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Unsolved Murders

Sheila Mahoney

Age: 24

Sex: female

Date: 1 Aug 1952

Place: Lonsdale Road, Barnes, London

Source: www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

Sheila Mahoney died from an illegal operation.

An open verdict was returned with her death being due to a septic abortion in circumstances not fully disclosed by the evidence.

She died at the Western Hospital in Seagrave Road, Fulham.

She had been staying at a guest house in Sussex Place, Paddington which was run by a doctor although the doctor said that he didn't know that she had been pregnant although said that he did know that she had not been well.

It was said that she later vanished for a few days, saying that she was going to the University College Hospital for some injections, but after she failed to return, other residents at Sussex Placed called the hospital and were told that they knew nothing about her. It was said that Sheila Mahoney then later returned to Sussex Place but was very ill and that a book shop owner that she had recently met had taken her to his house where he had then called a doctor that he knew who then sent her to the Western Hospital where she died.

The pathologist that carried out her post mortem said that he found evidence of instrumental interference and that he thought that the instrument used might have been a needle or a catheter. When the pathologist was asked whether he thought Sheila Mahoney could have used the instrument on herself, he said, 'It would have been possible, but it was unlikely'. He then added that he thought that the instrument had been used by a skilled person.

Sheila Mahoney had been a law student and had lived in Lonsdale Road in Barnes.

A doctor that saw her in August 1952 at the house of an old friend, a book shop owner, said that she was very ill and he suggested sending her to the University College Hospital for observation. He said that at the time that he had no suspicion that she was pregnant. He said that he had never seen her before and was only called out to see her as the book shop owner was an old friend.

A woman said that she was he owner of the 15-bedroom guest house in Sussex Place, Paddington and that she had let it on a three year lease to the doctor. She said that it was for both male and female guests.

A woman who had been engaged at the house in Sussex Place said that she was first engaged there as a maidservant and then afterwards as a temporary housekeeper and said that the doctor there used to call her and ask what beds she had got. She said that he once phoned her and told her that he had a friend who required a bed and wanted to know if there was a room to let, and said that she told him that she had one.

She said that she didn't know about Sheila Mahoney's arrival at the house.

Another woman took over the role of housekeeper from the other woman in August 1952 at the house in Sussex Place. When she gave evidence at the inquest, she said that when she arrived that she didn't know that there was a sick girl in the house, but did say that she was present when the doctor took Sheila Mahoney away in a taxi.

A woman that had been staying in the house said that she had not known that there had been a sick girl staying at the house until she heard a call for help from upstairs and said that when she went up to the room from where the call came that she found a young woman in bed and said that when she asked her what the trouble was that she told her that she had gastric flu, and also said, ''I am frightened, don't leave me'.

A Danish student said that she had stayed with the doctor at his house in Tottenham Lane for a few days and was trying to get a job in London. She said that she then went to stay at the guest house in Sussex Place and that whilst there that she met Sheila Mahoney for the first time. She said that Sheila Mahoney told her that she was going to the University College Hospital for a few days observation as she was suffering from sickness and anaemia.

The Danish student said that she had expected to see Sheila Mahoney return from the hospital but said that she didn't see her come back. She said that she later called the hospital, but was told that nothing was known about Sheila Mahoney, which the Danish student said made her rather worried.

Another student that had been staying at Sussex Place said that when he saw Sheila Mahoney there in August 1952, that she told him that she was going to have some injections at the University College Hospital and said that when he later saw her and questioned her about her visit to the hospital that she only gave him an evasive reply.

He said that Sheila Mahoney told him that the house in Sussex Place was a nursing home with a doctor, but the student said that the house did not strike him as looking like a nursing home.

A book seller in  Beadon Road, Hammersmith said that he first met Sheila Mahoney when she came to his shop and asked him for a job noting that that was after he had mentioned to her that his assistant was leaving. He said that she told him that she was studying law and also that she had been recommended to have injections for anaemia and that she was going to the University College Hospital for them. He said that he offered to take her to the hospital but that he didn't take her.

He said that he had expected her to be in hospital for a few days, but said that when he later noted that she had not returned that he became worried about her and called the hospital, but was told that they had no record of her having ever been there.

He said that he later got a telephone message asking him to go to the house in Sussex Place and said that when he went there, he saw Sheila Mahoney. He said that he asked her how she had got back and said that she told him that the doctor had brought her there.

He said that Sheila Mahoney looked desperately ill and said that he took her to his flat and also phoned a doctor who on his arrival arranged for Sheila Mahoney to be admitted to the Western Hospital.

The book seller said that he had no idea what the trouble with her was.

When the doctor that had the three-year lease on the house at Sussex Place gave evidence, he said that Sheila Mahoney had been recommended to come to him.

He said that he had two surgeries, one at Tottenham Lane and another at Finsbury Park.

He said that when Sheila Mahoney first saw him, she had complained of severe vomiting which he said she told him, had sometimes lasted a week and that she used to get it every morning.

He said that when he then examined her that he thought that she might be pregnant but said that he could not be sure.

He said that Sheila Mahoney told him that she had no place to go as her parents were in Europe on holiday and that he later took her to 12 Sussex Place noting that Sheila Mahoney had wanted someone to look after her and to prepare her meals. When the doctor was cross-examined at the inquest, he said that he did not press her as to where she should live.

The doctor said that he ran Sussex Place as a guest house and not as a nursing house although he said that it was a place that anyone could go to if they were ill. He said that Sheila Mahoney had told him that she had been vomiting and that it was getting worse and worse, and said that as such he instructed his housekeeper to look after her and to see that she got what she wanted.

When the doctor that ran the guest house at Sussex Place was asked by the coroner what his diagnosis of her condition was, he said that he thought that it was gastro-enteritis.

When the coroner asked him whether he had performed an illegal operation on her, he replied, 'No'.

When the police gave evidence at Sheila Mahoney's inquest, they said that they had interviewed a number of people but had found no evidence of anyone being responsible for her death.


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


see West London Observer - Friday 07 November 1952, p7

see West London Observer - Friday 14 November 1952

see West London Observer - Friday 28 November 1952