Wednesday, 18 May 2011

The Sefton Tragedy

In 1896 a Sefton Village woman slashed her two young children to death but was spared the gallows due to her mental state.

Ida Baxter was 24 years old and lived in Sefton with her husband William, a former hay and straw dealer whose business failed, causing him to take up employment as a miller and move his family to cheaper accommodation in Gorsey Lane.

Ida seemed an outgoing an jolly person and even though she had bouts of what would now be called post natal depression after the birth of her third child in October1895 nobody in the neighbourhood saw any great cause for concern.

Ida's sister would often come to stay for a few days but the terrible tragedy occurred the day after she returned to her home in Wallasey after one brief stay on Sunday 16th February. There was no indication of what was to come when Ida's husband William had breakfast with his family and then went out to work that morning. However when he returned that afternoon his wife was in a frenzied state and two of the children, boys aged two and three had had their throats cut with a razor.

When the police arrived Ida returned to a pensive state and was arrested and taken to Seaforth police station. Two days later the inquest took place at the Taylor's Arms in Ford, which Ida attended and frequently cried out 'I did not do it' and Please God have mercy on me.' Her husband told the coroner that she was genuinely fond of the children

At the assizes court the following month, medical witnesses gave evidence to the effect that Baxter was not aware of her actions at the time of the killings. She was found guilty but insane and detained at Her Majesty's Pleasure.

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