4th July 1833
Reference Numbert18330704-33
VerdictGuilty > with recommendation

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Before Mr. Justice Gaselee.

1055. CATHERINE WEEKS was charged, on the

Coroner's inquisition, with the wilful murder of a newborn bastard child .

JOSEPH BURGESS . I live at Blossom's-place. I am surgeon and apothecary to the parish of St. Giles' . On Monday, the 24th of June, I was called by the parish beadle to see a child, which was in his possession in the dead-house of the work-house - It appeared to me not to have been born a great many hours; it was a very fine, healthy looking, well formed grown child; when I examined it I found the navel string twisted three different times about its neck; the face of the infant was very much swollen and suffused, and of a very dark livid appearance - the impression of my mind was that the child had breathed, but had been strangled by the navel string; I examined it minutely, externally, and found no marks of violence about the body whatever; the lungs were taken out by another gentleman, which I saw, they floated on water which they were put into it; the lungs were in an extremely healthy state; it was my impression that the child had breathed - it often happens in the birth that the navel string gets round the neck; the navel string was not torn at all, it was merely separated; that is not an uncommon thing.

Q. Was there any thing in the appearance of it to lead you to form an opinion that the child had not come by its death naturally in the birth? A. No; I considered that the head or some part of it had been born, so as to admit of its breathing, but before its birth was completed, it certainly might have been strangled in the birth by accident.

MARIAN ALLAN . I am a widow, and live in Denmark-street, St. Giles's. I am a midwife - I was present when Mr. Burgess examined the prisoner, on Friday the 29th of June - she told the surgeon that she had occasion to go to the water-closet, and the child was accidentally born in the privy, on the 20th - that she was very much alarmed, and perceiving no signs of life in the child, she took it up stairs, and put it into her box, and kept it there until the Sunday morning - I neither threatened nor made her any promise; it was found at some house in St. Giles's, in a water-closet- not in the house she was delivered in; she did not say whether anybody was with her when she was delivered.

Cross-examined by MR. CLARKSON. Q. In what state was she in then? A. She had the appearance of a woman who had been delivered eight or nine days, and was recovering from it; she was in a very weak state - she was told by Mr. Burgess and myself that she need not answer any questions, unless she liked, and we requested nobody should ask her any questions after we had examined her; I knew nothing of her before - she said she was not aware of what was going to take place when the child was born; I have every reason to believe it was her first child; I have known several cases of women being involuntary delivered without knowing it.

ELIZABETH DODSON . My name was formerly Burt. I take in mangling and washing - I have known the prisoner ten years - last Monday week, the 24th of June, I found a female child in my privy; I said nothing to the prisoner about it - I went up to the workhouse, and the beadle came and saw it; the privy is down in a kitchen, at the end of the passage - the outer door of the house is generally open - anybody who knew the privy was there could come and place the child there; the prisoner knew the way to the privy; I know she went down to the privy on the Wednesday before it was found; I had not seen her (before that Wednesday) for a year and a half - she has uniformly borne the character of an inoffensive mild woman.

MARIAN ALLEN re-examined. I had not seen the child when I examined the prisoner - I never saw it in her presence.

ROSINA GORDON . I am the prisoner's sister. I did not know of her being with child - I have no children - I had some baby linen in my house - she knew that, and on Friday last she told me she had taken some of it to her house, and I found them in my father's house, in a drawer appropriated to her use, where she told me I should find it.

Prisoner's Defence. I have only to say it happened accidentally.

Robert Drake, furrier, Piccadilly; - Barclay, furrier, Regent-street; and Charles Coney , Oxford-street, stay-maker, gave the prisoner a good character.

GUILTY, of concealment only.

Recommended to Mercy . Confined Fourteen days .

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