Date: 29 May 1961
John Thomas Hogg was found drowned in a five-foot long slipper bath in the corporation baths in Gibson Street, Newcastle-upon-Tyne on Monday 29 May 1961.
The slipper bath had about 12 inches of water in it when John Hogg was found. He was found about three hours after he entered the slipper bath.
A pathologist said that his cause of death was drowning and thought that his mouth and nose must have been under the water at some time.
However, he said that he could not explain how John Hogg was found sitting in the bath with his head above the water when he was found. He said that it was possible for the body to contract through rigor mortis, but didn't think that that was possible in the time that had elapsed.
A police sergeant that was called out to the baths said, 'He was sitting in the bath with his back following the natural curvature of the back of the bath. The top part of his shoulders, head and chest were above the top of the bath and his head was in fact, well clear of the water'.
He noted that the bath was 5ft long and 2ft wide.
A man that worked at the baths and who lived in Regent Road North in Gosforth said that John Hogg used to come to the baths every week or fortnight and that he had filled his bath on the Monday to a depth of about 12 inches, adding, 'He liked his bath above the normal temperature. I used to allow him in for a longer time than most because of his pains'. He said that about an hour after John Hogg had gone into the bath that he knocked on his door and asked if he was all right and said that John Hogg replied, 'Fine'.
However, he said that at about 7pm the cashier told him that John Hogg had not collected his 2s 6d deposit and as there was no reply from his door another employee looked over the wall of the cubicle and after seeing John Hogg in the bath a pass key was obtained.
The man that had looked over the wall of the cubicle, who had lived in Guildford Place, Newcastle, and who worked at the baths, said that he saw John Hogg in a sitting position in the bath with his head on the left but with his mouth and nose clear of the water.
He said that he thought that John Hogg had had some kind of attack as his head was clear of the water, adding that if he thought that John Hogg had drowned that artificial respiration would have been applied immediately.
He noted that John Hogg was a very independent man and would not allow anyone to assist him, noting that if the cubicle door was left open he would shut it.
He added that John Hogg would take a long time over his bath and would take a long time to dress.
A doctor that gave evidence at the inquest said that John Hogg had a deformity of both legs.
The inquest heard that John Hogg used to look after parked cars in the city.
The Coroner returned an open verdict, stating, 'Its a mystery to me'.
He said, 'I cannot get past the medical findings at a post mortem examination and of course the evidence is quite clear. There is nothing else to account for his death, no stroke or collapse or seizure according to the doctor. In fact, the only possible cause of death was drowning, and the symptoms of drowning were there. It is very puzzling to know how that happened'.
The manager of the baths who had lived in Broomridge Avenue, Newcastle, suggested that John Hogg had filled the bath up to a depth of about 12 inches himself and had then drowned and that the water had afterwards leaked away through a small leak in the waste plug until it reached its normal level. The manager added that he had carried out some tests and had found that the waste plug did in fact leak to a small extent.
In reply to the managers suggestion the Coroner said, 'Well, that may be an explanation, but you agree that we are only guessing at it. I shall have to return a verdict that death was due to drowning and beyond that I cannot go'. He added that there was no evidence to show how it happened and that in that sense the verdict was open.
see Newcastle Journal - Tuesday 06 June 1961
see Newcastle Evening Chronicle - Monday 05 June 1961