For Sentimental Reasons.............

On 29 September 1939, six human bodies belonging to three women and three children were found in a bungalow close to the Gate Hangs Well Inn in Syston, Leicestershire.

Stanley Howard Simpson an engineer of 25, Brookfield Street, Syston, first found a human leg in a zinc bath by the River Wreake.

When the Police arrived at the scene, Police-Sergeant Heath entered the bungalow; discovered further remains in the bathtub and noticed a hole had been freshly dug in the garden. Later, with Scotland Yard detectives, the garden was dug over, but no more remains were found.

Sir Bernard Spilsbury,  Home Office pathologist examined the human remains. All the bodily parts had been preserved in formalin but one body , that of a two-week-old baby had not been dissected. The body was that of Trevor Albert Deverick born on March 10, 1938, son of Albert Sidney a milkman and Kathleen Mary Deverick of 81, Melrose Street, Leicester.

On 24 March 1938, baby Trevor became seriously ill and Dr Albert Lovell was called for. He was unfortunately out of town so his brother Dr. Theo Zebulun Lovell of 289, Catherine Street Extension, Leicester, visited the child. Dr Theo Lovell visited the family twice that afternoon and on the last visit he was informed the child had died. Dr Theo Lovell called at the house and took the baby away and obtained the permission of the parents to make a post-mortem examination, although he told the parents he was not certain when he could conduct the post-mortem so he informed the father he would make arrangements for the burial instead. But no post-mortem was ever done. A death certificate was issued saying that the cause of death was a heart lesion, and that a post-mortem had been made and according to Mr Deverick it was Dr Albert Lovell who passed the death certificate to him.

 

Dr Theo Lovell approached Arthur Leslie Earp, Undertaker of 55 Highcross Street, Leicester, in April 1938, asking to be supplied with a child’s coffin. He said it was a “freak child,’’ and he wanted to keep certain organs. Earps assistant, Colin Boydon, took the coffin to Dr. Theo Lovell’s house, and the Doctor returned it “screwed down.’’ The coffin was later buried in a still-birth grave at Gilroes Cemetery on 11 April 1938.

 

 

The parents never attended the funeral, but they did believe, along with the undertaker that Trevor’s body was inside the coffin, but instead of the child the doctor had placed a foetus and a doll. The doll had belonged to his own child who had died aged two weeks in similar circumstances in 1937. His own child’s body was removed by the undertakers who had arranged the burial. He had no idea where his child was buried.

 

In the inquest into the grim discovery in Syston ,Dr. Theo Lovell said that he couldn’t remember who signed the death certificate for the child, it was either him or his brother and because of stress of work he had not conducted the post-mortem by the time the undertakers called. That was why he never put the body in the coffin. The other body parts found in the bath were anatomical specimens that had been taken to the bungalow to be buried.

Recording his verdict, the Coroner said:

This case presents some features which are certainly extraordinary and, I am thankful to say, unusual. Owing to the action of Dr. Theo Lovell the police have been put to an infinite amount of trouble. He issued a false certificate over the death of this child. He said on that certificate that he has made post mortem examination whereas he had done nothing of the sort. He handed an undertaker a coffin purporting to contain the body of this child. That coffin contained a foetus and a doll. He said in reply to me that he put the doll in from sentimental motives. However, that is not a matter which concerns me as coroner. Some other authority will have deal with that. In addition he moved the body from the city to the county without notification. 1 cannot understand the attitude of the doctor. It’s all very well for him to say he wanted to make a post mortem examination, but that will surely not entitle him to remove the body from his house to bungalow at Syston, thereby throwing suspicion upon everybody and more especially upon himself by this amazing action. However, there is another tribunal that can deal with that.

Trevor Albert Deverick was finally laid to rest on 26 October 1939 at Gilroes Cemetery in Leicester. His father Albert Sidney Deverick died on 14 December 1967 in Leicester, at the age of 58. His mother Kathleen Mary died on 21 February 1994 in Leicester, at the age of 82.

Dr Theo Zebulun Lovell carried on practicing medicine and died in 1969 in Knighton, Leicester. His brother Dr Albert Lovell became Major A. A. Lovell, physician, and surgeon, attached to a New Zealand General Hospital. Major (Dr) Lovell went to New Zealand just after the outbreak WW2 and joined the New Zealand Forces.

The Gate Hangs Well Inn, Syston, Leicestershire  c1950

Image: Leicester Past & Present

View of the River Wreake by the Gate Hangs Well Inn, Syston, Leicestershire