Unsolved Murders

Dennis Mintern

Age: 18

Sex: male

Date: 3 Aug 1948

Place: Lancaster Gate, Bayswater, London

Dennis Mintern fell from a bosuns chair that he was working in after the rope snapped. He was taken to St Mary's Hospital where he died about 15 minutes after admission from a fractured skull.

An open verdict was returned.

He was in the bosuns chair doing painting work at premises in Lancaster Gate, Bayswater and was later found lying with the bosun's chair in the basement below having fallen about 45 feet. His paint-pot and brushes were found on a window-ledge where it was thought that he had been working. The height of the building was 69 feet.

A supervisor employed by contractors that had been carrying out decorations at the premises said that he found Dennis Mintern lying in the basement with the bosun's chair at about 4pm on 3 August 1948 when he called to inspect the work. He said that the rope used to hoist the chair was in two pieces.

He said that the rope had previously been fixed with one end to a pulley on a scaffold pole by the roof and with the other end of the rope going through the pulley and then being tied off on the bosun's chair with a special knot. At the inquest the bosun demonstrated how the arrangement worked with a small model, showing how the workman could, whilst sat in the bosun's chair, unfasten the knot, manipulate the rope if he wanted to go higher or lower and tie it back up.

The supervisor said that the fact that Dennis Mintern's paint-pot and brushes were found on the window ledge seemed to indicate to him that Dennis Mintern had been either raising or lowering the bosuns fair when the accident happened.

He said that he thought that the rope might have caught something and suddenly snapped, causing the bosun's chair to crash.

At the inquest, a member of the jury remarked that they had been in the Navy and had worked in a bosun's chair but had never seen a rope secured in the way that the supervisor had described.

A painter that had been working with Dennis Mintern said that he had helped Dennis Mintern in the morning to fix the rope, adding that they tested it first and that to him it seemed quite strong. He said that he fitted the rope and then put the rope through the pulley and tied the other end to the bosun's chair. He said that he then tried it out and went up in the bosun's chair about 20 feet from the ground and satisfied himself that he could go on working in it.

The foreman painter said that he saw Dennis Mintern fix the rope, saying, 'He did it in the proper way, and it seemed all right to me'. He said that he saw nothing of the accident and could not say where the rope broke.

The jury returned an open verdict stating that there was insufficient evidence to show what caused the rope to break.

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

see www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

see West London Observer - Friday 20 August 1948