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  • 26 Aug. 1904 News of the Day

26 Aug. 1904 News of the Day

Transcribed by Jane from The Tyrone Constitution Friday, August 26, 1904

The Alleged Infanticide Near Castlederg

The Magisterial Investigation, Accused Returned for Trial

At a special court of Petty Sessions held at Castlederg, at 12 o’clock noon, on 17th August, 1904, before Messrs. George DEVINE, Charles LOVE, and H. SCOTT, J.P.s, a girl named Bella BRADIN, of Douglas Bridge, about 30 years of age, was charged by District-Inspector HOLMES, R.I.C., Strabane — That on the 6th or 7th of August, 1904, at Cavandaragh, County Tyrone, she did feloniously, wilfully, and of malice aforethought kill and slay her infant child, William JOHNSTON, alias BREDIN, aged 27 days. Eighteen depositions were taken in the case. The court was crowded.

The deposition of Mr. Robert John
CRAIG — I am master of the workhouse at Strabane. I keep the records at the workhouse there, with regard to the admission and discharge of the inmates; on 16th May last, a girl, who gave the name of Lizzie JOHNSTON, was admitted. She said she was from Douglas district, that she was 30 years of age and a widow, and that she belonging to the Irish Church. On 11th July 1904, she gave birth to a male child. I learned she had given a false name, that her proper name was Bella BREDIN. On 6th day of August, 1904, being Saturday, Bella BREDIN and her child were discharged from the workhouse, the child was then 26 days old.

The deposition of Mrs. Eliza CRAIG — I am matron of the Strabane Workhouse. I know the accused, Bella BREDIN, whom I now identify. She gave birth to a male child in the Workhouse, and in my presence she wrapped up the child in a shawl, as it was raining, and I assisted her to do so. It was between 12 o’clock noon and 2 p.m. when she left. She told him that her sister was to meet her, and that she was going by the train to her home.

Maggie CONAGHAN, sworn — I am an inmate of Strabane Workhouse. I know the accused, Bella BREDIN, for the past ten years. I now identify her. Her correct name is Bella BREDIN. I remember the accused coming into Strabane Workhouse. She gave birth to a male child in the Workhouse. I made some clothes for the child. I made a frock, a chemise, a pinafore. I made the garments, some with a machine and some of them by hand; the reason I did not make them all by the machine was that the thread broke so often I just finished them by hand. I identify the frock, by the fact that the sleeves have no lining. I identify the chemise by the fact of it having no sleeves, as I cut it too big, and had not cloth for the sleeves. I identify all three garments by my own hand sewing. On the morning of the day Bella BREDIN and her child left the Workhouse about 11 a.m. I left the frock, the chemise, and the pinafore here identified alongside the accused where she was sitting.

John BENSON, sworn, stated he met the accused at Camas graveyard at about 2.15 p.m. on the 6th August, 1904. She was coming towards Victoria Bridge. Camas graveyard is about 3 1/2 miles from Strabane, and 2 1/4 miles from Ardstraw, in which direction she was going. I thought it was like a child she was carrying under her waterproof coat. The reason I thought it was a child was from the manner in which she carried it.

Hugh WINTERS, sworn — I am a labourer residing in Carkenny. I remember Saturday, 6th August, 1904. I was going to Ardstraw on that evening. About 4 o’clock, p.m., I met the accused, Bella BREDIN, whom I had known previously, and whom I now identify. She was going in the direction of Crewe Bridge. I remarked her carrying a bundle not out before her, but under her cloak. I don’t know what the bundle contained.

Cassie M’NALLY, sworn — I remember Saturday, 6th August, 1904. I was living at Ballinalone on that date with my grandmother. I was talking to Mrs. Madge BRADLEY and Miss Mary PORTER at Ballinalone cross-roads about 5 p.m. I saw a girl coming up from Crewe Bridge. I now identify the accused as being that girl. She was dressed as she is at present. She was carrying something under her left arm. I did not know what it was. She was going towards Creggan.

Joseph WILSON, sworn — I remember Saturday, 6th August last. I was on the public road at Cavandaragh, County Tyrone, about 6 o’clock, p.m., on that day. I saw a girl stop on the road. She was over 100 yards from me. She was standing when I first saw her. I turned my back and went out of her sight. After a little I came out on the road, and she was coming in my direction, and I stopped on the road till she went past me. She said, “It was a fine evening.” I now identify the accused as the girl who passed me. I have known her for years. She was wearing a hat and cloak similar to those she is now wearing. She was carrying something bulky under her left arm when she was coming past me. I heard what I believe to be a child crying when she was passing me, and after she passed for about 10 yards. She was going in the direction of John M’LAUGHLIN’s, of Cavandaragh. I followed her up as far as my own house, and when I lost sight of her she might have been about 40 perches ahead of me. She was at that time within a quarter of a mile of John M’LAUGHLIN’s house. Ballinalone cross-roads is about a quarter of a mile from where the girl passed me on the road.

William YOUNG, sworn — I am a farmer living in Cavandaragh. I remember Saturday, 6th August, 1904. I know the accused, Bella BREDIN, whom I now identify. I saw her passing near our house on Saturday evening, August 6, 1904, at about a quarter past six o’clock. She was going in the direction of John M’LAUGHLIN’s, of Cavandaragh. This was her usual road when she was employed there as a servant. When passing me I remarked she was carrying a bundle under her left arm; it was covered with her waterproof cloak. I did not know what the bundle was.

Maggie FURSTON, sworn, deposed — I am a servant in the employment of John J. SMYTH, Cavandaragh. I remember Sunday [sic], 6th August 1904. I was passing John M’LAUGHLIN’s house in Cavandaragh about 9 o’clock p.m. I knew the accused previously, whom I now identify, and I saw her go into M’LAUGHLIN’s yard at that time. She was coming in at the back of the house when I saw her. She was about 20 yards from me. She was carrying no bundle or parcel of any kind. I saw the dead body of a child in a quarry hole at the back of M’LAUGHLIN’s house on the next day (Sunday) at about eleven o’clock a.m. When I saw the accused on Saturday night she was coming from the direction of the quarry hole down a field.

Miss Fanny M’LAUGHLIN, sworn — I remember Saturday, 6th August last. I knew the accused Bella BREDIN, whom I now identify. She has been in my brother’s employment for over six years. My brother is John James M’LAUGHLIN. She left his service at November, 1903, and re-engaged with him again, and served him till the 12th May, 1904. She then left his employment. On Saturday, 6th August 1904, she came into my brother’s house at Cavandaragh about 9 o’clock, p.m. She had no bundle or parcel with her at the time. She had no child with her. I asked her, “How are you, Bella,” and she said, “I am very wet.” She dried her dress at the fire, and I made her a cup of tea. She then went upstairs to bed and I went down to the room to mine. She got up at 8 o’clock, a.m. next day, and went out to the garden for a good while. She had her breakfast before going out. She then dressed herself, and left about 12 o’clock noon, saying she was going home. She went in the direction of Douglas, where I know her sisters live. My brother’s house is not on the direct road from Strabane to Douglas. Mary MALLEY, my servant girl, and myself were the only people in my house on Saturday evening when the accused came in.

Mary MALLEY, sworn, corroborated previous witness.

John M’BRIDE, sworn — I am a servant boy in the employment of John J SMYTH, Cavandaragh. I remember Sunday morning, 7th August, 1904. I was driving some cattle that morning at about 8 o’clock, a.m. I passed a quarry hole on Mr. SMYTH’s land. There is water in the quarry hole. I saw something like a piece of cloth in the water. I told Mr. SMYTH, who was coming after me. He came over, and we thought we could pull it out with our hands, bu we could not. He then sent me to a field for a hoeshaft which was there, and I reached in and pulled out the piece of cloth. It was a petticoat. I cannot identify it, but it resembles the one now produced. I pulled something else and saw a child’s head. Mr. SMYTH then left to inform the police. I saw Sergeant BLESSING take the body of a child out of the water.

John Joseph SMYTH, sworn, corroborated the last witness.

Dr. Thomas LEARY, sworn — I am dispensary medical officer for Castlederg dispensary district. I remember holding a post-mortem examination on the body of an infant male child on 8th inst., in conjunction with Dr. Andrew J. LOVE. I gave evidence at an inquest on the same day. I was present when the jury viewed the body. As the result of the post-mortem examination the child was a remarkably well developed male child, apparently about two months old. I found no external marks of violence on the body to account for death. I found some froth on the child’s mouth. There were two slight marks on the skin on left side of face, which might have been caused by a leech or some insect. There was no visible mark on the neck, such as would be caused by strangulation. The bones were all perfect. On opening the skull I found the brain and membranes of the brain in a healthy state, only slightly congested. On opening the chest I found the lungs and covering of same in a healthy condition. There was some fluid in the lung, the heart and covering of same were in a healthy condition. On opening the abdomen I found the stomach and bowels in a healthy condition, but no food in the stomach. It had the appearance of a healthy and well-nourished child all through. From all the symptoms disclosed at the post-mortem examination I am of opinion that death resulted from asphyxia by drowning. The child’s age may have been only one month, or even less. There is a great difference in the appearance of babies. Some are as well developed at the age of a month as others are at two months.

Dr. Andrew T. LOVE, sworn — I am medical officer residing at Castlederg. I remember the 8th of the present month, I assisted Dr. Thomas LEARY in making a post-mortem examination on the body of an infant male child at Castlederg Workhouse on that day. I have heard the evidence given by Dr. LEARY with regard to the post-examination. I agree fully with all the evidence given by Dr. LEARY as to the cause of death.

Mr. M HOLMES, D.I., sworn — I am District-Inspector of R.I.C., and have charge of Strabane district. On 9th August, 1904, I took a casting of a heel-print in the townland of Cavandaragh, assisted by Sergeant P BLESSING. The casting was taken with the casting composition supplied by the Constabulary authorities for that purpose. I now produce it in evidence. The heel-print was at the back of John M’LAUGHLIN’s house, and was about 197 yards from his yard; the heel-print was pointing towards M’LAUGHLIN’s house.

Sergeant P BLESSING made the following deposition on the 8th August, 1904: – I am a sergeant of the R.I.C., stationed at Castlederg. At 10.50 p.m. on 7th August, 1904, I received information that the dead body of a child was in a quarry hole at Cavandaragh. I went there at once and removed the body from the quarry hole to the workhouse at Castlederg. Acting on information received I pursued the prisoner, Bella BREDIN, now present, and overtook her at Carnkenny, near Ardstraw, going in the direction of Douglas-bridge. Constable HAMILTON had, by my direction, the prisoner under surveillance. When I overtook her I asked her her name. She told me she was Lizzie JOHNSTON. I arrested her, and charged her with the murder of her infant male child by drowning it in a quarry hole at Cavandaragh. I gave her the usual caution. She made no statement. As I am unable to produce further evidence at present I apply for remand of the prisoner for eight clear days for the purpose of procuring further evidence in the case. I refer to my former deposition made on 8th inst., and now read over. From information received I went to Cavandaragh, arriving there at 12.15 p.m. on 7th August, 1904. In a quarry hole on the lands of John Joseph SMYTH, which was filled with water, I found the dead body of a child lying on its right side in the water with its head towards the centre of the pool. It was fully clothed, except its head, which was bare. A pink-coloured undershirt, now produced, and usually worn by women, was lying in the water beside the body. I took the dead body from the water, examined it, and found that it was the body of a male child. The water in which the dead body was lying varied in depth from about 16 inches to 2ft. 4in. The child’s head was in the deepest part, and covered by about 4 inches of water. I had the dead body removed to Castlederg Workhouse, and the clothing now produced, viz., a boy’s shirt, a flannel roller, a petticoat, a blue dress, a napkin and a pinafore. Three of these garments, viz., a blue dress, the shirt and the pinafore, have been identified by a former witness, Maggie CONAGHAN, as having been made by her, and given to the accused on leaving Strabane Workhouse on 6th August, 1904. The dead body found by me was dressed in all these garments. On 8th August I was present in the dead-house at Castelderg Workhouse when the coroner’s jury viewed the dead body. Dr. Thomas LEARY, of Castlederg, was also present. On 9th August I was present with Mr. HOLMES, District-Inspector of Strabane, and assisted him in taking a casting of a heel-print with composition. (Cast produced.) I found the track about 330 yards of the quarry hole in which I found the dead body of the child. The heel-print from which the casting was taken appeared to be that of a person walking in the direction of John M’LAUGHLIN’s from the quarry hole. The boots (now produced) are the boots I found on the prisoner when I arrested her on the 7th inst.

The prisoner, who was not professionally represented, did not cross-examine any of the witnesses.

This closed the case for the Crown, and there were no witnesses produced on behalf of the accused. The magistrates returned the accused for trial to the next Assizes held for County Tyrone on the charge of wilful murder. She was conveyed to and lodged in Derry Gaol.

Will of Mr. John H. LOWRY

Mr. John H. LOWRY, of Trewmount, Moy, and formerly of Drumreagle, Dungannon, who died on the 16th May last, aged 69 years (son of the late Captain LOWRY, R.N.) left personal estate valued at £14,747 18s 1d, of which £3, 092 6s 3d is in England, and probate of his will, dated 6th November, 1903, has been granted to his niece and nephew, Miss Emily Hope LOWRY and Captain Robert Swinburn LOWRY, of the Royal Navy Engineering College, Devonport, R.N. The testator bequeathed to his faithful friend and servant, William BOOTH, £2,000; £200 to his sister, Mrs. TOLER; £100 to Mary STUART; £100 to Mrs. Emily RICHARDSON, and £100 to Captain John RICHARDSON; and he left his household furniture, silver plate, to his said niece, Miss Emily Hope LOWRY, and the residue of his property to his nephew, Captain Swinburn LOWRY.

Dungannon Petty Sessions

This court was held on Monday, before Messrs. Henry NEWELL (chairman), Joseph M. DOYLE, Richard

Annie KIRK was charged with being drunk in the Courthouse on the occasion of her last going to gaol for a month. The case was adjourned.

Michael DONNELLY was fined 5s for being drunk in charge of a horse and cart.

Henry ANDERSON, Ballysaggart, was charged with being drunk and disorderly. He broke the windows and shelf in his father’s house. Fined 10s.

Fracas Near Dungannon

Serious Assault on a Sergeant
At Dungannon Petty Sessions on Monday last, Hamilton WRAY jun., and David WRAY, of Moyroe, were charged with assaulting Sergeant O’MARA on August 15th last. Mr. W.J. REYNOLDS defended. The evidence of the sergeant was to the effect that while attending to a complaint by Mr. Robert M’ILROY, Moyroe, of alleged assault by Hamilton WRAY, David WRAY assaulted him (the sergeant) by striking and knocking him down. He also put his knees on the sergeant’s chest when he was down, and he had to be pulled off him. Robert M’ILROY and William M’ILROY proved that Hamilton WRAY broke the windows in their house and fired a pistol from his own door. David WRAY was fined 5s, with 16s 8d
costs, and ordered to find bail for twelve months, and a warrant was issued for the arrest of Hamilton WRAY.

Meeting of the Ulster Co-operative Creamery Managers at Omagh

The adjourned meeting of the Ulster Co-operative Creamery Managers in connection with the R. S TARRANT Testimonial, was held at the Royal Assembly Hall, Omagh, on Saturday, the 20th inst. Mr. A. ALCORN, Omagh, presided, and the following were amongst the managers present — Messrs. D.J. COSTELLO, Shaneragh; William JOHNSTON, Erne; P. M’CARTHY, North Cappagh; C.B. DUFFY, Finn Valley; J. M’DONNELL, Monaghan Central; D. GALLAGHER Crossmaglen; J.C. KELLY, Ramelton; Mr. P. M’MENAMIN, treasurer; Mr. J. J. GALLEN, secretary, were also present. The secretary read a large amount of correspondence from managers regretting their inability to be present, enclosing subscriptions to the proposed testimonial, and wishing it every success. A letter was also read from the secretary of the Munster branch, in which he intimated that representatives should be appointed from each province to meet in Dublin during the I.A.O.S. Conference in September, so that all the managers of Ireland might join in presenting Mr. TARRANT with an address and presentation as a recognition of his invaluable labours for them. It was unanimously agreed that Mr. A. ALCORN, Mr. P. M’MENAMIN, and Mr. J.J. GALLEN attend as representatives from Ulster. The subscription list is to be kept open to 1st September. A vote of thanks was passed to Mr. ALCORN for presiding, to which he replied, after which the meeting adjourned.