Date: 3 Mar 1954
George William Adams was found dead on the Western Avenue in Greenford on the night of 3 March 1954.
He was found lying in the eastbound carriageway about a hundred yards east of Long Drive at about 10.50pm.
His inquest heard that two men and a woman were seen near the scene of the accident acting strangely with a car that had pulled up by the side of the road at the time of the accident, but they drove off before the police arrived and were never identified.
George Adams was a retired railway porter and had lived in Tindal Street, Brixton and had sustained severe head injuries.
An ambulance driver with Middlesex County Council in Acton and who had lived in London Road, Wembley, said that on the night of 3 March 1954 he was driving along Western Avenue to pick up a patient in Northolt when he saw George Adams walking along the overtaking lane of the west bound carriageway.
The ambulance driver said, 'He was about 200 yards west of the traffic lights at Oldfield Lane. As I passed him on the nearside, I noticed he was not wearing a jacket or any outer garments. He had his back to the oncoming traffic and was in a dangerous position. I thought it was a silly thing to do. About 15 or 20 minutes later I came back along Western Avenue and saw a man lying in the eastbound carriageway. It was Mr Adams. There were several vehicles parked near another ambulance which had already been called'.
The ambulance driver added that he thought that George Adams was a gypsy and had been walking along the road to get some water. He noted that there were no streetlights along that stretch of Western Avenue.
A man that lived in Stanhope Park Road in Greenford said that he had left his place of employment in Long Drive at 10.50pm and had cycled along Western Avenue when he found George Adams lying in the road. He said that there were no other vehicles near him. He said that he then called for an ambulance and that several other people then came over and that the driver of a petrol tanker then helped him to guide traffic round George Adams.
A Commander of the Joint Services Staff College in Chesham said that he had been driving towards London in his car when he saw in the light of his headlamps an obstruction in the road. He said, 'I had to swerve to avoid hitting it. Later I found out that it was a man lying in the road. I stopped and got out of my car. As I walked back I came across a second car. It was on the pavement, on the far side of the grass verge, with its back into the hedge. At first I thought it was just parked there. It was facing almost square across the road. Then I saw that there was a woman in the car. I think she was in the front seat. I went across and asked her if she knew whether it was a body in the road. She replied that she did not know anything about it and told me to go away'.
When the Coroner asked the Commander what the woman's exact words were, the Commander said that the woman said, 'I know nothing about it. Go away'.
When the Coroner asked the Commander whether the car had had had 'L' plates on it, the Commander replied, 'Someone told me afterwards that it had'.
The Commander then went on to say, 'The car was about 50 yards on the London side of where Mr Adams was lying. I think it had its sidelights on. After the woman told me to go away I hurried to where Mr Adams was. After a few yards I met two men, obviously together, coming towards me. I asked them about Mr Adams. One of them replied, 'We have to get a telephone quickly'. I offered to drive them to a telephone box but they refused, saying that they had a car. I said, 'We can't go away and leave a man lying in the road. Someone must stay with him or he will be run over again. They drew a few feet away from me and had a discussion. Then they said that one of them would stay with me whilst the other went in the car to find a telephone. When I reached Mr Adams I found that I was alone. Both the men and the car had disappeared. I did not see it go and I have not seen either the men or the woman again. Shortly afterwards I was joined by a lorry driver who said he had seen a couple of men pushing a car with 'L' plates off the grass verge into the road'.
When the Commander was further questioned at the inquest he said that he didn't notice the number of the car, but said that it was small and dark and that from its shape he thought that it was probably an Austin.
He said that from then until an ambulance arrived that he stayed and helped look after George Adams.
A policeman that arrived at the scene at 11.25pm said that when he got there, there were a number of vehicles there, but not the car that was said to have been on the pavement. He said that in the roadway he found a car door handle that was broken in to two pieces and that he later determined that it was the type used on Austin cars of the 1939 to 1947 series.
He said that there were two tyre or skid marks in the road which started four or six feet west of where George Adams had been found lying and that they travelled eastwards in an arc towards the pavement. He said that at one point they almost came together and then they widened out, ending on the pavement itself. He said that the length of the marks was 50 yards measuring along the pavement in a straight line and that taking into account the curvature of the marks, that the total length of the skid was longer than that. He said that the nature of the marks indicated that the car had been sliding along the road sideways by the force of its momentum as it had been turning.
The police detective that had been in charge of the inquiry into George Adams's death said that their inquiries had failed to trace the car that the Commander had seen, but said that they did trace seven Austin cars with missing door handles, but determined that none of them had been involved in the sort of accident that was suspected in the case of George Adams.
However, the police detective agreed with the Coroner when the Coroner suggested that the door handle that was found in the road could have been fitted to other makes of cars as well.
The police detective added that tests of George Adams's blood at the laboratory at Scotland Yard had not revealed the presence of alcohol.
A police sergeant said that in addition to the call made by a man known to have arrived at the scene to call for an ambulance that another call had been received from an unknown motorist from a police box at Greenford Road roundabout. He said that the other anonymous call had been made by a man who said that there had been an accident and that an ambulance was urgently required and then rang off hurriedly.
The inquest heard that police inquiries were still going on in an attempt to trace the missing car and that there had been an SOS message broadcast by the BBC shortly after the accident but that there had not been any response.
The pathologist that carried out the post mortem on George Adams said that his cause of death was due to a fractured skull and said that he thought that George Adams must have been knocked over 'very violently'. He added that he thought that he could have been knocked over by a car, a lorry or a motorcycle.
When the Coroner summed up at the inquest, he said, 'There is no evidence at all as to how he came to receive his injuries. The evidence offers no proof at all. You may yet see this vehicle traced. In the road was this tell-tale car door handle. There is nothing to show, however, that the car seen by the Commander is to blame. It may have been Mr Adams's fault but this, too, is only surmise. There is this extraordinary incident of the car across the pavement and the two men and the woman. It may not be that that car had anything to do with the accident, but people who behave so strangely as these three did, ought to have been able to give the Commander some account of the accident. It is possible to reconstruct the accident with this car as the principal performer, so to speak, but that is no part of your duty'.
After considering the matter for about five minutes, the jury returned an open verdict.
see Middlesex County Times - Saturday 20 March 1954