THE ALLEGED CHILD STEALING ON EPSOM DOWNS
At Southwark Police Court on Wednesday Mary Carr, alias Crane, from Stamford Street, surrendered to her recognisance as, before Mr Slade, charged with unlawfully detaining a child named Michael Magee, aged five years, who was stolen from his mother, a gipsy woman, at Epsom Downs, on the day of the City and Suburban, April 24, 1895. The accused, a well-dressed, good-looking woman, gave her age as twenty-five years, but is known to be several years older. After the prisoner had surrendered, in consequence of further information, she was formally charged by Inspector Martin, L Division, with stealing the child. The poor infant, who is suffering from a shameful disease, looked much better for his week's sojourn in the workhouse infirmary.
The prosecution was conducted on behalf of the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children by Mr Arthur Hutton, barrister, and the prisoner was defended by Mr H. I. Sydney, solicitor.
Witnesses having been ordered out of court, Mr Hutton stated that the prisoner, with another woman and two men, was in a booth on the Downs on April 24 last, when Mrs Magee came into the booth to sell race cards. She had the child with her, and prisoner noticed it, and said, "What a pretty child." Later in the day the mother missed the child, and gave information to the police, who did their best to discover the infant without success, until Tuesday week, when Detective-sergeants Gray and Brogden, of L division, found the boy at 118, Stamford Street, in possession of the prisoner. The child was suffering from a certain disease.
Mr Sydney objected to that statement.
Mr Hutton said the doctor was present in court to prove the fact. The prisoner was charged with stealing and receiving this child, and the prosecution were entitled to show the condition in which it was since she became possessed of it. He did not propose to give on this occasion all the evidence which had been collected against the prisoner, but only sufficient to justify another remand.
Bridget Magee, the mother of the child, said she was the wife of a painter, but had lived apart from him for five years, and gained her livelihood by selling race cards. She had three children, of whom Michael was the youngest. She remembered seeing the prisoner and a man, called Phil Ochre, with another woman and man, whose names she did not know, in a booth on City and Suburban day. The prisoner admired the child Michael, and said she should like to adopt him if the witness would allow her. The witness replied, "I would not let my child go for the Queen's crown." She had a drink with the prisoner and her party, and after a while the second man walked out of the booth with the child on his shoulder. The witness said, "Where is he going with my child?" and the prisoner replied, "Oh, he's all right; he has children of his own, and will be sure to bring your child back." Phil Ochre also said it would be all right it the witness would wait and have another drink. She consented to do so, but the man did not return with the child, and she gave information to the police. She had not seen the child since that day until the present proceedings. When the child was with her he was clean and free from disease; he was an exceedingly healthy and handsome child, and she was very proud of him. He had long golden curls, but they were now cut off.
Cross-examined: She was very excited at the loss of her child, but she could positively swear to the prisoner. She recognised the prisoner outside the court before the case was called on. She was not told by the detectives, nor by the society's inspector, Mr Lodge, that that was the woman whom she was to identify. She had previously stated that she could identify a fair woman and a man called "Phil."
In further cross-examination, Mrs Magee, who is a weather-beaten, honest-looking little woman, declared that she had never relaxed her efforts to discover her child, but she had almost lost hope, until last week, on her way from Warwick Races, she met a man at Birmingham who told her about the report of this case in the papers.
Philip Jacobs, Alias Phil Ochre, general dealer, of 40 Commercial Road, E., said he was in the prisoner's company at Epsom on the afternoon of April 24, and she asked him to take the little boy home to her place in Stamford Street, and he did so. He was given to understand that the child belonged to a friend of hers. Since then he had often seen the child with the prisoner in Stamford Street.
Cross-examined: He had not discussed with a Mr and Mrs Hart gave him certain advice, and went with him to the police station, where he made a statement. That was in consequence of seeing his name in the papers.
Dr Rowe, assistant-surgeon of the L division, spoke to the disease with which the child had been infected.
Cross-examined: Bicycle riding would not produce the same results.
Mr Hutton asked for another remand.
Detective-sergeant Grey, L division, said the police would require substantial bail. The prisoner had been convicted of felony and kept a disorderly house. There was reason to believe she would abscond, and that she had plenty of money at her command.
Mr Slade granted a remand, and said he should require two sureties in £100 each.
Illustrated Police News, 14 March 1896