Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Three Month Old Baby's Throat Cut

A mother who cut her baby's throat and attempted to take the life of herself and her eight year old daughter was detained after being found guilty but insane.

In the early hours of 1st June 1930 motor driver Charles McDonald was asleep in his Westcombe Road home only to be woken by the screams of his wife Sarah, who was 34 years old. On going into her bedroom she saw her sat upright with a razor in her hand and her throat bleeding, while their three month old baby daughter Alice was dead on the end of the bed.

Alongside was another eight year old girl Dorothy, who was alive but bleeding while three other children aged three, five and seven were unharmed having been asleep in their father's room. Charles fought to get the razor and cut his hand in the process, then ran outside wearing just a shirt. Neighbours were alerted by the screams and one ran to the police station on Anfield Road. 

As Sarah and the wounded child were being conveyed to Mill Road hospital in an ambulance under a police guard, her husband repeatedly asked why she did what she did. She replied that she intended to finish the girl off but on being formally charged said to then police sergeant 'I didn't mean to kill her, I didn't mean to harm anyone.' 

The family had been living happily until only recently when Sarah developed an ulcer which left her in severe pain. Her husband was well thought of by his employers and the children were all of respectable appearance. 

Sarah remained in hospital for two months and was not fit to attend court until 7th August, when she struggled to stand in the dock and had to be supported by two officials. She was committed for trial at the assizes, pleading not guilty to murder, attempted murder and attempted suicide. 

On 5th November a prison doctor said that he believed Sarah was suffering from a form of insanity that led her to think her husband was about to be attacked.  This led to a verdict of guilty but insane being returned. Sarah was ordered to be detained at His Majesty's Pleasure and was told by the judge 'You will be well looked after in hospital.'

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