Young Wife’s Suicide – Hanging Tragedy’ Husband’s Gruesome Discovery

February 1950

South Yorkshire Times February 18, 1950

 Young Wife’s Suicide

Conisbro’ Hanging Tragedy’

Husband’s Gruesome Discovery at Factory

“There does not appear to be anything of a substantial nature which should have caused her to do this. Obviously she did it herself,” remarked the Doncaster District Coroner (Mr. W. H. Carlile), recording a verdict of Suicide while the balance of mind was disturbed,” at a Conisbrough inquest on Saturday on 25 years-old Mrs. Hazel Chapman, 9, Park Road, Conisbrough, who was found hanging in the Eltsac factory, Conisbrough, last Thursday evening.

Father’s Comment

Earlier, Mrs Chapman’s father, Mr William Ernest Hill, had said: ” I don’t think she did it.”

The Coroner: Are you suggesting someone else did it?—No, sir, but I cannot believe it. She was too happy to do a thing like that.

The husband, Mr John Chapman, company director, said he left home about 9-30 a.m. last Thursday, and went down to the Eltsac factory, where he loaded a van. A short time later he was passing through Station Road, Conisbrough, and saw his wife with two children. “I picked her up and took her to Tickhill Street. She said she was going to Fullerton Hospital,” he said. She was then quite cheerful.

Mr Chapman said that a fortnight ago he had quarreled with his wife about money. She had contracted bills for £5 and £3 10s. in his mother’s name. ” If I had money I never saw her short of anything,” he said. He had also had trouble with his wife about buying a three-stone ring from a Mexborough shop in his mother’s name.

He said his wife had divorced her first husband and he had married her last September.

Trouble Over House

“The only other trouble there has been was with a lady in Park Road. I believe Hazel made friends with a young man and woman down Mexborough. Hazel went down there and told two persons she had got them a house. As far as I am certain Hazel received gifts from this party for getting them a house. They came to see Hazel and ask her where the house was. Hazel was out. Mrs Hill showed them this house. They tackled Hazel and said ‘ We are going to see the owner, who denied all knowledge of speaking to Hazel. A fortnight ago, Mr I Hill, her uncle, had heard it said in a Labour Party meeting that she was going to go the whole hog and prosecute her for causing all this annoyance. I told her to go to Mr I Dunn’s and he would put her right.

” I have been happy in spite of these troubles,” said Mr Chapman, ” because I was sure, given the right amount of time and having got business going, I could buy her what she wanted and we could settle down and be happy.

“She’d do these things on the spur of the moment. I only got to know when someone else told me about it.

” After leaving her at Tickhill Street I went about my business.”

The Coroner: Did you usually get home for a mid-day meal?—Sometimes I did. Other times I did not.

” I told the wife I was going to have dinner in Doncaster,” said Mr Chapman.

” I went to Mexborough and arranged to meet my friend the same morning. I then went to Doncaster to my aunt’s. I never had any dinner that day. After that I came back through Bentley to Sprotborough and called in the Ivanhoe and had a drink. After that I went to John Burley’s and then to Brampton. I came back through Mexborough and I dropped my friend off about twenty to five and waited at Mexborough Toll Bar and picked Mr Hill’s brother up from I work and took him home to Conisbrough. I had tea with Mr Hill’s other brother and took him down to do his work at the skating rink, where he is employed as a skating mechanic. I took him so that he could be there at 6-30 p.m.”

Wife Rang Up

While at the rink, Mr Chapman said there was a phone call from his wife. She said that her mother and father had gone out, and asked “Are you coming home for tea?”

” It was then turned seven o’clock. I said ‘ Yes, Hazel, I will be home within an hour.’ When she rang me up she seemed all right. She must have rung up from home. I then went back to finish a conversation with my mother and then came straight back to the factory.

” I put the van outside the factory. We were going to the Three Horseshoes for a drink. “Sailor” said he had forgotten his overcoat. I said ‘ I will put the van in and you hold the overcoat.’ As we backed into the factory I noticed that all the lights were on. We put the van in and walked across some waste ground to a public house. I must have been sat there ages. I went to the back of the public house and saw that all the factory lights were out. I said ‘ I will nip up to the factory and see if everything is all right.’ It must have been somewhere getting on for nine o’clock.”

The Coroner: Do you expect lights to be on at that time of night?-Yes. The spare man may have been there. I walked up to the factory across the waste ground. I went for the keys but could not find them. I shoved at the door and opened it and switched the bottom light on and saw my wife hanging from a hook in the roof. That was in the entrance on the right hand side. I ran straight back to the public house for help. I did not cut her down.”

” I Panicked “

The Coroner: That was the obvious thing to do?—I panicked. I did not know what to do.

The Coroner: Did your wife and you get on all right ?—Yes.

Has it been a habit of yours to stay out late at night?—No. Only during the past fortnight.

Why was that? Was it in consequence of trouble with your wife that you stayed out late?—No; my mother was pressing me to pay bills.

Had you had trouble with your wife about being out late?—No. I cannot remember that.

People do not hang themselves for nothing. Can you throw any light on this?—No.

Has she ever threatened to do herself in? — She only threatened once and that was before I married her. There was trouble about her previous husband. She said ” If he doesn’t leave me alone I shall do myself in.”

The ” Crucial Time “

” This last fortnight seems to have been the crucial time,” said Mr Carliie. “Have you been stopping out late ? ” — Most of the time I have been in at 12 o’clock. She said nothing and we have been talking until two or three o’clock.

Brian Bolton, 5, Cliff Road,  Brampton, a stoker mechanic in the Royal Navy, said he was a friend of Mr Chapman and had spent from 12 noon last Thursday to 4-30 p.m. with him.

” He dropped me at the rink at Mexborough,” said Mr Bolton. ” He picked me up about eight o’clock to take me to Conisbrough. We went into a public house and then went outside. He said ‘ I will go up to the factory and see everything is all right.’ Only four minutes elapsed and he came in. Two people came outside with me and when one knew what it was he went back. I jumped over the wall and ran up the waste ground. The man got there a couple of seconds before I did. He struck a match and looked through the window and said ‘ Yes, she’s there.’ I made straight for the Police.”

Mr Hill said his daughter and her husband had lived with him since their marriage. They were happy so far as he could see.

‘ The only trouble we have ever had was in the last fortnight or three weeks and he started to come home late at night.

The Coroner: Was he sober? — I cannot say he was drunk. I don’t know.

Did this cause trouble?—Well, he had done it about two nights when he first started and, being the father, I could see if it continued there must be some trouble.

Spoke To His Daughter

“I made my way to the factory one night thinking he was working down there. When he came In with the van I told him that he was not playing the game and that he ought to come home earlier. He told me he was having trouble with his mother. He said ‘ Well, we’ll pack up ‘ meaning pack up the company. I came home and went to bed. When he came in he was starting to pack up. Of course, when I tumbled to what he was doing I said ‘ Don’t be silly.’ He stayed. Next morning we spoke all right. I went to bed the next night and he was late again. We did not go to bed until eleven and he had not come in. I said nothing for two or three days. I told my daughter to have a word with him about coming in late. Two days prior to the accident he came in very late.

“On the day of the accident, I followed him down to the firm and he had two special orders to deliver so they tell me. I said one was not completed and said take the Sprotborough order. He said he had a man to meet.

“I heard on occasions that he had been seen knocking about Mexborough with young women, but I did not tell my daughter.

“He said he would be back by the afternoon and not go to West Melton. I never saw him again. A gentleman came into the factory and said he had been set on. I told him the firm was not in a position to set on fully paid men yet, and told him to come back. I told my daughter in the factory. She said ‘ I will have a word with him when he comes back.’

“I left home at approximately quarter past seven. Hazel was in. She was happy and merry. In fact she had only joked with her mother a short time before. Next I hear, the Sergeant informed me what he had seen.

” I found no note. I appealed to the Sergeant to see whether he could find one. I wish she had left one.

The Coroner: Apart from coming in late was there anything else that was upsetting your daughter?—No, sir. She has always come to me for financial affairs, but not told me about her domestic affairs.

Was she extravagant?—She had no money to be extravagant. We have more or less kept her.

She has said nothing to you about money troubles?—I would like to see the receipts and I would pay the money. I know nothing which was worrying her.

Mr Hill denied that his daughter had attempted to commit suicide in April, 1948.

P.C. Bowman said last Thursday about 9 p.m. he was informed that someone had been found hanged in a factory. He went there with Sergt. Johnson and they were met there by Ronald Hickson, who showed them into the factory.

Appeared ” Slight Pulse ”

We went into the warehouse, which was unlocked. She was still

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