19th March 1912
Reference Numbert19120319-13
VerdictGuilty > pleaded part guilty

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ESLICK, Eleanor (24, tailoress) , wilful murder of her newly-born male child.

Mr. Leycester and Mr. Adrian Clark prosecuted; Mr. Pendry Oliver defended.

GEORGINA PEGG , wife of Harold Pegg, 3, Dungerry House, Foley Street, W. I have known prisoner since Easter of last year; she is a tailoress. On February 6 I saw her at 10, Ogle Street, where she occupies a back room. I do not think she has any relations in London. She was doing very little work at the time. She said, "I have pains in my stomach; I think it is cramp "; she was in bed. She had no fire and very little food. At my invitation she came to my place, where she stayed a few hours and then returned. She said nothing about being pregnant. I saw her the next day when she again complained of pains in her stomach; she said nothing about pregnancy. She left me early in the evening and returned at 11.30. I gave her some coals and food and turpentine for the pains. On the 8th, at about 11 a.m., I went to see her. She said the pains had gone and she thought the turpentine had done it. She said she would not get up, although I told her if the pains had gone she ought to go to work. The floor was all wet through the rain having come through the skylight. At her request I later on sent her round some food. I went again at 4.15 p.m., when she asked me to keep her a few days. I said I could not, but offered to send for her mother or the relieving officer. She said she did not want anybody and commenced to sob; she said she thought she had got to be there for a day or two as she did not feel well enough to get up. She asked me if I could keep a secret. I said, "What is the secret?" She said, "I have given birth to a little boy this morning at a quarter to seven." I said, "Where is it?" She said, "Under the bed in brown paper." I said, "Was it healthy?" and she said, "It was snuffling at the nose and its mouth wanted washing out." I said, "Was it breathing?" and she said "Yes." I said, "Is—it alive now?" She said "No, it is dead." I asked to see it and she said, "No, it is too terrible "; she was sobbing. She said, "I thought of the string on the wall. "Then she asked me if I would give her some more food and I left. She showed me her stomach and I saw it was very blistered through the turpentine.

Cross-examined. She had no coal or food except what I gave her. On the morning of the 8th she looked very ill and she was very excited; she talked a good deal to herself and rather frightened me. It was that that roused my suspicions.

ELLEN PHILLIPS , parlour-maid, 3, Dungerry House, Foley Street. I have known prisoner since last September. About 1.45 p.m. I went to see her, she was in bad and seemed ill. I asked her how she was and she said she was feeling better and that her monthly turns had come on and she expected that that was why she had the pains before. I gave her some food and cleaned up her room. In emptying the slops I noticed there were stains of blood on the wash-stand; the sheets were also stained with blood. She did not tell me then that she had had a baby that morning and I saw no body. Afterwards, from something I had heard, I fetched Dr. Brown about 7.30 p.m. I accompanied him into her room and she said, "Who

sent the doctor here?" I pretended I did not know. I left him with her. When he went I returned to her and she again asked me who had sent the doctor and I again pretended I did not know. She then said, "Had Georgina done what I asked her I would have got over it all right, as gipsies and poor people never have doctors in such cases."

HARRY BROWN , registered medical practitioner, 36a, New Cavendish Street. I have also a surgery at 3, Candover Street. At 7.30 p.m. on February 8 I was called by the last witness and I went to 10, Ogle Street; I found prisoner lying on a couch. She was very distressed and asked who had sent for me and why I had been brought there. I told her that I knew what was the matter. The last witness then went out of the room. She was sobbing and her sentences were more or less disjointed. She said, "You don't know what I have done. I had a baby this morning. I put a piece of string round its neck. It was alive. It is under the bed." I there found a brown paper package in which I found the dead body of a male child with the afterbirth detached; the cord had been cut and roughly tied with a piece of thread. Twice round the neck there were tied a piece of tape-like material and a piece of thread; there was a double knot. I was present at the post-mortem and in my opinion the cause of death was asphyxia caused by the tape. Dr. Rose and I formed the opinion that the child had had a separate existence. There was a very extensive injury to the skull, which I should say was caused before death and possibly might have caused the death itself; it might have been caused by the child falling on the floor at birth.

Cross-examined. To the best of my opinion the tape was not put round the neck after death. Apart from the child falling on; he floor there is a possibility of the injury to the skull being caused inside the pelvis; the bones of the head are very easily injured. It is possible that the lungs may be expanded before complete delivery (provided it is a natural head presentation), and that the child might fall on to the floor and inflict the injury to the skull, thus causing death. It is possible that the child might have been dying from this injury at the time the tape was put round the neck, but I do not think it could have been dead, although I do not say that is impossible. I did not hear anything a-bout the previous history of the case. She was a very muscular and well-developed woman, and she did not look more worn than one would expect under the circumstances. When confinement comes on women frequently suffer from temporary insanity and they have been known to suffer from delusions; if a woman were having her first confinement by herself I think those circumstances might send to make her do things without realising what she was doing.

MR. JUSTICE HORRIDGE stated that in view of the medical evidence that death might have been caused by accidental fracture in the act of delivery, it would not be safe in his opinion for the jury to return a verdict of guilty on the capital charge.

Prisoner then pleaded guilty to attempted concealment of birth, and the jury in accordance with his Lordship's direction returned a verdict to that effect.

Mr. OLIVER urged in mitigation of the sentence that prisoner did not know what she was doing in concealing the body as she did.

Dr. BROWN, recalled by the Court on this point, stated that prisoner appeared to him when he saw her to be in a healthy condition mentally, but she did not seem to realise the seriousness of her position, although she certainly knew that what she was doing was wrong.

Sentence: Four months' imprisonment. The Court Missionary, Mr. Scott-France, was requested to see prisoner on her release.

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