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GROSS CRUELTY TO A SERVANT.|…

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GROSS CRUELTY TO A SERVANT. At the Central Criminal Court on Saturday, before Mr Commissioner Kerr, Selina Bickmore was further- examined upon a charge of gross eru- ;ty to servant girl. named Hetty Alderton. -1, 0. Matthew s and Mr Hutton prosecuted on behalf of the Society for the Prevention of Ciue.ty to Children, and Mr Bowen Rowlands, Q.C Mr C. E. Jones, and Mr Partridge defended. —T> e accised was the wife of a machinist at Chelmsford, and in March last year she took into her. service the girl Alderton as a general ser- Tan'. The girl's story was that for some time pii oner behaved well to her, but more recently sfco had been most cruel, beating her with sticks, tying tier hands together with a rope, and prac- tising other si iiiiiir barbarous acts upon her. l he gill also alleged that she was kept without food two days together, that she was practically starved, and that the prisoner put filth in her mouth. She said she was never allowed to wash, and was not permitted to wear underclothing. The girl ran away from the house, and took refuge at the Salvation Army quarters, where in addition to other statements as to the prisoner's conduct, she said she had been glad to pick up the food thrown to the fowls, and eat it. There was no doubt that at this time she was in a filthy condition, and apparently starving. She was seen by Drs Carter and Davies, of Chelmsford, who were called and described tne various marks and bruises they found about the girl's body. There we marks on the hands which Dr 'Davies attributed to their having been tied together with a rope. The dirt was crusted on the body, and more than one washing was re- quired to remove it. Her clothes were old and very dirty. A witness, a member of the Salvation Army, was called, and it appeared from the evidence that the prisoner was connected with that organi- sation, and with the temperance branch of it. Mrs Aiderton, mother of the girl, said she lived at Broxbourne, and came into communica- tion with the prisoner, who was a stranger to her, through the Salvation Army registry. At this time she also was a member of the army. The girl, when she went to live with the prisoner, was healthv and well. She had the usual ser- vant's outfit at the time. When witness saw her daughier in March last she was struck with her altered appearance. She was very thin and very dirty, and altogether a different girl. Cross-examined The girl had not the charac- ter of being untruthful. She told an untruth on one or two occasions. She had written letters to the prisoner thanking her for looking after the gill so well. and lor behaving well to her. The girl wrote occasionally to her, and so did the prisoner, (>ut she had not received many of the letters produced. After some further evidence, Mr Bowen Rowlands addressed the jury in defence, urging that the prosecutrix had grossly exaggerated the real facts of the case. She was a very untruthful girl. and stole things, but not to any excess. She accused a man of assaulting hei-. ztid she (prisoner) told her that she would -confront her with the man and ascertain the truth of the matter, and the girl threatened to run away. She locked her in the room, but in the morning let her go downstairs to do her work. Srie tlien ran away in her old clothes. Prisoner was called to bear out this statement, and to deny the evidence of the girl.—A number of other witnesses were called to corroborate the prisoner's evidence.—In cross-examination, the prisoner denied chat four or five years ago she crueily illtreated a workhouse girl named Tasker she had in her employ, and she did not know that her eSigj was burnt in Chelmsford in consequence.—The husband of the prisoner ad- mitted that a statement was made as to the alleged cruelty at the Board of Guardians meeting at Chelmsford, and said he threatened an action for libel, but found that the occasion was privileged. The jury found the prisoner guilty. Mr Commissioner Kerr said the jury could have come to no other conclusion than that the prisoner had been guilty of a long course of cruel iiltreatment of this girl, who had been ?laced by her mother under her protection. 'risoner had cruelly deceived the mother, and he did not think there could be a worse case brought before the court under the statute under which she was indicted. The only protection which children sent out from charitable institu- tions had was the protection of the law, and whenever a case of cruelty was brought home it was necessaiy thdot the law should strike firmly. He sentenced prisoner to two years' hard labour, the maximum punishment allowed by law. Commenting on the above case, the Daily News says:—A case which has not been sur- passed for cruelty since the days of Mrs Brown- rigg was tried at the Central Criminal Court on Saturday before Mr Commissioner Kerr. It has been removed there from Chelmsford because local feeling ran so strong against the prisoner m that lit was feared she would not have a fair trial. Mrs Bickmore, the wife of a well-to-do tradesman in Chelmsford, was indicted for brutally ill-ireating a girl of fifteen named Hetty Aiderton, who had been engaged as .'mother's help" in her house, but who might of the establishment. She was found guilty, and was sentenced to two years' imprisonment with hard labour, the maximum punishment. The Judge said it was the worst case of the kind he had ever had before him. Mr Charles Matthews who appeared for the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, had only to produce his evidence to show that it was about the worst case in the memory of this generation. Both parties be- longed to the Salvation Army, but it is only fair to the Army to say that the girl's case received proper consideration from them as soon as the particulars were known. The poer little drudge was at first fairly well treated, but after awhile her mistress seemed to have conceived against her the savage and malignant hate which is a secret of some minds. The woman beat her, starvf d her, andsubjected her to nameless indigni- ties until ONe day she ran away—just in time to saveherlife. Theconditionin which she reached a neighbour's house will hardly bear description. She was covered with sores and bruises, dirty beyond the dreams of a mudlark, and so weak from starvation that during the preliminary examinations she had to be carried into court. The only answer to the charge was that .-he was untruthful; but there were ner marks to speak for her, and it was not suggested that she had inflicted them herself. Her story revealed a brutality of mind in the mistress almost incon- ceivable. She had to work from morning to eight, and often she did not get to bed till past two. She slept on a sack filled with old rags, and she was called before six in the morning. To break her into this habit of early rising, the wretciied woman made her sleep in the same bedroom a herself and her husband, with a cord tied round he r arm. The cord was tugged so savagely in the morning that finally it cut into the flesh. As to food, the poor child was treated precisely like the horse in the fable, and almost ci with the samo fatal result. Her meals were grad- ually reduced from the proper number to two, then to one a day, and finally to none. For three whole days she had no food whatever at table. She lived on what she could steal from the chicktns in the shape of old potato peelings and hard crusts, supplemented by what she begged from the neighbours. When she complained of hunger, the woman tore her mouth open with cruel violence in the endeavour to force some nameless abominations down her throat. The child had a mother—also a member'of the Army —but this woman had no idea of her daughter's condition. The letters that reached her used to state that the writer was the happiest girl in the world. If there was a cloud in the prospect, it was that she sometimes had reason to regard herself as tne wickedest as well. They were all written at Mrs Bickmore's dictation. Two or three of these inhuman documents, which had not boen despatched, were found ready for use in the house. b one of them, the girl said she was in the happiest home anybody could have, and might reuuin there, if it were not for her awful conduct. She began her wickedness during the first week she was there, but all had been forgotten by d-ar Mrs B. She had good food to eat. and plenty of it. One day she took and ate half a dwuldtr of mutton and a lot of swedes, and half a suet pudding, but Mrs B. forgave her. Who else could imve done that ? A neighbour gave cuiious evidence. On one occasion, when the child was being cruelly beaten, she heard screams and cries of Oh, murder! Oh, vaur(i, The witness approached the house, buto-a, soon as those within heard foot- steps. a ei met was blown to drown the cries. Mrs Bickmore alter s tr Is explained that her boys had away of saying, "Oh, marja ''Oh, marjaf S,a term of endearment, and that, no doubt, it unded exactly like Oh, murder to au un- trained ear. There was no accounting for the crime of this monster-probably she could not account for it herself. It was in its origin, per. haps, a mere lust of cruelty. Her hate and her violence seemed to have acted and re-acted on each other. She hated the child in proportion :whe felt that the child must hate her. There are some depths in our natures which the plummet line of moral analysis never has sounded, and never will sound to the end of the world.

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