Unsolved Murders


Age: 0

Sex: male

Date: 7 Mar 1955

Place: 11 James Street, Rugby

The body of a newly born child was found buried in a garden at 11 James Street in Rugby.

The mother said that she thought that it was dead and put it on the fire before she buried it in the garden because of 'the terrible smell'.

The jury at the child's inquest returned the verdict that the child died from neglect by lack of skilled attention at birth.

The police went to 11 James Street on 3 February 1955 after receiving certain information from a friend of the mother and when they saw her she pointed out to them a spot near two dustbins and said, 'My baby is buried there'. When they then dug down about nine inches into the soil they found the body of the child.

The friend of the mother who lived at 24 Kimberley Road in Rugby said that he had been on friendly terms with the mother for two years and that they had had a baby the previous year as a result of their friendship. He said that he knew that she was recently expecting a baby and that it was possible that he might be the father.

He said that he knew that a letter had been sent to the mother at 11 James Street regarding arrangements for her confinement at Harborough Magna or Coventry and said that the mother had told him that she had received her priority ration book on 11 November 1954. He noted that he was under the impression that the mother was going to go to either Harborough Magna or Coventry to have the baby.

The friend said that the mother later sent him a letter care of a public house in which she had written that the baby had been born and weighed 7 1/2lbs and that as a result he assumed that all was well.

However, he said that on 2 February 1955 he met the mother at the public house and said that when he asked to see the baby she had told him that he could not see it because her mother was at home. The friend said that he never made any more enquiries until she told him that the baby was dead at which point he said that he informed the police. He said, 'I told them I wanted to know what had happened because she told me the district nurse had taken te baby away. I was not satisfied with that'.

At the inquest a doctor said that the mother had come to him to enquire about making arrangements for the child to be born and that he had made the arrangements.

The mother gave evidence at the inquest and said that she had no occupation. She said that between April and May 1954 that she had been to see her doctor and had made arrangements to have her baby and later received a letter regarding the booking of a bed for her. However, she said that she didn't go to the clinic because she felt so well. She added that they had miscalculated  the date of birth and that she made arrangements that if she was 'taken bad' that she would send for the doctor. She added that she would have got in touch with Harborough Magna if she thought it would be necessary and noted that her mother was very much annoyed about her having another child as it was her third.

She said that on the morning of Saturday 29 January 1955 that her mother went out to work and returned at dinner time and then went out to do some shopping, adding that her mother 'never bothered about her'.

She said that when the baby was born she asked her mother to fetch the doctor but said that her mother replied, 'You have got yourself in this way and you get out of it'.

The mother said that she didn't hear the baby cry and said that on the Tuesday her mother told her to put it on the fire. She said, 'She made me put it on the fire. I knew it was wrong. There was  terrible smell. It was not on the fire for long, then we buried the baby in the garden'.

The doctor that carried out the post mortem on the child said that the baby had weighed 7 1/2lbs.. He said that the fire had destroyed part of the child's head and skull and had 'done more cooking than actual burning'. He said that it had been a full term child and had had a separate existence and concluded that the child's cause of death was probably lack of attention at birth. He added that he saw no reason why it should not have lived had it had full attention at birth.

He added that the child had been dead before burning and burial.

When the mother's mother was questioned at the inquest she said that she 'did not know much' about the matter. When she was asked by the Coroner what steps she took to see that her daughter was looked after properly she replied, 'I did not take any steps'. When she was asked what she thought the outcome of it all would be she replied, 'I did not know. I did not think it was my place. It was the man who should have looked after her. I have had my share of trouble with them. I did not know anything about the arrangements to go to Harborough Hospital'. She added that she didn't hear the baby cry and said that after she put the baby in the cupboard she didn't touch it again. She said that she wasn't in the house when the mother burned the baby's body and that she was told later that she had buried it.

When the Coroner asked the mother's mother, 'Your attitude was that you didn't mind what happened?' she replied, 'Yes. The baby was not my concern'.

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

see www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

see Birmingham Daily Post - Monday 07 March 1955