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The Treherbert Child Murder



Detained During Her Majesty’s Pleasure.

At the Swansea Assizes today before Mr Justice Kennedy – Margaret Jenkins, a married woman, aged 40, was charged on two indictments, with feloniously and of her malice aforethought killing and murdering one Elizabeth Ann Jenkins, her infant child, at Treherbert, on the 18th of May last.

Mr Lloyd Morgan, M.P., and Mr Rees Davies, M.P., instructed by Mr W. R. Davies, Pontypridd, appeared for the Crown and Mr S. T. Evans, M.P., instructed by Messrs Morgan, Rhys, and Bruce, defended.

Miss Jenner Interposes
On the name being called Miss Jenner got up in court, and said: May it please your lordship, I watch this case as an unpaid voluntary worker for the last 40 years.

The judge took no notice of the observation.

At the outset the jury were sworn, and inquired whether the prisoner was of sufficiently sound mind to plead. – Mr Lloyd Morgan explained to the jury that this would be their duty to decide; and to enable them to come to a conclusion he would call for the Crown medical evidence as to her sanity.

Prisoner’s Mental Condition.
Dr. Stewart, assistant medical superintendent of Bridgend County Asylum, said he had examined the prisoner on several occasions. The first lasted an hour and a half, and the conclusion be arrived at was that the prisoner was not of sufficient intellect to fully realise the nature of the present proceedings. He did not think she was fit on account of her mental condition to realise the nature of the charge brought against her, or to instruct counsel to defend her, nor yet to challenge any juror she might object to. He did not know whether she would be able to understand the details of the evidence.

Mr S. T. Evans said he had a doctor who would confirm what the witness had said.

The Judge (to Dr. Stewart): At present you mean the prisoner is not in a fit state to be kept on her trial? –  I think she is so mentally defective that she is not.

Dr. Hardyman, prison surgeon at Cardiff Gaol, called by the Crown, said he had on several occasions examined the prisoner as to her mental condition, and he entirely agreed with the last witness’s conclusion.

Mr S. T. Evans’s Explanation.
Mr S. T. Evans then addressed the jury, saying that under the circumstances it was for them merely to decide whether, on the evidence called by the Crown, the prisoner was able to plead, for at present she was not charged before the jury with any crime for which a verdict of guilty or not guilty could be returned. On the evidence he asked them to say she was at present insane and incapable of understanding the proceedings, and therefore not able in law to plead guilty or not guilty.

The Judge’s Instruction.
The Judge also explained the law to the jury, and said after hearing the evidence of two gentlemen who had had special opportunities of seeing whether in their opinion she was competent to understand the proceedings, it was for them to say whether they were satisfied that she was insane. If they were they must tell him she was not of such sound mind as to be able to plead.

Verdict and Decision.
Tho jury at once found the prisoner was unfit to plead, and the Judge ordered the prisoner to be detained in strict custody till her Majesty’s pleasure be known.

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