Marshall, Arthur

Marshall, Arthur              1918 June 28th

Accidentally Suffocated

The City Coroner (Mr A M Wilson) held an inquest at the Council Chamber on Monday evening on a five months old infant which was found dead in its cradle on Sunday afternoon.

Mr G Stanmore was chosen foreman of the jury.

Gladys Marshall, the mother of the child, said she was the wife of Arthur Tom Marshall, who was serving in HM Navy. She lived at 71, Winchester Street, and her son, Arthur Hinton Marshall, was born on January 20th of this year. He was a healthy child and had only suffered from a cold during the last few days. On Sunday morning he seemed rather drowsy but took his soaked bread and milk as usual. At about 12.30 she gave him a bottle of milk and laid him in the cradle, covering him with a thin blanket. His head was on a feather pillow. She went in and out of the room several times during the afternoon and he seemed all right and asleep. A little later her sister-iin-law called her into the room, saying, “You had better see to tour boy.” She found him lying on his right side with his face turned to the pillow. As he looked strange she thought he might have had a fit, so she put him in a bath of warm water, but he did not recover. She sent for Mrs Churchill and Dr Blackmore.

Barbara Marshall, wife of William Marshall, a soldier serving in France, stated that she lived with her sister-in-law at 71, Winchester Street. She saw the child placed in the cradle and stayed in the room some time. When she went in again at about 4.45 she saw the baby was lying with his face to the pillow, so she called his mother at once.

Louisa Churchill, wife of Sidney Frank Churchill, lodging-house keeper, of 67, Winchester Street, deposed to being called to Mrs Marshall’s house on Sunday afternoon just after 5 o’clock. She went into the bathroom and took the child from the mother’s arms, but saw he was dead. On being told how the child was found, she examined the cradle but could not find any trace of anything having got into it. She knew there were cats and dogs in the house, and that was why she looked.

Dr H P Blackmore said he examined the body carefully, but there was no trace of a convulsion, nor anything to indicate disease. The child appeared strong and well nourished. The fact that he was found with his face to the pillow suggested that he must have turned over and become suffocated because he could not turn back again. It was most unusual for children of this age, for they were generally strong enough to turn. There was no doubt that the child met his death by suffocation.

Addressing the jury, the Coroner said they had heard of cases in which a cat had been found in a baby’s cradle and had been the cause of the baby’s suffocation, but Mrs Churchill had told them she saw no trace of any animal having been there. It was very sad, but it appeared to have been purely accidental. The child apparently turned over into the feather pillow and was suffocated.

The jury returned a verdict to the effect that death was caused by accidental suffocation.


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