3rd July 1854
Reference Numbert18540703-842
VerdictGuilty > manslaughter

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842. MARY ANN ALICE SEAGO , was indicted for the wilful murder of William Seago: she was also charged on the Coroner's Inquisition with the like offence.

MR. PAYNE conducted the Prosecution.

ANN COOPER SEAGO . (This witness was examined by MR. JUSTICE CRESSWELL, as to the state of her religious knowledge, and was then sworn)—I am nine years old last month; the prisoner 'is my mother; she is not my first mother—she married my father; I do not know how long ago—I had a little brother named William—I do not know how old he was; I remember his dying—I have a brother named Tommy—he is not my first mother's child; he is the prisoner's boy—I recollect when my mother came home that Tommy said, "O, mother! Billy has got me into such a row"—mother said "What is it?"—Billy was sitting on a box; his feet touched the ground when he sat on it—mother knocked him off the box, and then he went to bed—he then got up again out of bed; no one had told him to do so—he had gone to bed with his clothes on—mother strapped him; and then she put him in the water, and washed him with his clothes on, and then Tommy took him out of the water, and wiped him, and undressed him, and put him to bed—mother put him into the water twice—I am sure I do not know whether he had his clothes on the second time; I think he

had not—the first time he was in the water, mother hit him several times with her hand—he could not get out of the water by himself, because he had not strength; he could not hardly move—after my brother wiped him, and put him to bed, mother told him to get up and rub the tea-tray; he did that, but did not rub it long; he seemed to be weak—after he had rubbed it a little while, father knocked at the door, and mother told Billy to go to bed—then she said "Go down and let the b—in;" I went dawn and let him in; and father came up stairs and said, "What has happened?" mother did not speak—father said "I will go out of this;" and mother said "Go, and take your b—y children with you"—father then went out; he did not stop a minute—Billy sat up in bed while father was there, and then mother pulled him out and threw him across the room on to a chair—his head was hanging down then—I think he was on the floor when she took him up—she threw him across the room twice, and his forehead went against a large tin box; that was not the box he had been sitting on—mother then kicked him several times, and Tommy said, "O, mother! don't beat Billy any more, you will kill him, and you will be hung!"—mother was then going to throw the pepper castor at Tommy for saying so—I said to Billy, "Get up, and let me wash you;" he did not get up, he was not able—he was lying on the floor, with his face all over blood, which came from his nose and forehead; he was dead then—the first thing mother said when he was dead was, "O my dear Billy, I do love you! O my God, what have I done!"—she sent for some brandy, and tried to give Billy some; but he was not able to swallow it—when she found he could not swallow it, she said to me, "Don't say anything or I shall be hung;" she then, wrapped him up, and took him to the hospital.

Cross-examined by MR. PARY. Q. What are you called at home? A. Annie—Tommy was bigger than me, but I do not know whether he was older—he complained of Billy getting him into a row—they had been out together all the morning, and Tommy had hit Billy, and father had hit Tommy—I have been taught to say my prayers—they have taught me at the workhouse—my second mother has not taught me or prayed with me at any time—I did not know any prayers before—my father had not been at home all this day—while all this was going on in the room, some bacon and eggs were being cooked for tea—there was not enough for all of us; I am quite sure of that—mother had brought the bacon and eggs in—the water was boiling to make the tea, and the tea things were laid—mother had come home first, and then gone out again to buy the bacon and eggs—that was before this happened—what Tommy said was, "Oh, mother, Billy has got me into such a row, and father has hit me"—my father came in while Billy was in bed—he did not stay at all—I have told you the truth here today—I have not said anything against my second mother that is not true—I always tell the truth, and never tell any stories—I have sometimes been scolded for telling stories—sometimes by my father, I think.

COURT. Q. You have sometimes told him what is not true? A. I have sometimes said what I ought not to have said.

MR. PARRY. Q. You have said something that never happened, have not you? A. Yes—I have got an aunt, Mary—I forget whether I ever said anything about my father and aunt that was naughty and wrong, I am quite sure I forget—the complaint of my telling stories has been made often—I have sometimes been a naughty little girl, and told stories.

MR. PAYNE. Q. Have you told us any stories to day. A. No—it was the beating that made Billy's forehead bleed—I did not notice any particular

blow on the forehead that made it bleed—it was before he went against the box that I saw his forehead bleeding—it was not his nose, but his forehead.

ERNEST HENMAN . I am a tailor, and live in York-street, Mile-end., The prisoner had been lodging at my house a twelvemonth when this happened—I do not remember her marriage with Seago—it was about three weeks previous to her coming to lodge with me—she was married when she came—there were no children by the second marriage—on Sunday, 21st May, I heard her come home after 4 o'clock in the afternoon—soon after she came in, I heard something fall, and I heard a child commence crying—it was Billy—I knew the children's voices—I have been given to understand that he was about five years old—the noise continued a short time—I cannot exactly say when it left off the first time—I remember the father coming home—after he had gone out again I heard the noise of a child, but it was a much fainter noise than before—after it ceased, I happened to go through the passage, and heard the prisoner crying and lamenting—she said, "My darling boy, what have I done? why should I put myself into a passion with, the children?"—I remember the little girl going up stairs after her father had gone out—after that I heard talking, and the child crying, and a rumbling noise on the floor.

Cross-examined. Q. Did you hear the brandy sent for? A. I saw the little boy bring in the brandy—I heard the prisoner say, "My God! What have I done? my darling boy."

Q. Did she appear to be addressing the child, "My darling boy, Billy, speak? A. I was in the room underneath, but I should expect it was the child she was addressing—she said, "What shall I do? why should I ill use my children?"—her husband is a bricklayer—I am not aware whether he was in straitened circumstances; he lost time when it was bad weather—they always paid their rent—the prisoner has borrowed money of me for the purpose of buying food for the children, and I have seen food bought with the money on several occasions; that was a twelvemonth ago—it is nearly twelvemonths ago since she borrowed money of me—I have not known her buy food since then out of her own money, because I have not been in her room—I think she was the worse for drink on this day, because she never made a noise when sober; she was very quiet when sober—she worked for my mistress once, in the tailoring line, and I heard her say since that time that she has made shirts—she had four children of her own, besides Annie and Billy, who were her husband's children—they did not all live together; two of them, Tommy and Emanuel, a lad of fourteen, lived out.

MR. PAYNE. Q. Had there been another child, a brother of the little girl, Annie? A. Yes, there were three by the first wife, but one of them died—I heard voices in the room on this day, but could not hear a word that was said.

HARRIET HENMAN . I am the wife of the last witness. I was at home the day the child Billy died—I heard the prisoner come home—she went up stairs, and then I heard thumps on the floor, and which sounded like slaps with a strap, as there was a space between each; and then I heard the child Billy cry, and heard Tommy say, "Don't, mother! don't, mother I"—I heard something frying, and I heard Mrs. Seago, as if she was eating, and she was swearing at the same time—the only words I heard were b—y and b—r, and then I heard slaps and thumps on the ground repeated as before; then Tommy said again, "Don't, mother! don't, mother!"—then there was a knock at the door; it was repeated, and then I heard Mrs. Cooper say, "Go down, and let the b—r in," and the little girl did so—

(the prisoner always went by the name of Cooper)—her husband came in and went up stairs, and the little girl went into the yard, and I saw bruises on her face—she met her father at the foot of the stairs, as he was coming down, and I heard him speak to her—I afterwards heard the prisoner say to her, "Where were you when your father was in the house?"—she said she was in the yard—Mrs. Seago said, "It is a lie, the b—y serf, in the shape of a man"—I then went into the back yard—I was going into the other room to put my things on to go to chapel, and heard the prisoner say, "My God, what have I done! why should I put myself in a passion and ill use the children! O my God, give me strength to go through it!"—before I heard those words I heard a faint noise in the room, the same as before, but not so much as before—I met Tommy in the passage with the brandy; he went up stairs, and I heard him cry, and his mother cry, and just afterwards she went out of the house—I looked out of the window, and saw her pass with the child in her arms, with something over it—she said the child was convulsed, and had got the rattle in its throat, but I did not speak to her—she went towards the hospital.

Cross-examined. Q. Did you see whether she was tipsy? A. She appeared by her violence to be tipsy, and as she passed the window she looked very strange, as though she had been tipsy and was frightened—she was very often tipsy, and her husband also—they used to quarrel and fight very much when they were tipsy—I have seen her with black eyes—her husband had been there that day—they went out in the morning, as they commonly did on Sunday mornings—they came home again, and he went out about 3 o'clock, as near as I can guess—it was past 6 o'clock when this happened—the prisoner has not borrowed money of me frequently—I have not been on intimate terms with her since last July, not to associate with her—I used to shun her, for her swearing was so awful.

WILLIAM WATSON (police sergeant, K 38). I took the prisoner at her place, about half-past 10 o'clock on the Sunday night—she was drinking a cup of tea—I said I had come about the child that was taken to the hospital, that it was a very bad job, and she must go with me to the station—she said she would go, but she would show me how it was done; that there was a large box about a foot and a half high, which she showed me; and that there was a small wooden tub standing close to the tin box, which was about a foot and a half high; that she was washing Billy in that tub, and he fell forward with his forehead on the tin box—I said she must accompany me to the station—she said, would I allow her to have another cup of tea; I said I would, and she poured out another cup and drank it, and then I took her to the station—going along, she asked who charged her; I said, "I shall charge you at the station on suspicion of causing the death of the child"—she said that it was a dear boy to her, she loved it dearly; that it was in a consumption, or was consumptive, and that it had been very weakly for some time—I afterwards went to the room and brought away the dress which she wore; it was smeared with blood—I examined the room, and saw blood on the floor and on the wall on the side where the tin box and tub were, but five or six feet from the tin box—that blood could not have come from the tin box, it was farther away.

ANN RANDALL . I am female searcher at the station. I searched the prisoner on Sunday evening, 21st May—I saw some blood on the bosom of her chemise—I asked her how it came there; she said it was blood that came from her dear Billy—she said, "It soaked through my dress; I have not the same dress on now"—she said she was washing Billy in salt and

water, and his arms were round her neck; that he fell like death, and fell on to the tin box—she said he was consumptive, and had a diseased heart.

MAJOR GREENWOOD . I was house surgeon, at the London Hospital. I recollect the child being brought there by the prisoner, I saw it directly—it was dead—(it was as near as possible 6 o'clock in the afternoon)—it had a horizontal wound about two and a half inches long, and three quarters of an inch wide, directly across the forehead; the bone was exposed by the wound—there was also a severe contusion on the head, about two inches above the ear; the upper lip was much contused and swollen, and there were bruises about the face and the body generally, but not serious ones; and various scratches—I made a post mortem examination; on removing the scalp I found contusions almost all over the head, both the sides and the posterior part—on removing the skull cap I found extensive extravasation and blood on the surface, and in the membranes of the brain; particularly on the left side, and about an ounce of blood effused on the posterior part immediately, behind the head—the ventricles of the brain were full of bloody serum, but in other respects the brain was healthy, and the other organs of the body were generally healthy; the heart was quite healthy—some of the mesenteric glands were enlarged, and the liver was enlarged—I attribute death to concussion of the brain, with extravasation of blood—they were such injuries as would be produced by a child being thrown on the floor or against anything.

Cross-examined. Q. Was the wound on the forehead the principal cause of death? A. No; it was of secondary importance—it went directly across the forehead, and had completely torn the flesh—this wound contributed but slightly to cause death; there was no extravasation corresponding to it on the brain.

GUILTY of Manslaughter. Aged 30.— Transported for Life.

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