Monday, 22 June 2015

Reprieve For Mother Who Gassed Daughter

A woman who gassed her daughter as she was scared what would happen after her husband was hospitalised was sentenced to death but then reprieved by the Home Secretary.

Shortly after 830am on the morning of  Saturday 13th April 1940 Georgina Cashmere walked up to a policeman on Prescot Road, Fairfield and said that she was in trouble. She told the officer 'My husband is in a mental home and my daughter is going mental so I gassed it.'

The flat above a shop at 168a Prescot Road where Georgina lived was searched and officers found the body of two year old Jane Cashmere in a cot in a bedroom. The 41 year old was taken to Old Swan police station where she said that she did not think she would live long enough to bring Jane up, so had put a tube from the gas ring to her face at 5am that morning. She had then carried the dead body of the girl upstairs to her cot.

A post mortem concluded that Jane had died from carbon monoxide poisoning and on 18th April Georgina was committed for trial at the next Manchester assizes. Submissions were made by the defence that the charge should be reduced to manslaughter but this was overruled.

Georgina had married her husband in 1936 and Jane was born in July 1937. The following year she gave birth to another daughter who died of mastoid at just a few weeks old. The marriage had its difficulties, with Georgina confiding in her sister that her husband made her do things sexually that she should not. She also suspected he may have been abusing Jane, who on one occasion put a teddy bear between her legs and said 'daddy does that.'

The latest admission to hospital followed a number of earlier spells, with Georgina's husband having had previously been in Rainhill and Winwick asylums for periods amounting to nearly four years. She was genuinely scared that Jane may have inherited a mental illness.

Less than three weeks after the killing, on 30th April, Georgina appeared before Justice Lewis and pleaded guilty. The prosecutor Mr H. Rhodes called it 'a very sad case' but the law meant that the judge had no option but to pass the death sentence in the usual form. When he got to the phrase 'hanged by the neck until you are dead' she screamed 'Oh sir don't say that' and as she was being taken down the steps cried 'he doesn't mean it.'

The Home Secretary Sir John Anderson acted swiftly to intervene in the case, commuting the sentence to life imprisonment on 6th May. Georgina died in Broadmoor in 1948.

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