Monday, 18 May 2015

Baby Dies After Being Belted By Father

In the 1930s a six month baby died after being struck with a belt by his father, who was found guilty of manslaughter and sentenced to seven years imprisonment.

On 8th March 1938 Charles Church, a 22 year old unemployed machinist who lived at Clevedon Street in Dingle, was left alone with his six month old son Harold while his wife May went out on some errands. When she returned after being out for about an hour and a half, her husband was crying and leaning over the cot, where Harold was lying dead. Charles said nothing and instead went out to buy some cigarettes, returned home to smoke them, then left without saying where he was going. 

Justice Atkinson
Charles surrendered himself to the police and made a statement saying that his son would not stop crying even when he tried to pacify him. He said that after throwing Harold into the cot he then smacked him with his hand and belt, picked up a pillow and threw it over Harold's face, causing him to go quiet. Harold showed the officer his belt, which had a brass buckle, and admitted he had struck the baby with it. He then asked Detective Constable Joseph Ferrard if his wife had said anything. 

A post mortem revealed that Harold had died from shock brought on by the bruising, leading to Charles being charged with murder and being committed for trial at the following month's Liverpool Assizes. May however declined to give evidence meaning that on 6th April Charles's offer of pleading guilty to manslaughter was accepted by the prosecution. He was then sentenced to seven years penal servitude by Mr Justice Atkinson.

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