Green Bicycle Mystery. Part Seven: A Stroke Of Luck.


In the previous “Green Bicycle Mystery” article, we looked at how the investigation was going cold. Bella’s body was released to be buried and the various police inquiries.

It was now 1920 and a little bit of luck would open the case wide open again.

Ronald Light destroys evidence.

According to Ronald Light, he had only found out about the murder of Bella on the 8th of July 1919, after reading about it in the Leicester Mercury. He then hid his bicycle in the attic as he knew the girl and he was scared of being the prime suspect.

In October he would remove the bike from the attic, file off the serial number and dismantled it. He would throw sections of his bicycle in different parts of Leicester’s canal, in an attempt to get rid of any link he had to Bella Wright.

He also would throw in revolver bullets and a holster. A service revolver may have been thrown in also but this was never found.

He secured a new job as a teacher in Derby and moved in January 1920.

A stroke of luck.

On Monday the 23rd of February, 1920, Enoch Whitehouse, a canal haulier snagged an object whilst travelling the canal in Leicester. The object was part of a green bicycle. This was quite common “litter” in the canals and he was about to throw the object back until he realised that the police were looking for such an item, and as an added bonus there was a large £20 reward.

He put the bicycle back in the water, mentally marked the location and returned after finishing his deliveries for the day. After retrieving the bike he informed the police.

It was, in fact, the bicycle the police were looking for. The police immediately called in a local BSA bicycle merchant named William Saunders to carry out a full inspection of the bike.

It was also quite a coincidence that Ronald’s bicycle was found in the canal directly next to the rubber factory that Bella was working in before she was murdered.

Premature jubilation.

The police were now confident that the finding of the bicycle would reignite the investigation.

The first thing William Saunders looked for on the bicycle was a serial number it was normally stamped into the frame below the seat. Unfortunately, the number had been filed off. Any hopes the police had for the investigation began to dwindle once again.

However, Saunders noted that as the bike was a special order and that it may have other serial numbers on the bicycle. The police once again got excited.

Saunders got to work. Taking all day to carefully strip the bicycle of all its parts, looking for any type of serial number. He found one, in a location on the bicycle that no one without prior knowledge would ever find. Stamped inside of the handlebar post was a small six-digit number: 103648.

Tracking down the mystery man.

The police immediately contacted the BSA offices in Redditch to tack down their mystery man via the serial number. The bike was manufactured in 1910 and was dispatched to a dealer in Derby named Orton Brothers. The store kept a very good record of sales and information on their clients.

The bicycle was purchased for £13.13s (over a £1,000 in today’s money) by a man named Ronald Light. Ronald had left two different addresses when purchasing the bike.

Unfortunately for the police he no longer lived at either of them. The police, however, simply followed the paper trail of rental agreement to rental agreement until they found their man.

On the 4th of March 1920, the police arrested Ronald Light.

View part eight of the case, “The Trial” 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 exhibitionThe 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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