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Source: Bell's Weekly Messenger, No. 1862, Sunday, December 11, 1831

Inquest on a little Girl supposed to have been Burked

On Friday evening an inquest was held at the Boot, Milton-street, Barbican, on the body of Margaret Duffy, aged six years, whose body was found in a privy in Cowheel-lane[sic], on Saturday, the 3d inst.

Wm. Newton, son of John Newton, of 37, Paine's-buildings,[sic] St. Luke's, deposed as follows:—On Saturday evening last, about eight or nine o'clock, my mother sent me on an errand for some butter, and on my return I met Mary Cain in Cowheel-court[sic], who appeared very much frightened, and said she had been to the privy, and trod upon something there which she thought was the leg of a child. She had a candle in her hand at the time, and gave it to me, and then went to fetch some of the neighbours. During the absence of Mary Cain, I endeavored to push hack the privy door, and in attempting to do so, a man dashed out of the privy, gave me a violent push, and at the same time blew out the candle, and ran towards the Black Boy public-house: immediately as the man had left the privy, a woman also came out and ran in the direction of Golden-lane; the man had on a long cloth coat, a black hat with some crape on it, and he was a tall lusty man; I could plainly see him as he was running, with his back towards me, past the gaslight at the bottom of the court; the woman had no bonnet on; she had on a light gown with flowers on it; I have seen a woman named Galkin[sic] in custody since that time, but cannot state she is the woman who came out of the privy; immediately the man and woman had run away from the privy, I called out "murder," and Mary Cain, with several others, among whom were Sookers and Nowland, came up to the privy, which they entered, and I saw Sookers take up the deceased child from off the floor, and carry her among the neighbours, but none of them knew her, and Sookers carried her away.

The little girl named Cain, said that she did not give a second light to Newton, and that the candle did not appear as if it had been blown out when she returned after fetching more assistance.

Mrs. Wells said, she was standing at her door for some time before and after the occurrence took place, and no person came by, although it was stated by Newton that the men and women went in a direction by which they must have passed her door.

Newton persisted that his statement was perfectly correct, but there being considerable doubt respecting it, the jury adjourned to Friday, when the inquiry was resumed.

Mr. John Leeson, a surgeon in Chiswell-street, stated that he was called in on the Saturday to see the deceased at the station-house. On going there he saw the body lying on the floor. On examining it, he found the extremities quite cold, but some warmth remained in the body. There was no lividity or swelling of the face; no contusion or swelling of the tongue: or any other appearance but those indicating that she had died of suffocation or strangulation. The deceased was a fine healthy child. There was a mark on the neck, as also a discolouration of the skin, which led him to believe that some violence had been applied to that part. The teeth were also clinched ; and from these circumstances he imagined that the child had met its death by foul means, probably by suffocation, by stopping the mouth, and placing a thumb and finger behind the neck. There was a bruise on the right arm, apparently by the pressure of the thumb, done while alive. His opinion was, that the child had not died of apoplexy, or by anything of a poisonous nature given to it.

Mr. W.Brooks, surgeon, of St. Luke's, stated, that on Tuesday morning, in conjunction with Mr. Rance, he opened the body of the deceased. On opening the head, he found the vessels of the brain exceedingly turgid, quite sufficient to occasion death. Believed the deceased's death was not the result of natural causes, and his opinion was, that it had been produced by violence. There was a discolouration from the neck downwards. It was not produced by decomposition. There was a pressure on the breast, which possibly might have produced. the marks described. In his opinion the child had died from suffocation by closing the mouth.

Mr. Rance, and Mr. Whittle, surgeons, also expressed their opinion that death had been produced by violence.

William Dalton, a boy residing at No. 5, Hartshorn-court, deposed to his passing by the end of Payne's-buildings, where Hartshorn-court is situated, on the Saturday evening, at a quarter to seven o'clock. He at that time saw Bridget Calkin, who is in custody, standing there with a child in her arms, which appeared to he about five or six years of age; she held the child on her left arm; its feet were covered with an apron, and the child had one of the arms round the prisoner's neck, while it was eating something out of the other hand. Witness has seen the body of the deceased, hut from the state in which he saw it, he cannot say it was the same but was very much like it; knows the prisoner Calkin; about three months ago she lived next door to where witness does, which is exactly opposite the privy where the deceased was found dead. Does not know how she gets her living; she had on at the time a light gown with flowers on it. The child had no bonnet on at the time.

Eliza Renny said, that on Saturday evening, about 5 'clock, she saw the prisoner Calkin dragging the deceased by her door towards the privy. The child vas crying at the time, and had neither shoes nor stockings on.

Martin Bailey saw the prisoner Calkin, at about 8 o'clock on Saturday evening, near the privy, where the body of the deceased was found. She appeared to have come out of it, and walked out of the court in a hurried manner. Calkin was in the habit of keeping bad company. Some of the persons she associated with witness believed to be body-snatchers.

Catherine Lampeer saw Calkin with a child, in Payne's-buildings, at about 7 o'clock on Saturday evening. The child had neither shoes or stockings on. She heard she prisoner say to the child, "What ails you ?."

Eliza Bryan, an assistant at St. Bartholomew's Hospital, was called to contradict a statement which had been made by the prisoner, that she was in her company from 5 to 7 o'clock on Saturday evening. The witness denied having seen her at all on that day.

Another witness deposed to the prisoner having lived for some time opposite to the privy in which the child was found. In reply to a question from a juror, she said, that the prisoner Calkin was about 19 years of age, and that her father kept a school in the neighborhood of Islington. A police constable said that, on taking the prisoner Calkin into custody, she, in answer to his questions, said that when she gave the deceased a penny she left her, and did not see her afterwards. She had mentioned several places where she said she had been on Saturday evening; but all which, on inquiry, he found to be false.

Ellen Jennings, a child, said that she was playing, Saturday evening, with the deceased, when Calkin came and took the deceased with her.

The whole of the testimony of the witnesses having been gone through, it was thought advisable to have the prisoner Calkin present, to ask her if she had any witnesses which she might wish to have examined, or any explanation to offer.

The Coroner accordingly dispatched an officer to Clerkenwell Prison for her, and the jury adjourned for hour, to await her arrival.

The officer, in about an hour, returned, and stated that the prisoner declined appearing, saying that she had no witnesses, nor did she wish to add anything to the statement which she made at Worship-street police-office.

The Coroner summed up the evidence, and the jury after deliberating for nearly an hour, returned a verdict of Willful Murder against Bridget Calkin; and the Coroner at once made out his warrant for her committal to Newgate on the charge.