She concealed the body of her child

Hertfordshire Mercury, 23rd November 1918


At Herts Autumn Assizes, Annie Elizabeth Ireland (26), clerk, pleaded guilty to the concealment of the birth of her child and the secret disposition of the body, at East Barnet, on 22nd July.

Mr Murphy said that this was a different case to the previous case of concealment that had been before His Lordship that morning.  This was a married woman, who already had two illegitimate children, and the child concerned in this was a third.  There was not the slightest preparation for the child’s birth, and the doctor who made the post mortem examination said that undoubtedly the child lived.  There had been an enquiry before the Coroner, though the jury took a merciful view, and found that the child died of neglect.  The body of the child was found concealed in a tin box, and when taxed about it, she repudiated any such idea.

Det Sgt G. Chambers said the woman had been living in the name of Lee, but her husband had never been seen.  The prisoner held a position in the City as a clerk.

In answer to the Judge, the prisoner said she would like to call her landlady, Mrs Reeves, to speak for her.  His Lordship said that, according to the depositions, Mrs Reeves did not say anything in her favour.  The prisoner said all she wanted Mrs Reeves to say was that she (the prisoner) had received letters from Mr Lee in France, where he was killed in action in May 1916.  The Judge said  “Then this would not be his child.  Is there anything further you desire to say?”  The prisoner responded  “I did it for the sake of my children and to save my berth in the City.”

The Judge said he could not deal with this case in the same way as he did the last as it was rather too serious.  It was not the case of a girl who had been taken advantage of for the first time.  She must go to prison for 12 months.  On hearing the sentence the prisoner exclaimed “Oh, my God!” and fell in a dead faint in the dock.


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