25th February 1884
Reference Numbert18840225-358
VerdictGuilty > with recommendation
SentenceImprisonment > hard labour

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358. SIDNEY CLAY (21) , Unlawfully soliciting Eustace Julian de Gruyther to kill and murder a certain male child aged two months.


EUSTACE JULIAN DE GRUYTHER . I live at 66, Jackson Road, Holloway—I am a physician and surgeon, and a registered medical practitioner—on 8th January last a male child about two months old was brought to me by a woman who I now know to be Mrs. Manning; it looked very ill—I prescribed for it, and it was taken away—on 10th January the same woman returned with the child and its mother, Maud Morris—I gave them advice as to its treatment, and it was taken away—that was

about half-past 7 o'clock at night—some time after they had left the prisoner came to my surgery—I did not know him before—he said "I have called respecting a child you are treating, and about which I believe two women have been to you; I am the father of the child"—I said "What do you want me to do?"—he said "I believe you ordered a wet nurse"—I said "Yes; if the child has breast milk it will live"—he said "I don't think I can afford that, it has cost me a lot of money already; do you think it will do as well on artificial food?"—I said it might—he said "I am a married man, and in business close by, and if this thing gets about it will ruin me"—I said "As far as I am concerned no one will know anything about it"—he then asked me to call at his tobacconist's shop in the Holloway Road, close to the railway arch—I said I would call—that was all that passed on that occasion—on Thursday, 17th, I saw him again in consequence of a message, at 254, Holloway Road, about 1 o'clock in the afternoon—it was a tobacconist's shop—in the meantime I had seen the child twice, I think; Mrs. Manning had brought it—he asked me how the child was getting on—I said it was improving and I thought it would live—he said "I am sorry to hear that, for it will be a burden for me for 16 years"—I said "Why, if you pay 5s. a week you need not be troubled with it, any one will keep it and not say anything about it"—he said "It will never do, if my wife gets to know it there will be a fearful disturbance"—he then asked me how long I thought the child would live—I said probably not more than two years—somebody then came into the shop, and he asked me to call again, and I left—on the following Tuesday, the 22nd, I saw him again at my surgery, about 8 o'clock in the evening—he said "How is the child getting on?"—I said it was still improving—after that there was some general conversation, and he then said to me, "I want you to get rid of this child for me"—I said "What do you mean?"—he said "I want you to put something in your medicine so as to slowly poison the child, and I will pay you any reasonable amount of money"—I said "I refuse to have anything to do with it"—he said "Why not? you will be handsomely paid; other doctors do it and no one is a bit the wiser"—I said "You won't tempt me to commit murder for any amount of money"—he then spoke about the vaccination, I am not sure about the words—I think he said "How about the vaccination?"—I told him the child was not in a fit state to be vaccinated, and if I did do it it would die—he sail "Then why not do it, it would be an easy way to get me out of my difficulty?"—I told him if I did it would be murder—he then said "If the child dies in a fortnight or so will you give a certificate?"—I said provided there were no suspicious circumstances I should be compelled to give one—he said "If I call in a fortnight will you give me one?"—I said "You have had my answer"—he then said "It would be easy to get rid of this child by putting something in its food or in your bottles of medicine, and I mean to get rid of it, and I shall call on you for a certificate"—I said "If I suspect foul play I shall withhold it"—he said "You need not know anything at all about it, it will be done neatly and quietly, and after. You have given the certificate you can ask for what fee you like"—he then bade me good night, saying "I shall call in a fortnight and depend on you for the certificate"—it was about 8.45 when he left—next afternoon after I shut my surgery at 12 o'clock I went to the police-station and made a communication to Sergeant Targett—I put it in writing the

same night in his presence—on Saturday, the 26th, at the instance of the police I went to the police-court and swore an information, and after the prisoner was arrested I gave my evidence at the police-court—a bottle of medicine was shown to me by the inspector—it appeared to be in the same state in which I gave it to Mrs. Manning—I saw the child at Mrs. Manning's in Hornsey Road on the night of the 26th—it was much in the same state as I had left it—I don't know whether it is living—that was the last time I saw it.

Cross-examined. I should not be at all surprised to hear that it was dead—I did not when I first saw it decide that it had consumption of the stomach—it was suffering from bad feeding, from condensed milk, not in proper strength, and in a very dirty bottle—that would produce wasting and emaciation—on the first interview with Mrs. Manning I formed I very unfavourable opinion of the child's condition, and thought it probably would not live long, and I so stated to the prisoner on the 10th—on the 22nd he came about 8 o'clock and left about 9 and bade me good night—I also bade him good night—the following afternoon I communicated with the police—I did not consult any person before communicating with the police, I am positive of that—I was asked that question by Mr. Ricketts at the police-court, and I said I consulted somebody in the Temple; but that was after I had given information to the police—I did not have the interview personally with the barrister—I did it through my brother, a student in the Middle Temple—I had no ill feeling against the prisoner, but I wanted to know if I was doing right, to protect myself—I thought I might be compromised; that was what I was afraid of—I did not make an analysis of the contents of the bottle; I tasted it, and I believe it was in the same condition in which it left my hands—I had no reason to believe that it had been tampered with—about three-parts of it had been used—I received the bottle from Inspector Dod—when the prisoner first made this proposition to me I was so taken aback I did not know what to do—I made no attempt to mention it to the police that night, and next morning I could not go out, because my surgery was open—I did not institute the prosecution—I have carried on my profession at 66, Jackson Road from 30th January, 1883, before that I was at 104, Store Street as house-surgeon of a provident dispensary for 18 months—I had a mouth's notice to leave because I did not attend at a committee meeting—I left in debt, but not largely—I registered as a practitioner in September, 1882, and was qualified on 29th July—I studied at St. Mary's Hospital from 1873 to 1877—I had an interview with the prisoners father on Sunday night, 27th January—he told me who he was, and asked me if I was the prosecutor—I said no, the police were prosecuting, and that I was an unwilling witness in the matter—I did not say "I suppose your son has been talking of this affair, and it came to the ears of the police, and so Mr. Dod called on me and asked me about it, and that is how it occurred," nothing like it—the prisoner did not bring a vaccination paper with him when he first came, nor at all—he did not say he had had one left at his house—Mrs. Manning brought it on the 22nd I said the child was not fit to be vaccinated—the prisoner did not say "If the child knew what was best for itself it would die, but I suppose I shall have to keep it till it is 16"—I made a few notes of what he said on the 22nd next day—I have not got them here—I did not say before the Magistrate that I had not taken any note—I said I had notes of the conversation

on the 22nd—I had no note of the previous conversations—I don't know that the prisoner is not married—I have heard so—he certainly said on two occasions that he was married—he was not living at the tobacconist's shop—it is his father's business, and he carries it on for his father—I told Mrs. Manning that the child was suffering from consumption of the bowels—that is a term we use for malnutrition, as persons of the poorer class would not understand that term—tuberculosis is a very deadly disease—I never said it had tuberculosis—I did not tell the prisoner that it had consumption of the bowels; I never thought so—he never asked me what was the matter with it—I told him it was suffering from improper feeding; that it was very bad and likely to die very soon.

MAUD MORRIS . I am a dressmaker, and live at 39, Stanhope Street, Euston Road—I have kept company with the prisoner, and became in the family-way—the child was born on 19th November—I registered it; it was a boy, named Sidney—that is the prisoner's Christian name—after I was confined I wrote to the prisoner—I did not receive any reply to the first letter—he came to see me three days after; before that I went to his business to see him, but he was not at home; I took the baby with me—on the day he came to see me he asked to see the baby—I did not show it to him; it was rather late in the evening; I thought perhaps it would catch cold—one day in the week before Christinas he called again, and saw the baby—I told him the doctor said I was not able to suckle it—he said he would try and get a wet nurse for it, or do the best he could—he said if he found a nurse could I let it go away on Boxing Night, and on Boxing Night Mrs. Manning came, and believing he had found a nurse for it I let it go with her—I asked her where she lived, and she said at Poplar—about a fortnight after that I saw the prisoner again, and I asked him to tell me where the baby was—he said "You can see the baby whenever you wish to, but I don't wish you to know where the nurse lives"—he told me not to come there again; he was in a temper; I think someone had upset him during the day—I wrote to him after that, and then I and my mother went to him and asked to see the baby—I was going to see the doctor then—he said we could see the baby whenever we wished, but he did not wish us to know where the nurse was—that was facing the Nag's Head in the Holloway Road—he was cross because my mother came with me, and at first he said I should not see the baby—I sad "If you don't let me see it I shall go to your business"—he said "Come along, then," and he took us to Mrs. Manning's, where we saw the baby—I went with it and Mrs. Manning to see Dr. De Gruyther on one occasion—when I went to the shop the prisoner Maid "If you come here kicking up a bother neither you nor the baby will go out," but he did not mean anything—I saw the baby again a few days after—the prisoner is not married, but he told me he was, so that I should not go there in the evening to annoy him in business.

Cross-examined. There is not the least reason to suppose that he is married—the business is his father's—I said before the Magistrate that he had promised to marry me, and I have no reason to doubt that he intends to carry out his promise—I heard him say to Mrs. Manning "Take great care of the child, and let me know at once if there is any thing the matter with it"—that was when the child was taken from me—he said the reason it was taken to Mrs. Manning was because I could not maintain it any longer—I know Mrs. Manning now, she is poor but

very respectable—I had no knowledge of her before the prisoner wrote to me telling me that the child was not very well and would I like to see it—he said he would do his best to support it.

JULIA MANNING . I am as good as the wife of George Manning, and live in Essex Road, Holloway Road—I did not know the prisoner before I took charge of this child, my husband did, and spoke to me about him—I first saw him on Christmas Eve at his shop, and I arranged to take charge of the child—he was to pay me 10s. a week—he gave me 3l. in advance—I fed it on condensed milk—when it got ill I took it to a chemist's in the Holloway Road, and afterwards to Dr. de Gruyther, and he gave medicine for it and I afterwards went with the child's mother to the doctor's with it—I let the prisoner know that it was ill.

Cross-examined. I received from the doctor a bottle of medicine, and gave the child part of it—it did not appear to be any the worse for it—the prisoner told me to treat it in a proper manner; I have it still.

CHARLES DOD (Police Inspector). On Saturday evening, the 26th, about 5.30, I went with Sergeant Targett to 254, Holloway Road—I there saw the prisoner—I said "Are you Mr. Clay"—he said "Yes"—I said "We are police officers, and I hold a warrant for your arrest, which I will read to you"—I read it to him, it was for inciting to murder the child—he replied "Oh, there is nothing in this; the doctor is attending the child and the nurse is close by; it is all a mistake"—I produce the bottle of medicine which I got from Mrs. Manning; Dr. de Gruyther tasted it and sealed it up.

The prisoner received a good character.

GUILTY. Recommended to mercy by the Jury on account of his youth and previous good character. — Six Months' Hard Labour.

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