Tuesday 6 December 2016

The Case of Doreen Baird South Yorkshire November 1958

Whilst I was researching the case of Annie Drinkall, I came across a similar case three years later in which a baby was killed.

The case papers are held in the National Archives and are closed until 2059. This is the description

BAIRD, Doreen (aged 14): Murder of June CROFTS (aged 16 months)
This record is closed
Closed For 100 years
Opening date: 01 January 2059

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Reference: DPP 2/2873
BAIRD, Doreen (aged 14): Murder of June CROFTS (aged 16 months)
Note: The naming of a defendant within this catalogue does not imply guilt.
Date: 1958
Held by: The National Archives, Kew
Former reference in its original department 4230
Legal status: Public Record(s)
Closure status: Closed Or Retained Document, Open Description
Access conditions: Closed For 100 years
FOI decision date: 2009
Exemption 1: Health and Safety
Exemption 2: Personal information where the applicant is a 3rd party
Record opening date: 01 January 2059

The case is also refered to in Murderpedia and the Black Kalendar.

The problem is that Doreen did not murder June Crofts. She was acquitted of the charge by the court. Doreen was found guity of manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibilty which is totally different from pre-meditated murder

This is from the Manchester Guardian dated 27th November 1958

The Trial Judge Mr. Justice Hinchcliffe in summing up stated that the death of June was accidental, unintentional and directed the jury to return a verdict of manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibilty. He clearly acknowledged the age of Doreen when he said that they would be treated "sympathetically and as children" Even the punishment of "approved school" was tempered with the remark "You will be well looked after." In fact it seems to me rather disconcerting that the charge of murder should have been made in the first place. None of the evidence produced in court points to an act of murder

This is clearly not a case of murder and yet it is being portrayed as such by the National Archives and on-line authors. Furthermore apart from newspaper reports no-one will be able to ascertain the full and correct facts of the case until 2059. The ruling is there ostensibly to protect the privacy and confidentiality of those involved which is understandable. But surely a more accurate title for the record would be

given that no murder took place.

1 comment:

  1. The story above is about an aunty I never had the pleasure of meeting. To my understanding the babysitter at the time was of sound mind and frustrated at having my aunt June crying after just settling the other children down. What I don't understand however is why the babysitter never sought out my grandmother (she was only a matter of a couple of doors away) to assist with getting the children to sleep. Her actions were cold, unnecessary and unjust, her punishment sempt far too lenient and in my heart justice has never been served. She got sent sent away to a school while the rest of us still mourn for a life taken too early.