Unsolved Murders

James Patrick Brennan

Age: 45

Sex: male

Date: 7 Nov 1960

Place: Speke, Merseyside

James Patrick Brennan was found wounded at the site of the new Ford factory in Speke and later died in hospital.

He was found seriously injured in a pool of blood under a giant excavator with an iron bar near him on Monday 7 November 1960.

A 28-year-old man was charged with his murder but was later found dead on an electric railway line between Seaforth and Waterloo, Liverpool. The 28-year-old man had been a clamp operator and had lived in Holly Grove, Seaforth near Liverpool.

James Brennan had been a labourer and had lived at 24 Lunt Road in Bootle.

The 28-year-old man that was charged with his murder had been allowed bail. He had been allowed bail with a personal surety of £100 and two other sureties of £100 earlier on 5 January 1961 after it was heard that he needed a medical examination which would be better undertaken whilst he was outside prison rather than inside. He had been described as a man of excellent character and who came from a good family. The application for bail was not opposed by the prosecution.

However, he was found dead on the railway line ten days later. He had left home at 7.30pm on the Saturday 14 January 1960 saying that he was going to meet friends in Speke but he didn't keep the appointment. His body was found at 8.45am on the Sunday, 15 January 1960 by a railway ganger that had lived in Eden Drive South, Crosby whilst he was making his daily check of the line between Seaforth and Waterloo stations. It was a few yards from the Liverpool to Southport line.

It was said that after he had been released on bail that he had been depressed and nervous and had made plans to leave the district with his wife as soon as the affair was over. His brother said that the 28-year-old man had never threatened to take his life before. He said, 'He found it very difficult to face people, and when we went for a drink once, as soon as people entered the pub he finished his drink and got out as soon as possible'.

His wife said that they had married in July 1950 and that they were expecting a baby. She said that after he had been released on bail that he had made a brave attempt to hide the anxiety he was going through. She said that on the Saturday night she last saw him that they had had an evening meal at 5.15pm and that he had left the house at 7pm saying that he was going for a drink. She said, 'He was quite normal when he went out and I did not get alarmed when he did not come back because I thought that because of the fog he might have stayed with his parents'.

A detective chief inspector said that after he went to the scene of the 28-year-old man's death that he came to the conclusion that the man had gone straight from his home and placed his head on the line and had then been struck by a fast-moving train. He added that he didn't think that the 28-year-old man had walked accidentally onto the line.

The Home Office pathologist said that he didn't think that it was possible that the 28-year-old man had been walking along the line and had been knocked down and had received his injuries that way.

His inquest returned a verdict of suicide whilst the balance of his mind was disturbed. There had been a seven-man jury, five of whom felt that he had committed suicide whilst two of them disagreed. The Coroner said that he was empowered to accept the verdict of the majority as long as the number of members in disagreement did not exceed two.

Little more is known about the circumstances of James Brennan's death.

On 9 February 1961 James Brennan's 19-year-old son Terrence Brennan along with three other men killed 19-year-old Thomas McKeown at the junction of Hawthorne Road and Church Road in Litherland. They beat him up after he had attacked one of their friends. They were all convicted of manslaughter on 19 April 1961.

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

see newswirral.co.uk

see National Archives - DPP 2/3196

see Liverpool Echo - Thursday 19 January 1961

see Birmingham Daily Post - Thursday 19 January 1961

see Liverpool Echo - Wednesday 22 February 1961

see Birmingham Daily Post - Monday 16 January 1961

see Liverpool Echo - Wednesday 16 November 1960

see Birmingham Daily Post - Tuesday 08 November 1960