The coroner added that another possible verdict was that Joan Going had caused her abortion herself and that she had been alone on the morning of 13 April 1944 and had had a syringe.
He added that a third alternative was that the jury might find that there was not sufficient evidence to prove how Joan Going's abortion was caused.
The jury then, after a short retirement returned an open verdict, stating that Joan Going died from an air embolism during the passage of an instrument in circumstances not disclosed by the evidence.
see Fulham Chronicle - Friday 16 June 1944