Unsolved Murders

Lillian Grimes

Age: 29

Sex: female

Date: 13 Jul 1956

Place: 54 Brookfield Gardens, Rodley, Leeds

Lillian Grimes was found strangled at her home at 54 Brookfield Gardens in Rodley.

Her 35-year-old husband was tried for her murder but acquitted.

However, following his acquittal her inquest was resumed and an open verdict was returned.

The police were called to 54 Brookfield Gardens in Rodley at about 11.55pm on Saturday 13 July 1956 and when they arrived they found Lillian Grimes dead.

Lillian Grimes's husband was a fettler.

It was claimed that Lillian Grimes's husband had strangled Lillian Grimes during a row over an unpaid milk bill.

When her husband was charged he replied, 'I am innocent'. In a statement to the police he admitted that he and his wife had argued 'on and off' over money for years.

He later said that on the night of 3 March 1956 that they had a quarrel about an amount of £1 6s 7d that was owed to the milkman and that his wife had said something to him about minding his own business. He said, 'She came at me and I lost my temper. I don't know whether she had anything in her hand or not. I grabbed her by the neck and she went down and I went on top of her and I held on. She went still, and I slapped her face and wiped it'.

He said that after he failed to bring her round that he telephoned for the police.

He said in a later statement that they had been married for about ten years and said that Lillian Grimes was 'a good lass' who only went out to the pictures two or three times a week. He said that he gave her £8 10s or £9 a week and that she also had the family allowance for their three children. He noted that she didn't drink but that she did smoke a lot.

He said that on the Saturday 3 March 1956 that he went out after tea and visited two public houses in Pudsey where he had four or five pints of beer.

It was later heard that a police sergeant that had been on duty at Leeds police headquarters received a 999 call shortly before midnight from a man that sounded very distressed and who was crying. He said that the man gave his name and address and said, 'Will you come? I believe I have killed my wife'. The police sergeant said that he then immediately informed the Pudsey police. He said that the same man then rang again a few minutes later and said, 'Are you coming. She might still be alive'.

Soon after, upon receipt of the message from Leeds two policemen went out in a car to 54 Brookfield Gardens and on the way they saw Lillian Grimes's husband near a public telephone kiosk.

When a detective then spoke to him, Lillian Grimes's husband said, 'I think I have killed her. Come on. I will take you to her'. It was noted that he had at that time been very upset and was crying.

The police said that when they went into his house that they found that the front door latch on the door had dropped and that they had had to break a glass panel in the door to release the lock.

When they went in they found Lillian Grimes on the floor in the kitchen and said that she appeared to be dead and that that they then took her husband with them into custody.

At the magistrates court it was heard that the police had no reason to doubt Lillian Grimes's husband's story regarding what he had said about their domestic troubles. It was also heard that as far as the police knew Lillian Grimes's husband was a good worker and not extravagant in his private habits and was of previous good character.

The pathologist that examined Lillian Grimes's body said that her death was due to manual strangulation. However, he noted that beneath her body in the kitchen that he found a table knife, but said, 'I think there had been very little struggle'.

Lillian Grimes's sister described her husband as a man of quiet unassuming character and even-tempered, saying, 'I am not unfriendly in spite of his domestic troubles, if any'.

After Lillian Grimes's husband was acquitted at the trial, the Coroner resumed the inquest, noting as he did so that it was unusual to resume an inquest following criminal proceedings. The Coroner told the jury that a verdict of 'Not guilty' had been returned against Lillian Grimes's husband who had been accordingly discharged, but that he had not been informed officially of the reason for the verdict or the defence on which Lillian Grimes's husband had been acquitted.

He went on to say that on the evidence at that time before him, which was taken when the inquest was opened, that it might have been that some other person might have been guilty of murder and that as such he felt therefore that it was desirable to resume the inquest to establish whether or not murder was committed by any other person.

However, a detective that was present at the resumed inquest said that he had been concerned in the inquiries relating to Lillian Grimes's death and said that he had no reason to believe that any other person other than Lillian Grimes's husband had been concerned in it. He added that he had been present at the Assize hearings and said that in these proceedings that he heard of no suggestion that any other person was responsible.

The Coroner then asked Lillian Grimes's husband, who was present at the resumed inquest, 'At the time your wife died was there anyone else in the room other than you and your wife?' to which Lillian Grimes's husband responded, 'No, sir'.

When the Coroner then addressed the jury again he reiterated that it was unusual for a Coroner to resume an inquest where a person had been charged with a criminal offence, noting that in the present case that the person charged had been acquitted. However he added that 'that only established the fact that Lillian Grimes's husband was not criminally responsible for his wife's death. But we know that death was due to manual strangulation, and it is therefore necessary for us to exclude the possibility that any other person was responsible for the death, and that appears to have been done on the evidence given today'.

The jury then retired for five minutes before returning with an open verdict'.

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

see www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

see National Archives - ASSI 87/80, ASSI 45/263, DPP 2/2514

see Bradford Observer - Friday 13 July 1956

see Bradford Observer - Tuesday 06 March 1956

see Shields Daily News - Monday 05 March 1956

see Bradford Observer - Thursday 08 March 1956

see Bradford Observer - Wednesday 28 March 1956

see Daily Mirror - Tuesday 06 March 1956