The supposed child murder at Carmarthen

On Wednesday afternoon, at Carmarthen, Mr James Rowlands, coroner for the upper division of the county, held an inquest upon the body of the child which was fond drowned between Carmarthen bridge and Pensarn on the previous day.

The inquiry took place at the Square and Compass Inn, and was watched on behalf on the police, by the district superintendent, Captain Colquhoun.
The superintendent of the borough police, Mr Frank D Lewis was also present.

The first witness called was Daniel Elias, who said he was 13 years of age, and son of William Elias of Southern-row, a foreman at the chemical works.

He worked at Messrs. Davies and Son's watchmaker and jewellers, Guildhall Square, Carmarthen and on Tuesday morning, about half-past nine o' clock, was returning from home to the shop after having had his breakfast.
He has his master's dog with him, and it was running about. It went to the gutter along the turnpike-road just at the bottom of Southern-row, and he noticed that it took hold of something; he then went up to the dog, and saw that it had in its mouth something like the body of a child.

He did not know at first that it was a child, but directly afterwards he saw its head, and recognised what it was.

He took the body from the dog and then went and told his mother and other people in Southern-row, and afterwards sent a boy, named Arthur Killick, for Police-constable David Bowen of Pensarn.

The policeman came and witness showed the child to him, and he took charge of it. The dog had not torn the body, and when he first saw it it seemed to be covered with mud. The ditch was filled with water, level with the road, and the child was quite naked.

There were no clothes whatever about and he saw no string on the child. The ditch the night before had very little water in it, but at this time it was full, rain having fallen al night.

Arthur Killick, son of the late Henry Phipps Killick, of Southern-row said he was called to the place where the child was fond soon after nine o' clock.

Witness was coming out of the chemical works and Daniel Elias called him, saying that he had seen something in the mill. He went and Elias showed him the body of the child, which was then in the water. Elias got it out of the water, and after putting it on the wall of the bridge placed it on the ground.

Witness went and told his mother what he had seen and then went to fetch the policeman.

Another boy, named James Jones of Marble-hall went with him. The policeman came in a short time, and took the child away. There were no clothes on the child, and it was covered with dirt.

Police-constable David Bowen said that about a quarter to ten on Tuesday morning, a person named John Rees came and informed him that the body of a child had been found near the chemical works. He went there, and found the body placed on a piece of sack, on the bridge leading to Southern-row, and afterwards conveyed it to the Square and Compass, where Mr Hughes made a post-mortem examination.

The body was that of a female child, newly born and considerably decomposed, and smelt badly. It was very dirty and seemed to have been in a quantity of mud. About four inches of the umbilical cord was hanging from the body, and nothing was tied to it. There was a small wound on the back of the head, and blood was oozing from it.

Mr John Hughes, F.R.C.S., said that at half-past 12 o'clock on Tuesday, by direction of the coroner, he made an examination of the child. The body was dark-coloured from decomposition, and covered with mud. It measured 17 inches long and weighed 45 ounces. There was a hole through the skin at the back part of the head, but he did not think the wound was produced during life. It did not penetrate the skull, which was whole. He opened the chest, and found that the lungs did not quite fill the cavity. The lungs and heart attached did not float in water nor would the lung or any portion of it alone.

The child was about full time at birth, both hair and nails being fully formed. He could form no opinion as to what had caused death, for there were no indications on the body that the child had ever breathed thoroughly.

He should think it had been born from 10 to 14 days; that was assuming that it had been out in the open air all the time. There were no marks of violence on the child.

The average length of a full-grown child was 18 to 20 inches, and the average weight was from six to eight pounds. This child was, consequently smaller than usual.

The impression he had was that the child was either born dead or died soon after birth. He could not say whether or not the child had lived after birth.

The Coroner said it appeared possible from the evidence that the child might have lived and been killed, and the question was whether the inquiry should be adjourned. If they closed it that day he thought they would not be doing their duty. As a public officer it was incumbent upon him not to discharge his duty perfunctorily, and the time since the body was discovered had been so short - barely 24 hours - that he felt bound to adjourn the inquiry for the police to make further inquiries.

All the light that could be thrown upon such a case ought to be obtained, and the police ought to have more opportunity for inquiry than they had had. In this country - he was sure Mr Hughes would bear him out - there were too many of these little children done away with. Many of them were thrown away when it was a case of bona fide death at birth, for many of the girls who had given birth to these children did not wish to expose their shame, and resorted to this method of putting them away. At the same time, it was his duty as coroner and their duty as jurymen, to show that they were very vigilant in trying to detect the source of these crimes; and therefore, he should take it upon himself to adjourn the inquest.

The inquiry was then adjourned to Wednesday next.

Source - THE WESTERN MAIL THURSDAY FEBURARY 1, 1877.

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