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Cruelty to a Child

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Cruelty to a Child

Post by Karen on Mon 18 Jul 2011 - 20:58


Dr. Macdonald, M.P., the coroner for the north-east district of Middlesex, opened an inquiry on Monday morning at the Coroner's Court, St. Luke's, into the death of a boy, four years of age, who was found strapped to a chair at 116, Britannia-street, Shoreditch, on the 8th ult. The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, who first took up the case, were represented by Mr. Pamphilon, an inspector of the society. Louisa Moyler, the wife of a glass-bender, of Lizard-street, City-road, stated that the deceased was the illegitimate son of Clara Roberts, a domestic servant. The child had been under the care of Ann Wells, who was known as Mrs. Imason, at 116, Britannia-street. On Saturday, May 11, the child was brought to the witness, who agreed to bring him up. She only received 2s. with him. At that time he was very dirty. She cleaned him and gave him medicine up till the 23rd, when she took him to see Dr. Caswell. He died on May 25. She took the child more out of charity than for profit. She was not in the habit of taking children in. Since the child's death she had received a sovereign from Mrs. Imason. Jane Lyons, of 116, Britannia-street, deposed that on May 7 she heard a heavy fall, and ran downstairs and found the child crying bitterly. He said the chair was on top of him. When Mrs. Imason came in she said that she had had to tie him in the chair, as he was mischievous. The witness did not know how long the child had been tied in that position. On the 8th ult. the witness again heard the child crying and singing nearly all day; he was tied in the chair as before. The witness sent for Mr. Knifton, the landlord, who came with the police. The child had been there sixteen months, and used often to be crying. Mrs. Imason was not a sober woman. Caroline Atkinson, of the same address, gave corroborative evidence. John Knifton, a dairyman, stated that he was called to the house and found the door locked. He then went into the backyard and looked through the window, and saw the child on his knees with his head down, tied to the rails of two chairs. The witness went to the police-station, and with an officer returned and broke in the door and released the child, who was in the dirtiest state he had ever seen a human being in. The witness informed the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, and subsequently had the child taken to a doctor, who examined him in the presence of Mr. Imason, and said he found him in a filthy condition and very much neglected, and gave a certificate to that effect. When he heard the child was dead he took steps to have an inquest. Ann Donnoland, of 19, Cloth-fair, who appeared in court with a child in her arms, which she said belonged to Clara Roberts, said that she knew where the mother was, but refused to tell. As she persisted in her refusal, the coroner made out an order committing her to Holloway Prison for contempt of court. Subsequently, however, the witness gave the mother's name and address as Roberts, Rockhithe, Brentwood, Essex. She did not know who was the father of the child. Ann Wells, a widow, who was cautioned by the coroner, deposed that she lived with Mr. Imason, at 116, Brittania-street. She had had the charge of the deceased for two years, and had always fed it well. The child was always kept clean. She fastened him in the chair with a silk scarf because he was so meddlesome, and would most likely have fallen into the fire and been burned. Mr. Imason received 12s. from the mother of the child, and that was all the money they had had. Dr. George Bagster Phillips stated that he had made a post-mortem examination of the body. He came to the conclusion that the child's death was due to exhaustion, consequent on its inability to take nourishment, and that the death was quite natural. The body was fairly well nourished. The jury returned a verdict tantamount to manslaughter; but on the Coroner pointing out that that view was not borne out by the doctor, they found that the "Deceased died from exhaustion owing to its inability to take food, and that Mrs. Wells (or Imason) was guilty of gross cruelty, and open to severe censure." Mrs. Wells was severely reprimanded, and the inquiry, after lasting four hours, was brought to a close.

Source: Hornsey and Middlesex Messenger, Friday June 7, 1889

Karen Trenouth
Author of: "Epiphany of the Whitechapel Murders"
Author of: "Jack the Ripper: The Satanic Team"

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