Conanby Youths Suicide – Overdose of Sleeping Tablets

February 1945

South Yorkshire Times February 17 1945

Conanby Youth’s Suicide
Overdose of Sleeping Tablets

An overdose of sleeping tablets stated at an inquest at the Fullerton hospital, Denaby, yesterday, to have been taken with fatal results by John Patrick Morley (17), glass bottle sorter of 7 Montague Avenue, Conanby, was estimated by a pathologist to have been 10 times the normal, and twice the fatal dose. Morley was found dead in Viners field Denaby on Sunday, two days after he was found to be missing from his home.

The Doncaster District coroner (Mr.W.H.Carlisle) recording a verdict of suicide while the balance of his mind was disturbed, said from evidence and from the history of depression in the case he was quite satisfied that Morley intended to take his life.

Mrs Helen Morley, mother, said that at 13 her son suffered from infantile paralysis which left him with a deformity of the shoulder and his health had not been good since. He had not worked regular. He became ill about two months before Christmas, doctor saying he was depressed and low, which witness thought was due to the death of his father. After Christmas doctor certified him fit for work, and he left home each morning as though he was going to work. On Saturday, however, witness when to his place of employment and found he had worked only one shift on January 25. Her son went for wages on Friday about 12. 45 pm and she did not see him afterwards. The following day she reported him missing to the police.

When he first became ill, said witness he was prescribed sleeping tablets by the doctor. one Saturday morning when he should have gone to work she had difficulty in wakening him because he had taken too many tablets, two being the dose and he was dull for a long time as a result. Witness did not tell the doctor until some days later. The doctor said he had been depressed but he would be all right. She did not take the tablets away from him he was “that way” – he had control of them altogether. At various times her son had threatened to take his life, generally he had been morbid and had read about suicides.


Evidence of finding the body about 11.30 on Sunday morning lying face upwards and partly on the left side, as he was walking in Viners field, was given by Frank Guest ,7, Doncaster Road, Denaby. Morley was dead and witness had the police summoned. The body was inside a part of the field enclosed by posts and stranded wire about 4 yards from the path.

Peter Milligan, a Doncaster Pathologist, said a post-mortem examination he conducted revealed fluid and a large amount of white powder in the stomach. Witness removed some of the white powder and tested it, it showed the colour reactions of barbiturate. Cause of death was barbiturate poisoning.

Handed by the coroner a prescription form for the sleeping tablets supplied to Morley, Dr Milligan said the prescription was for phenol barbital one of the barbiturate drugs in reply to the coroner. Witness said that he had thought there were 20 grains of the drug in the stomach probably more.

Death, he believed, had been reported from taking 10 grains, and a normal dose was two, three, and in some cases up to 5 grains. Questioned with regard to Morley’s deformity following infantile paralysis, witness stated that deformity could cause a particular state of mind and a different outlook on life.

P.C. Boothroyd of Denaby told of finding in the vicinity of the body a white packet which chemical later stated had contain phenol barbital tablets supply to Morley on prescription. There was some white powder fluid down Morley’s coat