Unsolved Murders

Robert Brian Humphry

Age: 14

Sex: male

Date: 10 Mar 1933

Place: Abbeydale Road South, Sheffield

Robert Brian Humphry was knocked over by a car.

The driver of the car said that he had been blinded by the sun whilst he was driving along and that the next thing he knew was that there was a collision with something on the nearside of the road. He said that he then applied his breaks and skidded on to the snow bank at the near side of the road. He said that he had been driving at between 20 and 25 miles per hour at the time and was on the near side of the road travelling from Sheffield towards Totley. He said that he drew well into his side of the road to allow traffic to proceed in the opposite direction when the collision happened.

He said that he had taken his first driving licence in 1918 and had since driven between 15,000 and 18,000 miles a year. He denied that he had been driving too fast.

The inquest heard that he had hit Robert Humphry who was flung into the air by the impact above the car bonnet and fell into the gutter. He died soon after.

Robert Humphry had been sitting on his bicycle with his foot on the left-hand footpath of Abbeydale Road South watching a football match in a field at that side of the road when he was hit by the saloon car at 3.30pm.

It was heard that on the day the roads were partly obstructed by banks of snow on each side with about 17 feet of road surface being left for motor traffic.

The coroner said that the question of what is criminal negligence on the part of the driver was a very difficult one and that it turned a great deal on the bench of magistrates or judge that tried each case. He said, 'I have found from my experience that when I, as a motorist and lawyer, think that there is evidence to suggest that the driving has been so negligent as to justify a charge of manslaughter, the bench of magistrates who may or may not be motorists, disagree with me'.

When the coroner summed up he said that he thought that there was evidence on which the jury might find the driver at fault and advised the jury to bring in an open verdict saying that it would mean that the responsibility for deciding whether there was manslaughter or a lesser criminal offence or no criminal offence would fall on the magistrates or police who may or may not charge the driver.

The jury then returned an open verdict.

Robert Humphry had lived in Havercroft Road in Norton Woodseats, Sheffield.

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

see www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

see Sheffield Independent - Friday 10 March 1933