Unsolved Murders

Margaret Irene Phillips

Age: 7 months

Sex: female

Date: 19 May 1948

Place: 17 Hillside Road, Dover, Kent

Source: www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

Margaret Irene Phillips was found suffocated in her pram on the Wednesday morning 19 May 1948.

An open verdict was returned.

Her 22-year-old mother, who had two other children, lived in a two-roomed flat at 17 Hillside Road in Dover and said that they slept in one small room which had space for a double bed, a cot and a perambulator. She said that the eldest child slept with her and Margaret Phillips slept in the pram.

She said that Margaret Phillips had a bottle of milk when she put it into the pram for the night on Tuesday 18 May 1948 but that at about 3am Margaret Phillips woke up and started crying and so she gave her the bottle again. She said that Margaret Phillips cried again at about 6am but that she went back to sleep.

Margaret Phillips's mother said that she was woken up a little later by the postman between 8am and 8.15am and that when she got up, she noticed that Margaret Phillips looked rather pasty and was foaming at the mouth. She said that she thought that there was something wrong and picked her up and then called the man in the flat above.

She said that Margaret Phillips was normally quite healthy and had never had a fit.

She noted that when she picked Margaret Phillips up the bottle and napkin that supported it were at the side of the pram and well away from Margaret Phillips's head, and added that Margaret Phillips had not been lying face downwards.

The man that lived in the top flat at 17 Hillside Road said that when Margaret Phillips's mother called him on the Wednesday morning, 19 May 1948, he found Margaret Phillips still warm. He said that he then went to a neighbour’s house with a view to calling a doctor.

He said that Margaret Phillips's mother appeared upset by being alone and that her children seemed to get on her mind every now and then and that at times she had gone 'off the handle', getting cross with her children in an excited way.

The pathologist that carried out the post-mortem on Margaret Phillips at the County Hospital said that there were no external injuries or marks of violence and that her cause of death was asphyxia.

He said that no reason for the asphyxia was discovered and that suffocation by external pressure over her nose and mouth appeared to be the likeliest cause.

When the coroner summed up, he said that the case had caused him some anxiety. He said that the evidence of Margaret Phillips's mother excluded the possibility of 'overlaying' but added that he proposed to conjecture no further on how the suffocation was caused. He said that an open verdict would leave certain matters unexplained and the only finding that he could make was that death was due to suffocation with no evidence to show how it came about.


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


see Dover Express - Friday 28 May 1948