MANSLAUGHTER CHARGE AT EPSOM


BABY'S EMACIATED CONDITION

SERIOUS ALLEGATIONS AGAINST A FOSTER PARENT

There was a sensational development to the inquest which was held at the Epsom Court House on Saturday morning on the body of Muriel Millard, the six months old child of a single woman named Nellie Millard. After hearing the evidence the jury returned a verdict of "Manslaughter" against a Mrs. Skinsley, of Epsom Downs, who had charge of the baby, and a charge of manslaughter has since been preferred against this woman.

The inquest was conducted by Mr. Gilbert White (the District Coroner), and Mr. A.G. Ebbutt (Clerk to the Epsom Board of Guardians) and Miss King (Inspector under the Children Act,1908) watched the proceedings.

Lillie Millard, the mother, said she lived with her aunt at Langley Bottom Farm. Her child was born at East Hampstead Infirmary, the father being a farm labourer. She understood that he had been killed at the Front. When she left the Infirmary the child was taken by her cousin, Mrs. Skinsley, who was then living at Woldingham, and afterwards she removed to Middlesex, and thence to Epsom. Witness worked at the Epsom College, and would have to leave there now. She saw the baby once a week, the last time being on the previous Sunday. It was always very delicate, but apart from that was all right, although on Sunday she noticed that it had a cold. On Thursday afternoon she heard that it had died. She did not know anything about the child having to be registered.

In answer to the jury, witness said the child was always clean when she saw it.

Mrs. Skinsley, 1, Mayfield-terrace, Epsom Downs, wife of William Skinsley, farm labourer, said she had no children of her own. When she took the deceased in she was living at Woldingham, and the mother arranged to pay her 3s. a week. Soon afterwards the mother went into service at Woldingham. Witness had to keep the matter quiet, otherwise the mother would have lost her situation. She told no one she had the child, and did not register it, not knowing that registration was necessary. Subsequently she moved to Whyteleafe, then to Shepperton, Middlesex, and later to Langley Bottom Farm, where her mother resided. She stayed there a fortnight, and then went into two unfurnished rooms at a house in Mayfield-terrace. Her husband was earning 18s. a week. The baby went on pretty fairly all the time. Witness gave her groats, cornflour and new milk, but she did not seem to grow at all. Mr. and Mrs. Murphy lived at the house, and she spoke to Mrs. Murphy about the child. On Sunday the baby had a cold, but it too its food all right. She fed the child with a medicine bottle, which had a dummy and tube attached to it. The mother knew there was no proper feeding bottle, although she saw the child every Thursday and every other Sunday; she did not say witness ought to have one. The baby took the food until Wednesday mid-day. It slept well on Thursday morning, and woke up now and then. Witness tried to give it some food on Thursday morning about seven. An hour later she looked at it and noticed it looked funny about the eyes. Witness spoke to Mrs. Murphy, and upon her advice went for her (witness's) mother, who was, however, unable to come, but told her to fetch her husband, who was at the camp, so that he could go for a doctor. Witness afterwards went for a doctor, but he was out, and she again went at twelveo'clock; the child was dead then.

By The Jury - She did not notice any sores on the child; she bathed it on the previous day. There was a shortage of water at Langley Bottom.

By P.-s. Kersey - She used to undress the child, and its clothing was removed the day before death occured.

Dr Thornely, who made a post-mortem examination, said the child was dirty and emaciated. The clothing was in a dirty state and apparently had not been removed for a long time. The skin was very dirty, and there was a small sore at the back of the head, probably caused by the child lying in one position. There was another sore on the lower part of the back. The weight of the deceased was 8-lbs. 15-ozs., whereas the average weight of a child that age was 12-lbs. He could find no disease of any of the organs, but there was an entire absence of food. The child had just got its first tooth, which gave some colour to the possibility of its having died in a fit. The main factor in the death of the child was insufficient food and neglect.

The Coroner - Do you say that death was due to improper and insufficient food?

Dr Thornely - I could not say thtat that was the immediate cause of death, but predisposed it. A healthy child might die in a fit.

The jury retired to consider their verdict, and upon their return the Coroner announced that he had decided to adjourn the inquest until Monday afternoon.

"NEVER SEEMED TO THRIVE."

Further evidence was given at the adjourned inquest, which was held at the Court House on Monday afternoon.

Mrs. Agnes Monger, of Langley Bottom Farm, whose husband is a foreman carter, said that Nellie Millard was her niece, Mrs Skinsley being her step-daughter. She saw the child often from December to January, and it seemed to go on fairly well. It used to have a pint of milk every day as well as groats. The child, however, never seemed tothrive on its food, and witness advised Mrs Skinsley to change its food as there was skin disease at the back of its head. Mr. and Mrs. Skinsley lived with here for a fortnight, leaving on April 26th. Witness last saw the child on the Monday prior to its death. When she remarked that the child ought to have a bath she was told that there was no water.

P.-s. Kersey stated that on the day following the child's death he went to 1 Mayfield-terrace, where the child was lying in a perambulator. It's clothing was in a filthy condition, and the bedding in the perambulator, consiting of an old pillow and old clothing, was dirty. The child had not been washed for some time. In moving the clothing he found that the baby was in a very dirty state.

Dr Thornely, recalled, said there had been neglect both as regarded cleanliness and nourishment. The neglect was not recent. Convulsions might have been the cause of death, but there was little evidence as to that.

The jury returned a verdict to the effect that death was due to malnutrition and neglect on the part of Mrs. Skinsley.

The Coroner - Mrs Skinsley will have to go for trial to the next Assizes on a charge of manslaughter.

The jury expressed the opinion that the mother was deserving of censure, and wished to commend the police for the way in which they had conducted the case.

The Coroner censured both Miss Millard and Mr Skinsley, and told the man that he had had a lucky escape, as it was a question whether he was liable as well as his wife.

ACCUSED BEFORE THE MAGISTRATES


Mrs. Skinsley was brought before the magistrates - Messrs. Basil Braithwaite (Chairman) and Mr.W. Dorset - at an Occasional Court on Tuesday and charged with the manslaughter of Muriel Millard by neglecting and withholding sufficient food from the child.

Det. Inspector Pride stated that at three p.m. on the previous day he attended the ERpsom Court House, where the inquest was being held, and the jury having returned a verdict of manslaughter against Mrs. Skinsley, who was committed to prison on the Coroner's warrant, he arrested her. He said to her "I am a police inspector, and shalla arrest you for the manslaughter of Muriel Millard by feloniously neglecting her." She made no reply to the charge, and he took her to the police station, where she was formally charged. On this evidence witness applied for a remand.

Asked if she had any questions to put accused replied in the negative, and the Bench adjourned the proceedings until Wednesday week, the woman having to remain in custody.

From 'The Epsom Advertiser', 21 May 1915, transcribed by Nick Winfield


ALLEGATIONS AGAINST YOUNG FOSTER PARENT

POLICE COURT STORY

A charge of manslaughter was preferred against Ada Florence Skingsley, 21, of 1, Mayfield Terrace, Langley Bottom, married, at the Epsom Petty Sessions, on Monday before Mr. Basil Braithwaite, (Chairman) and other magistrates. Mr. E.F. Barker prosecuting on behalf of the Treasury.

The deceased's name is Muriel Millard, the six-months-old female child of Ellen Millard, a single woman, and accused was charged with the manslaughter of the child by neglecting and withholding sufficient food from it at 1, Mayfield Terrace, on May 13th.

Ellen Millard, a single woman, engaged as a domestic servant at Sydenham Court cottages, Slough, and mother of the child, said the child was born on October 20th, and on December 14th, she went to stay with her aunt at Woldingham. Prisoner was her cousin, and two days afterwards, she met her and her husband at her aunt's house, and arranged with prisoner to take charge of the child for 8s. a month. They were then living at Stony Croft, Whyteleafe. Witness then went into service, and saw the child frequently, nearly every afternoon, in fact, during the two months the Skingsleys were at Whyteleafe. They removed to Shepperton in Middles. Witness did not see the child while they were at Shepperton, and next saw her at Langley Bottom Farm, to which the Skingsleys subsequently moved. The child then seemed to be all right. Just before the Skingsleys left Whyteleafe, witness agreed to give prisoner 12s. a month. The child was weak from birth. Witness saw her the Sunday before her death, when there seemed to be nothing wrong with her. She did not insure the child. She had never undressed her; nor had she seen her naked body.

By the prisoner - She was never present when the child was undressed.

The Chairman - Were the payments kept up?

Witness - I was two months behind owing to my being out of employment.

The Chairman having asked the witness if she thought her responsibility ceased after she had made the arrangement with the prisoner, remarked that it did not appear that she had taken much interest in the child.

Dr. Wm. Thornily, who saw the body of the child in a perambulator at Langley Bottom Farm on May 14th, said the clothing was very dirty, and apparently had not been removed for many days. The body was removed to the mortuary where witness examined it. The scalp was very dirty and there was a sore at the back of the head, probably caused by the child having lain in one position constantly. Had the child been strong she would have been able to move her head. There was also a sore on the lower part of the back. The skin of the body was dirty and dusky, which one found where cleanliness was absent, and the body was wasted, its weight being 8-lb. 15 ozs., whereas the average weight was 14-lb. There was no organic disease. The brain was slightly congested. The condition of the child showed neglect and want of proper nutrition, and he should think that condition of things had prevailed for several weeks. At the time he considered death was due to convulsions, but there was very slight evidence to support that. He since formed the opinion that death was due to exhaustion and want of proper nutrition and care.

In reply to the Chairman, witness said he considered 2s. a week was inadequate for the maintenance of a child. At least two pints of milk should be provided daily. When the child got older, 3s. a week would be scarcely sufficient.

By the Chairman - He could not say that the child did not vomit her food: there were no signs to indicate that.

Agnes Monger, wife of a carter, of Langley Bottom Farm, said that Ellen Millard was her niece, and that prisoner was her step-daughter. She made arrangements with the prisoner to take the child as she did not have sufficient room where she was living at Woldingham. The payment of 8s a month was to include provision of clothing. When they moved to Woldingham witness saw the child every day. Witness had brought up nine children, and knew something about them, this child was very thin, but apart from that, there seemed to be nothing wrong with her. Witness did not think 2s. a week was sufficient to keep the child, as milk was so dear. Prisoner was therefore unable to keep her as she would like to have done. On April 5th, prisoner and her husband came to live with her at Langley Bottom for a short time. The child seemed to be all right, although there was a sore on the head, and witness advised a change in the food, as she thought the patent groats were too strong for her. On May 19th, witness told prisoner that the child looked as if she had not had a bath, and her step-daughter replied that they had no water. Witness never saw the child alive after that. On May 13th, prisoner came to her and said that the child had died in a fit. Witness thought the cause of death might be convulsions.

Michael Murphy, of 1, Mayfield Terrace, Langley Bottom, a labourer, said that on the 26th April, prisoner and her husband engaged two rooms at his house at 4s. a week. He saw the child a day or two after they arrived; she was then lying in the perambulator and witness passed the remark to prisoner that she (the child) seemed very poor. Knowing something about children, witness asked the prisoner what she was feeding the child with and the young woman said that she was feeding her on cornflour. Witness said he should give her more grub or milk. He was called to the child on May 13th, as she was very poorly, and he gave her some brandy and milk, but she expired in a short time. The room was in a filthy condition, and smelt disgusting. The perambulator was also in a dirty condition, as likewise was the pillow. He burnt the perambulator. There was plenty of water at the house, and his children were able to keep clean.

Edith Allder, Stony Croft, Whyteleafe, a widow, said that at about the end of December, she took two rooms at the house of the Skingsleys at Whyteleafe, and lived there until March 8th. The child was poor and very poorly clad. She was fed on groats and milk. Witness noticed a sore on the back of the child's head and on the thigh. Prisoner's habits were very dirty. The child appeared healthy, but did not have sufficient food. Clothes were bought for the child who was for the most part kept in the perambulator. She had seen the child in the bath.

Mrs. Daws, of Shepperton, a monthly nurse, said that some time in March, prisoner, her husband and the baby came to live next door to her and stayed there until April. She saw the child occasionally usually in the perambulator. The baby was very small and prisoner told witness that she was fed on half a pint of milk and patent groats and bread sops every day. The child was often crying and witness suggested to prisoner that she should give her patent barley or pearl barley boiled, as probably the groats caused over heating. Prisoner was of "dirty habits" she never did any washing or cleaning in the house while there. She was fairly clean in herself.

Prisoner - I did do washing.

P.-s. Kersey stated that at nine o'clock on the morning of the 14th May, he went to 1, Mayfield Terrace, where he saw the body of the child lying in a perambulator. The clothing was in a filthy condition and the bedding consisted of old clothing and the pillow produced. The room was filthy. Witness removed the clothing from the child, and found the body in a dirty condition. It was evident that the child had not been undressed for several days.

P.-s. Young produced the pillow which was used in the perambulator. He visited the house on May 20th, and noticed that an effort had been made to clear up the room, which, however, still smelt very offensive.

Inspector Pride repeated his evidence as to arresting prisoner after the jury had returned a verdict of "Manslaughter" against her.

The Bench committed prisoner for trial to the next Assizes at Guildford, Mr. Barker remarking that prisoner would undoubtedly be represented there.

From 'The Epsom Advertiser', 11 June 1915, transcribed by Hilary Marogna


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