Elijah Miles ( Defendant) a labourer from Standon, made a living as a poacher. He was charged with neglect and exposure of his 10 year-old son.
Mr H S Hawkes from the NSPCC stated his wife left him due to his lazy habits and now in charge of their two children, the youngest being the subject.
The Defendant had neglected to provide neither shelter nor nourishment for the child, as he had been sleeping under a ‘sort of shed’ made of sacks on sticks.
On 22nd November, that night PC Gravestock deposed that he saw the child and defendant sleeping in a hut made of sacks on sticks on Wellpond Green. PC Gravestock told the defendant ‘it is very cold for a child’. Defendant disagreed.
PC Gravestock again saw the child in the hut on 9th December. The weather conditions were bad – it was snowing. The defendant was arrested on 14th for another charge. The child was still in the hut at this time. It was very cold and the boy did not have sufficient food. The defendant had already had a warning in 1896 in regards to this child and others. The defendant claimed the child had a home he was going to be sent to.
On that same day, 9th December, Inspector Sterry said he visited the hut where the child had been living. He saw the boy shivering with cold and very thin, he was dressed in dirty rags and had a few sacks to sleep on. Inspector Sterry called the defendant’s attention to the state of the child. Defendant’s reply ‘ oh he’s alright’ ‘he is as well as some of those in houses’.
Inspector Sterry took the child to the workhouse on 17th December. At this point the child only weighed 44lb, when he should be at a weight of 62 to 64lb.
The Defendant (Elijah Miles) declared that the child always had enough food. He also claimed he had intended to send the child to a friend’s house.
Dr M Foster said the child was very thin and the conditions under which he was living were of course very prejudicial to the boy’s health. The child ought to have been at a weight of 4st 11lbs.
Inspector Sterry added ‘ The child lived in poor conditions, a shelter made of sacks and sticks, and in these weather conditions, snow would actually fall on top of the child’.
The Chairman said the defendant would have to go to prison for 2 months with hard labour. This was one of the worst cases they had seen before them, and that the life which the defendant was living was surely to have a bad effect upon the child.
Upon the application of Mr Hawkes from the NSPCC, the Bench directed that the child should stay with the Union until a home could be found for him by the Society. The Society’s costs were also remitted.