The Motorist Who Dodged Woman Suicide Four Times - Wortley, Sheffield June 1934

The Daily Independent dated Saturday 16th June 1934 carried this report on the inquest into the death of Ann Nora Fannan, a 76 year old woman from Sheffield. Ann died from her injuries at Sheffield's Royal Infirmary hospital three days earlier on Wednesday 13th June 1934. The accident happened on the night of Whit Monday 21st May 1934 meaning that Ann had been in hospital for 23 days before passing away. 

 

A briefer report was carried in the Sunderland Echo and Shipping Gazette dated 16th June 1934

One of the witnesses who was called at the inquest was my grandfather Clement Hobbs who was 39 at the time. I believe that this was the car that he was driving that Whit Monday night. Pictured with Clem is his wife Rose who is poring the tea and mother (my great grandmother) Elizabeth. Until January 2016 I knew nothing of this incident.

I am not convinced about the verdict that was reached at the inquest - An inquest can be defined as "an investigation held in public to establish who the person was, and where, when and how they died. It is a legal procedure presided over by a coroner in the public interest:

• to find out the medical cause of death;
• to draw attention to the existence of circumstances which, if nothing is done, might lead to further deaths;
• to advance medical knowledge;
• to preserve the legal interests of the deceased person’s family or other interested parties".

This is what the inquest did - "it established who the person was, and where, when and how they died" What they did not explain was how and why  a 76 year old woman living in the centre of Sheffield ended up on the Penistone Road in Wortley. She told her daughter that she was going for a walk at 3.00 on Whit Monday afternoon. 

Cross Smithfield Sheffield - the home of Ann Fannan

Between leaving the house and being injured later that night Ann walked approximately nine miles which I find difficult to believe for an "elderly woman" I am also puzzled by the fact that Ann was never reported missing by her family - the news of her accident was broken to the family by the police the following day.  The inference is that they did not care about Ann's welfare and well-being. 

Another point to note is Ann's behaviour on the road that night - it is not what you would expect of a suicide. They tend , more than not, to throw themselves impulsively under the first available vehicle but Ann spent quite a long time in the road whilst vehicles avoided her. It was quite sometime before she walked into one. I would state that her behaviour was more consistent with a person suffering from dementia or a similar neurological condition than one who was suicidal. The observations that were made by the witnesses seem to bear this out. 

But the final point to note and one that is very pertinent to the suicide theory is that Ann was a catholic. For a catholic, suicide is a mortal sin and is not countenanced by the teachings and doctrine of the catholic church. I find it difficult to accept that Ann would deliberately commit suicide.       

Ann was buried in Sheffield's City Road Cemetery

FANNAN, Ann Norah (Widow, age 76). Died at Royal Infirmary; Buried on Tuesday June 19, 1934 in Roman Catholic ground; 

Sources

The Daily Independent dated Saturday 16th June 1934

Sunderland Echo and Shipping Gazette dated 16th June 1934

Sheffield Indexers

UK Census

This page was last updated on 04/01/16 16:08

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