Unsolved Murders

Patricia June ONeill

Age: 20

Sex: female

Date: 24 Sep 1948

Place: Enys Dodman Point, Lands End, Cornwall

Patricia June ONeill was found at the bottom of a 200ft cliff at Lands End in Cornwall.

She had been on holiday at the time in Lelant and had gone with a man friend in the side car of his motorcycle on a day's expedition to Land's End. The man said that they had been sitting on the grass, but that Patricia ONeill had gone off on her own, disappearing behind a rock. He said that he didn't follow her as he had a crippled leg. However, after she didn't return after 20 minutes, he went off to look for her but said that she was nowhere to be seen.

He said that the last that he saw of her she was smiling and looking out at the calm, blue sea.

She was found dead the following morning, Thursday 23 September 1948, at the foot of Enys Dodman Point. When she was found, tufts of sea-pink from the top of the cliff were found near her as though she had grasped at them as she fell.

The man that she had been with said that he had never had a row with her of any sort. He said that she was venturesome and would not jump over a cliff.

They had gone to Land’s End in the man’s motorcycle, with Patricia ONeill in the sidecar,, going to Land's End,  Portcurno and Porthgwarra and then returning to Land's End at about 4pm. They then left the motorcycle in the car park and went and sat for half-an-hour below the hotel. The man said that Patricia ONeill then told him that she was going for a walk and he said that he told her not to be long as he intended leaving in five minutes.

He said, 'I saw her looking out to sea smiling. Then I moved back, and that was the last I saw of her'.

He said that she had previously gone off for a walk without him before but that on that occasion had returned 20 minutes later.

He said that the shoes that she was wearing would not have stopped her from slipping. He added that she knew his infirmity and never insisted on him going on those walks with her.

It was also heard that Patricia ONeill loved looking from great heights.

A policeman that inspected the path that she had walked along said that it was dangerous in places and that at the point immediately above where her body was found there was a stone that projected and that there was only 18 inches between the rock and the edge of the cliff.

Her inquest took place at the Lifeboat House at Sennen Cove where the coroner recorded an open verdict, adding that there was no evidence to show how she met her accident or what happened after she left the man that she had been with.

The doctor that examined her body said that she had sustained multiple injuries, including a dislocated neck and a fractured skull. He said that he thought that she probably died as soon as she hit the rocks.

The coroner said, 'This is an extremely sad case of a young girl and young man spending a holiday in Cornwall and enjoying themselves. All around these coasts there are these cliff paths, many of them used extensively by Coastguards and others, and it would be an impossibility for these paths to be fenced. They are very dangerous, and the utmost care must be taken by those using them'.

Patricia ONeill was a hairdresser from London and had lived at 613 Barking Road in Plaistow.

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

see www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

see Birmingham Daily Gazette - Friday 24 September 1948

see Gloucestershire Echo - Thursday 23 September 1948

see Yorkshire Evening Post - Thursday 23 September 1948

see Hull Daily Mail - Thursday 23 September 1948

see Western Morning News - Friday 24 September 1948

see Dundee Evening Telegraph - Thursday 23 September 1948

see Daily Mirror - Friday 24 September 1948

see Derby Daily Telegraph - Thursday 23 September 1948

see Nottingham Evening Post - Thursday 23 September 1948