Unsolved Murders

Eric Moncrieffe Wright

Age: 26

Sex: male

Date: 12 Aug 1946

Place: 90 Arle Road, Cheltenham

Eric Moncrieffe Wright was found shot in the head in an outhouse on Monday 12 August 1946.

An open verdict was returned after the coroner said that he was not satisfied with how the shot had been fired.

He was an ex-army officer and had been out spending his demobilisation leave at the time and had gone to 90 Arle Road, a market garden and the home of a married couple with whom he was friendly.

Shortly after 3pm, the woman that lived at 90 Arle Road said that she had occasion to visit an outhouse in the gardens and discovered Eric Wright's body with a revolver lying nearby.

An ambulance was called and arrived at about 3.30pm and took his body to the mortuary.

When the coroner summed up he said, 'I am far from satisfied as to how the shot came to be fired'.

Eric Wright had lived at Filsden on Glebe Road in Prestbury. He had been a Lieutenant in the Royal Artillery and had joined the army ten years earlier. He had returned to England in July 1945 and had applied for demobilisation which was granted and left the army in July 1946. He then returned home, his demobilisation leave expiring on 20 July 1946.

On demobilisation he was described as being perfectly strong, with his only possible concern being the difficulty of getting a job.

His mother said that she knew that he was friendly with the couple at 90 Arle Road. She also said that she knew that he had a revolver which she said she regarded as a trophy.

She said that on the morning of his death he seemed quite normal.

The man that lived at 90 Arle Road said that he had met Eric Wright some months before at a club in Cheltenham and that they had been great friends since and that Eric Wright had been a frequent visitor to his home.

He said that he met Eric Wright at an inn on the Monday and they had some beer. He said that Eric Wright was quite sober and seemed happy that he had sold his car without a loss. The man said that he left Eric Wright at the inn and went home, but that before he did, Eric Wright gave him a raincoat, which he said, 'seemed heavy' to take back home with him which he did and late gave to his wife to hang up.

He said that Eric Wright later visited him that afternoon and that he had then gone into his drive to fix a trailer on his car and that he then heard a bang and said that his wife then came out and said, 'Come quick'.

He said that he then went into the yard at the rear of the house and saw Eric Wright lying across a rocking horse with a revolver lying about three feet to the right of his feet.

The man said that he knew that Eric Wright had a revolver but said that he had not seen it before.

The man's wife said that Eric Wright was a frequent visitor to their house and said that on the day of his death he had returned at about 2.30pm and had had some dinner and had then played with her son and then asked her where he could put a parcel out of the reach of the child.

The woman said that a while later, after she had been to find her son in the garden, she saw Eric Wright leaning against the door of a shed in the garden and spoke to him for a moment, stating that whilst she did so she didn't notice him with a revolver or see any bulge in his pocket.

She said that she then went to finish cleaning the kitchen doorstep and that about 20 seconds later she heard a noise like a pop-gun or cork coming out of a bottle and said that when she turned round she saw Eric Wright collapse and then ran over to him and tried speaking to him, but said that she got no reply. She said that she then noticed a revolver lying near his body, noting that she had not seen it before.

The woman noted that Eric Wright had been wearing an old pair of shoes in the morning, but that after his death she noticed that he was wearing a new pair of brown shoes.

She said that she knew of no reason why he would have taken his own life, stating that they had not had a quarrel.

She added, as did her husband, that she knew of no attachments that he had formed with anyone.

An ambulance and the police were called for immediately after he was found shot.

When a policeman arrived, he said that the ambulance was already there and that they handed him a revolver which he found had five live rounds in it and one spent round.

He said that he also took possession of his shoes and found that both soles had scratch marks on them.

The policeman said that he was also handed a second revolver by Eric Wright's brother who had found it amongst his belongings.

The house surgeon at Cheltenham General Hospital who examined Eric Wright's body said that he found a gunshot wound above his eyebrow and that in his opinion his death was due to shock following gross injury to the brain. He said that his death would have been instantaneous and was consistent with a shot fired by one of the guns that he was shown at the inquest.

However, when the coroner summed up at the inquest, he said that the only fact that seemed perfectly clear was that Eric Wright died from a shot from a revolver.

He said, 'I am far from satisfied as to how the shot came to be fired. I have heard no evidence at all that would lead me to believe that he deliberately intended to end his life. He seems to have taken the revolver from his pocket quite unobserved, and for some reason, it was discharged'.

The coroner then reiterated the cause of death, adding that there was insufficient evidence to say how the revolver came to be discharged and returned an open verdict.

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

see www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

see Gloucestershire Echo - Friday 23 August 1946

see Gloucestershire Echo - Tuesday 13 August 1946