Unsolved Murders

John Howard Davies

Age: 26

Sex: male

Date: 4 Oct 1959

Place: Jubilee Place, Chelsea, London

John Howard Davies was thought to have been struck down by a car or taxi in the road.

He was found dead in the road in Jubilee Place, Chelsea, in the early hours of 4 October 1959.

It was noted that tyre marks were found on the pavement that suggested that he had been struck down by a car there but his only visible external injury was a superficial cut on his head.

He had lived at 9 Jubilee Place and was found in the road just outside 10 Jubilee Place.

His only form of identification on him was his gold signet ring with the initials JHD on it.

The pathologist that carried out his post mortem said that John Davies had a fracture of the skull, four fractured ribs and that his liver was severely ruptured. He said, 'This most likely would have been caused by this man having been struck by a vehicle on the right side of the small of the back and then flung on to the back of the head'.

When he was asked whether he thought that his injuries could have been caused by him having been run over, he said, 'I do not think so because only one side of the body was affected. If the vehicle went partly over him that would have caused the injury but I think it more likely that he was struck in an erect or semi-erect position'.

He added that he thought that the fracture of the skull would have killed John Davies eventually but thought that his other injuries killed him much more quickly.

He said that there were no external injuries and that he therefore had no external clue about what had happened inside his body without the post mortem. He also said that John Davies had suffered one violent blow rather than a series of blows and said that he did not think that his injuries could have been caused by an assault by someone. He said, 'I have never seen such violence caused for instance by kicking, stamping or by shod feet. I would also exclude a simple fall causing these injuries. Death would have occurred in two or three minutes'.

When the director of the Metropolitan Police Forensic Science Laboratory gave evidence, he said that examination of John Davies's blood indicated that he had consumed about seven pints of beer or half a full bottle of whisky.

He added that there was no evidence that his clothing had come in contact with a vehicle, stating that he would have expected to find some tearing or other signs of impact on them, noting that his clothes were relatively clean.

The director of the Metropolitan Police Forensic Science Laboratory added that some plain and red glass that belonged to a bicycle was found in the street on the night that John Davies was found.

John Davies had moved into 9 Jubilee Place exactly a month before the incident. His landlady said that he had been quite all right the previous day. He was an art teacher at Northampton School of Art at Finsbury.

He was described as typical of the Chelsea art set, young, bearded and wearing a red shirt, jeans and sandals.

He was described as thin and about 6ft tall.

His father said that John Davies's health had been very good and that his sight and hearing were also good and that there was nothing about his limbs that that would have made him unsteady on his feet. He said that he last saw him in July 1959 when he came home and stayed for a week before going back to the art school.

An art student that lived in Bramerton Street, Chelsea said that he had met John Davies at Chelsea art School. He said that on 3 October 1959 that he had worked at home until 10pm and that he had then gone to a party at Evelyn Gardens in South Kensington. They had left the party at about 12.30am. He said, 'I saw Mr Davies at the party and spoke to him and he seemed all right at the time. I walked part of the way home with him and he was able to walk quite normally, although once he walked off the kerb without meaning to. He did not fall down. I left him at the corner of Bramerton Street'.

However, it was also heard that John Davies had been seen lying down in the road after which he was hit by a taxi.

A student that had lived in Cadogan Gardens in Chelsea said that he had been walking with a friend on the north side of King's Road going towards Chelsea Town Hall when he saw a body lying in the roadway at Jubilee Place. He said, 'I thought it was a drunken man. My friend wanted to call a policeman to remove him and we asked an elderly man where to get a policeman. Just then a taxi cab turned in to Jubilee Place and I saw it bump something. It could have then been in the position where the body was. My friend ran after the cab but we could not get his number. I waited there until the police came. I did not see any injuries'.

He noted that the lower part of the man had been lying on the pavement whilst the upper half with arms outstretched was in the roadway.  He said that after the taxi was gone that the body was parallel with the pavement.  He added that he also heard a groan from John Davies after the taxi left.

It was reported that several people had heard a shout at about the time that John Davies was thought to have died.

A policeman that was called from Chelsea police station said that he found blood marks just outside of 10 Jubilee Place. He said that the road was 16 feet wide and that there were cars parked in the road leaving very little room for a taxi to pass.

A detective said that they had broadcast an appeal for witnesses to the accident and for the taxi-driver, but without success. They said that they were looking for a car that probably had its front wings and headlights damaged.

He said that the pieces of red glass found in the roadway had nothing to do with the case.

He said, 'I have made extremely wide inquiries throughout the Metropolitan Police area at all garages, particularly in Chelsea, for a vehicle which may have had damage as a result of such an accident, but we have had no result. Many people have been seen and interrogated and they were able to explain their whereabouts at the time'.

When the Coroner summed up he said that it was an unsatisfactory case and that the evidence was incomplete. He noted that one witness had said that they had seen what was thought to have been a drunken man lying in the roadway at Jubilee Place who was then hit by a taxi-cab but that the medical evidence favoured the view that John Davies had been struck in an erect or semi-erect position and not run over.

An open verdict was returned at his inquest on Friday 6 November 1959.

*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 06 November 1959

see Birmingham Daily Post - Tuesday 06 October 1959

see Chelsea News and General Advertiser - Friday 09 October 1959

see Daily Herald - Monday 05 October 1959