Baby’s Body Behind Stack Near Wigton.
Mary Elizabeth SALKELD (32), single woman, Arbour House, Lamonby, Skelton,
committed from Wigton, was charged at the Cumberland Assizes on Thursday with
having on February 15th, at the parish of Westward, murdered her newly born
Accused pleaded guilty to infanticide and this plea was accepted by Mr.
BLACKLEDGE on behalf of the Crown.
Mr. BLACKLEDGE said the accused had had four illegitimate children before
this one. On Februray 15th this year she was seen cycling near Wigton. Shortly
afterwards she was seen near a haystack in a field, where the cry of a child
was heard and later there was found in the field the body of a child, which
had been suffocated by cotton wool being pushed down its throat.
Superintendent GRAHAM, Wigton, said the accused was born in the Public
Assistance Institution at Penrith and was herself illegitimate. Her mother who was
a domestic servant was admitted to a public institution with three
illegitimate children, and died in Garland’s Mental Institution shortly after giving
birth to the accused. Accused had been engaged in farm work in the Penrith and
Wigton districts. She had the reputation of being a very good worker.
His Lordship: She is apparently a person of low mentality.
Superintendent GRAHAM: A low standard.
Mr. F. E. PRITCHARD, K. C., counsel for the accused, said she did not leave
her home to be delivered of the child some where else, but went to Wigton ofr
the purpose of assisting a friend with the funeral of her baby. On the way,
accused was taken ill, and her child was born beside a haystack. It was clear
she suffocated the child and then went home. A report showed the accuser’s
mental condition was that of a girl of 13. Her mind was such that she would be
susceptible to an unbalanced mind by child birth. She had already been in
Durham Prison for about four months, and he suggested that his Lordship might
not find it necessary to send her back to prison.
His Lordship in passing sentence of six months imprisonment in the Second
Division, said he regretted he could not take the view suggested by Mr.
PRITCHARD that she would be treated in such a way that she would not have to go back to prison. He thought it was his duty to give her a term of imprisonment.