Date: 2 Jun 1948
Sidney Albert Gallop was found dead at the foot of a 300ft cliff at Ecclesbourne.
When the coroner summed up he told the jury that one of the options open to them was murder but they returned an open verdict.
He had lived in Stonefield Road in Hastings. He and his 23-year old wife were married in June 1943, but from the start their marriage had been unhappy. They had one child.
Sidney Gallop's wife said that their marriage had been unhappy from the start, mostly because of Sidney Gallop's moods and his tempers which she said were caused by money matters. She said, 'We decided there was nothing we could do about it and that it was a failure after the first six months. Sometimes my husband was violent and sometimes he said he would kill me'.
When Sidney Gallop's wife mentioned that Sidney Gallop had threatened to kill her, the coroner asked her whether she thought that he meant it, and Sidney Gallop's wife said, 'It was just in he heat of the moment'.
Sidney Gallop's wife said that they had also quarrelled about going to dances. She said, 'He was jealous if I danced with other people and objected to any friends I might make'. However, she noted that there was no difficulty regarding two particular young men friends, stating that Sidney Gallop knew she went dancing with them and made no objection.
She said that during a cliff-top walk up East Hill on 2 June 1948 at about 7.30pm Sidney Gallop told her that life was not worth living and that she then felt a jar on the side of her body and fell, but didn't go over the cliff. She said, 'The thought flashed across my mind he had tried to push me over the cliff' and she said that she ran away.
She said that as they were walking along the front and then up East Hill Sidney Gallop started talking about a holiday and suggested that she should go away for a week on her own as he thought that when she returned she might feel differently about living with him. She said that she suggested a separation and divorce but said that he would not agree and that he then said that life was not worth living. She said that she then told him not to be silly and that they then walked down a little gully running alongside the cliff edge and stopped. She said that then, as they were standing together on the cliff edge, she noticed that the earth around them was crumbly. She said, 'I felt a jar on the left half of my body. My left leg seemed to go out in front of me. It seemed to be on solid ground, but my other leg seemed to collapse. I fell to the ground, and I had the general impression my left side was on something, but my right side was hanging over. I did not go over the cliff. I felt as if something stopped me, and later I found the handle of my umbrella broken'.
She said that she didn't scream and that when she then looked up there was no sign of Sidney Gallop. She said, 'It had just flashed across my mind, he had tried to hurt me, that is, murder me. I thought he had tried to push me over the cliff. My first impulse was to run away, and I did run home'.
She noted that she didn't stop to tell two men that she saw what had happened as her impulse was to get home. She said that when she got to her mother's house, she was terrified and told her mother and a friend what had happened. She said that they later went to her own home together as she was too afraid to go alone in case Sidney Gallop had got there before her. She said that her mother or friend then later informed the police.
When Sidney Gallop's wife was asked whether there was anything else that made her believe that Sidney Gallop had tried to push her over the cliff, Sidney Gallop's wife said that when she had woken up on the morning of 2 June 1948, she found the windows and doors closed and the room full of gas. However, she said that when she went to bed the windows and door were open. She said that Sidney Gallop then came running up and turned off the gas tap. She said that at the time she thought that Sidney Gallop might have knocked it, but added that Sidney Gallop had previously attempted to take his own life on several occasions.
When she was questioned about a statement that she had made to the police in which she had said that they were happy, she said, 'We tried to keep it as quiet as we could. We did not want anyone to know our troubles'.
She denied that she wanted to be a housekeeper for a Greek man.
However, when Sidney Gallop's mother gave evidence at the inquest, she suggested that the evidence given by Sidney Gallop's wife was untrue. She said, 'My son may have had faults, but one of them was that he loved his wife too much'.
A man that lived in Bembrook Road in Hastings said that he had seen Sidney Gallop and his wife on the cliff top and said, 'They were quarrelling just like any man and wife do quarrel'.
A friend of Sidney Gallop said that Sidney Gallop told him that his wife said that it would all be settled by 4 June 1948 and that when she was pressed, she had said, 'He is going away by that date', referring to a certain man that she had been going about with.
The man that she was referring to, who lived in St Mary's Road in Hastings said that he took Sidney Gallop's wife out but didn't know that she was married. He said that she had given him a different name but added that he had been to her house where he had met Sidney Gallop.
When the coroner summed up, he said, 'However much you may disapprove of the way this couple were carrying on their married life, this is not a court of morals. Sidney Gallop's wife was 23 and her husband 41 and apparently he did not mind her going about with the other man'.
When the coroner told the jury that the possible verdicts included murder, he said, 'In order to reach that, you have got to find that Sidney Gallop's wife deliberately and with malice aforethought pushed him over. I cannot see evidence to justify that'.
The jury took five minutes to return an open verdict.
The inquest lasted four hours, two hours of which Sidney Gallop's wife was on the stand.
Sidney Gallop's wife was described at the inquest as being a tall, attractive brunette and as being dressed in black with a straw hat and half veil.
see Western Morning News - Saturday 12 June 1948
see Northern Whig - Saturday 12 June 1948
see Belfast News-Letter - Saturday 12 June 1948
see The Scotsman - Saturday 12 June 1948
see Birmingham Daily Gazette - Saturday 12 June 1948
see Dundee Courier - Saturday 12 June 1948
see Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer - Saturday 12 June 1948
see Western Mail - Saturday 12 June 1948
see Daily Herald - Saturday 12 June 1948