Unsolved Murders

Hilda Elsie Moore

Age: 6 months

Sex: female

Date: 16 Dec 1933

Place: 77 Ravenhurst Street, Birmingham

Hilda Moore died after her father said that he fell down the stairs with her.

An open verdict was returned after it was heard that there was not enough evidence to show how she had come about her death.

Her parents had been living in a disused pub at the time until they could get a better home. Part of the upstairs was used as a bake-house and there were two cats on the premises, but they did not belong to the couple.

The father said that he fell down the stairs with the child in his arms and the mother said that she pummelled the child, trying to massage it to bring it round.

He said that the place was in darkness and that he had heard Hilda Moore cry and thought that he would carry her downstairs and put her in her perambulator. He said that as he was descending the stairs with Hilda Moore in his arms he heard something jump and scrape and seem to go downstairs saying later that he didn't realise that there were cats in the place. He said that the sound had startled him and said that his feet seemed to go from under him and he fell on his back, sliding down six or seven steps to the bottom of the stairs. He said that as he slid down he put out his left arm and clutched Hilda Moore to him with the other.

He denied that anyone had jumped on her and said that he didn't handle her roughly apart from when he fell down the stairs.

The mother said that when she returned on the Saturday she found that her husband had fallen down the stairs with Hilda Moore in his arms and said that he was applying hot fomentations. She said that she then took Hilda Moore from him and in a fit of desperation, fearing she was going to die, she pummelled her and tried to massage her to bring her back to life.

She said that she continued trying to bring Hilda Moore round until about 2am when they went for a doctor, leaving Hilda Moore in the house. However, she said that she couldn't get a reply from the doctors and so left a note asking for him to come as soon as possible. She said that when they got back they found Hilda Moore was dead.

The coroner said that it seemed extraordinary that they should have gone off to the doctors leaving a dying child by itself in the house.

The doctor, who lived in Bradford Street, said that he thought it most unlikely that if the parents had been ringing his bell at 2am as they had said in their note that he should not have heard it.

He said that when he examined Hilda Moore in the morning he found that she had been dead for several hours.

The mother said that when Hilda Elsie Moore was about four months old she had fallen out of a perambulator which was missing a wheel and that she had broken her right arm.

The post-mortem revealed that Hilda Moore's seventh, eighth and ninth ribs on both side of her body had been broken close to the breast bone and that her liver was ruptured and broken in three places. She added that she didn't pummel her to harm her.

The post-mortem further found that there was evidence that at some time or another since her birth, all four of Hilda Moore's limbs had been broken. However, he added that he was satisfied that Hilda Moore had a bone disease that would tend to make the bones, including the ribs, brittle. He said that it was possible that some damage might have been done when the father had gripped Hilda Moore when he fell down the stairs and that the treatment the mother had described might have aggravated the condition, but said that the liver injuries could only be explained by considerable violence. However, he added that the liver could have been rendered more liable to injury if the ribs were easily breakable.

The father, who was a second-hand dealer said that he had been in mental hospitals for nervous trouble, each time being in hospital for nine or ten months.

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

see www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

see Birmingham Daily Gazette - Saturday 16 December 1933