Date: 15 Aug 1961
Annie Doherty was found dead in a pit near the Northwich to Runcorn Road at Dutton in Cheshire on 15 August 1961.
She was found in a pond in the pit not far from the Talbot Arms Hotel and determined to have drowned.
She had lived at 165 Bryn Road in Bryn, Ashton-in-Makerfield near Wigan and had gone missing on 5 August 1961.
Her inquest heard that there was no outward sign of injury and nothing to suggest a crime. The inquest also ruled out suicide as there was nobody who had seen her five or ten minutes before she entered the pit and as such they did not know the state of her mind at the time.
Her post-mortem and further investigations at Preston Laboratory found traces of barbiturate in her organs but death by that reason could be precluded because it could not be stated that she had died as a result of barbiturate poisoning.
After the evidence was heard the Coroner said that there was only one verdict that could be recorded and that that was 'that Annie Doherty was found drowned in the pit at Dutton, but there was not sufficient evidence to show how she came to be there' and an open verdict was returned.
Annie Doherty had been a spinster. Her brother, a miner, who also lived at 165 Bryn Road with Annie Doherty said that she had suffered from rheumatism at the end of January 1961 and had suffered from bronchitis every winter. He said that about ten years earlier she had been found unconscious in her bed at home and taken to hospital where she stayed for about a week, it being thought that the reason for her collapse was through a blood clot.
He said that in early 1961 she had spent a week in hospital due to pneumonia and was later taken to a rest home in Southport after which she came home on 6 March 1961. He said that when she returned that she seemed a little depressed and nervous, noting that she had not been depressed before. He added that she attended a hospital every week where she received treatment from a specialist for her 'nerves'. He said that at times she appeared 'champion' but that on other occasions she was not too well.
He said that he went to the Isle of Man for a holiday on 25 July 1961 leaving Annie Doherty at home and that when he returned on 5 August 1961 that Annie Doherty appeared to be in her normal health.
He said that she then informed him that she was going to go for an evening run into Blackpool, noting that she had also talked about going to Blackpool for a week's holiday although had not made any arrangements to do so.
He said that that was the last that he saw of her.
He said that when she went away that she normally dropped him a card, but said that he received nothing and when she didn't return that he went to see her friends at Blackpool but found that they had not seen anything of her. He said that he also searched 'the front' for her but without trace.
He said that on the Saturday that he became so worried that he reported the matter to the police at Ashton-in-Makerfield.
When the Coroner asked her brother whether Annie Doherty had known anyone in Dutton he said that he didn't think so but noted that she knew some people in the Warrington area by reason of the fact that at one time she had worked at the RAF Camp at Haydock, but added that he didn't think she had ever visited Dutton before.
He noted that she had had some pills prescribed for her but that he couldn't say whether they had been for sleeping or not.
A policeman said that at about 8.15pm on Tuesday 15 August 1961 that he received information that a body had been found in the pit not far from the Talbot Arms Hotel at Dutton. He said that when he went to the pond, which was shallow, he saw the body about three feet from the bank. He said that the ground sloped gradually to the water and that the body was partially concealed by bulrushes and was half submerged. He said that the body was face downwards in the water and fully clothed and was in the course of decomposition. He added that there was an umbrella hanging from a lead to her wrist but that he didn't find any more of her belongings until the following day when they began to grapple the water after which they found her handbag which gave them clues as to her identity.
He said that there were no marks of violence on her body and that it had apparently been in the water for some time. He said that when he searched her purse which was in her handbag that he found £1 2s 11½d and a box type door key in her handbag.
The policeman said that when Annie Doherty came to the police station and was shown the clothing he identified it as being that of Annie Doherty and he later identified her body.
After her body was found the Coroner said, 'I see the Press are here. I would like their help. I would like them to give the widest possible publicity to this case. We want to try to trace anyone who can give the police any information whatsoever about the woman's movements from the time she left home to the day her body was recovered from the pool. Any information at all will be valuable as it is something of a mystery how she came to be in this area at all'.
However, nothing more was determined and an open verdict was later returned on Thursday 28 September 1961.
see Runcorn Weekly News - Thursday 28 September 1961
see Runcorn Weekly News - Thursday 24 August 1961