A very sad case

Hertfordshire Mercury, 14th March 1914


At the Saturday morning inquest held at the Town Hall, Joseph Cutmore, a gardener, of Farquhar Street, Bengeo, reported that he had gone into the meadow opposite The Hythe, in Farquhar Street, on the Thursday morning at about 9.30 a.m. when he had seen a black parcel, about 14 inches long and 10 inches wide, lying between some wooden fencing and the back of a hedge.  It was only possible to see the parcel from inside the meadow, but he said that it had probably been put over the fence.

The witness said that he had unfastened a safety pin but, on having an idea as to what the parcel might contain, he called the police.  The outside wrapping was a black skirt, and the inside wrapping was of paper.

Police Sergeant Lawrence went with Police Constable Williams to the spot described.  The officers examined the parcel, and found that it contained the dead body of a child, very much decomposed.  The body was wrapped in a copy of the Daily Telegraph, dated 1st November 1913.  Around this was the skirt.  There were no marks on the skirt.  It had been fastened with a safety pin and 3 hair pins, all of which were rusty.  All had the appearance of having been in the open air for some considerable time.  The spot where Cutmore had found the body was 36 yards from Byde Street Corner in Farquhar Street in a hollow between the bank and the fence, and it would have been easy to put it there from the path.  P.S. Lawrence said that he had made enquiries but had been unable to find out who might have placed the body there.

Dr H.S.W.Hall said that the body was of a well nourished male child about 2 months old at the time of its death.  He could find no trace of violence and, as far as he could tell, allowing for the decomposed state, the heart and lungs were in a healthy state.

The Coroner asked if he was able to form any opinion as to how long the child had been dead, and the doctor replied “Not less than 3 months”.  The Coroner asked if there was anything to account for the death in any way, and the witness replied “I could not find anything”.

The Coroner said that this was a mysterious case.  The street was a lonely one, and a convenient spot for anyone to deposit a parcel of that kind.  He said it was improbable that anyone living in the neighbourhood would have disposed of the body, and that it was a difficult thing to trace who might have put it there.  He suggested to the jury that they return an open verdict of having been found dead, which would thus not prejudice any further proceedings.

The jury returned a verdict accordingly.

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