10th November 1908
Reference Numbert19081110-14
VerdictGuilty > with recommendation

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HARDING, Ethel (21, servant) ; wilful murder of a female child born of her body and not named.

Mr. Forrest Fulton prosecuted; Mr. Herman Cohen (at the request of the Court) defended.

ADA TATTERSALL . I live with my aunt, Mrs. Worth, at 26, Stanford Road, Kensington. From April to October prisoner was employed there as parlourmaid. About the end of September my suspicions were aroused at to her physical condition, and I asked her to see a doctor; she said she would do so when her aunt came home. On September 25 I insisted that she should see our own doctor; the next day prisoner gave a month's notice to leave. On the morning of October 2 I noticed that she had not come downstairs, and I called for her; she came down about eight. I then had a conversation with the cook. About nine I saw prisoner in the kitchen; she looked very ill. I induced her to go upstairs to bed and I went for a doctor. Before doing so I went to her room, where I saw a utensil full of blood; the water in the wash-basin was bloodstained and a towel and some clothing were stained also. I saw prisoner after the doctor had examined her. She said, "The doctor says I am going to have a baby and says I must go to the infirmary; instead of that I will go to my mother." A short time afterwards she went with the cook in a cab to the infirmary; the tin box and black wooden box produced went with her. After her departure I again went to her bedroom, and found a sheet saturated with blood rolled up and put under the bolster; there was blood on the carpet end bloodstained things about the room.

ELEANOR EARWAKER . I was cook at Mrs. Worth's, where prisoner was parlourmaid; we slept in the same bedroom, in different beds. In August she began to complain of indigestion and sickness. On the night of October 1 I noticed that she had got out of bed in the middle of the night. I asked her what she was doing, and she said she was going to. the lavatory; she left the room. I went to sleep again and did not hear her return. About quarter to seven next morning the called out to me from her bed that it was time to get

up. On getting up I noticed that the chamber utensil was covered over with a towel. Just before eight she came down to the kitchen. She said, "Would I take up the tea to the mistress, as she was very poorly." She was standing by the kitchen table, and I noticed there was blood on the floor. At 20 past eight I saw her in the bedroom; she was washing herself. She said she was in an awful state. I noticed that the bedclothes were bloodstained. She said she had had some pains and had taken salts to make her better. Later in the morning, after the doctor had seen her, I went to her by Miss Tattersall's directions, and said she was to get up and dress, and I would pack her boxes, and she was to go home. She started packing her tin box and a black wooden box which I lent her (as a box of hers was under repair). When I went to help her pack the tin box was almost full; I put a few small things on the top; I locked that box and also the black box and prisoner took the keys. Finally, I went with prisoner and the boxes in a cab to the Relieving Officer and then to the infirmary.

Cross-examined. I had no suspicion until the end that anything was wrong with the prisoner. She frequently spoke to me about her parents in Gloucestershire. On the day she went into the infirmary I wrote to her mother telling her of the circumstances, going by what prisoner had told me that morning. I told the mother that the doctor said he thought prisoner was about four months' gone; I was then under the belief that the child was still to come.

CHARLES EWART , M.D., 58, Queen's Gate Terrace. On October 2, about 9.30 a.m., I saw prisoner in her bedroom at 26, Stanford Road and examined her, externally only, and came to the conclusion that she was about four months in pregnancy. I told her she was in the family way. She said she knew nothing of it. I said, "To be in this condition you must know about it." She said, "If he has done it to me I did not know about it." I suggested that she should go to the infirmary, as she could not be properly treated in the house. She replied that she wanted to go to her home in Gloucestershire. I said she was not in a fit condition to do that. On October 5 I assisted Dr. Potter in a post-mortem examination.

Cross-examined. I have had a great deal of experience in child delivery. Even a healthy married woman at such a time would be in a state of mental excitement; a respectable, but unmarried, young woman, in great agony, suddenly discovering that she was about to become a mother would be even more likely to be affected in her mind.

HENRY PERCY POTTER , F.R.C.S., medical superintendent at Kensington Infirmary. On October 5 I examined the dead body of a female child; it was a full-term child; it had an incised wound across the throat, 2 1/2 in. long, extending right through the windpipe, severing the blood vessels of the neck; there was a fracture of the left collar bone and of the right side of the lower jaw, a large contusion below the right ear, a punctured wound over the heart; two ribs were fractured and a third injured. The punctured wound might have been inflicted with the scissors produced; they could

not have caused the cut at the throat. There were other punctured wounds on the body. I should say the child had breathed for at least three or four minutes; it had certainly had a separate existence. The cause of death was hemorrhage from the cut throat; that wound must have been inflicted during life. On the scissors were traces of mammalian blood. I was shown by the police some pills; they tasted strongly of aloes, and were of such a nature as to be likely to cause abortion.

Cross-examined. A woman delivering herself, and cutting the cord with scissors would no doubt have a shaky hand; this may account for some of the punctured wounds, but others appear to me to indicate some deliberation and decision.

HERBERT CAMPION , relieving officer, Kensington, proved the admission of prisoner to the infirmary.

HENRY HAWKINS , porter at the infirmary, said that the two boxes produced came with prisoner in the cab and were deposited in the receiving ward waiting room.

ADA SUTTON , wardswoman at the infirmary. On October 2 I received prisoner; from my examination of her I concluded she had just been delivered of a child, and I had her taken to the maternity ward. She gave me a small hand-bag; it contained some coins and some keys. I saw the two boxes in the waiting-room. On October 5 I noticed a faint smell from them. I got the keys from prisoner's bag and I opened the tin box; I found wrapped in the clothes (produced) the dead body of a female child.

JOHN MUGGLESTON , M.R.C.S., L.R.C.P., assistant medical officer, Kensington Infirmary. On October 2, at 11 a.m., I examined prisoner and found she had just been delivered of a child; I asked her where the child was; she said there had been no child, only clots.

Sergeant GEORGE VERNEY, F Division. On October 10 I was shown at Kensington Infirmary the dead body of a child, wrapped in the clothes identified by Sutton. I searched the boxes produced. In the tin box I found the small pair of scissors and stiletto produced; in the wooden box I found this other pair of scissors; they were lying about the middle of the box, as if they bad been thrown in and the clothes thrown on top of them; there were what appeared to be bloodstains on the scissors. I also found the box of pills produced. I handed the articles to Dr. Potter.

Inspector THOMAS TAPPENDEN , F Division. On October 26, at Kensington Police Station, I charged prisoner with "the wilful murder of her newly-born female child, on October 2, at 26, Stanford Street"; she replied, "Yes, I understand; I put the child in the box; it was born while I was on the bed, and I wrapped it up in my clohtes." On November 2, at West London Police Court, prisoner volunteered to me this statement: "The child was born after Earwaker had gone upstairs; I tore it from me and put it in the box."

FREDERICK HARDING , father of prisoner (called by Mr. Cohen). I am an insurance agent, living in Gloucestershire. My daughter left home to go to London two years ago; she was then about 19 years old. She has been well educated; she has taught in Sunday school,

and was always a girl of very good character. She frequently wrote to her mother, and knew that our home was always open to her. When we got the letter from Earwaker we thought the child was yet to come, and my wife wrote to Earwaker to know when Ethel would be able to come home.

Verdict, "Guilty, with the strongest possible recommendation to mercy, as we consider that she was in a frenzied state of mind at the time the act was committed."

Mr. Herman Cohen submitted that this was a verdict of Guilty, but insane.

Mr. Justice Bigham said he thought it was a verdict of Guilty, and he must act upon it. Addressing the prisoner, he desired her not to be anxious, because he hoped and believed that the recommendation of the jury (to which his own would be added) would be received with sympathy, and would be given effect to by the Home Secretary, to whom it would be forwarded. He was, however, obliged to pass upon her the only sentence which was permissible for the crime of which she had been found guilty—namely, the sentence of death.

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