19th March 1888
Reference Numbert18880319-414
VerdictNot Guilty > unknown

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414. HANNAH SMITH , Unlawfully abandoning Elsie Jane Smith, whereby her health was likely to be endangered and permanently injured.

MR. TICKELL Prosecuted.

SARAH DARBY . I am the wife of Charles Darby, and live with him at Belmont Villas, Hampton Road, Mortlake—on Tuesday, 6th March, about 1.30 a.m., I was at home and heard a cry outside my front door—I had heard no knock before that; I was in the kitchen—I listened and then heard another cry, and went to the front door and saw a baby lying on the doorstep, crying; it was dressed—I then went to Mortlake Station and got a policeman, and he came back with me, and took the baby away—when I first saw the baby I did not see anybody near it—I did not recognise it—the prisoner had called on me on the 13th February, bringing her baby with her, and asked me if Mr. Darby was in, and I told her he was not—she said she wanted to see him respecting the child, and asked me if she might come in—I said "Yes," and she came in—she then said the child belonged to Mr. Darby—her aunt was with her, and her aunt said if she could get some money she would go away altogether—she said her husband was in Australia, but she should never go and live with him again—in the meanwhile my son came in, and he told her to go out or he would turn her out—she then went out—on this night it was not so cold as we have had it; it had been a nice sunshiny day—my husband is a builder, and the prisoner was living in one of his houses.

Cross-examined by the Prisoner. I listened and the child cried very loud after that—I had the kitchen door open—I offered to light a fire for you—I told you if Darby came to you you should have shut the door in his face, told him to go home to his wife, and not have encouraged him if you knew he was not a single man.

JOHN CURTIS (Policeman). At a quarter to 10 on Tuesday evening, 6th March, I was called by the last witness to Belmont Villas, and there saw a child lying on the doorstep—I picked it up and found a letter in its sleeve, and this envelope on the doorstep by the side of the child, and also this brown-paper parcel containing two night-dresses and some diapers—the child was very warmly wrapped up and had an empty feeding-bottle with it; it was fast asleep—I took the child and parcel to Barnes Police station.

GEORGE BUSH (Detective Sergeant V). On "Wednesday morning, 7th March, I received this letter and envelope from the inspector at Barnes Station, and instituted inquiries, and on the Friday afternoon traced the prisoner to Palace Road, Lambeth—I told her I was a police-officer, and she would be charged with abandoning her child by leaving it on a doorstep at Mortlake—she said "I am very sorry, but he drove me to do it; I have nothing left, I have parted with everything, but before

I left the child"—I told her it was in consequence of the letter being found that I had been able to trace her—she said "I knocked at the door, and also roused the baby to make it cry to call attention, and I climbed the gate when I came out"—on referring to the letter she said "I mentioned in the letter that I called before," and I said that I had been able to trace her by the letter, and she did not deny it—she said she had been ordered out of the house by the son—I then took her to Richmond Station and charged her with the offence.

GEORGE BUSH (Re-examined) I spoke to her about the age of the child, and she said it was born on 12th September last, and was regis tered at Wandsworth in the name of Elsie Grace Smith—it is a weakly child—I have seen it in Richmond Union; it is there now.

The Prisoner I should like to have a witness called, Mr. Darby.

CHARLES JOSEPH DARBY (Examined by the prisoner). I am the husband of the first witness—I have not kept you for the last five years, nor have I lived with you—I did not take a house for you at 69, Englefield Road, Balham it was taken in my name, I did not take the house—there is no doubt everything was paid in my name, but not by me.

By the COURT She asked me to allow her to take the house in my name, but she has not told what occurred between her husband, or any thing of that—I have not given her money—I did not know she had had a child, only what I have heard since—she was living in one of my houses as caretaker, she asked me to come there—she signed an agreement to enable me to raise money on the house—she never went into two or three houses, only one—these receipts from the Water Company are made out in my name; when the water was laid on in the house, everything was made out in my name—I paid the first one, I have not paid either of the others—when you go to the Water Company about a new house, you always have to give them, as owner, your name, and pay the first quarter's rent before you have the water laid on—since then they have made out the receipts in my name (The letter found with the child stated that the witness had driven her to do in her desperation that which she would regret as long as she lived, and appealed to him to do his duty by the child and atone for his past neglect.) That letter is not true, I am not the father of the child—I have not had intercourse with the prisoner within the time of the child, two years ago.

Prisoner's Defence I kept the child as long as I possibly could; he induced me to sign the agreement for this house; they put a distress in and took away the best of my home, and then he wrote and told me I must get out of the house at once, that he could do nothing more in it. I have sold everything, and should have been homeless but for my cousin's kindness in taking me in I was determined I would not take my child to the Union while he was able to keep it; I therefore wrapped it up to protect it from the cold, and waited at a little distance till the door was opened, and now I have no means whatever I fully trusted him; I always have He had kept me for five years until then, and then he only partly maintained me; he sent me a sovereign at the end of October, 10s. at Christmas Eve, and 1s. 6d. since I have had hundreds of letters from him I always had my faith in the man.


The Court considered that Mr. Darby ought to do something for the child.

Before Robert Malcolm Kerr, Esq.

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