Unsolved Murders

Charles Booth

Age: 20

Sex: male

Date: 9 Jan 1939

Place: 22 Spring Gardens, Tewkesbury

Charles Booth died from head injuries after he went outside into the back yard to fight his brother.

Nobody saw what happened, but the brother said that Charles Booth had slipped and hit his head on the ground.

The medical evidence stated that the injury to Charles Booth's head was not caused by a fist and was probably due to coming into contact with a hard surface.

At the trial it was submitted by the defence that there was no prima facie case to answer and that from the evidence Charles Booth's death had been a pure accident.

The bench didn't retire and the Mayor said that they were of the unanimous opinion that the case had not been made out and Charles Booth was acquitted.

Charles Booth and his brother had both lived at 22 Spring Gardens in Tewkesbury.

On the afternoon of 8 January 1939, Charles Booth, his brother and their brother-in-law were playing cards at the house next door, 21 Spring Gardens. At about 4pm they went back to 22 Spring Gardens for tea and shortly after arriving there they had words and then blows were struck, which led to very high words between them.

They were prevented from fighting in the house by other family members and so Charles Booth took off his coat and waistcoat and challenged his brother to go outside.

When they went outside, no one else went out with them and no one saw what happened.

Shortly after, Charles Booth was found unconscious on the ground outside the door of the house bleeding from a very severe wound over his right eye. He was then carried into the house and a doctor was called for.

When the doctor arrived, he said that he found that Charles Booth had a jagged wound over his right temple and also extensive bruising to that area.

When Charles Booth's brother was arrested and taken to the police station and made a statement, he said, 'About ten minutes to three on Sunday, 8th January, me, Charles and my brother-in-law had a game of cards at 21 Spring Gardens, and we finished about 4 o'clock. Charlie and I went home to tea. During tea I said to him, 'Still moaning?'. On that he jumped up and came towards me. We started wrestling about. I had the upper hand for a few minutes. He got nasty and pushed me, and said, 'Come on outside'. I followed him out. I turned round as I got outside. He went to strike and slipped, causing him to fall, hitting his head. I struck no blow at all. Only Charlie struck me'.

The doctor said that when he was called to 22 Spring Gardens on the Sunday afternoon at 5pm, he found Charles Booth unconscious and obviously very seriously injured and immediately ordered him removed to the hospital. However, he said that he never regained consciousness and died the following morning, at 2am, Monday 9 January 1939.

He said that when he carried out a post-mortem, he found a jagged wound and inch long on the right temple and a large bruise in that area. He said that there were also some small scratches on the right side of his face near his nose, but that there were no other signs of violence. He said that Charles Booth's body was well nourished and well built

He said that there was no fracture to the skull, but that he had a laceration of the brain and stated that in his opinion death was due to compression of the brain and shock following laceration of the brain and severe inter-cranial haemorrhage. He added that he thought that his injuries were consistent with any severe blow on the skull, but said that he was doubtful whether his injuries would be caused by merely 'slipping-up' on a stone. However, he said that he was certain that the blow was not caused by a fist, but probably in coming in contact with a wall or the ground.

A man that had been at the house said that they were about to have tea and Charles Booth's mother took a cup of tea upstairs to her husband when Charles Booth and his brother started squabbling. He said that Charles Booth then got up from the table and went towards the stairs and that his brother followed him and started punching him. He said that Charles Booth then got a bit mad and hit his brother in the mouth with his clenched fist. He said that his brother then became mad too and 'offered' Charles Booth outside. The man said that he tried to stop them from fighting but said that they took no notice of him and so he sat down on the couch. He said that Charles Booth then said, 'Come on outside' to his brother, noting that he was rolling up his sleeves as he was going out. He said that a few seconds later he heard a thud outside and that when he looked through the window he saw Charles Booth on the ground lying face downwards.

He said that he then rushed out and turned him over and picked him up and then held him in his arms, saying that he was bleeding from a cut over his right eye.

He said that a doctor was then sent for, and that in the meanwhile Charles Booth's sister and mother bathed his eye.

Another brother that had been there at the time sad that when Charles Booth came home he looked sulky and said that he asked him what the matter was and said that Charles Booth replied, 'They have been chiselling at cards again'. He said that when the other brother came in, he said nothing about the card playing but then after going out and coming back in he looked at Charles Booth and said, 'You owe me sixpence', but said that Charles Booth replied, 'You won't get it'. He said that they then sat down for tea.

He said that whilst they were having tea, the brother asked for the sixpence again but said that Charles Booth replied, 'No', and that they then started sparring. The brother said that he parted them and held the brother back but said that Charles Booth was too strong for him and broke away and hit his brother in the jaw with his right fist causing his mouth to bleed. He said that the brother then said that he was not going to stand for being hit whilst being held and said that Charles Booth replied, 'Well come on outside and have it the right way'.

The brother said that the other brother was at that time waiting outside and said that Charles Booth then rushed outside and said that he saw him either fall over the step or slip on the stones and fall to the ground. He said that he seemed to turn half round and fall on his face. He said that the brother was three yards away at the time and said that he didn't see him strike any blows. He said that his brother was waiting for Charles Booth to get up, but that he didn't and so he went to fight with the other brother himself but said that the other man stopped him.

A policeman that examined the yard and said that the bricks were in good condition except for one which slightly stood out.

The brother was charged with the manslaughter of Charles Booth, but was acquitted after it was heard that the case had not been made out.

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

see www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

see Gloucestershire Echo - Wednesday 01 February 1939

see Cheltenham Chronicle - Saturday 28 January 1939

see The Tewkesbury Register, and Agricultural Gazette. - Saturday 14 January 1939

see Cheltenham Chronicle - Saturday 14 January 1939