Unsolved Murders

Patrick Wilson

Age: 5 months

Sex: male

Date: 29 Jan 1951

Place: 3 Fairford Street, Cadoxton, Barry, South Wales

Patrick Wilson died from multiple injuries on 29 January 1951.

His father, a 26-year-old waiter, was tried but the jury were unable to agree on a verdict.

Patrick Wilson and his parents had just moved to Barry from Redruth in Cornwall four days earlier on 25 January 1951.

On 29 January 1951 Patrick Wilson's mother left the house to go to the cinema at about 7pm and when she got back about half-an-hour later she found Patrick Wilson apparently dead.

The court heard that in an apparent statement that Patrick Wilson's father had made, he had said, 'The baby was crying like mad, and drove me to such a pitch that I banged him down on the back of a chair a couple of times. My nerves are bad, and I have suffered for a long time with them'.

When the doctor and the police first arrived, Patrick Wilson's father said that he had slipped on a mat and fallen with Patrick Wilson into the chair.

However, after he was first taken to the police station and was cautioned by the police, he said, 'I had better tell you the truth, I banged his head on the chair. I lost my temper, but I didn't mean to kill him sir. It’s my nerves. I knew what it would be when the wife went out, I wanted to go to the pictures with her'.

When the father was charged with the murder of Patrick Wilson and made a statement he said, 'I never intended to kill the baby. I was only trying to stop him crying'.

It was also alleged that he had said that it was the first time that he had been alone with the baby, adding, 'My wife would not leave me with him because I am so highly strung'.

In his statement he said: 'My wife said she was going to the pictures and she got the baby ready and put him in the carry-cot. She left him with his feed. He was quiet for five or ten minutes after she had gone. I was pouring myself out a cup of tea and I went over to him, saw he was crying a bit at the time. I got hold of the bottle and put it to his mouth to try and make him feed. When he didn't take it, I pushed the teat into his mouth, went a little bit too far and got it stuck in his mouth. I attempted to pull it out, as I did so the teat came away and the milk splashed over the cot and blankets etc. I took all the blankets off him and took the baby out and put him on the chair.

During all this time he was crying like mad so in the last attempt I tried to console him but it drove me to such a pitch that I banged him down twice on the chair that he hit his head on the back of the chair. His breathing became rather difficult after this and his head was hanging on one side. I picked him up again, as I realised I had been a bit of a brute, and started to rub his tummy and his back hoping it would help. I noticed he had gone limp and his eyes were staring. I wrapped him up in a sheet and put him back in the carry-cot. I put my ear to his chest and tried to feel his pulse. At the time his breathing was coming just once now and again and hardly at all, I gave him a shake hoping it would revive him but I knew it was no good.

I realised what I had done and didn't know what to do. The wife had only gone about twenty minutes so I thought I had better go and tell her. I think she went about twenty past seven and it was then about twenty to quarter to eight.

When I say I banged him down twice I mean that he was lying across the chair and I picked him up about a foot I should say. I banged him down once but did not let go of him. Then I picked him up again and banged him down the second time. It was then I noticed he was limp and I picked him up again and rubbed him.

I got the wife from the cinema and she asked me what had happened. When we got out I told her I thought the baby was dead. I broke down and didn't remember my actual words. She would probably remember better than me. I was very upset because the baby had stopped breathing and I more or less realised I had killed him. My nerves are bad and I have suffered for a long time from them.

I was at my wits end and I didn't know what I was doing. When my wife got home she went for the next door neighbour. She came in and advised my wife to go for the doctor. Before the doctor came I went up to the bedroom as I could not face it any more. I realised what I had done and broke down and gave way and became more or less hysterical.

The doctor came up and told me the baby was dead. I had some idea but he told me definitely. He asked me what had happened and I told him I had tripped over the mat with the baby in my arms. I don't know why it entered my head but that was the first thing I thought of and so I told him. I said the same to the sergeant when he came. I know it wasn't true but I imagined I would be tried for murder and all kinds of things and I thought it would be better not to say what I had done. When you came I realised that I had told a lot of lies and what I have told you now is the truth.

I never intended to kill the baby. I was just trying to stop him crying. I will admit that I have hit him before but only with my half-clenched fist in the chest. My wife has never seen me do it but she had an idea of what had happened. She could tell that I had been hitting him the way he cried. Tonight was the first time I have been left in the house with him at night alone. My wife has told me she was afraid to leave me alone with him because I am so highly strung and get these horrid spells.

I had an accident when I was young and put my hip bone out of action and have been crippled ever since. At other times I have not enjoyed too good health. Tonight it just got on my nerves and now I realise what I have done.

I loved the child dear and honestly, I didn't intend to kill him. I don't know whether I was myself when I banged him down in the chair, but I can remember quite clearly what I did. My nerves were in a terrible state and I don't think I could have realised what I was doing at the time'.

The doctor that was called out said that when he arrived at 3 Fairford Street he went into the kitchen where he saw Patrick Wilson dead in the carry-cot on a sofa. He said that he examined his body and saw bruising on his neck, chest and jaw and so he asked Patrick Wilson's father what had happened and said that he told him that he had been holding Patrick Wilson in his arms and that he had turned and then slipped and fell against the chair and that after that he applied artificial respiration. The doctor said that after that he reported the matter to the police.

At his trial he said that he didn't remember assaulting Patrick Wilson and said that he remembered picking him up and that the next thing he remembered was Patrick Wilson squirming in the chair. He then said, 'I had an idea that he was more or less near the end and I went to fetch my wife from the cinema'.

When the father gave evidence, he said that in December 1950 that he had fallen off his bicycle and had since suffered from dizzy spells.

He then said that four days after they moved from Cornwall to Barry that his wife went out to the cinema and left him alone with Patrick Wilson. He said that Patrick Wilson then  started to cry and so he put the feeding bottle into his mouth, but said that the teat stuck in his mouth and that when he pulled it out that it came off and milk spilled over Patrick Wilson's face and the cot.

He said that he then put Patrick Wilson in a chair and remembered picking him up and that the next he knew was that Patrick Wilson was squirming in the chair.

He later said, 'Not to this day did I have any intention of killing or hurting him. It must have been my nerves got the better of me. In the past five or six months they have been getting much worse'.

When the doctor examined Patrick Wilson's body he found a number of recent bruises and six of his ribs were broken on the left side, his spleen was torn across and his brain had been lacerated.

After the jury first  retired, they came back after three hours deliberation and asked the judge, 'If during the course of taking an infant's life a man was not in his own mind, in other words, had a temporary black-out, would the jury be in order in returning a verdict of murder or manslaughter?', to which the judge responded, 'I think you must proceed on the basis, that as your verdict must be one according to the evidence, there is no evidence of anything in the nature of a black-out. Beyond that I cannot give you further assistance'.

The jury then retired again and when they returned after a further hour and twenty minutes, they said that they had still failed to agree.

Patrick Wilson's father was then discharged.

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

see discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk

see National Archives - ASSI 91/33, ASSI 84/116

see Western Mail - Saturday 17 February 1951

see Western Mail - Friday 16 March 1951

see Western Mail - Thursday 01 February 1951

see Hartlepool Northern Daily Mail - Friday 16 February 1951

see Sunderland Daily Echo and Shipping Gazette - Friday 16 February 1951