Sunday, 16 December 2018

Sefton Park Mother Declared Insane

A mother who battered her son to death with a hammer in a flat in Sefton Park was declared insane.

On the afternoon of 2nd October 1947 at a flat in 20 Aigburth Drive, Sefton Park, Isabella Warden battered her 16 month old son Derek to death with a hammer. She then went to Lark Lane police station and said to the desk sergeant "I have done something terrible, I have killed my baby." Officers went to the address and broke in, where they found Derek's body in a cot, with a hammer next to it. 

A suicide note was also found in the property, written by Isabella and addressed to her husband Oliver which said  "I am sorry for doing this terrible thing but I can't face life any longer, and this has been in my mind for weeks and I can't get rid of it. You don't deserve such treatment, but life never deserved the kind of life I have given you for the past year. I can't think straight, and everything is on top of me, and I can't bear to see you looking so miserable when you think you have failed to make me happy. Oh, why did you ever meet me, and why was I ever born."

As Isabella said she had taken 400 aspirin tablets, she was rushed to Smithdown Road hospital where she begged doctors to let her die. Officers had the terrible task of calling Oliver at the tailor shop he managed, telling him to return home immediately, where he had to confirm the dead child's identity and receive the news his wife was in hospital.

A postmortem revealed that Derek had been in good health but died of multiple fractures to the skull and laceration of the brain. 

When Isabella was fit to be discharged from hospital, she was charged with murder and first appeared at Liverpool Magistrate's Court on 13th October. She looked dazed and had to be supported by two court officials, then was allowed to sit down and take sips of water. 

On 6th November at the Liverpool Assizes, Dr McCormack from Stranegways Prison in Manchester said that he was of the opinion that Isabella was incapable of understanding an indictment of murder and had no memory of the crime. She was then ordered by the judge to be detained at the King's pleasure.    

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