Unsolved Murders

Norman Leslie

Age: 74

Sex: male

Date: 23 Sep 1947

Place: River Avon, Bath City Weirs, Bath

Norman Leslie was found dead in the River Avon at Bath city weirs on the morning of Tuesday 23 September 1947.

However, it was determined that he had not drowned and that his death was due to a fractured skull.

His body was found sometime before 7am on 23 September 1947 by a policeman who said that he had looked over the Grand Parade and had seen an object in the water, about 20 feet from the City Weirs and about midstream. He said that he then fetched some waders and a drag hook and recovered his body. However, he said that he found no witnesses who could say that they had seen anything of him that morning.

The policeman said that he could find no marks to show where Norman Leslie might have entered the water and said that it was impossible for his body to have come over the weirs as there was only about two inches of water flowing over them.

When the policeman gave his evidence at the inquest, the coroner asked him, 'Those circumstances rather suggest that he fell from the Grand Parade?' to which the policeman replied, 'Yes, on to the weirs'.

It was noted that the Grand Parade was guarded from the weirs and the river by quite a high parapet which was about four feet six inches high and that there would have been no other way over the parapet.

The pathologist said that Norman Leslie had a fractured skull and spine, and multiple rib injuries that were consistent with him having fallen on his head from a height of at least 20 feet. He said that his death would have been instantaneous.

However, there was no evidence to show how he came to be in the river.

Norman Leslie was a retired wire manufacturer and was last known to have lived in Albert Road in Aston, Birmingham having retired about a year earlier although it was said that he had also since lived in a variety of places including hotels and had been staying at the Christopher Hotel in Lower Bristol Road at the time, having arrived on 17 September 1947 and leaving on the morning of 22 September 1947.

It was said that he had never had any illness and was a very level-headed man. He had separated from his wife about 20 years earlier.

The receptionist at the Christopher Hotel said that when Norman Leslie was at the hotel, he had appeared absolutely normal.

Norman Leslie's son said that he had not had direct contact with Norman Leslie for about five years but had heard of him through the usual family channels but said that he didn't know why he had gone to Bath. He said that about a month earlier Norman Leslie had sent him a trunk with a letter saying that the trunk was too heavy for him to carry about and that he would let his mother know when or where she could send it. He added that the only other thing of note to have happened was that his mother recieved an envelope postmarked 'Bath, Sept 22' on the Wednesday, the address being in Norman Leslie's writing, which had two keys inside it, and nothing else.

When the coroner summed up at the inquest on 4 October 1947, he said that there was really no evidence at all to show how Norman Leslie had come by his injuries or of what actually happened. He then said that it was quite reasonable to state that Norman Leslie had died as a result of multiple injuries but that there was not sufficient evidence to show how he came by them unless the jury where satisfied that he had thrown himself over the parapet, but noted that they could not really conclude that as there was nothing to show that he did, 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 Western Daily Press - Wednesday 01 October 1947

see Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette - Saturday 04 October 1947