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INQUESTS., Issue 7977, 5 August 1889
An inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the death of a child—to whom birth was given on Saturday by a single young woman named Margaret Edwardswas held at the White Horse Hotel this afternoon before Mr Coroner Carew ano' a jury of six, of whom Mr Duthie was chosen foreman.
Ann Kenney, residing in London street, said she had a young woman named Margaret Edwards residing in her house for the last ten day?. She called at the house in the evening. Witness had never known her before. When she came she asked witness if she kept boarders, and witness replied that she would if she could get them. It was then agreed that Edwards was to stay for a fortnight, she having to go to a situation next Thursday, the Bth inst. Next morning witness gave her her breakfast in bed, and she came down to dinner, when witness noticed that she was enceinte. Witness never mentioned the fact to Edwards. Last Saturday witness took breakfast to Edwards, who came to the bedroom door and took in the tray. Witness did not go into the room, but said *' You are up early this morning," as the woman was dressed. She made some remark about not feeling well, or something of that kind. About twelve o'clock witness again went up to her bedroom door and told her that dinner was ready, and she came downstairs shortly afterwirde. Witness then noticed her appearance, and told her she did not look well. Edwards replied that she was subject to bilious attacks. From certain suspicious circumstances she determined that she would watch Edwards, who spent the rest of the day in her room. Later she observed her going into the yard carrying a bucket, and detained her. She said to witness: "You won't make any trouble over this, will you?" and witness answered that she could not help it. Edwards said: "Oh, my mother and my sisters ! What shall I do ?" Witness said that if Edwards had told her _ about it they could have ealied a doctor in and saved all the trouble. Witness then asked Edwards to show her the child, and she answered that she would tell the truth if witness would not make any trouble. Witness leplied that she could not help it if the constable heard about it, und slic would have to acquaint him with the fact. They then went upstairs to her bedroom, and took the body of a child out of the wardrobe and laid it on the floor. Witness asked : " Was this child born ulive or wus it boru dead?" and Edwards answered: " It was born dead." Witness said: "Are you sure of that?" and Edwards replied " Yes." Witness then communicated with the police. When the body was taken out of the cupboard it was quite cold, and the head and body were well covered with a skirt, which had been rolled pretty tight. Edwards told her that it was a premature birth, and had happened early that morning. Sergeant O'Neill said that he went to the house of the last witness, in London street, at 7.15 p.m. on Saturday last. Upon his arrival he saw Mrs Kenney, and subsequently he sent for Br Coughtrey, who came almost immediately. He was taken upstairs to the bedroom occupied by Edwards, and Dr Coughtrey handed to him the dead body of a newly-born male child. Edwards gave witness her name, and stated her age to be twenty • four years ; that her parents resided in Christchurch, her father being a commercial traveller. She said Bhe was last in service at a Mr Brown's in Mornington, who had left for Melbourne a short time ago. She also said: " My child was born at eight o'clock this morning." The body was handed to Dr Coughtrey, while the mother was conveyed to the Benevolent Institution, where she at present is I)r Coughtrey said that on Saturday last about S p.m. he was called by the police to Mrs Kenney'a house. There he saw Margaret Edwards, who said, in answer to a question put by him, that the child was born between seven and eight o'clock. The body of the child was conveyed, along with other things, to witness's house, where he made a more careful examination at daylight yesterday morning. He found it to be a fully-developed child. From external appearances there were no signs of any violence. Witness made a post mortem examination later on, being assisted by Dr Copland, and found that the child had breathed moderately well. There were signs indicating life duriDg delivery. The reasons that made witness come to the conclusion .that the child had breathed were that the lungs were moderately expanded, and bright red in color. They were crepitant and spongy to feel, different from the usual feeling when ! life had not been. The hydrostatic test was then applied, and they found that not only did the lungs float themselves, but carried the viscera with them. On cutting the lung iato separate pieces they found that each piece floated buoyantly. Witness examined 6y the microscope a tissue of the lung, and got evidence of blood having passed through. Witness then applied another test, and found that the stomach floated freely, while the small intestine sank very slowly, and the large intestine sank rapidly to the bottom. There was no sign of contusion on the scalp, such as one would expect from a fall. Breathing was a sign of life, but not conclusivo as to live birth. When crepitation was discovered to a pronounced extent the usual summing-up was that there was life after birth. Witness could not positively say that the child was born alive. There was, however, no signs of externn' vi »lence on the child's body. If the ohil d hj A fallen in the mauner stated by the mothei to Mrs Kenny, there would, in witness'e opinion, have been bruises, but that statement did not coincide with what he afterwards found. Putting the child into clothes in a manner such as had been described im. mediately after birth would be sufficient te cause its death by suffocatioD.ind be consistenl with the poxt morttm appearances. When he unrolled the clothes from around the child 01 Siturday evening he observed that its arm< were pressed into the ribs, while the righl hand was pressing against and indenting thi right cheek, and the tongue was protrudinj beyond the gum and lip line. No bruisinj was found under the indentation on thi cheek, and if that had been done during life he would have expected to find bruises It was quite possible that the mother wouh be deceived in believing her child to bo deac when it was born, becanso the indications o life may have been so masked that an ex cited mother might have' overlooked them while a nurse or a doctor would have em i ployed restorative measures. The mothe i would not be fit to give evidence for som i fourteen days. , The Coroner said that that was all th [ evidence he proposed to call at the preset i time, and the inquest would "therefore I
adjourned for fourteen dajß. He did nit think it was right to conclude the inquest at the present stage. The inquest was accordingly adjourned until this day fortnight, at the Court-house, at 10 a.m.
Aa inquest was held at the Olencoe Hotel, Waitaki North, on Saturday, on the body of Joseph Harper, who waa found dead iu his bed on the previous morning. From the evidence of the deceased's wile and stepson, it was shown that deceased, who belonged to Waimate, and was a native halfcaste, had been employed as a laborer at Waitaki North. For some years he had complained of ill-health, and about four years ago waa in the Waimate Hospital for a period of five weeks. On Thursday he was at work in his usual health. On Friday he had no breakfast, and worked throughout the day, but ate very little, simply partaking of some bread and butter. On Saturday his stepson rose atC a.m., and deceased was then asleep. He left him asleep, and returned at seven, and found him still asleep. Thinking he was ill, he did not awake him, and on returning ut eight found him dead. He telegraphed to the police. Dr De Lautour, who made the pout mortem examination, found fatty degeneration of the heart, which was, in his opinion, the cause of death. The jury found a verdict in accordance with the medical evidence.—' N.O. Times.'
INQUESTS., Issue 7977, 5 August 1889
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