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Decisions of the Superior Courts of New South Wales, 1788-1899

R. v. Guthrie [1838] NSWSupC 41

murder - women defendants in crime - infanticide - birth, concealment of

Supreme Court of New South Wales

Burton J., 1 May 1838

Source: Sydney Gazette, 3 May 1838[ 1]

Jane Guthrie was indicted for the murder of her infant male child by suffocating it in a privy, at Illawarra , on the 11th day of Feb. last.

The prisoner arrived in the colony as a free servant to an officer of the 80th Regt.  The fact of the child being the child of the prisoner was not denied, and Dr. Osborne was of opinion that the child was born alive.  His Honor told the Jury that if they believed the child was born dead, or was suffocated accidentally, they would acquit her of the capital charge, and find her guilty of concealing the birth.  The Jury returned a verdict of Not Guilty of murder but Guilty of concealing the birth.  To be imprisoned in the Factory as a House of Correction for Two Years.

 

Notes

[ 1]See also Australian, 4 May 1838; Sydney Herald, 3 May, 1838.  This case is also in Burton, Notes of Criminal Cases, vol. 34, State Records of New South Wales, 2/2434, p. 59, recording the charge as ``child murder".

 

 

Published by the Division of Law, Macquarie University