Unsolved Murders

Sheila Bruce

Age: 26

Sex: female

Date: 3 Jun 1957

Place: 4 The Woodpath, Southsea, Hampshire

Sheila Bruce was found dead in her bed on 3 June 1957 having been shot in the head.

An open verdict was returned with the jury saying that with one dissentient that they were of the opinion that the wound was self-inflicted but that there was insufficient evidence to show the reason.

Her husband said that whilst going to bed the night before she died, Sheila Bruce had raised the possibility of him becoming redundant in the army. He said that he found her dead in bed the following morning, shot through the right temple.

When the police were called out to 4 The Woodpath at 9.50am on 3 June 1957 they went into the middle room on the first floor which was being used as a bedroom and saw Sheila Bruce's body there in a semi-prone position and beneath her right arm an automatic pistol with the barrel exposed. After they removed her from the bed they found a cartridge case in the bed.

Her husband had been a Captain in the RAOC and stationed at Tipnor Magazine in Portsmouth.

He said that Sheila Bruce's health was very good and that earlier on on 2 June 1957 that they had been out with some friends in Fareham, returning home at about 12.15am.

As Sheila Bruce's husband was giving his evidence the Coroner asked him, 'Was an argument started by your wife as to your career in the Army?' to which Sheila Bruce's husband replied, 'I would not call it an argument'. When the Coroner asked him what he would called it, Sheila Bruce's husband said, 'When we got to bed she was in a loquacious mood wanting to talk. She talked about my future in the Army. It was getting on towards 12.30 and I pointed out I was going to work next day and wanted to go to sleep. No words were exchanged between us'. He then went on to say that he didn't stay in the bedroom and took an eiderdown and went downstairs and slept on a sofa.

He said that when he took newspapers into the bedroom the next morning he noticed blood on Sheila Bruce's face and said that his immediate reaction was that she was seriously injured.

He said that the weapon had been owned by his predecessor in the unit. He said that he was due to be posted to Germany in August  and that Sheila Bruce had expressed the wish that he take up .22 shooting whilst there and that he had brought the gun home a week before the shooting and contacted the civil police with a view to getting a permit for it. He said that the gun had been kept in the drawer of a bureau at the side of their bed with four or five rounds of ammunition.

He said, 'My wife was interested in how to use it, and I showed her how to operate it'.

As Sheila Bruce's husband gave his evidence he was asked a question by a member of the jury and replied to the effect that he was positive that there was no bullet in the barrel.

When the Coroner summed up he said that the whole set up of the wound was that it had been self-inflicted and that Sheila Bruce had apparently been worried about the effect of Army regulations on her husband’s career. He said that the fact that he did not remain to discuss it at that rather unsuitable time of night, and that she was experiencing a period might have caused her to have had a sudden impulse.

The jury then retired, but was called back to hear evidence from Sheila Bruce's mother who lived in Clevelands Road, Sunderland, who said that Sheila Bruce was a very, very happy girl and that never in the world would she have taken her one life.

When the jury later returned after further deliberation they returned an open verdict.

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

see www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

see Hampshire Telegraph - Friday 05 July 1957

see Shields Daily News - Thursday 04 July 1957