Unsolved Murders

Henry Reid

Age: 72

Sex: male

Date: 26 Dec 1932

Place: Southminster to Chelmsford Road

Henry Reid was killed by an unknown vehicle.

Henry Reid was a general labourer and lived in a caravan at Sharpe's Farm in Latchingdon.

He was found dead on the Southminster to Chelmsford road on 26 December 1932 and was later identified by his sister-in-law who had last seen him ten weeks before, noting that he had been in good health.

A policeman that said he knew Henry Reid said that he saw him at 10.10pm on the Monday, 26 December 1932 standing at the entrance to Sharpe's Farm. He said that he didn't speak to him or notice anything special or peculiar about him.

About half an hour later a man found Henry Reid lying in the road and said that he thought he was dead. He was lying in the road on his back near to the garden of Sherwoods. His head was 7ft 9in from the near side of the road proceeding to Cold Norton, and his feet were 4ft 7in from the off side of the road. His body was still warm, but he was dead.

At that point the road was 18ft 4in wide. A cap and a broken beer bottle were found a distance of 22ft 5in further down the road on the Latchingdon side of the Cold Norton Road. They were 4ft 6in from the right-hand side of the road. Grey hair was found about 5ft away from the cap on the Cold Norton side of the road.

A car driver that found him nearly hit him in the road before crashing into a hedge said that he saw something in the road and swerved to avoid it and drove into a hedge about 51 feet from Henry Reid's body. He had been driving along with two passengers at the time. The car was on the greensward further towards Cold Norton. The distance from the body to the near side of the greensward where the car had mounted was 24 feet and the greensward was about 2 feet high with a small slope.

When the driver of the car was spoken to he said, 'There's been a nasty accident. A chap in the road is dead'.

The drivers car was examined but there was nothing to connect it with the accident.

The car driver said that he had left with two passengers from Althorne at about 10.15pm for a dance in Cold Norton. He said that the night was misty and that his windscreen wipers were working and that he had been travelling at about 20 miles per hour. He said that he didn't meet any traffic, and nor did anyone pass him, and said that his lights were on and that he could see about 25 yards ahead of him. He said he saw the object in the road, Henry Reid, when he was about 15 or 16 yards from it and put his footbrake on and swung the car to the left, passed the object, Henry Reid, and then went up a bank on the left-hand side of the road and stopped in a hedge.

When the doctor arrived at 11.45pm he said that Henry Reid had probably been dead for between one and two hours. He said that when he carried out the post-mortem he found a small scalp wound on the left side of the back of his head that reached down to the bone. He said that there were also numerous fractures and that nearly all of his ribs were broken. He said that Henry Reid's right collarbone was dislocated and that his left collarbone was broken. He also said that his left arm was broken and that there was a fracture to his pelvis on both sides. He said that his left thigh and leg were also both broken. The doctor said that his right leg was fractured and that he had a compound fracture just above his ankle. He noted that Henry Reid's internal organs were perfectly healthy and that his cause of death in his opinion was due to pressure on his heart caused by his chest being crushed, and said that his death would have been immediate. He also said that considering the enormous number of fractures that death could also have been caused by shock.

The doctor said that he thought that his death could have been caused by him being run over by a car with one wheel passing over his ankle and other wheels passing over his chest. He also said that he didn't think that the injuries could have been caused by the car that was found in the hedge because the wheels were 8in too wide. He also said that he didn't think that his injuries could have been caused whilst he had been standing up either.

The doctor said that the injury to the back of his head might have been caused by a fall which could have knocked him unconscious, but not have caused death, but that there was no doubt that his injuries were caused by a heavy vehicle. He said that he doubted that a light vehicle would have caused them.

A policeman carried out enquiries into vehicles passing between 10.10pm and 10.40pm but nothing was revealed. He said that he also examined the road carefully for skid marks but found none.

A police inspector later went to the Black Lion Inn where the car driver lived on 29 December 1932 and took measurements of his car which was an Austin Twelve saloon and weighed about 24cwt. The policeman said that he then went with the man and asked him to attain the same speed that he had been driving on the night approaching the body which he said was about 20mph and then asked him to apply his breaks and said that he was able to pull up in about 21ft on a level road. He said that when they did so, it left a skid mark.

The policeman said that he examined the body of Henry Reid and found that he was 5ft 8in tall. He said that he examined his clothes and found a jagged tear and a black grease mark on the back of his trousers and said that the grease was similar to that of a motor vehicle. He also said that Henry Reid's overcoat was torn to rags.

The policeman said that the road was fairly dry but that visibility was not very good and that when he had gone out he could only have seen 30 to 40 yards at the spot.

A woman that had been in the car that drove into the hedge said that she had got into the Austin Twelve saloon car at about 10.30pm with another man to go to a dance at Cold Norton. She was a domestic and said that they had left from 4 Station Cottages in Althorne and had not been in any particular hurry and had not asked the driver to hurry. She said that the driver was going at his usual speed and not fast. She said that she was sitting in the nears side of the car in the rear seat. She said that it wasn't raining but she could not see clearly. She said that she saw Henry Reid in the road before they went into the hedge. She said that he was in the middle of the road and that they appeared to be almost upon him before she saw him. She said then that in an instant the car served towards the ditch and said that as the car passed the body she didn't feel any jolt.

The woman said that when they got out the driver then said, 'Let's fetch a policeman' and said that they then walked off to the police station and on the way saw the broken bottle and Henry Reid's cap.

The other man in the car, a poultryman of 4 Station Cottages in Althorne, said that he had also been riding in the car. He said that it had been misty out and that they had been travelling at about 25mph and didn't see any other traffic. He said that the car swerved or skidded, bumped and then went right into the hedge. He said that he didn't feel any jolt before they struck the greensward. He said that he then scrambled out and said that the driver said, 'There is an animal or object in the road' and that they then found Henry Reid dead in the road.

He said that the driver came to see him on the Wednesday but said that they didn't talk about what they were going to say to the police and that they didn't talk about the accident. He said that the driver only asked if he was hurt and things of that nature.

The licensee of the Lion Inn in Latchingdon said that Henry Reid had come into her house at about 7.45pm on 26 December 1932 and had left between 9.30pm and 9.45pm after having two pints of old and mild ale and a glass of bitter and said that he had taken away a quart of ale in a bottle and noted that he had been sober when he had left.

The coroner said that it was clear how Henry Reid had met his death but not clear what caused it and an open verdict was returned.

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

see www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

see Chelmsford Chronicle - Friday 06 January 1933