19th August 1844
Reference Numbert18440819-1929
VerdictGuilty > lesser offence

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1929. SARAH HYLAND was indicted for the wilful murder of a certain male child.

CAROLINE GIBSON . I keep the Palace Tavern, in the Savoy. The prisoner came into my service about three months ago—I intimated to her my suspicion that she was with child—she said, "No"—I took her into my bed-room, and named it to her three different times, and said if she would confess the truth I would be a friend to her, she should not be exposed to any one, I would keep it secret, and do the best I could for her—the last time I named it I said I would have her examined by a medical man—she objected to that,

and gave warning—she was to leave in a fortnight—on a Monday before the day she was to leave I heard of her being ill, and sent her some brandy—she left about half-past eight or nine o'clock on Tuesday morning—directly after she was gone I was taken into her bed-room—she had insisted on my going before she left—I saw nothing then—after she was gone, I and the cook went up, but I did not see the child, as I ran away.

SARAH BREWER . I am Mrs. Gibson's cook. The prisoner slept in the same bed with me—the night before she went away I went to bed about a quarter past eleven o'clock—the prisoner went up at the same time, undressed, and went to bed—in the course of the night she complained of being very bad with spasms, and appeared in considerable pain during the night—she kept saying, "Oh, dear me, how bad I am with spasms!"—at a quarter past two in the morning I got up, and got mistress to give me something—she still continued to groan—I got up at a quarter past five, as she called me—I did not go down stairs—she was at the side of the bed when I got up, at a quarter past five—she told me it was a quarter past six, and I dressed, and looked through the blind, and, thinking it was not time to get up, I laid on the outside of the bed with my clothes on—in a short time she called me again—I got up, and was going out of the room—she said, "When you go down tell mistress to send for Mrs. Pennyfather to do my work"—I did not see her again till about seven o'clock—she was then in the room, lying in bed—I took her some tea—I said, "Here is some tea for you"—she said, "Is it hot?"—I said, "Yes, get up and drink it"—she did not get up—I did not see her again till she came down, about half-past eight, into the bar parlour, to go away—a cab was sent for for her—she was paying me a trifle she owed me, and said, "When you pack up my clothes don't let mistress look into my box," as she said she had put some things in there she did not want mistress to see—she went away, and after she was gone I went up stairs, and perceived the bed had been turned topsey turvey—I went to her box, and took a black dress from it—it was not locked—I threw the lid off, and saw a lot of dirty linen in the corner of the box—it was in a very dirty state—I went down to mistress, came up again, searched further, and found a child in the box, dead, and wrapped up in a piece of cloth, but not tied—the head was tied up—I saw the body, but not the head—I did nothing to it before the constable came—he found it in the same state as I did, only the cloth it was wrapped in was off.

Cross-examined by MR. BALLANTINE. Q. You took the cloth off? A. I lifted it up with my hand, and the cloth dropped right off—I did not perceive it till I touched the cloth, which was merely covered over it—I lifted the child's hand up, but did not lift the child up at all, nor pull it towards me, I am certain.

JOHN RUSSELL TAYLOR (policeman.) I was sent for on Tuesday, the 23rd of June, and saw the child—I did not touch it—I went in search of the prisoner, and found her at No. 6, Fleur-de-lis-court, Shoemaker-row—she was taken to the station, and then to the workhouse—Mr. Smith, the surgeon, was sent for.

MARGARET PENNYFATHER . On the morning of the 25th of June, I was sent for by Mrs. Gibson—I went up to the prisoner's room, and opened the door—she smiled at me—she was in bed—I said, "Well, Sarah, what is the matter with you?"—she said, "Oh, Mrs. Pennyfather, I have been very bad all night with the spasms "—I said, "Are you subject to spasms? "—she said, "Yes, very much lately"—after she was gone, I went up stairs with the cook and Mrs. Gibson, and saw the child in the corner of the box, with a cloth round it—the cook pulled the cloth off, and there was the child—Mrs. Gibson and I ran down stairs screaming—I went up afterwards to see if it

was alive—the cook took up its hand, and found it was dead—I felt it—it was just warm—it was a boy—we did not notice the neck—it remained in the same state till the medical gentleman came.

GEO. ALFRED WALKER . I am a surgeon, and was called in on this morning. I saw the child in a box, lying on its back, partly covered with dirty linen—the face and neck were concealed from view by a petticoat, or cloth—the string of the petticoat was tied fast round the neck twice, and the end of the string inserted, and drawn tight—I made further observation of the body—the navel-string had been cut, evidently—I afterwards made an examination—I found the head crushed—I think the cause of death might be threefold, the crushing of the head; the ligature round the neck was sufficient to prevent its breathing, unquestionably, and the other cause was the loss of blood from the navel-string, which was not tied—I think the crushing of the head alone would be sufficient, and the ligature round the neck would alone be sufficient—the ligature would be sudden in its operation.

Cross-examined. Q. I suppose there is a great difficulty in a woman delivering herself? A. Not necessarily so—women are frequently delivered when medical men are not present—the difficulty Would be much more likely to occur with a first child—the head presents itself first ordinarily—that is not more delicate than other parts of the body—the bones of the head are not united at first, which makes it delicate—they are covered of course—it is possible a woman might crush the skull in the agony of delivering herself.

CHARLES JAMES SNITCH . I am a surgeon. I was called in and examined the prisoner's person—I found she had lately been delivered of a child—I delivered her of the after-birth.

MR. WALKER re-examined. Q. Was there any appearance which enabled you to say whether the ligature had been applied before or after death? A. It had been applied before death, I think, in consequence of a mark under the right ear, on the side of the neck—it was a full-grown child—I think it must have been living at the time the ligature was applied.

MR. BALLANTINE. Q. How long have you been in practice? A. Nine years—I have attended many confinements, and some cases where children have been born dead—I cannot tell how often, but not very frequently—I have noticed the effect of external violence on a child born dead—the blood congeals very soon after death—I cannot tell how soon—it must be almost immediately—there may be instances of blood remaining twenty minutes or more in a fluid state, and doubtless, have been.

Q. If blood was in a fluid state when there was pressure on the neck, would not all the appearances be created as if the child was alive? A. You must have the power of the heart's action—I believe if the blood had not congealed it would not exhibit all the appearances I have spoken of—it would require a pulsation—the action of the heart must be opposed to it—there were appearances on the neck which I think could not be produced after death—the discoloration was the consequence of the blood circulating—it was an injury done to the vessels—the blood being in a fluid state would occasion that mark—the effect of the pulsation of the heart does not remain some short time after death—I examined the petticoat—the strings are made of tape, I believe—they are at the top of the petticoat—I do not know whether they are running strings—if I remember right they were fixed at either side—both petticoat and string embraced the child's neck—I do not think the petticoat had marks of blood on it—I think it was very dirty—it had evidently been worn.

COURT. Q. You say the string was twice round the neck, was it tied? A. It had made two circles round, and the end of the string was passed and drawn into this double circle, so tight it took me some time to remove it—there

was nothing in the appearances inconsistent with the head being crushed at birth, the child dying, and the string being applied immediately after that—she might possibly have aided the delivery by putting the string round.

GUILTY of concealing the birth. Aged 22.— Confined Two Years.

Third Jury, before Mr. Recorder.

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