Unsolved Murders

Charles Anthony ODwyer

Age: 14

Sex: male

Date: 24 Dec 1958

Place: Warth Lane, Skegness

Charles Anthony O'Dwyer was found hanging from a tree in Warth Lane, Skegness.

His inquest returned an open verdict.

He had lived in Albany Road in Skegness and had left home to go for a walk with his dog Lassie at about 3pm and the next his parents knew of him was when he was found dead at 6pm hanging from the tree.

He was found by a milk roundsman that had lived in Old Burgh Road and who had been out with his wife walking their dog as usual when he saw what he first thought was a cat at the side of the lane. He said that when he shone his torch at it he saw that it was a dog sitting at the foot of a tree.

He said, 'It looked at me in a bewildered way and I got the impression there was someone with it, but that something was wrong. Then I saw someone who appeared to be in a crouching position up the tree'.

He said that he then went over and saw Charles O'Dwyer hanging in the tree.

He said that the tree was practically coming out of the ditch at the side of the path and that Charles O'Dwyer had one foot on the grass verge and one part way down the banking.

A policeman that was called to the scene said that he found Charles O'Dwyer hanging from a leather dog lead, with one end thrown three or four times around some off-shoots about five feet from the ground and the other fashioned into a running noose by being passed through the loop in it. He said that it was so tightly around Charles O'Dwyer's neck that he had had to cut it away.

He said that there were no signs of a struggle and that Charles O'Dwyer had been neatly and tidily dressed.

He noted that the only way to hang from the tree as it stood was to hang down into the ditch.

When the Coroner asked the policeman whether Charles O'Dwyer could have slipped down the policeman said that the grass was wet and that he could have.

Charles O'Dwyer was otherwise described as a happy boy. His father, a retired sales manager, said that Charles O'Dwyer's health had not been good and said that in early 1956 he was found to be suffering from tuberculosis and spent a year in a sanatorium. He said that he had returned in February 1958 and that regular checks had been made on him that showed that there was no cause for concern.

He said that because of Charles O'Dwyer's medical history that he had been kept off school by arrangement with the authorities if he had a heavy cold or if the weather was very bad and noted that Charles O'Dwyer had been off with a cold on the day of his death.

Charles O'Dwyer's father said that after spending the morning helping to put up the Christmas decorations, Charles O'Dwyer was urged by him to go out for a walk as the sun was shining and said that Charles O'Dwyer left the house with their dog Lassie at about 3pm. He said that the next they had news of him was at 6pm when they were told of his death.

It was further heard that he had been a happy boy, good at home, at church and at school and was said to have been looking forward eagerly to having his two brothers, one of whom had not been home for two years, back home for a family Christmas.

He was also said to have been keen on television, especially Robin Hood and Popeye programmes, and never appeared to have a worry.

His father said, 'We often walked together down that lane. Sometimes Anthony would lasso a branch of a tree and swing on it, I told him not to in case he fell and hurt himself'.

His father added that Charles O'Dwyer had never said anything to indicate that he had ever thought of taking his own life, noting that he was religiously inclined and a good Catholic boy and that it would have been against his principles to do anything of the sort.

His father went on to say that he had not become worried when Charles O'Dwyer had not returned by 6pm, saying, 'The boy was 14 years old. I thought he must have met one of his school friends and gone home with him to watch television'.

Charles O'Dwyer's headmaster at the Morris Secondary School also attended the inquest and said that Charles O'Dwyer was above average in his school work in spite of his enforced absences. He added that he was a good mixer and had many friends and that he had never seen him depressed. He said, 'Whenever I saw him he was smiling. He was a good boy, and never had to be admonished for anything'.

When the Coroner summed up he said that he had had vey great difficulty in coming to any definite conclusion. He said that the dog lead must have been placed round Charles O'Dwyer's neck in some way, intentionally or accidentally, but how and why, and how he came to be hanging from the tree was not known.

He said, 'Personally, having heard of his happy home and school background, I cannot believe that a boy of his age would take his own life in this way, but I cannot find sufficient evidence to come to a definite conclusion'.

It was heard that the cause of death had been established as asphyxia due to strangulation and that the only verdict he could record in the circumstances was one of 'Found hanged' which he said was in fact an open verdict.

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

see www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

see Skegness Standard - Wednesday 24 December 1958

see Coventry Evening Telegraph - Friday 12 December 1958