Date: 20 Dec 1948
Thomas George Byerley was found on the Coventry Road near Hill Wootton on the night of Saturday 18 December 1948. He was taken to hospital but died two days later on 20 December 1948.
He was found at about 11.30pm on the Saturday night on Coventry Road near the Chesford cross-roads and taken to the Warneford Hospital where he later died.
The police hinted that he might have been the victim of a robbery.
He had lived at 6 Commercial Buildings in Birmingham Road, Warwick and had been a general labourer.
A man that lodged at the same address as Thomas Byerley said that on the night of 18 December 1948 he had been with Thomas Byerley at the Dun Cow public house in Warwick and Thomas Byerley had told him that he had drawn £4 from the Dun Cow Sick and Dividend Club, £2 10s from the Social Club and in addition to that had his week's wages and two weeks' old-age pension money. He said that Thomas Byerley also told him that he was going to see some relatives in Coventry in the afternoon and that he left at about 2pm.
The man that Thomas Byerley lodged with said 'He was a nice kind of old gentleman, a merry old soul. He was hale and hearty for his age'.
It was noted that when Thomas Byerley was found he had only 2s on him. When a police inspector questioned the man about the money that Thomas Byerley would have had on him, the coroner asked the police inspector whether such questions were going to help, and the police inspector replied, 'There might be a question of robbery'.
Thomas Byerley's cousin who lived at 13 Spencer Street in Coventry said that Thomas Byerley visited her on the evening of 18 December 1948, and that they went to a club and had two pints of beer. She said that she later put him on a bus at 9.45pm for Pool Meadow where he could catch the last bus to Warwick, the 10.10pm bus. She said that when she last saw him he was quite all right and in good health, adding that he was definitely capable of looking after himself. She said that the next she knew of his condition was when she read about him being found in the Evening Telegraph newspaper.
A draughtsman who lived in Wheatfield Road in Bilton, Rugby, said that he had been out on the Saturday night and had seen Thomas Byerley fall in New Buildings, Coventry. He said that he picked him up, noting that he wasn't drunk, and that he told him that he wanted to catch the bus to Warwick and that he took him nearly all the way to the bus station. The man said that by the time he got onto his bus at 10.05pm Thomas Byerley had not gone to his bus. He said that Thomas Byerley made no complaint to him about his fall.
A man that lived in Shipston Road in Stratford-on-Avon said that he had been driving from Coventry to his home along the Stoneleigh Road near Chesford Bridge when he saw Thomas Byerley on the side of the road. He said that he spoke to him and that after he asked him if he was alright, Thomas Byerley said, 'Yes, I have had a few drinks and am waiting for the Warwick bus'. He said that he then helped him onto the grass verge and continued on his journey. He said that the point at which he spoke to Thomas Byerley was about 250 yards nearer to Warwick than the point at which he was later found.
Thomas Byerley was next seen lying in the Coventry Road by a newsagent from Daventry Road in Coventry who had been returning by road from Warwick. He said that he stopped his car after he saw a dark object in the road near Chesford Bridge and that when he got out he found Thomas Byerley lying with a pool of blood near his head.
A policeman that arrived with the ambulance said that when he examined the scene, he saw car tyre brake marks near to where Thomas Byerley's body was found. However, he said that the only mark on Thomas Byerley's coat was a small tear in the back. The police later added that there was nothing whatever to connect the skid marks found on the road with Thomas Byerley's injuries. They also said that they were unable to trace the vehicle that had made the marks.
They said that there was no sign of a struggle and nothing on his clothing to suggest that Thomas Byerley had been involved in an accident.
The police noted that there was no bus route along the road that Thomas Byerley had been walking along.
An assistant county pathologist said that in addition to Thomas Byerley's head injuries, Thomas Byerley had eight fractured ribs and an injury to his shoulder and hip which he said were compatible with him having fallen from a moving vehicle, being knocked down by a car, or attempting to board a vehicle in motion. He said, 'It was obvious he had received a very violent blow, consistent with either falling from a moving vehicle or being knocked down by a car', and added, 'The actual cause of death was multiple injuries and bronchial pneumonia'. When asked by the coroner whether he thought that Thomas Byerley's injuries could have been caused by a fall, he said, 'I do not think so'.
The police said that they tried to ascertain whether Thomas Byerley had travelled from Coventry by bus that night but were unable to find any conductors who were able to recollect him.
When the coroner summed up at his inquest, he said that the evidence revealed 'a chain of obscurities' and the jury returned an open verdict, stating that his death was due to multiple injuries the cause of which were not possible to ascertain.
see Leamington Spa Courier - Friday 31 December 1948
see Coventry Evening Telegraph - Wednesday 29 December 1948
see Coventry Evening Telegraph - Monday 20 December 1948
see Warwick and Warwickshire Advertiser - Friday 31 December 1948
see Birmingham Daily Gazette - Tuesday 21 December 1948