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Unsolved Murders

Albert Edward Pannell

Age: 61

Sex: male

Date: 9 Aug 1956

Place: Thatched House Public House, Beach Street, Gosport

Albert Edward Pannell died from chronic tuberculosis of the lungs on 9 August 1956 following a fight with his son-in-law, a 43-year-old haulage contractor, at his pub on the night of 5/6 July 1956. The haulage contractor was tried for his manslaughter but acquitted.

The haulage contractor had lived in Queen's Road in Gosport. He had married Albert Pannell's daughter in June 1954 but it was heard that the marriage was not a happy one and in June 1956 the haulage contractor's wife left him and went to live with her parents at the Thatched House public house in Beach Street, taking their 12-month-old daughter with them.

It was heard that on 5 July 1956 that the haulage contractor went into the bar of the Thatched House at about 8.30pm and asked where his wife was and that he was told that she was ill and that he had then left.

Albert Pannell had suffered from pulmonary tuberculosis and had occupied a room on his own in the pub for some years where he had been confined to his bed for a greater part of it. It was noted that he was a sick man and of obvious physical weakness and that that had been known to the haulage contractor.

At about 11pm on 5 July 1956 Albert Pannell's wife and her daughter, the haulage contractor's wife, went to bed, sleeping together in a separate bedroom to that of Albert Pannell and with the haulage contractor's wife’s' baby sleeping in a cot beside them.

Then, shortly before midnight Albert Pannell's wife awoke to find the light on in the bedroom and the haulage contractor kneeling on the bed attacking them. It was said then that the haulage contractor struck at Albert Pannell's wife’s' head with a bread knife and a file and she was later found to have sustained a wound on a finger on her left hand. During the attack Albert Pannell came into the room and found the haulage contractor lying across the bed at which point the haulage contractor was said to have then leaned over the bed and to have punched Albert Pannell in the ribs and that whilst he was doing so he was said to have said, 'Why don't you die'.

Albert Pannell's wife said that she was awakened by her daughter saying, 'Oh don't', and then saw the haulage contractor on the bed. She said that the next thing that she remembered was that the haulage contractor  was on top of her and that she was trying to push him off. She said that during the struggle that the baby was screaming and that Albert Pannell then entered the room and that the haulage contractor then said to him, 'Why don't you die' and then punched him. She said that she suffered from injuries to her scalp during the struggle but that her daughter had been able to take the knife away from him. She said that the haulage contractor then said, 'You are the cause of all the trouble. she has not missed seeing you one day since we have been married'. She said that her daughter then said, 'Look what you have done to mother', and that the haulage contractor then said that he was sorry.

She said that after the police arrived and she and her daughter were taken to the hospital in an ambulance that as the haulage contractor left the pub he said to her, 'Goodbye Ma. See you in five years' time'.

The haulage contractor's wife, who gave evidence against him at the trial said that she had separated from her husband and had then gone to live with her parents at the Thatched House public house but said that her husband would telephone her frequently, sometimes seven times a day and that she made an appointment to see him at 8pm on 5 July at the pub but did not keep it.

She said that after securing the premises before going to bed she had gone to bed with her mother but was later awakened by some scraping on the right side of her face and said that when she looked up she saw her husband standing over her with a bread knife and said that he said, 'I am going to kill you. You know I would'. She said that she then saw her husband hacking at her mother with the knife. She said that when she saw her mother lie back in bed exhausted that she put up her hand and grabbed her husband’s wrist and said, 'I will come back. I promise I'll come back'. She said then that the haulage contractor got off the bed and said 'You knew I'd do it'. She said that after the police arrived she heard her husband say, 'I say in front of the four policemen, I will kill my wife. They can't put me away for life. The most they can give me is five years'.

She said that when her father came into the room the haulage contractor said to him, 'You go away and die'. However, she later said that the haulage contractor had previously always been well disposed towards Albert Pannell before the events of 5 July 1956.

When the police arrived soon after the haulage contractor said to them, 'I came here to kill them. I said I would and I will'. 

The haulage contractor's wife then handed the police the bread knife and a file and said, 'These are what he attacked with'.

It was heard that Albert Pannell had said in the bedroom in the presence of the haulage contractor, 'Fancy that, hitting me, knowing I was an invalid and could not do anything about it. He knocked me across the room and I went and telephoned'. It was said then that the haulage contractor, 'You were a man once, but you are only half a man now'.

It was said that a while later that the haulage contractor said, 'You still here, go on die, die'.

It was heard that whilst the haulage contractor was later in an ambulance that he said to a policeman, 'I have been trying to buy a gun, but you coppers have got that taped'.

Later, on 19 July 1956 a doctor visited Albert Pannell and found him to be in excruciating pain and having great difficulty in breathing and said that he had reached the conclusion that Albert Pannell was suffering from fractured ribs.

The haulage contractor was brought before the magistrates on Friday 3 August 1956 charged with maliciously wounding his wife and mother-in-law with the intention of doing them some grievous bodily harm and maiming Albert Pannell with the intention of doing some grievous bodily harm and he was ordered to be remanded until the following Friday 10 August 1956. However, when he was ordered to be remanded he asked his solicitor to request that he be remanded in custody at Winchester Prison and not in the police cells at Fareham, and the solicitor said, 'Having experienced the amenities of the cells at Fareham and those of HM Prison at Winchester, he would very much like to spend the next few days at Winchester'. When the request was made the police inspector that ordered him remanded at Fareham said that he had only been considering the haulage contractor's personal welfare and that he had thought that if he was at Fareham that his relatives would have been able to visit him. He added, 'If he wishes to go to Winchester, we shall not object'.

However, Albert Pannell died on 9 August 1956.

His post mortem showed that Albert Pannell had fractures of the ninth and tenth ribs and that he had bene suffering from chronic tuberculosis and it was claimed that the acute tuberculosis had resulted from the blows to his ribs and that that had caused his death.

The haulage contractor was then charged with Albert Pannell's murder but later sent for trial on a charge of manslaughter at the Hampshire Assizes on Tuesday 18 December 1956 but he was found not guilty.

It was heard that when the haulage contractor was told that Albert Pannell had died that he had said, 'I am very sorry to hear that'.


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

see www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

see West Sussex Gazette - Thursday 27 December 1956

see Hampshire Telegraph - Friday 05 October 1956

see Hampshire Telegraph - Friday 03 August 1956

see Hampshire Telegraph - Friday 10 August 1956

see Hampshire Telegraph - Friday 20 July 1956

see West Sussex Gazette - Thursday 27 September 1956

see West Sussex Gazette - Thursday 16 August 1956