Unsolved Murders

John Goodman Hatton

Age: 78

Sex: male

Date: 27 Mar 1927

Place: Sheen Road, Richmond

John Goodman Hatton was knocked down by a car that did not stop on Sunday 27 March 1927.

He was knocked down in Sheen Road at about 9.20pm and taken to Richmond Hospital where he later died from his injuries.

The jury returned a verdict stating that 'Mr Hatton died from injuries received through being knocked down by a motor car', however, they said that they could not agree whose motor car it was that had knocked him down.

However, several contradictory statements were heard at the inquest regarding what he had actually done on the evening and where he and his car had been.

A member of the Richmond Cricket Club that had been driving along the road at the time said that following the incident that he peered through his window screen and observed the number of the car that did not stop, stating that it was XM3610. However, it was heard that when the police traced the vehicle with that number that it had belonged to a 23-year-old chauffeur that had lived in Turneville Road in Fulham and who had been employed by a man that had lived in Cadogan Gardens in Sloane Square, Chelsea who stated that he had garaged the car bearing that registration number at Earl's Court at about 7pm on the evening of Sunday 27 March 1927 and that the last time that he had driven along the Upper Richmond Road was the previous summer.

The member of the Richmond Cricket Club had seen a policeman at about 9.25pm who was on point duty in Queen's Road, Richmond and given him the number of the car that he had seen then as XM3610.

A policeman that had examined the scene said that he had found skid marks in the roadway starting on the crown of the road that extended 40 or 50 yards and inclining to within 3ft 6in of the offside kerb and said that it was a straight skid and was apparently due to an attempt having been made to stop the car, both brakes having evidently been applied.

Another chauffer who lived in Wetherby Mews in Earl's Court said that on the Sunday evening 27 March 1927 at about 7.15pm that the chauffeur that had been driving the car with the registration number XM3610 had driven into the mews and that the chauffeur had paid him £1 that he had owed him and had then reversed out of the mews and had driven off in the direction of Earl's Court Square.

At the inquest the Coroner asked the other chauffeur whether the chauffeur had been in the mews long and he said, 'About two or three minutes'.

When he was asked whether he garaged his car at all he said, 'No' and that he didn't see him again that day. However, he said that it was possible that he had returned to the garage with his car and garaged it without him noticing and the other chauffeur said, 'He might have done. I heard nothing of him'.

He said that he next saw the chauffeur to speak to him on the following Thursday at about 7.15 when the chauffeur asked him who had been looking around his car and said that he told him that it was an inspector or constable. He said that when he further questioned the chauffeur that he told him that they were looking for marks on the car because his car was alleged to have been seen and the number taken down as having knocked down a man in Richmond.

He said that he then asked the chauffeur 'Where you there?' and said that the chauffeur said, 'No, I have nothing to worry about, I am innocent'.

A woman that lived at 11 Turneville Road in Fulham said that at about 7.30pm on 27 March 1927 that she had noticed a big closed car opposite 44 Turneville Road with the headlamps fully on, but did not see the car arrive or go away.

However, two 11 year old girls gave similar evidence but said that they saw the chauffeur get out od the car and go into the house and that they again saw him come out about five minutes later and drive away.

Another 14 year-old girl said that she saw the chauffeur drive up Turneville Road in uniform and then saw him go into 44 Turneville Road and then come out again about five minutes later.

When the Coroner asked the chauffeur whether anyone could take his car out of the garage without his knowledge, he replied, 'No, sir'.

When he was asked whether his car was outside 96 Lillie Road on the night of 27 March 1957 he said 'No, sir'.

He also denied having taken it to his lodgings. However, the Coroner noted the children's evidence and asked him whether they were correct, and the chauffeur said, 'No, sir. It might have been some other day'.

He then said that he had driven to the mews at about 7.15pm where he paid the other chauffeur the £1 and that he then made a slight adjustment to his clutch and drove round the square to see that it was all right and that he finally garaged the car at 7.25pm.

The man that had lived at 96 Lillie Road in Fulham said that on the Sunday 27 March 1927 that the chauffeur had had arrived in Lillie Road at about 7.30pm whilst he was playing cards and that he later on suggested that they should go for a stroll and that they went off to visit the Bell and Anchor in North End Road, Hammersmith, where they stayed for about half-an-hour during which time they had three drinks. He said that the clock struck 9pm just after they finished their first drink and that they left at about 9.15pm and arrived back in Lillie Road at about 9.30pm after which he said that the chauffeur came in for a few minutes and then went away with the boys.

When the Coroner asked the man from Lillie Road whether he was quite confident that the chauffeur had been in his company between 9pm and 9.40pm he said, 'Absolutely'. The man's wife also gave similar evidence.

The man's sons also gave similar evidence, adding that after they got back from the Bell and Anchor at about 9.30pm that he and his brother went with the chauffeur to Bolton's where they had a last drink, adding that the chauffeur left a few minutes before closing time saying that he had a girl to meet.

After hearing their evidence the Coroner asked them, 'Do you swear that the chauffeur was not out of your sight between 8pm and 10pm?' one of  the brothers replied, 'Yes, sir'.

Further evidence was heard from the barmaid at the Bell and Anchor who said that she remembered the five of them coming in on 27 March 1927 at about 8.45pm and said that hey all later left at about 9.15pm or 9.20pm.

The chauffeur’s girlfriend, who had lived in Earl's Court, said that she had known the chauffeur for about eight or nine months and had arranged to meet him at the corner of Earl's Court Square at 10.15pm on 27 March 1927, noting that they had arranged to meet at 10.15pm because he was going to Eastbourne and did not know exactly what time he would be back. She said that when they met that they went for a walk round the neighbourhood and later separated at about 11.15pm. She added that the chauffeur had not had his car with him at the time.

When the Coroner summed up he said that they had heard several contradictory statements and said that if the jury did not think that there was evidence to prove conclusively that the chauffeur had been in Richmond with his car on the evening of 27 March 1927 that they must give him the benefit of any doubt in their minds.

After retiring for 5 minutes the jury returned their open verdict.

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

see www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

see Chelsea News and General Advertiser - Friday 15 April 1927