Unsolved Murders

Thomas Edward Smith Cooper

Age: 38

Sex: male

Date: 21 Sep 1961

Place: Weston Corner, Weston, South Holland, Lincolnshire

Thomas Edward Smith Cooper died in a lorry crash.

A verdict of accidental death was returned at his inquest at the Sessions House in Spalding on Tuesday 17 October 1961.

However, the cause of the accident remained a mystery and it was heard that the governor on the lorry’s engine had been tampered with in order to increase its power.

Thomas Cooper had lived in Cooper Street, Middlesbrough and had been driving through Weston Corner on the night of 21 September 1961 when his articulated lorry which was loaded with 17 tons of barley overturned.

There were no witnesses to the crash which took place in the early hours of the morning.

A policeman that attended the scene at 2am found the lorry on its offside with Thomas Cooper trapped inside. He said that he spoke into the cab to Thomas Cooper but got no answer and found no signs of life.

The policeman then sent for a doctor, ambulance and equipment for releasing Thomas Cooper.

When the road was examined a tyre mark stretching 132 feet was found. The tyre mark stretched from the Holbeach side of the corner and finished on the Spalding side.

The police said that the cab and superstructure of the lorry was smashed and the steering column and seats had broken away and the offside door was left hanging.

It was noted that the weather had been fine and visibility good although it had been dark.

Log sheets for the vehicle showed that Thomas Cooper last ceased work at 7am on Wednesday 20 September 1961, it being noted that there were no records for the Thursday.

When the police were questioned at the inquest they said that there was no evidence of the lorry have braked before the corner and that there was no fog.

An inspector with the Ministry of Transport said that he could find no defects in the construction of the lorry that could have caused the crash, stating that both the tractor and trailer were in good condition, adding that the tyres were all inflated, even one that had been badly gashed in the crash.

However, he noted that the governor had been interfered with in order to increase the lorry's power, stating that that was not a matter of opinion but a matter of fact.

After hearing the evidence the Coroner said that the only verdict the jury could bring was one of accidental death.

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

see www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

see Spalding Guardian - Friday 20 October 1961