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Murder mystery's new twist - 50 years on

Wolverhampton | News | Published:

It was a crime that shocked the nation and could have come straight from the pages of an Agatha Christie novel – a dead Black Country nurse and a doctor tried but dramatically acquitted of murder.

Now, 50 years on, the mystery of who really killed New Cross Hospital nurse Martha Giles has taken a new twist with the news her family has been denied access to the case files from the time.

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The mother-of-five, from Carlton Avenue, in Wednesfield, was found dead on the bowling green of the Wolverhampton hospital on February 12, 1959, after failing to turn up for a night shift the previous evening.

She had been battered with a rock and stabbed in the heart and lung but, despite the atrocity being given national media coverage, the 45-year-old's murderer was never brought to justice.

A doctor at the hospital was charged and sent to trial at Staffordshire Assizes in July of that year where a not guilty verdict was returned by the jury and he was discharged. No other person was sought by police in connection with the killing.

Mrs Giles' great-niece, crime writer Pauline Rowson, had hoped to mark the 50th anniversary of the death with some solid leads but today told how a Freedom of Information request to the National Archives, where documents relating to the case are held, was turned down.

In rejecting her application, the archives' FOI officer said there remained a possibility, "however remote", that the case could be opened for reinvestigation at some point in the future. The 52-year-old, whose novels have been published in the UK, US and Poland, now fears the information will be withheld until 2030 at the earliest.

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"It's very disappointing," she said. "I've got newspaper coverage of the murder and spoken to some of the officers involved at the time but this is like hitting a brick wall.

"I won't give up though and I am planning to try an appeal as well as contacting my MP."

Mrs Rowson, from Hayling Island in Hampshire, thinks the murder may have subconsciously inspired her crime-writing career. She said: "It was something that was talked about a lot when I was a child.nextpage

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