Conisborough Tragedy – Husband Warned At Inquest

16 September 1937

Sheffield Independent – Thursday 16 September 1937

Husband Warned At Inquest on Gas Tragedy Victims

“IF Mrs. Rantzen had lived she might have been charged with murder, and her husband might have rendered himself open to being charged as an accessory after the fact.’’

This comment was made the Doncaster Coroner (Mr. W. H. Carlile) at the inquest yesterday Mrs. Sylvia Gertrude (39). and her daughter Sylvia (aged two), who were found in a gas filled room at their home.

A verdict of murder was returned, against Mrs. Kantzen, who was found to have committed suicide while not sound mind.

Commenting on the behaviour of Mrs Rantzen following the discovery of the tragedy, the Coroner said that unfortunately Mr. Bautzen did not disclose all this information to the police when they first called, and there was also note, which he later destroyed.

He committed a serious offence, said the Coroner, In hiding necessary Information from the police, who were caused a lot of extra trouble.

First Mr. Rantzen refused to make statement at all and then made statement which was not complete. In all he made three statements, and it was not until the third time that the statement was complete.

“Under Great Stress**

It was a serious matter to interfere with the course of justice by withholding information, added the coroner, and I wanted this to warning. He would let the matter pass without making any further comment because he realised that at the time Mr. Rantzen must have been labouring under great stress

Woolf Barnato Hanlzen, commercial traveller, of Nortlicliff road. Conisboro’, giving evidence, explained that he met his wife in I 1933 in Mombasa, in Kenya i Colony, and they were married there in  March 1934.

His wife returned home to Conlsborough in August, 1934, but returned to him nine months later. Owing to the climate, however, she was not too fit in Africa, and eventually they returned England in 1936.

The Coroner; How had you lived on perfectly good terms?—We were perfectly happy first of all. Later something seemed to wrong. I do not know what it was. Lately she seemed to have drifted right away from me. We had disagreements, and money matters came into it.

The Coronei; In fact, there had been of suggestions of separation or divorce?— I said I was quite willing provided I could have the baby. She agreed once, but she would not agree in writing.

Rantzen said thnt Friday, 3 September, his wife left home for rCleethorpes. taking the child with her. They parted on quits good terms.

Witness left Conisbrough for Manchester on business on the same, day and returned on Sunday afternoon.

He found the side and back door closed, and on hearing that his wife had returned he thought she had gone away for the day, and he got into the house through a window.

“When I got into the house.’* said Mantzen. “I could see even from downstairs something under the bedroom door. I felt something was wrong. I rushed upstairs and opened the bedroom door. I smelt gas, not too strong.

“Stuffed under the door was a yellow bedcover. I found my wife and child lying on the floor near the fireplace, ln the fireplace was a portable gasfire and the gas tubing connecting it from the jet to the stove had been cut. He ran downstairs and got some water which I threw over them. I.later I found clothing stuffed up the chimney and removed it.

Six-Line Note

The Coroner: Was there a note on the stool near the bedside your wife’s writing?—Yes.

What was the note?—l could not give you the exact wording. It was addressed her father and to the effect that her father was her only friend, and asking him to forgive her. There were only six lines of wording.

He showed to Mr. Thorpe and destroyed it.

The Coroner: You know it was wrong?—Yes. I did not know what I was doing. My wife was L.

Mrs. Rantzen’s mother. Mrs. Emily Drabble, of Blyth House, Northcliff road, Conisborough said her daughter, a former school teacher, had a nervous breakdown some years ago. Since her return home in 1934 she had been a little quiet and lately she had been depressed.