UNREGISTERED CHILD'S DEATH AT WHITEHAVEN
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THE INQUEST
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Yesterday (Tuesday) Mr Gordon Falcon, coroner, held an inquest
at the Whitehaven infirmary on the body of a child named Elizabeth
Templeton, aged 13 months, daughter of Mary Jane Templeton, single woman of
56 Mount Pleasant. The mother went to bed about half-past eleven on
Saturday night, taking the deceased and her other child with her. The
deceased child seemed sick and restless during the night, but took the
breast about half-past seven on Sunday morning. The mother got up soon
afterwards, and noticing that there was something the matter with the child
lifted it out of the bed. It died in her arms about nine o'clock. The child
had never been attended by a doctor, and its appears, had not been
registered. The mother has been supporting herself and her children by
gathering coal on the beach. The police having inquired into the case, it
was deemed necessary to hold a post mortem examination, and for that purpose
the body of the child was removed to the Infirmary.
Supt Hope was present at yesterday's inquiry.
The mother of the child was called to identify the body. She
said her child was 12 months old on Valentine's day.
The Coroner asked witness if she wished to tell the jury
anything about the child's death. He did not know whether any proceedings
would be taken against her and it was for her to say whether she would give
evidence.
The Mother: I can only say what I told the police.
The coroner: Do you wish to give evidence?
The Mother: (bursting into tears): I can't say any more than I have said. I
am very sorry for what I have done.
The Coroner: It is not a Question about the registering of the child. Do
you want to give evidence? That is what I want to know.
The Mother: No Sir I would rather not give evidence.
Dr J. H. Dickson stated that he made a post mortem examination
at the Infirmary on Monday. The child for its age, was thin and rather
emaciated, especially about the face, neck and chest. Its muscles were soft
and flabby. There were no marks of violence about the child, but there were
some excoriations on the inside of the groin resulting for want of
attention. He thought they had been long standing as they spread a good
deal along the sides. He made a careful examination, and found the child
has been anything but healthy. There were several signs among the organs of
early tuberculosis. The left lung was a good deal congested and showed some
signs of bronchitis. The heart and kidneys and the rest of the organs were
in fairly healthy condition - fairly normal.

There was little or no food in the stomach. There was a little undigested
milk - and very little of that. There was nothing about the organs to
account for death.
The Coroner: Could you form any opinion as to the probable cause of death?
Witness said the child only had four teeth and there was no signs of one
coming through the top gums. From inquires he had made he found the child
had suffered from sickness and diarrhoea for some time owing to teething,
and his opinion was, from what he had learned from the mother, that the
child had had a convulsion on the Sunday morning and died in consequence.
Replying to further questions by the coroner, witness said the child seemed
to have been neglected to a certain extent. The existence of the
excoriations on the groin showed that the child had not had the attention if
should have had, while its emaciated condition could not have come on in
such a short time. But even had the child been healthy the convulsion might
have occurred. He could not go so far as to say that neglect had caused
death. He was of opinion that convulsion was the cause of death and that as
he had said, might have occurred in a healthy child.
Supt Hope: You are quite satisfied, doctor that there has been some neglect
by the mother?
Witness: Oh yes. The child was emaciated and had been for some time, and
from the very fact of it being in that condition for some time the mother
must have known that it was not well.
And would such neglect be likely to cause the child unnecessary suffering?
Yes, I should think, naturally.
And be injurious to its health? - Yes
Supt Hope: thank you; that is all I have to ask.
The coroner said he did not think they required any further evidence because
it had nothing to do with the jury whether the child had been registered or
not or whether there had been a certain amount of neglect, unless it could
be proved that neglect had in some way contributed to the death. Of course,
the doctor did not say that at all. With regard to the question of neglect
there were remedies on another place, but that could not come before a jury
unless such neglect had contributed to the cause of death, and therefore
would amount to murder or manslaughter.
The foreman: (Mr Waugh) announced that the jury returned a verdict in
accordance with the doctor's evidence.
The Coroner: That is the best plan. It leaves the police open to take any
further steps the may make necessary.