Unsolved Murders


Age: 0

Sex: male

Date: 1 Jun 1949

Place: Cowlease Downs, Swanage, Dorset

The body of a newly-born-child was found on Cowlease Downs in Swanage.

It was thought to have been found by a sheepdog called Panda owned by a man that lived in Wareham that had found the body on the Downs at Cowlease and carried back to Cowlease Farm for the farmer.

The farmer, who lived in Princess Road in Swanage, said that on Wednesday 1 June 1949, he saw his ten year old English sheep dog leave the farm and go up the trackway towards the Downs at Cowlease and then return about ten minutes later carrying something in its mouth and that he later found that it was the remains of a young baby.

He said that on that particular evening a man and woman had walked up the trackway towards the downs and that the dog had followed them which he said was most unusual and that it then returned ten minutes later with the body. He said that h dog had been over the Downs every day with him and had covered nearly every inch of them while a large number of children played there. After the farmer said that, the coroner said, 'What you are trying to infer is if that body had been there any length of time either foxes or badgers would have found it or it would have been seen by children?' and the farmer replied, 'Yes, I think so'.

The coroner then asked the farmer whether he knew the people that he had seen the dog follow and he said, ''No. I haven't the slightest idea who they were'.

The coroner then asked him whether he noticed whether they had been carrying anything and the farmer replied 'No, I cannot say what they had'.

The police said that when they were called out, they found the child wrapped up in what appeared to be the silk skirt of a mauve dance frock and added that there was no clothing of any description attached to the body.

The police also found a piece of brown paper which appeared to bear a postmark which was submitted to the Forensic Science Laboratory in Bristol for examination to see if there was an address on the paper.

The pathologist at Poole Cornelia Hospital who carried out the post mortem on the child's body said that it was that of a full term female infant which had possibly lived for a few minutes, and not more than a few hours, and said that he thought that she had died sometime between six weeks to two or three months earlier but that there was no evidence to indicate the cause of death, nor whether it was the result of natural causes or from violence.

After hearing the evidence, the coroner said, 'In that case my verdict on this unknown female child will be that there is no evidence to show how she came to her death, nor the cause of death. I propose to record an open verdict'.

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

see www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

see Western Gazette - Friday 10 June 1949

see Western Gazette - Friday 03 June 1949