Unsolved Murders

Frank Oliver Napper

Age: 55

Sex: male

Date: 28 Nov 1954

Place: Horsham Road, Horsham

Frank Oliver Napper was found injured by his motor scooter in the road on Saturday 27 November 1954 and was taken to hospital where he died the following day 28 November 1954.

He was found on the Horsham to Cranleigh Road near to Selham Lodge corner. A policeman said that Frank Napper as found about 40 yards beyond a hump-back bridge on the way to Horsham. He said that there was a gully between 2 and 6 paces wide that had been made by traffic travelling too close to the grass verge in bad weather and that it was filled with mud and leaves as a result of a gale the previous Friday.

A bus driver from Cranleigh said that he knew Frank Napper personally and said that when he arrived at the scene of the accident he saw that the front wheel of Frank Napper's motor scooter was embedded in the roadside gully.

It was not known how he had come by his injuries and the jury returned an open verdict.

Frank Napper was a building worker and had been employed for many years as a builder's foreman with the Godalming Construction Company and had lived in Jasmine House, Rudgwick. His sister-in-law said that Frank Napper had been in good health and had ridden motorcycles for a long time until the war at which time he had given up. However, she said that a few months before his death he had bought a motor scooter to travel to and from work.

He was found on the road on the Saturday afternoon by a passing motor cyclist and taken to Guildford Accident Hospital after which he was transferred to the Atkinson Morley Hospital in Wimbledon where he died on the Sunday.

A radio broadcast was made appealing for witnesses, but no one came forward who could say what happened to him.

The pathologist said that Frank Napper's cause of death was due to injuries to the brain and said that there was nothing to suggest that he had been struck by anything other than the road or that he had been run over.

However, the pathologist noted that another factor that might have been relevant was that his heart was in such a condition that it might have affected his consciousness and control of his motorcycle.

His inquest heard that Frank Napper had claimed whilst he was being treated at hospital that he had ridden into the back of a stationery car, but the Coroner said, 'There is not a great deal of evidence to show what happened. It is true that while being treated after the accident Mr Napper suggested that he ran into the back of a stationary car, but as the doctor says, no reliance can be placed on that statement because of his condition at the time. You may think, in fact, that there was no other vehicle and no other person was involved at all. It may be that in going round this sharp bend he lost control of his machine and his front wheel got caught in a gully. It seems that the only clear conclusion you can reach is that in some way he sustained his injuries by falling from his machine'.

It was heard that Frank Napper was an accomplished gardener who had specialised in the growing of sweet peas and who had won six major awards at flower shows in the district that season. He was also noted as having been a founder member of the Ellens Green Gardening Association and as having served on the Ewhurst Flower Show Committee. It was also noted that he had at one time been a member of the Rudgwick Flower Show Committee.

On the Friday evening before his death he had taken part in a horticultural quiz at Ellens Green.

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

see www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

see West Sussex County Times - Friday 03 December 1954