The Green Bicycle Mystery. Part Four: Farmer Cowell’s Discovery

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In the previous “Green Bicycle Mystery” article, we explored the life of Ronald Light. Throughout his early life wherever Ronald went, trouble seemed to follow.

Ronald was the last person to be seen with Bella whilst she was alive.

In this article, we will be exploring the crime scene and the events that unfolded after Bella Wright’s body was found.

Joseph Cowell’s discovery.

At 21,20, 35 minutes after Bella was last seen cycling away from her Uncles house with Ronald Light, a local farmer, Joseph Cowell was on his way home after a hard day in the fields.

He was herding a group of cattle along the Via Devana road, an old Roman road that connected many villages to the City (Then Town). The light was fading very fast.

As the farmer was approaching the turn in the road that led to Little Stretton, he notices an object in the road.

At first, he thought a Horse Rug may have fallen off a goods cart. But as he draws closer, he also notices a bicycle laying on its side next to the object in the road.

As he got closer to the bicycle he realised the object next to it is a young woman, lying in a pool of blood. The body is Bella Wrights.

Bella’s body was laying on her left side, with her head facing the middle of the road and her feet towards the hedgerow.

Joseph immediately stopped the cows and he ran towards the young girl and picked her up. He intended to take her across the field to his home and find first aid for the cyclist.

However, when he lifted her from the ground, her head fell backwards. Lifeless and limp.

Joseph comes to the conclusion that there wasn’t much he could for the young lady. So he placed the body carefully on the grass verge at the side of the road, placed the bicycle against a nearby tree and herded his cows into the nearest field.

He ran home through the long grass as fast as he could to collect his horse and cart so he could travel to inform the police of his grim discovery.

The Police are informed.

At 22:30, just over an hour after Joseph had found the body, 31-year-old Police Constable Alfred Hall arrived at the scene. PC hall was the local policeman and worked at the station in nearby Great Glen. Alfred Hall rang a doctor before making his way to the scene.

PC Hall arrives at the scene with Joseph. Two men who Joseph alerted on his way to the police were standing guard of the body. PC Hall examines the area with an electric torch but sees nothing of distinction.

The men lift Bella’s lifeless body onto a horse-driven milk float and they inspect her body and belongings.

Upon Bella’s body, there were not any clues. She was wearing a hat and her clothing wasn’t torn. In her pockets, she was carrying a purse and a box of matches.

As the men were inspecting the body, Dr Edward Williams arrives at the scene in his car. He gives Bella’s body a cursory inspection and suggests that she had had either a seizure or haemorrhage and had fallen off her bike. There was no evidence of foul play.

Realising that in such poor lighting, little else could be found the men decided to take the body to a disused chapel to be examined.

Candlelight Inspection.

In the small disused chapel, PC Hall and Dr Williams exam Bella’s body under candlelight.

They discover bad bruising around Bella’s left cheek but they couldn’t see much more as her face was concealed with a thick coat of congealed blood.

They ask Joseph Cowell to walk them step by step through his discovery before the group give up for the evening. The men lock the chapel up as they leave.

PC Hall asks the doctor if he could report the incident as a Haemorrhage. As the doctor confirms his own suspicions, the men part.

The doubts of PC Hall.

As PC Hall rode home on his bicycle, he found doubt creeping into his mind.

He doubted that a young and healthy-looking girl would haemorrhage and fall. There was also no evidence of a crash or any violence on the road. Also, why was there so much blood?

When arriving home he decided to himself that he would return to the crime scene in the early morning when he would have the light of day on his side.


View part five of the case, “The persistence of PC Alfred Hall”, here.

You can view all the “The Green Bicycle Mystery” articles and the map of all locations mentioned by clicking here.


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Article Sources: DMU exhibition, The Green Bicycle Mystery by Antony M. Brown


If you are interested in the “Green Bicycle Mystery” then we recommend the following book (Click on the images or links below)

The Green Bicycle Mystery (Cold Case Jury Collection 1)

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Thomas is fascinated by the city's long and varied history. He also hates to discuss himself in the third person but can be persuaded to do so from time to time.
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