Unsolved Murders

Lawrence Keith James

Age: 6

Sex: male

Date: 23 Aug 1951

Place: Tame Valley Canal, Hamstead, Staffordshire

Source: www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

Lawrence Keith James was found drowned in the Tame Valley Canal near the Miners' Recreation Ground in Hampstead, Birmingham.

Lawrence James parents said that they believed that Lawrence James was pushed in by two older boys.

At the inquest, both of Lawrence James's parents said that they believed the story that their 4-year-old son had told them of Lawrence James being pushed into the canal.

They said that it had preyed so much on the 4-year-old son's mind that he had been saying in his sleep, 'Run, Keith, they're after us. They have pushed Keith into the canal'.

Another 6-year-old boy said that he had often seen two other boys chase Lawrence James and fight him. He said that he had not seen the two other boys since Lawrence James drowned and said that he didn't know their names.

Lawrence James had lived at 106 Middle Row in Hampstead, Birmingham.

His parent said that Lawrence James and his 4-year-old brother had gone off on the Thursday morning to play in the Miner's Recreation Ground near the Tame Valley Canal. However, his mother said that her 4-year-old son came back some time later crying and said that Lawrence James had fallen into the canal.

Lawrence James's mother said that she went off to see and said that when she returned home sometime after Lawrence James's body had been recovered from the canal, that her 4-year-old son told her that two boys had pushed Lawrence James into the canal and then run away.

Lawrence James's mother said that her 4-year-old son was 'truthful' and said, 'I believe his story'.

Lawrence James's father said that when he asked his 4-year-old son what had happened shortly after the event, he replied immediately that 'Two boys pushed him in', and said that he thought that he had later become confused by questioning.

When the coroner questioned the 4-year-old son, he said that he and Lawrence James had been 'watching the water' when two boys who he thought were from Hamstead School started fighting nearby and then pushed Lawrence James into the canal. He said that they then ran over to the swings in the recreation ground crying.

A policeman said that he had been on area car patrol at the time when he was called to the canal and said that as a result of what Lawrence James's mother told him afterwards that he questioned the 4-year-old son who told him twice, 'Keith fell into the water'. He said that the 4-year-old also said that there were two boys there, but later claimed that there were no boys present.

The police said that they interviewed a number of other children but said that none of them had seen Lawrence James or knew anything about what had happened other than through hearsay.

Later at the inquest, the 4-year-old brother said that two bigger boys, aged about fourteen and wearing long trousers, had pushed Lawrence James into the canal.

An open verdict was returned at his inquest.

The police said that they would continue with their inquiries.


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


see Birmingham Daily Gazette - Saturday 25 August 1951

see Sunderland Daily Echo and Shipping Gazette - Friday 31 August 1951

see Aberdeen Evening Express - Friday 31 August 1951

see Northern Whig - Saturday 25 August 1951