Unsolved Murders

Philip John King

Age: 48

Sex: male

Date: 15 Mar 1958

Place: 12 Cloudesley Road, St Leonards, Hastings, Sussex

Philip John King was found hanging in his coal cellar at 12 Cloudesley Road in St Leonards on Wednesday 12 March 1958.

An open verdict was returned at his inquest on Friday 14 March 1958.

When the Coroner summed up he said, 'I have given this matter some considerable thought, and considered carefully the evidence before me, and I am not satisfied that I have sufficient evidence to say that Mr King intentionally killed himself. On the other hand, equally I find that there is insufficient evidence to satisfy me that this was an accident, and in those circumstances I must record an open verdict'.

It was thought that he might have hung himself whilst carrying out some sort of experiments. He was found wearing a plastic mackintosh on back to front and from the place where he was found would have been facing a mirror that was in the coal cellar.

His widow said that she found Philip King when she got back from a music festival. She added that Philip King had been in good health recently although he had been tired because of pressure of business but did not know of him having had any business worries at all.

She said, 'My daughter was dancing at the Musical Festival. He drove us down and dropped us there. He seemed quite all right except that when I turned to wave I thought he was watching me'.

Philip King's wife said that Philip King had been very happy at lunch and had been talking about their holidays which they had confirmed earlier that morning. She said that at about 4.50pm they returned home but could not open the door and so they climbed in through the bedroom window and went into the drawing room. She said that Philip King's coat was there and that she noticed that the coal scuttle didn't have much in it.

She said, 'The telephone rang, and it was a business call from someone he was going to see at half-past four. I knew he could not be far away as his coat was there and the car was outside. I picked up the coal scuttle and went downstairs. I opened the cellar door. The light was on and he was there. A rope was round his neck, waist and ankles. There was a heavy weight at the other end of the rope'.

She said that she cut the rope and cut him down and then telephoned for the police.

A policeman that arrived soon after said that he found Philip King's body lying in the corner of the coal cellar when he got there. He said that there was a newly-inserted hook attached to the ceiling and a rope wound round Philip King's waist three times, cut in several places. He added that there was then a 56lb iron weight on the floor and a block of wood.

He added that he had been wearing a plastic mackintosh on back to front which was buttoned up to the neck.

He noted that there was a mirror in the corner of the room and that Philip King's body would have been roughly facing the mirror. He said that it would have been possible to stand on the wooden block and that there was no sign of any struggle in the house or cellar.

The policeman said that he carried out artificial respiration until the doctor arrived.

The police surgeon that carried out the post mortem said that Philip King's death was due to asphyxia due to strangulation with a ligature around his neck.

He said that Philip King appeared to have been in excellent health an noted that he had been a powerfully built man and that there was nothing at all wrong physically with him.

As the police surgeon was giving evidence that Coroner asked him whether it was within medical knowledge for persons to carry out experiments to see how far they could apply pressure to themselves, the police surgeon agreed that it was so and said, 'People think they will be able to control the pressure and they lose unconsciousness almost immediately'. When the police surgeon was questioned about the plastic mackintosh, he said, 'One reads about people dressing themselves in rather peculiar ways and tying themselves up in these experiments'.

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

see www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

see Hastings and St Leonards Observer - Saturday 15 March 1958