10th October 1911
Reference Numbert19111010-74
VerdictsNot Guilty > unknown; Guilty > with recommendation
SentencesImprisonment > other institution; Imprisonment

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WEBB, May (18, servant) and MOLD, Arthur (17, groom) , both attempted murder of May Webb, the infant child of the said May Webb; both willful murder of May Webb ; Webb— Coroner's inquisition for the wilful murder of her child May Webb ; Mold— Coroner's inquisition with being an accessory before the fact to the murder of the said May Webb .

Mr. Muir, Mr. Graham-Camp bell, and Mr. Briggs prosecuted; Mr. G. S. C. Rantoul defended Webb; Mr. Montague Shearman, junior, defended Mold.

The case was opened on the charge of wilful murder.

Mr. Justice Scrutton intimated that, having read the deposition of the medical witnesses, he should direct the jury to return a verdict of Not guilty of murder.

SARAH NORFIELD , nurse, Kingston Infirmary. Female prisoner was admitted to infirmary on July 6 with her child, one day old. They were both discharged on August 1 in good health. On the 2nd I saw the child again in the infirmary.

Cross-examined by Mr. Rantoul. There was no sign of tubercular about the child. Female prisoner was not hysterical.

EMILY SEWELL , cook, Kingston Infirmary. I saw Webb and baby leave on August 1. The baby was dressed in the Shaw and gown produced. Male prisoner was waiting for Webb at the entrance and they went away together.

ARTHUR ROBINSON , house-porte, Kingston Infirmary. About 7.40 p.m. on August 1 prisoner Moid called at the lodge and said he had come for May Webb and the baby and I sent for them. I was not present when they left.

GEORGE STEEL , laborer, Brook Cottage, Robin Hood Farm. About 8.45 p.m. on August 1 I was in a field in Robin Hood Lane when male prisoner came into the field and asked me the way to Wimbledon Common. I went outside and directed him and then I saw the female prisoner. She had something in her arms wrapped up in a white shawl. Prisoners went off together in the direction of the brook.

THOMAS FROST , laborer, 11, Florence Terrace, Kingston. On August 1 about 9 p.m. I was on Beverley Bridge with two friends,

when I heard screams coming from the direction of Beverley Brook. I ran to the spot and found a naked baby lying on its back in the centre of the stream screaming. The water was about six inches deep. I called to a Mrs. Blenheim, living close by, and handed the child to her. I afterwards pointed out the spot to a detective. Photographs produced show the place.

Cross-examined by Mr. Rantoul. When I first heard the cries I was about fifty yards away. I think the baby was in danger because in its struggles its head went under the water. The brook is deeper at the sides. This is a favorite walk and on a fine summer night there would be a lot of people passing. Passers-by could not have helped hearing the cries. Where the child was lying the water was not deep enough to cover its body.

Cross-examined by Mr. Shearman. When the baby was found I was there with two friends and Mrs. Brenham's cottage is close by the brook.

Mrs. CAROLINE BLENHEIM, Brook Cottage, Robin Hood Farm. My cottage is about fifty yards from the brook. On August 1 I heard someone calling and ran to the brook and saw a child struggling in the water, screaming. Its head was above water. Last witness handed me the baby and I took it home, wrapped it in blankets, and sent for the police.

Cross-examined by Mr. Shearman. The child screaming in the posi- tion in which it was would have been sure to attract attention if any-body happened to be passing.

Police-constable RICHARD MCNAMARA, V Division. I conveyed the baby from Mrs. Brenham's cottage to Dr. Roots, who ordered me to take it to the Kingston Infirmary.

JOHN BLACKSTONE , house-porter, Kingston Infirmary. About 11 p.m. on August 1 a baby was brought to the infirmary by last witness, and remained there until it died.

WILLIAM PERCIVAL , confectioner, High Street, Merton. About 10 p.m. on August 1 female prisoner came into my shop and bought some sweets and asked me to take care of a parcel for her till the following morning. I did so and she said she would call between nine and ten. She was quite calm. She did not come and the next time I saw her was at the police court. I handed the parcel to the detective when he called for it. He opened it in my presence, and the letters produced were taken out of it, amongst other articles.

EMMA MOLD , 3, Granville Road, Wimbledon, mother of male prisoner. My son is 17 and lives at home. On August 3 I found the two letters (Exhibits 9 and 10) in one envelope in his bed. The bundle of letters produced are in my son's handwriting.

ARTHUR WEBB , carpenter, 32, Chapel Street, Mitcham, brother of female prisoner. My sister came to my house at 10 p.m. on August 1 and stayed the night. Soon after she left next evening a policeman called. I showed him my sister's box; he took the shawl and the other articles produced from it. Exhibits 9 and 10 are in my sister's handwriting.

Detective-sergeant FREDERICK EGBOROUGH, V Division. On August 2 I went with Inspector Babcock to 3, Granville Road, where Babcock arrested Mold. Mold said to me, "I did not know she was in the family way till I got a letter from her telling me she was in Kingston Infirmary with a child. I went and fetched her and the baby from the infirmary Last night, and it was while we were walking home across the common that she took its clothes off and threw the child in the water." On August 3 I conveyed female prisoner from the police court to the station. On the way she said to me, "They are going to try to put all the blame on me by showing my letters. I have had letters from him baying that it would be the best thing to do. I left them in a newspaper parcel, together with my clothes, at the fourth sweets tuff shop on the left in High Street, Merton." I went too Perivale's shop, and he handed me parcel produced containing clothes and letters, together with the envelopes.

Police-constable CHARLES YOUNG, V Division. On August 2 I went to 32, Chapel Street, Mito ham, where I saw Arthur Webb. He handed me a box, from which I took the baby's gown and shawl pro duced. Next day I went to Beverley Brook with Frost, and took the photographs produced, showing the depth of the brook and the spot where the baby was found.

Cross-examined. The stream varied in depth from four inches to a foot; where the baby was found in the centre the water was of medium depth; the deeper places are nearer the bank.

WILLIAM HENRY ROOTS , divisional surgeon, Kingston Police. On August 1 about 10.30 p.m. a police-constable brought a baby to my house. The child was well-nourished and very healthy, but collapsed with cold. I ordered its removal to Kingston Infirmary. On August 28, in conjunction with Dr. Armstrong, I made a post-mortem examination of the child and came to the conclusion that it died from meningitis caused by shock or convulsions; it could have been caused by cold or a sudden immersion in cold water.

Cross-examined by Mr. Rantoul. The meningitis was not tuber- culler, it was common meningitis. There are other means of bringing on this form of meningitis than shock. Bad milk or feeding in the hospital might have produced the symptoms.

PATTERSON ARMSTRONG , Resident Medical Officer, Kingston Infirmary. I saw female prisoner and her child on August 1 before they were discharged. The child Was then healthy. It was brought back to the infirmary in a condition of collapse by the police the same night about 11. There were no marks of violence. It recovered temporarily, but relapsed after a couple of days and died on the 26th. It was fed under my direction on milk or modifications of milk; that was the only proper feeding. In conjunction with Dr. Roots I made a post-mortem examination and formed the opinion that the child died of convulsions secondary to meningitis. I attribute the meningitis to the shock due to what happened before the child came in. I found no other cause of meningitis.

Cross-ermined by Mr. Rantoul. The shock in cold water alone,

however severe, would not produce meningitis; it might bring it to the surface if it was there before. The child might get it from some food poisoning, or something wrong with the milk. Taking a baby from the mother's breast and feeding it on other food is a common cause of babies being upset. It was my previous knowledge of the case that caused me to attribute the meningitis to shock.

Inspector EDWARD BADCOCK, V Division. On August 2 I went worth Egborough to 3, Granville Road, Wimbledon, where I saw male prisoner. I said to him, "We are police officers and are going to arrest you for being concerned with May Webb in attempting to murder her infant by throwing it into Beverley Brook last night." He said, "She took its clothes off and threw it into the waiter. I told her if she did I would have no more to do with her. We went home to Wimbledon, where I left her at 10 o'clock. I arranged to meet her at 7.15 to-night at the Grove." I went to the Grove at 7.15 and saw female prisoner. I said to her, "I am a police officer." She said, "What of that? " I said, "I'm going to arrest you for being concerned with Albert Mold in attempting to murder your child last night by throwing it into Beverley Brook." She said, "I threw it in, he did not; he would not take it home and I did not want it. I took its clothes off and threw it in, and then we ran away. The clothes are in my box at my brother's at 32, Chapel Street, Mitch am, where I slept last night." I took her to Wimbledon Police Station, where both prisoners were charged together; they made no. reply. Male prisoner's mother handed me Exhibits 9 and 10.

Cross-examined by Mr. Rantoul. I have made inquiries about the girl, She is of good character and is spoken well of in the places where she has been.

Cross-examined by Mr. Shearman. The lad also bean an excellent character and was, until arrested, working on a railway.

Verdict (each prisoner), Not guilty of murder; Guilty of attempted murder, with a very strong recommendation to mercy.

Sentences, Webb, Three years' detention in a Borstal Institution; Mold, two months' imprisonment, second division.


(Wednesday, October 18.)

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