Unsolved Murders

Etheldreda Hibbins

Age: 48

Sex: female

Date: 25 Dec 1955

Place: Cemetery Road, Darwen, Lancashire

Etheldreda Hibbins died after falling down some stairs.

She was found unconscious at the foot of the stairs at 6am on Christmas day but wasn't seen by a doctor until about midday by which time she had been dead for about one or two hours.

Etheldreda Hibbins's husband, who was a fruiterer and greengrocer, said that he and Etheldreda Hibbins had gone to the Park Hotel in Darwen on Christmas Eve where he said Etheldreda Hibbins drank four or five bottles of beer.  He said that after they took some friends home with them for a party that lasted until 2am and that Etheldreda Hibbins drank three or four more bottles of beer after which he left her downstairs and went to bed.

He said that when he woke up the clock had stopped but that he thought that it was about 6am and that when he went downstairs he saw Etheldreda Hibbins lying at the foot of the stairs.

He said, 'I was stunned. I did not know she was dead. I did not know whether she was in a coma or unconscious'.

He went on to say that he thought that it would have been about 9am when he called the doctor, saying, 'I made a good fire and kept it going to keep her warm. I laid her on the settee and covered her up'.

He said that he thought that the doctor arrived at about midday. When the Coroner asked him what he had been doing from 6am to 12 midday, Etheldreda Hibbins's husband said, 'I was just sitting, looking'. the Coroner then asked, 'You never went for help, never got anyone at all?' to which Etheldreda Hibbins's husband replied, ''No, sir'.

The doctor that was called out said that he had received the call between 12 and 12.30pm and had gone immediately to the house whereupon he found that Etheldreda Hibbins had been dead for about one or two hours.

The pathologist that carried out the post mortem said that Etheldreda Hibbins's death was due to shock from contusion of the brain and that it was consistent with her having fallen down some stairs. when the pathologist was asked whether he thought Etheldreda Hibbins might have survived if medical aid had been called at 6am, the pathologist said, 'I am unable to say'.

Two men from Darwen that had gone back to Cemetery Road after the pub with Etheldreda Hibbins and her husband said that when they were there Etheldreda Hibbins was merry, but steady on her feet.

When the Coroner summed up at the inquest, he said, 'This is a most unsatisfactory case. It seems to me that this woman fell downstairs in the early hours of the morning and there must have been a good deal of noise. It seems difficult to understand if everyone was as sober as the evidence assures me, why the noise was not heard. Even more remarkable is the fact that when she was found at six in the morning crumpled up and unconscious at the bottom of the stairs, she was placed on a couch and no help was sought until 12 o'clock, by which time she had been dead only about two hours'.

An open verdict was then returned.

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

see www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

see Lancashire Evening Post - Thursday 29 December 1955