Unsolved Murders

George Laud

Age: 42

Sex: male

Date: 15 Oct 1963

Place: Swineshead Bridge

George Laud was hit by a car near his home in Swineshead Bridge.

He was found dead on the roadside in the early hours of 30 June1963.

George Laud had been an agricultural worker.

He had been hit by a car owned by a ganger, but the ganger denied that he had been driving the car when George Laud was hit.

His inquest returned a verdict that he met his death by accident and that the accident was caused by a car belonging to the ganger, of Chapel Lane, Great Hale, but driven by a person or persons unknown.

The inquest heard that the car that had hit George Laud had been traced and that there was no doubt that it had caused his death.

The pathologist said that George Laud's death was due to a broken neck, consistent with him having been knocked down by a passing car.

George Laud had been drinking at the Plough Inn at Swineshead Bridge, having left between 11pm and 11.30pm on 29 June 1963, the landlord there describing him as being quite all right.

His body was later discovered about 150 yards past the Barge Inn lying by the side of the road by a man that had lived in Park Avenue, Spalding, that had driven with his father-in-law from Fosdyke at 6am on 30 June 1963 to Swineshead Bridge. He said that his father-in-law pointed out to him that there had been a man lying in the roadside and that when they stopped to look they found George Laud lying face downwards apparently badly injured and stone cold.

He said that he then telephoned for the police and waited a the scene for them to arrive. He said:

I found two strips of chrome car flashing near to the body, and there were two pieces of gold coloured metal on the left hand side of the road 10 or 15 yards away.

A police constable that arrived at the scene said that he examined the fragments of metal and found that when assembled they formed the word 'Creata' and that later that afternoon he went to the Nag's Head yard at Great Hale where he saw a white Cresta car, no WFU 241. He said that the vehicle was partially hidden by a caravan which he knew was occupied by a certain family and he went knocked on the door.

He noted that when he looked at the vehicle that he found that there were two strips of metal missing as well as the word Cresta.

He said when the man in the caravan, who owned the car, opened the door, he explained the reason for his enquiries and that the man replied:

It was not out last night. I was in with my wife and she will tell you the same.

He said that they then both walked towards the car and found that the windscreen glass had completely gone and that the front nearside headlamp glass and the bulb glass were missing and the headlamp rim had been forced back. They also found that the nearside upright of the windscreen was dented and two hairs were adhering to it.

The man then said:

I was not out and the key has been in my pocket all night.

When he was asked whether anyone else had used the car, he replied:

Not to my knowledge, unless they took it without my knowing. He must have done because it was not damaged yesterday when I used it.

The police constable noted that the position of the car would have been the best place to have concealed it, except by placing it in a garage.

On Saturday 6 July 1963, the man was served with three documents, one f them being that he should supply the name and address of the driver on the night in question. when he was served the document he asked:

What do I put here?

And when he was told, he replied:

Do you want it now because I don't know who it was.

When he was told that he should complete the documents as quickly as possible, he replied:

I shall see my solicitor about this.

A detective said that when he went to see the car at Great Hale that he found that it showed signs of having been wiped. He said that he also found two fibres and hairs on the near side of the car. He said that when they told the man that they were satisfied that his car had been involved in the accident that knocked George Laud down, the man said:

I can't explain it because I was not out that night. I did not load it to anybody and the keys were in my pocket all the time.

He also said that the only noise he heard in the night was when his dog barked.

the detective noted that there were no fingerprints on the car and that there were one or two pieces of windscreen glass inside the car. He added that he had had considerable difficulty in driving the car from  its position because the wheels skidded on the loose gravel and made quite a noise.

Medical evidence showed that George Laud had consumed a minimum of 7½ pints of beer or a little under half a bottle of spirits.

The man whose Cresta it was said that he bought it on 28 June 1963, the day before the tragedy, and went on to tell about his journeys that day to Boston, Sleaford and Roxholme, adding that he arrived home that evening between 8.30pm and 9pm.

He said that because of a lorry in the way that he had to park at the bottom of the yard. He said that he didn't lock the car and had the keys in his pocket when he went to bed.

He said that when he heard the dog bark he went to the door and found the landlady in the yard, who said to him, 'It's all right, it is only me', however, he said that he didn't bother to see if the car was there, noting that his door faced the other way.

He said that he didn't know anything about his car until the police came around.

He said that he saw the car when the policeman arrived and noticed that the strips were missing and that there was no glass in the windscreen, adding that when he put it away that the night before that it had been in good condition and that he could not explain the damage.

He denied that he had been involved in an accident at all with the car, or that he had given anyone any permission to take the car out. He added that when he bought the car he was only given one key.

When the owner of the car was questioned at the inquest, he said that on the Saturday he had gone to Roxholme to look at a field and on the Sunday he had sat in the trailer and then gone out for a pint. He said that he got a surprise when he saw the car when the policeman came. He added that he was certain that he had not been standing by the car outside the caravan during the night.

In response to further questions from the police representative, he said that he did not at the time of the inquest own a car as the Cresta had to go back. He also repeated that as far as he knew, there had been only one ignition key. When he was asked:

But someone had an ignition key to fit and came along and collected the car?

The man replied:

They must have done.

When he was asked about sound, he said:

How should I know it was my car? Would you have known the sound of yours after 48 hours? If I am accused of this I ask to be charged now. I did not go to Sutterton. I have had quite enough of this on both sides. I am not going to be accused of it.

The police representative then said:

I suggest to you it is a fact that you drove this car this night from Swineshead and back towards Heckington?

To which the oenwer of the Cresta car replied:

No sir.

When the Coroner then asked him whether he knew the inn at Sutterton, he replied:

I have never been to Sutterton.

When he was then asked whether he had ever been in the New Inn he replied, 'No'.

The licensee of the New Inn at Sutterton then gave evidence, stating that on the night of 29 June 1963, at about 10pm, he went into the singing room and spoke to a person who resembled a photograph later shown to him.  When he was then asked to look around the court to see if he could see that person there, he replied:

There is someone there very much like him.

And he pointed to the owner of the Cresta car.

When he was questioned, he said that he 'resembled, the person he saw in the bar, but that that was as far as he would go.

When he was further questioned, he said that the person who resembled the person in the photograph was the only person he spoke to, noting that there had been another person along with him at the time. He said that only one photograph was shown to him and that that would have been on the Monday morning after the accident.

He said that the description that he gave of the man to the police constable that spoke to him was that he was practically the same build as himself, 5ft 8in tall, had dark hair and wore a grey suit.

The man that own the Cresta car then said:

I had never had a grey suit and I have never put my foot in your pub.

A long-distance lorry driver that also used Nag's Head yard said that he kept his car there and that on the evening of 29 June 1963 he and his wife returned home by car at about 12.15am and saw a caravan there and a Vauxhall car at the bottom of the yard.

When the Coroner addressed the jury, he said that in his view, they would be going a long way if they went so far as to decide that in fact the owner of the Cresta car had been driving it at the time of the accident.

He added that there was no evidence as to either the conduct of the driver of the car, whoever that might have been was, or that of George Laud, at the time of the accident.

The Coroner noted that there was evidence that George Laud had consumed a considerable quantity of beer, but observed that he could well have been the sort of man that could drink seven pints and still be 'as good as new'.

He further noted that there was no evidence about the accident itself, or as to  whether anyone had done anything amounting to criminal culpability at the time the accident occurred.

He said that there was a lot of evidence that, he thought, would satisfy them that the man’s car had been the car involved, and a certain amount of evidence that he had been, in fact, the driver, even though he denied it.

However, he concluded that there was no evidence to show how the car had been driven, or how the accident occurred.

The jury then returned their verdict.

His funeral took place at St Mary's Church in Swineshead.

see www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

see Lincolnshire Free Press - Tuesday 15 October 1963

see Lincolnshire Free Press - Tuesday 16 July 1963