Date: 20 Oct 1945
Thomas Casson was knocked over by a car in a head on collision on the Great South West Road The car didn't stop.
He sustained a fractured skull and other injuries and was taken to Hounslow Hospital where he died soon after admission.
His death was stated as being due to shock and haemorrhage from multiple injuries.
He had lived in Hartington Street in Chatham but had been lodging in Waye Avenue in Cranford at the time.
An appeal was made by the police for the driver of the car to come forward, and one man did come forward, but it was found that he knew nothing about it and had been five miles away at the time.
The police found an external driving mirror at the scene of the incident which was later identified by the Army authorities as similar to those fitted to heavy type vehicles, but not to Service or private cars. The police also found minute fragments from a driving mirror strewn along the road.
Inquiries were made at various Army Depots to see whether any vehicles could be found with a missing exterior driving mirror but the police said that their task was a difficult one due to the extensive movement of traffic at the time.
A woman who worked with Thomas Casson at a factory said that she had been cycling along with Thomas Casson along the Great South West Road at about 10.30pm on 15 September 1945 when he was knocked over. She said that they had been cycling towards Staines with Thomas Casson on the outside and herself on the inside nearest the verge when a car came towards them on their side of the road, saying that she had the faint recollection that it was trying to overtake another vehicle going in the same direction.
She said that she thought that it was a big black shiny car like a limousine and when she was shown the dark green camouflage exterior driving mirror she said that she was positive that that was not the colour of the car.
The woman said that she didn't have any lamps on her bicycle at the time but said that Thomas Casson did. She said that she was positive that his lights were on as they had talked about it and arranged that she ride nearest the kerb and said that she remembered seeing the reflection of his lights on the ground. She said that when they passed the traffic lights Thomas Casson mentioned the fact that she had no lights and said that she replied, 'All right, you are on the outside and have yours'.
The woman said that as the car approached, she heard a crash and then found herself falling on the grass at the side of the road. She said that she then saw Thomas Casson lying on the grass behind her. She said that she heard no brakes being applied or the sound of any hooter. She said that when she then looked up the road she saw that it was clear and that the car had not stopped.
Soon after Thomas Casson was knocked over some people came out of the nearby houses and an ambulance was called for.
When Thomas Casson's bicycle was brought into the court room it was found to have no front light bracket and the police said that they found no front lamp in the road when they made their search. The woman said that she didn't know how Thomas Casson had attached his front lamp. The police noted that Thomas Casson's rear lamp was still attached to his bicycle and found that it was still in working order.
However, a friend of Thomas Casson said that he had often helped Thomas Casson with his bicycle and had assisted him in fitting a piece of adhesive tape to the right handlebar, just above the grip, to make his lamp fit. He noted that Thomas Casson usually had his front lamp fitted to the handlebar where the tape was and said that the tape was put on to give the lamp a better grip. At the inquest he pointed out that the tape was still in the correct position on the handlebar.
Thomas Casson's wife said that Thomas Casson had moved to Waye Avenue about eight months earlier for work and had had his bicycle for about five years. She said that she believed that he had had battery lamps, but that she was not sure whether he had taken them with him when he had gone to Cranford. She added that Thomas Casson was a healthy man and had not been prone to fainting or giddy attacks.
The medical officer at Hounslow Hospital said that Thomas Casson was admitted to the hospital at 11pm on 15 September 1945 and that he died there at 11.50pm.
The pathologist that carried out his post-mortem examination said that his death was due to shock from haemorrhage due to a fracture of the skull and multiple injuries, noting that most of his injuries were on his right side. He noted that he found no trace of alcohol or natural disease.
When the coroner summed up he said, 'I am quite sure that in an accident of this magnitude it could not be possible for the driver not to know that his car was involved. I can only describe the conduct of the driver, be it he or she, as un-English, the type of thing to which we are unaccustomed. Someone knows very well the accident happened but, through lack of moral courage, they have failed to come forward. It maybe they are blameless or, on the other hand, worthy of blame. In the absence of other evidence, I shall return an open verdict, which will not prevent the police from pursuing their inquiries'.
He also noted that it was curious that there was no trace of the front bicycle lamp or any mark or bracket where such a lamp could have been fixed found. He further noted that if Thomas Casson's front lamp was where his friend had said it would have been then it was possible that it had been broken off in the collision and perhaps carried away on the vehicle involved.
see Middlesex Chronicle - Saturday 20 October 1945
see Middlesex Chronicle - Saturday 22 September 1945