Unsolved Murders

Velda Boswell

Age: 2 months

Sex: male

Date: 24 Jul 1959

Place: Telford Road, North Kensington, London

Velda Boswell died from a chest infection caused by a broken leg.

She was two months old and was said to have spent 39 days of her life in hospital.

She had lived with her parents in Battersea at first but they later moved to Telford Road in North Kensington.

Her cause of death was given as a chest infection due to fracture of the ribs and leg.

Velda Boswell's father said that Velda Boswell was their second child and that she had been in normal health when she was first brought home from hospital but said that a few days later his wife complained that Velda Boswell was breathing oddly and that she seemed to have some congestion in the chest.

He said that he then sent for a doctor who ordered Velda Boswell to Lambeth Hospital as they were living in Battersea at the time. He said, 'She spent two or three weeks in hospital and seemed all right when she came out except for still having an odd way of breathing.

He said that after they then moved to Telford Road that Velda Boswell again went into hospital for a week because of feeding difficulties.

He said that when he came home from work on 23 June 1959 that his wife told him that she had taken Velda Boswell to the hospital once again after she had fallen off her lap whilst she was bathing her.

Velda Boswell died a week later.

Velda Boswell's father said that his wife was nervous of bathing small babies and that he usually washed Velda Boswell when he came home in the evening.

Velda Boswell's mother, who was 19-years-old, said that on the day Velda Boswell was re-admitted to Lambeth Hospital that she had thumped her on the back harder than usual because she was choking and going blue when swallowing her food.

She agreed that she was very nervous of bathing small babies and said that it was because she couldn't seem to get hold of them. However, she said that on the day she decided to bathe Velda Boswell before taking her to the clinic. She said, 'I undressed her and put her on my lap. Then, as I stretched back to get a napkin to put under her head, she rolled off on to the floor. I presumed she hit the enamel bath in falling. She didn't cry or anything, so I picked her up and sat there for a bit'.

However, she said that she later noticed that Velda Boswell had a big lump on her leg and so she took her to the doctors who gave her a card to take her to the casualty department of St Charles Hospital where Velda Boswell remained until she died.

When the Coroner asked Velda Boswell's mother whether she had ever lost her temper with Velda Boswell, Velda Boswell’s mother replied, 'No, I never hit her, she was too small to hit'.

A doctor gave evidence detailing the condition Velda Boswell was in when she was  re-admitted to Lambeth Hospital on 8 May 1959. She said, 'She had a respiratory infection and two fractured ribs. The first week she was quite ill, but afterwards she made good progress and we considered she was well enough to be discharged'. She said that when she first examined Velda Boswell she could find no external marks or bruises on her and added that after she was discharged that two appointments were made for her to see a specialist at Lambeth, but that the appointments were not kept.

An LCC health visitor for North Kensington said that she went to see Velda Boswell's mother to ask why she had not kept the appointment with the specialist at Lambeth and said that Velda Boswell's mother told her that it was too far to go with two young children. The LLC health visitor said that she saw Velda Boswell and said that she seemed to be in quite a good condition, noting that she was dirty, but not neglected. However, she said that when she later called she found that Velda Boswell was limp and pallid and so she asked Velda Boswell's mother to bring Velda Boswell to the local clinic.

The LLC health visitor said that she next saw Velda Boswell's parents in the street on 24 June 1959 when they told her that Velda Boswell had been taken to St Charles Hospital.

She noted that the place where Velda Boswell's parents lived in Telford Road had two rooms and a kitchen and that it was quite adequate for the area.

An orthopaedic registrar at St Charles Hospital said that when Velda Boswell was brought in that he found that she had a serious fracture above the knee joint and that in his opinion that could not have been caused without the fall having been from some height, adding that he did not think that a fall from a mothers knee to the floor could have caused such an injury.

A pathologist that also examined Velda Boswell corroborated the orthopaedic registrar's evidence, saying that he thought that it would have required some force for the fracture of that sort to occur and that it would have been 'rather unusual' if only a small fall had caused it.

The pathologist said that Velda Boswell had been the normal length and weight for her age and that its death was due to the chest infection which was caused mainly by the old fracture of the ribs and added to by the infected fracture of the leg.

He noted that there was no other sign of injury.

When the Coroner summed up he said that whilst the cause of death was plain, that there was no evidence to show how Velda Boswell's ribs  and leg had become fractured, other than the circumstances detailed by Velda Boswell's mother.  He noted that Velda Boswell's mother had denied ever applying any kind of violence to Velda Boswell, but said that on the other hand the medical evidence was that a fair degree of violence would have been needed to have produced the kind of injuries that Velda Boswell had suffered from, although the pathologist had said that there were no external injuries to suggest a violent assault.

When the Coroner considered whether Velda Boswell's death had been accelerated by parental neglect, he said that there was no evidence to that effect and said, 'We must remember that up to its last admittance in St Charles Hospital that the child had spent no less than 39 days of its life in hospital, and that there was no apparent refusal by either parent to seek medical care'.

The Coroner then said that there was not sufficient corroboration of the evidence given by Velda Boswell's mother as to how the fractures occurred for him to record a verdict of accidental death and an open verdict was returned.

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

see www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

see Kensington Post - Friday 24 July 1959