Unsolved Murders

Catherine McLaren

Age: 45

Sex: female

Date: 7 Mar 1954

Place: Back Blenheim Street, Newcastle

Catherine McLaren was dead found on a bombed site in Back Blenheim Street in Newcastle on the morning of Sunday 7 March 1954.

Her inquest concluded that she had died from vagal inhibition, shock after inhaling vomit.

She was known as Scotch Kathy and had lived in Rye Hill.

She was found in a gateway near some waste ground by a man that was going to work on the Sunday morning, and it was believed that she had died the night before at about 10pm Saturday 6 March 1954.

It was said that she was found huddled in a doorway, lying doubled up with blood on her head which could have come from a head wound.

Her daughter who lived in Bath Road, Quarry Bank, Brierly Hill, Staffordshire said that she had stayed with her mother in Rye Hill the previous August 1953 when Catherine McLaren had told her that her doctor had told her that she was suffering from tuberculosis and only had six months to live.

She said that Catherine McLaren had fallen many times whilst in the street whilst under the influence of drink and that she would always go home past the place where she was found dead.

When the Coroner asked Catherine McLaren's daughter whether Catherine McLaren had been associating with anyone, Catherine McLaren's daughter replied, 'She liked being on her own'.

However, following the discovery of Catherine McLaren's body, the police said that they were anxious to trace a man who they said they thought could assist them with their inquiries, however, the man was never traced.

A policeman said that when he examined her body he found nothing to assist with their investigation, saying, 'I made an examination of the area but found nothing which helped. There was money, some cigarettes and cosmetics in her handbag. From my inquiries I found she was alone on the evening of Saturday March 6 until 7.55pm when she was seen in the Queen Victoria public house accompanied by a man. They left together at 9.30pm and were seen again in the alley half an hour later. Despite extensive enquiries we have not been able to find out who that man was'.

Catherine McLaren had been seen in the evening by two men, who knew her only as Scotch Kathy, in the Queen Victoria public house with another man. One of the men, who had lived in Westgate Road said, 'I had never seen the man before. He was about 5ft 10in tall, aged 45 or 46 and was wearing a dark overcoat, trilby hat and a blue-striped scarf. He was ordering drinks, a beer for himself and a beer and whisky for her. She seemed to be drunk, or at least the worse for wear. When they got up to leave at 9.30 she was a bit rocky on her feet'.

The other man, the manager of the Queen Victoria public house in Blenheim Street, said that he thought that her companion was 6ft tall and aged about 40. He said, 'He bought about four-and-a-half glasses of whisky for her. She did not appear to be drunk, but I suggested to the man that she had had enough. Kathy said, 'I am behaving myself. I have caused no trouble'. The man said if I let her have half a glass they would go. Altogether she had one or two doubles, then went on to singles'.

Another man who lived in Blenheim Street said that at about 9.50pm he saw a man leaning over a woman in Back Blenheim Street. He said that she was lying on her back and that the man was trying to pick her up. He said that he looked out of his window about ten minutes later and saw the couple talking.

Catherine McLaren was found early the next morning by a man who had lived in Hawthorn Street as he was on his way to work. He said, 'I nudged her, thinking she was asleep. Then I telephoned the police'.

The pathologist that carried out her post mortem examination said that he found a bruise on her head which could have been caused by a fall. He said, 'She had no disease of the body from which she could have died. She had been drinking heavily and her death was caused by vagal inhibition, shock after inhaling vomit'.

When the Coroner summed up, he said, 'She had had a great deal to drink, she was in the habit of so doing. She was in the company of some man, having been found as she was, the question arose, 'Had anything been done to her'. The pathologist is quite satisfied that no violence caused her death'. The Coroner then returned a verdict of death in accordance with the medical evidence.

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

see www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

see Newcastle Journal - Monday 08 March 1954

see Newcastle Journal - Wednesday 10 March 1954

see Newcastle Journal - Friday 07 May 1954