Unsolved Murders

Terence John Armstrong

Age: 6 months

Sex: male

Date: 22 Jul 1955

Place: 49 Perth Road, Bridgemary, Gosport, Hampshire

Terence John Armstrong died on 22 July 1955 and was buried in Ann’s Hill Cemetery in Gosport but his body was later exhumed on 6 September 1955 for tests.

When Terence Armstrong's death was first reported to the police in Gosport it was said that he had died after his three-year-old sister had got some poisonous berries, which she had eaten, that she had also given to Terence Armstrong. His three-year-old sister survived but Terence Armstrong died within 24 hours. Terence Armstrong was buried soon after following a post mortem.

His cause of death had been given as blood poisoning and bronchial pneumonia.

However, Terence Armstrong's inquest, which opened on 15 August 1955, was first adjourned for a month after the police saw the post mortem report and decided that they wanted to make further investigations into his death. Terence Armstrong's body was then exhumed under a licence from the Home Secretary on 6 September 1955.

It was also revealed that Terence Armstrong's father had had another child that had died 17 months earlier in February 1954 from bronchial pneumonia when the father and his wife had been living in Southsea and on 17 September the other child’s body was also exhumed. The other child had been nine-weeks old when he had died and had been buried in Highland Road Cemetery in Southsea on 13 March 1954.

Terence Armstrong and his father, who was a 24-year-old sick berth petty officer, and his 20-year-old mother, had lived in Perth Road, Bridgemary. After Terence Armstrong's body was exhumed his father said, 'I don't know why the body of our baby was exhumed. I cannot understand why the police are making enquiries. It is as much a mystery to me as it is anyone else'.

Following the exhumation Terence Armstrong's father said that he and his wife were planning to leave the district, noting that they had no other children and that they were both very distressed about Terence Armstrong's death.

When the inquest on the two children resumed on 15 November 1955 and open verdict on Terence Armstrong was returned on 17 November 1955. The Coroner said, 'The jury are all agreed that the child died from the effects of seconal poisoning, but there is not sufficient evidence to enable them to arrive at a decision as to how and by whom it was administered'.

The Coroner noted that from what the police had said and from Terence Armstrong's parents statements, that they were completely satisfied the the parents had no knowledge of there being any drugs in the house of the nature that had caused Terence Armstrong's death. He warned the jury that they had to be careful in their decision as to how the drug had got into Terence Armstrong, adding that they had to be satisfied beyond all reasonable doubt.

No additional verdict was reported on the death of the previous child that had died in February 1954.

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

see www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

see Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer - Thursday 17 November 1955

see Portsmouth Evening News - Friday 09 September 1955

see Bradford Observer - Thursday 08 September 1955

see Daily Herald - Thursday 17 November 1955

see Portsmouth Evening News - Friday 16 September 1955

see West Sussex Gazette - Thursday 22 September 1955

see Belfast News-Letter - Saturday 17 September 1955

see Portsmouth Evening News - Tuesday 15 November 1955