Unsolved Murders

Eric Stransom Caley

Age: 43

Sex: male

Date: 9 Jul 1945

Place: Trees, Hoopern Avenue, Exeter

Source: www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

Eric Stransom Caley died from an overdose of morphine and hyoscine that was said to have been 10 to 20 times the lethal dose.

He was a medical practitioner and had lived at Trees in Hoopern Avenue, Exeter.

He collapsed on 9 July 1945 and died later that same day in hospital at 4.25pm without regaining consciousness after failing to respond to treatment.

A doctor who lived in Barnfield Crescent in Exeter said that he had been treating Eric Caley in November 1944 for persistent headaches, noting that their cause was not serious. He said that they had talked over the matter, as doctor to doctor and said that Eric Caley was not taking drugs regularly.

When the coroner asked the doctor whether Eric Caley had ever intimated that he intended to take his own life, he said, 'Never. On the contrary he was looking forward to the future'.

A public analyst who carried out an analysis of Eric Caley's organs produced a report on his findings, stating that whilst he could not be certain of the precise proportion of morphine and hyoscine that Eric Caley had taken, he was certain that the total must have been very large, noting that each drug was in sufficient quantity to have been fatal.

Another doctor agreed with the findings of the public analyst, stating that the amount of drugs taken was unnecessarily large and that it was anything between 10 and 20 times a lethal does and could scarcely be considered an accidental overdose.

A pathologist at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital said that he could discover no natural cause of death and found no evidence of a hypodermic needle mark on Eric Caley's body and that he could find no evidence of the morphine or hyoscine in his stomach and concluded that the drugs were delivered by another route than by the mouth. However, he said that they would have been taken a short time before he became unconscious, adding that it would have been a very short time before, a matter of minutes.

Eric Caley's wife said that Eric Caley suffered from appalling headaches and that he had probably been injured by a fall when he was a baby. However, she said that his future was bright and that he had nothing to worry about and that his health had improved enormously.

She also said that Eric Caley had told her that he planned to go to London on the morning of 9 July 1945 and appeared very cheerful and had looked perfectly normal, although she added that he had had an bad night because of indigestion.

She said that Eric Caley had been packing his things upstairs in preparation to go to London and as she was putting on some shoes in the bathroom, he came to her and said, 'Oh, have you got an aspirin? I have such a pain in my head'. She said that she was alarmed by his appearance and told him to sit down on his bed. She said that he staggered badly on the landing and that she had to guide him into the bedroom and sat him down on his bed. She said that he could not hold a cigarette but said that she was able to give him some water which he asked for. She said that something then seemed to go in his head and she then called for the doctor.

When the coroner summed up he said that Eric Caley's death was due to an enormous overdose of morphine and hyoscine but that there was a gap in the information as to the manner in which the poison had been administered and the circumstances attending it and that as such he would not be justified in drawing conclusions from anything but the proven facts and an open verdict was returned.


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


see Western Morning News - Tuesday 18 September 1945

see Worthing Gazette - Wednesday 25 July 1945

see Exeter and Plymouth Gazette - Friday 21 September 1945

see Western Times - Friday 21 September 1945

see Western Morning News - Tuesday 18 September 1945