Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Tragic Case of Police Constable and Daughter

A Liverpool police officer who was distraught at the death of his wife gassed himself and his daughter to death.

On  Sunday 19th March 1939 Police Constable Edward Hall called on his colleague William Cumming at his home on Pinehurst Avenue, Anfield. 32 year old William's wife had died four months earlier but he was in better spirits than he had been some time and said he had visited the grave in Anfield cemetery that morning.

At 10am on the Monday William's housekeeper  went to the property and made a tragic discovery in one of the bedrooms. There she found the bodies of the police officer and his eight year old daughter Sheila, surrounded by the smell of gas.   A hose had been disconnected from the gas fire and directed instead into the bedroom.

An inquest on 21st March heard evidence from Constable Hall, who told the coroner about his colleague: 'His feet had been cut from under him, he was becoming beaten down by fate and more and more depressed.'  His housekeeper said that he had seemed much better than he had been for a while.

The jury returned a verdict of suicide in relation to William and with respect to Sheila it was one of murder but 'while the balance of mind was disturbed.' He was described by his superintendent as 'a very cheerful man who had received awards for bravery on two occasions' and it was reported that the police had done all they could during this difficult time, excusing him from night duty.

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