Unsolved Murders

Rose Sharratt

Age: 69

Sex: female

Date: 21 Mar 1957

Place: 40 Stafford Street, Burton-on-Trent

Rose Sharratt died after receiving a head injury and a broken arm at her home. It was thought that she had received her injury on 11 March 1957. She was admitted to hospital on 15 March and she died there on 21 March 1957.

Her son, a railway porter, was tried for her murder but was acquitted. It was heard that there was evidence that she had suffered from heart failure and her son denied having hit her, saying that she just fell.

They had lived at 226 Stafford Street in Burton-on-Trent.

A doctor was called out to 40 Stafford Street in Burton-on-Trent at about 10pm and when he arrived he found Rose Sharratt bleeding from a small scalp wound and after examining her found that her right humerus was broken in the upper third after which he arranged for her to go to Burton Hospital.

A medical officer at Burton on Trent Hospital said that Rose Sharratt was admitted on 15 March 1957 and that he first saw her at about 11pm. He said that he noticed that she had a laceration in the scalp on the right side at the back and that she had a fracture of the right humorous at the upper end. He added that she had a big bruise over her right shoulder that extended right over the back as far as the buttock as well as a slight bruising of her right eye.

He added that both of her legs were swollen but that that had nothing to do with her injuries and that apart from her injuries she was in a very poor state of health and was frail.

He said that the wound to her skull required three stitches and that he was later present when she made her dying deposition.

He said that he was concerned with her treatment from the time she was admitted until the time she died and said that she was considerably under-nourished and whilst she was in the hospital that she was given vitamin 'B'. He said that she died on 21 March in the early hours.

In her dying deposition Rose Sharratt said, 'I understand that I am very ill. I am willing to make a statement. I know how dangerously ill I am. I do and I do not appreciate that I may not recover. I have no strength whatever. I know my hope of recovery is slender but I would love to get better. I recognise my son. I remember why I was brought to the hospital and I remember what happened to me.

I remember what happened on Monday, 11th March 1957. My son came in at his normal time, I didn't notice anything wrong with him until he spoke. I spoke to him and said 'shall you have a cup of tea with me?' and he said 'no, not with you, I shan't'. Then he hit me and I knew then he had had a drink of beer. I said 'what have you done that for? I've done nothing' and he said 'it was a love tap'. Just afterwards he went and had another drink, he didn't stay many minutes. Meanwhile I went across the road to my daughter in law's mother where she lived, and she would send for my sons as they ought to have it known to them. I said 'don't do anything in it, just let them know, because he's such a good boy'. I stopped there till quite light, just before they closed. Now everything went on all right after bar the next night, and then he had had a drop more that night. I asked him to have a drop of tea with me again but he wouldn't have it. I saw him come to hit me so I ran out of the road to my neighbour's back door. He said 'are you coming in?' and I said 'no, not until you treat me properly I'm not'. I have one arm shorter than the other. It made it worse again because he hit me on that arm. The next time he hit me something went like a clip and I said 'oh dear I'm sure you've broken my arm'. That was the end of the hitting that was. I didn't receive any more and I didn't ask for any either. That's all the statement I wish to make because he's been such a good boy'.

When she was cross examined she said, 'I have been having trouble with my legs lately. There is fluid in them. I have been having ever so many falls at home with them. I remember having one fall, I scolded myself. I had a bad heart attack just before and the doctor was called away and another gentleman came. I have found out just lately my memory isn't as good as it used to be, and my headaches have been awful'.

Another of Rose Sharratt's son's said that in October 1956 a relative of his came to his house and that as a result of what he said he went to Rose Sharratt's home at 226 Stafford Street but found that she was not there and so went to 40 Stafford Street. He said that as he went up the entry  to go to the back of the house he found his brother there flat out in the entry asking for his mother and saying 'Where is she?'. He said that he then carried him back home. He said that he later saw Rose Sharratt who he said made a complaint to him, saying that she seemed upset. He said that he later took her back to her home with another brother and stayed with her until 2am until things had gone quiet. He said that as a result of the incidents that he spoke to a certain man, a chief security officer with Messrs B Grant & Co. Ltd, and was with him when the man had a chat with his brother in Rose Sharratt's presence.

The son said that on 11 March 1957 at about 8.30pm he went to 40 Stafford Street where he saw Rose Sharratt who was bleeding from the back of her head. He said that she was bruised about the face and was holding her arm and could not move it. He added that she was distressed and frightened and made another complaint to him after which he went home and his wife got the doctor.

The chief security officer with Messrs B Grant & Co. Ltd, who lived in 128A Station Street in Burton-on-Trent said that on the evening of Tuesday 23 October 1956 that he visited 120 Gordon Street in Burton-on-Trent where he saw Rose Sharratt's son who was also an employee of Messrs B Grant & Co. Ltd and that at his invitation he went with him to Rose Sharratt's house at 226 Stafford Street.

He said that when they got there that he was introduced to Rose Sharratt and said that the son said, 'This is the man from our place. He has come to talk to my brother about last night'. He said that Rose Sharratt then replied to her son, 'I shall be glad if you will. He is not a bad lad when he hasn't had drink, but when he has had that drink he comes home and knocks me about, and then he doesn't remember anything at all about it'. He said that whilst she said that that her son she was referring to, who was there, was silent. He said that Rose Sharratt continued and said, 'He comes home with drink and he sets about me and then he is sorry then the next morning when I tell him what he has done. It is about time somebody had a word with him'.

The chief security officer said that he explained to everyone there that the matter was really nothing to do with him, but said that if Rose Sharratt really wished him to speak to her son that all he could say was that if what Rose Sharratt had said was true that he would probably find himself one day in a very serious position.

The chief security officer said that he drew her son's attention to the frailty of Rose Sharratt and said that he muttered 'I dunner remember anything at all about it', to which he said Rose Sharratt said, 'Yes, that is how you are, you don't remember afterwards, but it is at the time'. He said that Rose Sharratt then described how she had run across to seek the protection of some neighbours the previous night, and said that he then said to her son, 'Surely your mother would not run out of the house in apparent fear if she was not frightened of you, or if you weren't doing anything to her', and said that he replied, 'No, I suppose not, it's the drink. I wunner touch it again'.

The chief security officer said that Rose Sharratt and the two brothers seemed satisfied and that he then left. He noted that at no time did Rose Sharratt's son deny the allegations and that when he left them he was under the impression that Rose Sharratt's son was repentant for what he had done. He noted that a suggestion was made that Rose Sharratt's son should change his job and he said that he would take up the matter.

A neighbour that lived at 225 Stafford Street in Burton-on-Trent said that she had lived there for about seven or eight years and that Rose Sharratt and her son had lived at 226 Stafford Street and were well known to her.  She added that it was well known to her that there were always arguments at Rose Sharratt's house and said that at nights, two or three times a week, that she could hear noises from next door that indicated that somebody was doing washing and housework.

She said that during the previous twelve months that the wireless at Rose Sharratt's house, on two or three occasions a week would be turned up to a very loud volume. She said that when there was trouble and shouting at the house that it was always Rose Sharratt's son's voice that she could hear raised in anger and that from the words that she had been able to hear that it was apparent that he was complaining about his food. She said that she remembered one occasion shortly before Christmas 1956 at about 11.30pm when she heard Rose Sharratt's son come into the yard and say, 'You've burnt the bloody bacon. I have to shop for it and you can't even cook it properly'. She said that he was obviously, by the sound and tone of his voice, very angry. She said that she then heard Rose Sharratt's son go back into his house and then heard Rose Sharratt say 'Don't hit me tonight'. She added that the door was apparently closed and that she didn't hear anything else.

She noted that she had never witnessed any instance of Rose Sharratt's son striking Rose Sharratt but said that she did know from her own experience from living next door that Rose Sharratt's son was often drunk at home but said that apart from that that she had always found him a decent fellow.

She said that Rose Sharratt was a very quiet type of woman.

Another neighbour said that he had had very little contact or conversation with Rose Sharratt or her son but said that for the previous three years that there had been heavy rows from next door that had taken the form of shouting and general commotion. He said that in the rows the voice that he had heard was that of Rose Sharratt's son and that the rows were generally late at night. He said that in fact they reached such a stage that about twelve months before Rose Sharratt died that he was compelled to speak to Rose Sharratt's son and said that he told him that they had had enough of the rows and that it was time that he packed it up. He said that Rose Sharratt's son said, 'alright' and that it was quiet after that but that later he heard the wireless turned up at full volume, which he said he thought was apparently to cover the noises of their rows. He noted that from the loud shouting that he heard from their house next door that it seemed that Rose Sharratt's son was finding fault with his food or a meal not being ready.

He said that on the evening of Monday 11 March 1957 that he got home from work at about 6.30pm and that everything seemed quiet from next door, but said that at about 7pm there was a knock at his back door and said that when he answered it he saw Rose Sharratt.

Another of Rose Sharratt's sons, a railway checker that had lived at 77 Hawkins Lane in Burton-on-Trent, said that on 11 March 1957 at about 11pm he went to 40 Stafford Street where he saw Rose Sharratt, noting that she was bleeding from the head and had a cut on her arm. He said that she was wearing a green cardigan and that there was blood on the cardigan. He said that he later saw his brother in the living room at 226 Stafford Street, noting that he appeared dazed and did not seem to know where he was, noting that he had definitely had some drink . He said that another brother was also there and that the other brother was the first to speak to the brother, saying, 'What have you been doing to your mother, do you know she is in the General Hospital?' to which he said his brother replied, 'Its a good job i've not done it'. The railway checker said that he then gave his brother a good going over and said, 'It’s about time you packed up, this is the second time within a few weeks that we have been fetched out to you'. When the railway checker was cross-examined, he said that when his brother had said, 'It's a good job', he took him to mean that it was a good job that she was in hospital and that he had then said, 'I haven’t touched her'.

A police sergeant that arrested Rose Sharratt's son said that when he cautioned him he said, 'Yes, all right. Well I still say this that I didn't hit me mother and would not because I have thought too much of her and have done all I could for her'.

A doctor that treated Rose Sharratt from the time she was admitted to Burton-on-Trent General Hospital until her death said that whilst she was there that she spoke sensibly about day to day things, noting that she was a little mixed up about the day she entered the hospital but that apart from that that she was quite rational. He said that she was always consistent with her story as to how she got her injuries and that she gave him no reason to doubt her mental condition was anything but normal. He said that she was a good patient and that in his option that her death was not natural and that it was due to broncho-pneumonia following a fracture of the arm and that that was the cause of death that he would have given if he had had to give a certificate of death.

The pathologist that carried out the post mortem on Rose Sharratt on 22 March 1957 at the Burton General Hospital Mortuary said that Rose Sharratt was 5ft 1in tall, between 6½ to 7 stone in weight and older than 69 years, noting that she was a frail old woman. He said that she had a small bruise on the right side of her face along with bruising on her right arm with swelling and deformity. He said that there was a fracture at the upper end of her right arm that showed several fragments along with bruising of the surrounding tissues. He said that the muscle below the fracture showed swelling and that the bone itself was thinner than normal. He added that there was extensive bruising on the right side of her body and right shoulder which went down to her right hip and right groin. He said that her ribs showed no fractures but were softer than normal and could be fractured with pressure of the thumb. He said that there was some bruising over her left groin and that her head showed a small laceration of the scalp along with bruising of the scalp underneath on the right side at the back.

He noted that there were no defensive injuries on her hands and said that in his opinion that at the time of her death that Rose Sharratt was a frail unhealthy old woman that had been suffering from curvature of the spine, old healed tuberculosis, bronchiectasis and right heart failure. He noted however that her death was not from natural causes but due to bronchial pneumonia due to a fracture of the right humerus. He added that in his opinion that her injuries could have been caused by a fall following a blow to the face or body and added that the amount of force necessary to break her arm would have been less than that of a healthy person but that even so, it would have had to have been considerable. He noted that he did attempt to break her opposite arm but that he had been unable to do so, noting that he had attempted to break her other arm by using the edge of the mortuary table.

When the pathologist was cross examined, he said that Rose Sharratt had been a very sick woman indeed and that she had been suffering from chronic heart failure, long standing heart failure and that he had been suffering from essential hypertension. He said that she was also suffering from uraemia due to nephrosclerosis which he said meant that her kidneys were failing to do their duty and that the urea was being distributed round the system, which he noted could be toxic. He said that she was also suffering from cirrhosis of the liver which was due in part to her chronic heart failure. He noted that a patient could die from heart failure before one could see the cirrhosis of the heart failure. He added that she was also suffering from chronic cholecystitis and cholelithiasis which he added were stones in the gall bladder. He added that she was also suffering from pancreatitis which could be a fatal disease and that he had found haemorrhage in the pancreas.

He said that he thought that it was reasonable to assume that having had a broken arm, which would have necessitated immobilisation in bed, that that would enable the infection to get a hold on the lungs.

However, he noted that he still firmly excluded her death as having been due to natural causes.

Rose Sharratt's son was tried at the Stafford Assizes on 4 July 1957 but was found not guilty. The judge also directed the jury to return a not guilty verdict on the charge of causing grievous bodily harm with intent.

Rose Sharratt's son denied having hit Rose Sharratt and said that he thought that she had fallen.

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

see www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

see National Archives - ASSI 6/154, ASSI 89/53

see Halifax Evening Courier - Thursday 04 July 1957

see Hartlepool Northern Daily Mail - Thursday 04 July 1957

see Lancashire Evening Post - Thursday 04 July 1957

see Halifax Evening Courier - Thursday 04 July 1957

see Western Mail - Thursday 04 July 1957