Unsolved Murders

Raymond Rutherford

Age: 20

Sex: male

Date: 18 Dec 1955

Place: River Tyne, Derwenthaugh

Raymond Rutherford and Robert Arthur Moodie died after disappearing in the River Tyne on 18 December 1955.

Open verdicts were returned over their deaths.

The Newcastle Evening Chronicle on Thursday 5 July 1956 ran with the headline, 'Inquest fails to solve River Tyne death-boat mystery'.

Raymond Rutherford was found in the river soon afterwards, but  Robert Moodie wasn't found until 1 March 1957. He was said to have been identified by his clothing.

Robert Moodie was found floating in a hopper off Tynemouth and was identified by the knitting pattern in his jersey.

They had disappeared from the motor boat Rae, a 28ft cabin cruiser that had been travelling down the River Tyne from Ryton at Derwenthaugh on Sunday 18 December 1955.

A hoistman employed by the NCB on the Staiths at Derwentthaigh said that he saw one man dive into the water from the boat towards another man that had been in the river but that buy the time that he got to the place where he had seen them they had both vanished.

The hoistman said that he had been outside his control cabin which was about 40 to 50ft from the river on 18 December 1955 when he heard a motorboat coming by and said that when he looked down he saw what appeared to be a little boy in the water. He said that he then ran down on to the jetty, noting that the boy in the water was only about two feet from the boat at which point the other man was standing at the tiller. He said, 'I thought he was going to reverse to go alongside the other man. Then he climbed on to the side and dived towards the one in the water and the boat just drifted away'. He said that he then got a foy boat and went out onto the river with some other seamen. He said that he heard a cry, but said that by the time they got round the after end of a ship in the river and to the point where he had seen the men, he could not find anybody. He noted that as they were going out he thought he had seen a head, but said that although they stayed out looking for over half an hour they could find no trace of the men.

It was said that Raymond Rutherford was a strong swimmer and that he had been accustomed to swimming in both the sea and the river.

In the case of Raymond Rutherford, the pathologist said that there were no ante-mortem injuries and said that his cause of death was drowning.

When the Coroner summed up at Ray's inquest, he said, 'I have heard that these two fellows were seen in the water, but that is as far as I can get. There are all sorts of possibilities. I think it was probably a pure accident, but I am only guessing and I am saying there is no evidence to show me how he came to be in the water.

Robert Moodie's mother said that Robert Moodie had left home on 17 December 1955 to join Raymond Rutherford in their motorboat Ray and that the following day she was informed that the motor boat had been found drifting empty in the river near Derwentthaugh.

Raymond Rutherford had been an apprentice fitter and had lived in Milling Street, Gateshead whilst Robert Moodie had been an apprentice draughtsman that had lived in Valley Drive, Dunston.

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

see www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

see Shields Daily News - Thursday 05 July 1956

see Shields Daily News - Saturday 09 March 1957

see Shields Daily News - Thursday 07 March 1957

see Newcastle Evening Chronicle - Thursday 05 July 1956