Unsolved Murders

Kenneth Kitching

Age: 7

Sex: male

Date: 22 Jul 1948

Place: Bridgewater Canal, Moore, Warrington

Kenneth Kitching was found dead in the Bridgewater Canal at Moore near Warrington on the night of Thursday 22 July 1948.

He was found after having been missing for some hours.

Kenneth Kitching had lived at Rose Farm, Moore, near Warrington.

His father said that he last saw Kenneth Kitching alive on the Thursday morning when he went off to school.

It was said that he had later gone out to bring the cows home.

The doctor that examined his body said that there was no suspicion of any foul play.

Shortly after he was found the police made an appeal for a man seen nearby on a blue bicycle to come forward. It was said that a man on a blue bike had been seen in the area at the time and to have questioned other children.

The man was described as being 23 or 24 years of age, 5ft 10in to 6ft in height, with good features, well built, with dark black hair that was well brushed back and greased and well groomed. He was said to have been wearing a dark grey suit with a collar and tie and to have been of a fairly smart appearance. He was also said to have had bright metal cycle clips on his trousers. His bicycle was described as being a light blue sports cycle with dropped handlebars and with a black cycle bag at the rear.

The man was later identified, but a few hours before he was due to attend an identification parade at Stockton Heath police station near Warrington, he gassed himself at his home in Oldham Street, Warrington.

At his inquest he was cleared of any involvement and it was said that he was otherwise of a nervous disposition and that the affair might have pushed him over the edge. The coroner said that 'It was proved that he had been suffering from a nervous debility for some time. One can only hope that these investigations did not add to his nervous worry. He is entirely cleared in my mind. The evidence of all the witnesses as to how the boy got into the water is merely conjecture. I am satisfied he was not molested in any way'.

The coroner recorded a verdict of suicide whilst the balance of his mind was disturbed against the man and said, 'I am perfectly satisfied from what the police have told me that he had nothing to do with the boy's death, and his name is cleared beyond any doubt from any suggestion in connection with that case. It will be a great relief to his wife and family to know that his name had been cleared'.

Shortly after he was found, the police appealed for a man seen on a blue bicycle to come forward in order to dispel certain wild rumours that were circulating. The man, a 40-year-old general labourer later came forward on 22 July 1948. He went to the Stockton Heath police station with his blue racing bicycle and said to the police there, 'I believe you are looking for a man on a blue bike, I was there'.

The chief inspector said that in order to clear matters up with him he asked the man to accompany him to the canal. He said, 'We went along the canal bank, and at 5 o'clock he was taken back to Stockton Heath, where he made a statement after being cautioned. He was then given a little tea and left for home after agreeing to attend an identification parade at Stockton Heath the following Monday night'.

A police superintendent said that the man had told them that on the Thursday afternoon, 22 July 1948, that he had been riding his bicycle along the canal bank at Moore and that he had come forward after he had heard that the police were trying to trace a man with a blue bicycle. He then said, 'We went to Moore and walked along the canal bank from Hobb Lane to Moorefield Bridge’ and said that the man pointed out certain places where he had stopped. The police superintendent said that as there were differences in the man's explanations and the statements of witnesses in the case of Kenneth Kitching, he asked the man to attend an identification parade on the following Monday night.

However, the police superintendent added, 'As a result of police investigation, I am satisfied beyond all reasonable doubt that the man had nothing to do with the death of the boy at Moore, as he had left the canal bank at the material time. Although I knew at the time, he could have had nothing to do with the boy's death, I asked him to attend the parade to clear up certain matters'.

The man's wife said that her husband had not been in good health for some years and that he always felt better when out in the country and had bought bicycles for her and their three children and himself so that they could accompany him. She said that he had told her that he felt nearer to God when in the country.

His wife said that for the last five weeks he complained of feeling ill, but that he had declined to see a doctor or to stay way from work, adding that he had been very depressed.

The man's wife recalled that on the Monday that he died, when she got home from work at noon, she had overheard him remark to their children 'You have no need to worry over the blue bike, your daddy has never done a wrong thing in his life'.

There was also another report of a man that was seen sheltering under a bridge near to the spot where Kenneth Kitching was found, but the police said that from their enquiries there was no suggestion of any untoward incident happening there.

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

see www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

see Liverpool Echo - Wednesday 04 August 1948

see Liverpool Echo - Saturday 24 July 1948

see Liverpool Echo - Thursday 29 July 1948

see Manchester Evening News - Saturday 24 July 1948