Unsolved Murders

Reginald Wallace Denley

Age: 39

Sex: male

Date: 26 Sep 1953

Place: Luckett, Cornwall

Reginald Wallace Denley was found dead on a railway line 150 yards from his home on the morning of Sunday 20 September 1953.

His post mortem revealed that he had died the previous evening.

He had been a railway porter and had lived in Station House, Luckett near Stoke Climsland in Cornwall. He had been in charge of the tiny station at Luckett where there was no stationmaster.

His body was found lying across the single railway track near Luckett Station on the Callington-Bere Alston branch line bearing signs of having been run over by a train.

A verdict of accidental death was returned.

However, his funeral was stopped at the last minute by the orders of the Coroner in order that a second post mortem be carried out after anonymous letters were sent to his family and the police. However, it turned out that the letters were a waste of time.

After Reginald Denley's first funeral was stopped, his body was taken to Plymouth mortuary and the police said, 'It is only a question of clearing up a certain matter. Something was not quite clear from the first post mortem'.

The letters had claimed that some of his injuries had been inflicted before he had been hit by the train. However, the Coroner said that after a careful second examination of his body that they were satisfied that all of his injuries had been inflicted at the same time and that none of them could have been inflicted beforehand.

Reginald Denley's body was found on the line by his wife who then stopped the first morning train from Bere Alston to Luckett. It was removed from the line by the guard and fireman of an early morning train after Reginald Denley's wife ran ahead to stop it by waving it down.

She said that she last saw Reginald Denley when he left home to catch the 6.25pm train to Gunnislake. She said that he had been wearing his sports clothes. She said that she went to bed early and took some aspirin to help her sleep.

She said that she had expected Reginald Denley home by the last train but did not remember seeing him come into her room that night.

She said that she woke up the following morning just before 8am and took it for granted that Reginald Denley had been to bed because she saw his sports clothes hanging in the wardrobe. She said that she then sent her eldest daughter to see if Reginald Denley was in the garden and that after she told her that he wasn’t she went out with their dog to see if she could find him in his nearby flower garden. However, she said that he wasn't there.

However, she said that on the way back the dog went along the line and she followed it and then found Reginald Denley lying on the line.

Reginald Denley's wife noted at the inquest that Reginald Denley had been unwell and had been in hospital for a spell where he was told that he had a tubercular spine.

She said that Reginald Denley had been depressed but added that they were otherwise happy together and had no financial worries.

A railway guard who lived at Cook's Farm in Gunnislake said that Reginald Denley travelled on the Gunnislake line alone on the Saturday, arriving at 7.53pm saying that he was going to the Railway Inn for a drink. He said that he saw Reginald Denley gain at bout 9pm in the waiting room at Gunnislake and travelled with him on the 9.10pm train back to Luckett. He said that Reginald Denley had seemed to have been in very good spirits at the time and had commented to him that his wife would be surprised to see him home early because he usually returned on a later train.

The pathologist said that Reginald Denley's death had been caused by shock and haemorrhage due to multiple injuries consistent with having been knocked down by a train. He said that there were some severe head injuries, one foot had been completely severed and that the other hung only by a piece of skin. He said that the condition of the bruises on him suggested that they had been caused sometime before his death which he said indicated that Reginald Denley might have lain there for perhaps an hour or more after his injuries were sustained although he noted that because of his head injuries, he would almost certainly have been unconscious during that time.

The pathologist said, 'I did feel at first that the injuries to the feet might have been caused at a later period than the other injuries, but I satisfied myself that this was not so. The fact that head and feet injuries were caused at the same time disposes of any suggestion that the dead man received injuries which did not kill him and had then struggled on to the line before being run over. I am quite satisfied as a result of my examination of the bruises that they were all received at the same time. I am also satisfied that the man was not injured before he got on the railway line'.

The pathologist went on to say that he examined the engine on 25 September 1953 and took scrapings from the front section and said that examination of the scrapings did not show the slightest trace of blood or skin tissue which he said indicated to him that Reginald Denley had not been lying on the track when he was struck, but had been standing, probably with his back to the engine.

The pathologist said that following the anonymous letters he examined Reginald Denley's body again and said that his further examination did not cause him to amend his earlier decisions in any way.

The police said that following enquiries as a result of the anonymous letters that they found no grounds for any of the suggestions contained in them. The police said that they had seen Reginald Denley's wife and their neighbours and were satisfied that Reginald Denley's family was a happy family.

After the second inquest, the Coroner said that Reginald Denley's family had been given considerable pain, trouble and worry and the police given a considerable amount of work to do because of the anonymous letter, written by 'certain persons who have not had the courage to sign their names'. He added, 'These people have done very wrong and, if found, deserve punishment'.

Reginald Denley was married with three children and had been married for 14 years.

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

see www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

see Daily Mirror - Saturday 26 September 1953

see Daily Herald - Monday 21 September 1953

see Dundee Courier - Saturday 26 September 1953

see Cornish Guardian - Thursday 01 October 1953

see Cornish Guardian - Thursday 24 September 1953

see Dundee Courier - Thursday 01 October 1953

see Daily Herald - Saturday 26 September 1953

see Birmingham Daily Gazette - Thursday 01 October 1953

see Liverpool Echo - Friday 25 September 1953