Frederick Robert Coe

Inquest, 18th April 1899



The inquest upon the body of Frederick Robert Coe, the Desborough young man who was found killed upon the Midland Railway near Finedon Station, on Saturday night, was held in one of the waiting rooms at the station on Tuesday morning, before Mr. J. T. Parker, the District Coroner, and a jury over whom Mr. Wright Hill was foreman. Inspector Lovatt was present on behalf of the Midland Railway Company.

—After the Coroner had briefly stated the facts of the case so far as they are known, the jury proceeded to view the shockingly mutilated body, which was lying in an adjoining waiting room. They also inspected the scene of the accident. On the buttress of the bridge on the station side, about 7ft. from the ground, was distinct evidence of the deceased's head there having come in contact with the brickwork.

Robert Coe, 3, Queen-street, Desborough, said the deceased, his son, was a shoe laster and was 18 years of age. He last saw him alive on Saturday afternoon about five o'clock, when he was having his tea. Witness was not at home when deceased went out, but he understood that he told his mother he was going to Market Harborough. On Sunday morning witness saw the body at Finedon Station.

—Frank Bond, the son of an actor, now staying at Market Harborough, said he saw deceased in the Market-square at Harborough on Saturday evening, and walked with him as far as the station, where they arrived about a quarter-past eight. Deceased was quite sober and apparently all right.

—Thos. Welsh, Tollington Park, London, said he was guard of the train due to leave Harborough at 8.4, but which on Saturday night was seven minutes late. It did not stop again till they reached Bedford, and the train would pass through Finedon Station at about 60 miles an hour. At Bedford he found blood and hair on the front of the Pullman car, and on another carriage there were similar marks, whilst a panel of the carriage was stove in. The train was examined, but as nothing could be found, notice was given down the line for a search to be made. Nothing was wrong with the inside of any of the carriages, and all doors were fastened. There was only one empty compartment in the train, and the window of that was open and not damaged. The compartment in which the panel was stove in was next to this one, and it was occupied by some ladies. Witness had not noticed anything wrong as the train travelled through Finedon.

—Thomas Carr, porter at Finedon sidings, said that on Saturday night at twenty minutes past nine he was going along the main line towards the sidings, when he saw a mark on the side of the up line near the station, and further on saw the body lying about 30 yards south of the bridge on the east side of the up main line.

—Harry Lapworth, ticket collector at Market Harborough Station, said he was on duty on the up platform on Saturday night, when the express left at 8.11, but he did not see the deceased enter the train. There was a slow train, which would stop at Desborough, due out of Harborough at 8.40. The express was not booked to stop at Harborough except to pick up London passengers.

—Inspector Lovatt said there were no tickets missing; and the Coroner remarked that it was evident deceased was going without a ticket, probably owing to the hurry he was in, thinking the train then in the station was the one he was to travel by.

P.S. Judge spoke to examining the body, and finding in the pockets 2s. 6d. in money but no ticket. He had, he said, measured from the footboard of a carriage to the marks on the bridge, and found the distance was five feet, and as the deceased was 5ft. 4in. in height, if he was standing on the footboard the marks on the bridge would be just about where his head would strike. If he had been leaning out of the window his head would not have been so high within a foot or a foot and a half.

—Dr. Burland, Finedon, gave evidence as to the injuries deceased had sustained. His head was completely smashed and the left leg was broken near the ankle. The injury to the head was probably caused by striking against the bridge, and death would be instantaneous.

—The Coroner, in summing up, said it was evident deceased took the wrong train by mistake, and that when he discovered his error he tried to alight, and thus came by his death. No doubt he got on to the footboard and was on the lookout for a favourable opportunity to drop off, when his head came in contact with the bridge.

—The jury, without any hesitation, returned a verdict of "Accidentally killed."

 Northampton Mercury, Friday 21 April 1899