Date: 10 Jul 1953
Margaret Ann Robson died after injuring her stomach and giving birth to a still-born child.
It was claimed that she had fallen off her bicycle and a verdict of accidental death was returned.
However, at her inquest her husband, from whom she was separated, shouted out that he heard someone say that 'they had murdered her'. Following the husbands outcry the inquest was adjourned so that his claims could be looked into and a jury formed rather than it just being heard before the Coroner.
Following her accident, she was taken to hospital where she gave birth to a still-born child and later died from her stomach injuries.
Her husband said that he had not lived with Margaret Robson since 1951, but that on 9 July 1953 he got a message saying that she had met with an accident at Lichfield and then went to Burton Infirmary where he saw that she was suffering from severe stomach injuries caused by a cycle accident.
He said that he knew nothing of what had happened to Margaret Robson until he was contacted by the police in Bournemouth
He said that as he was not quite satisfied about the accident he went to the police where he learned of her pregnancy. He said that he then went to her house and said that her landlady started to yell and shout and make accusations, but not against anyone in particular.
When the Coroner asked Margaret Robson's husband what the accusations were, he said that the landlady had said that Margaret Robson was not having a child and alleged that she said, 'They have murdered her'.
Margaret Robson's husband also complained that the hospital had acted funny with him, saying that they had told him that Margaret Robson had fallen off her cycle although she told him that she had not done so and had asked him to forgive her. When the Coroner asked Margaret Robson's husband what he thought Margaret Robson was asking to be forgiven for, Margaret Robson's husband said that he didn't know. When the Coroner suggested that it was for having the baby or getting rid of it, Margaret Robson's husband said, 'I took it two ways. First I thought it was having a child and then I thought she tried not to have it'.
When the Coroner then addressed the jury he told them that he would produce all the evidence he could and that it was then up to them to decide which of the two things happened, noting that all they could do was use their common sense.
He said that it was the case of a woman giving birth to a stillborn child and that there was some evidence that the unfortunate occurrence had happened due to an accident but that there was a lack of evidence that any such accident happened and it would be up to them to decide whether her death was accidental or otherwise.
He additionally noted that they were in fact actually holding an inquest on two bodies, Margaret Robson and the still-born child.
A doctor that saw Margaret Robson at Burton Infirmary said that there were no outward signs of injury and that he could find no evidence that Margaret Robson had been interfered with.
Whilst she was at hospital, Margaret Robson made a statement to a police woman and said that she had been taking a short cut back to Whittington and as she was going to fast she came off her cycle at the bottom of Darnford Hill, noting that as far as she could truthfully say, she had collided with the pavement edge.
She also told her niece who went to see her in hospital that she had fallen off her bicycle and hit a brick.
When Margaret Robson's landlady was questioned at the inquest and asked whether she said to Margaret Robson's husband, 'It will all come out at the inquest and they have murdered her', she denied it. When the Coroner then said to her, 'If you are not inferring someone is a criminal are you inferring the husband is a perjurer?' and the landlady replied, 'Owing to rumours going round', to which the Coroner said, 'I am not interested in rumours, did you say, 'Someone has murdered her'', and she replied, 'No I didn't'.
When the Coroner then asked her what she said, she replied, 'I put it down to people talking. I knew people were talking about her going round.'. The Coroner then said, 'You can't just get away with these statements without incriminating either the husband as a perjurer or someone has been murdered. What did you say?' and the landlady replied, 'I said those who got the rumours about were Margaret's murderers'.
The Coroner then asked the landlady, 'You completely deny saying, 'They have murdered her?'' and the landlady replied, 'Not like that. I asked Margaret if she was pregnant and she denied it. When the rumours were going round, I said those who had got the rumours round were her murderers'.
The Coroner then said, 'I assume you are nothing more than a gossip-monger?' and she replied, 'No'. He then asked, 'Or are you a perjurer?' and she again replied, 'No'.
Margaret Robson's husband said that Margaret Robson said nothing about being run over or falling off her bike to him. He said that when he saw her a second time after being told that she was dying he asked her, 'You didn't fall off your bike did you?', and said that she replied , 'No' and that she then turned to his sister and said 'You will find out'. He added that she also told him that she had done a very silly thing.
When the Coroner summed up and addressed the jury, he said that they could see the damage which could be done by rumours and said that they could take it from him that there was no legal evidence of manhandling of Margaret Robson and that there was no evidence whatsoever of her having been interfered with.
The jury then returned the verdict of accidental death and that the child had been stillborn.
see Birmingham Daily Gazette - Saturday 18 July 1953
see Lichfield Mercury - Friday 24 July 1953