The People (Attorney-General) v Ellen Keogh

CourtCourt of Criminal Appeal
Judgment Date16 June 1944
Date16 June 1944
The People (Attorney-General)
Ellen Keogh

Conviction for murder - Rider added to verdict - Whether rider part of verdict -Ambiguity of rider - Reasonable doubt as to what meaning jury intended to express - Conviction set aside - New trial ordered - Costs.

Accused, a married woman whose husband was working in England, was charged with the murder of her illegitimate child. M., the father of the child, was also charged with the murder, but was tried separately. Some time before the birth of the child M. came to live in the house of the accused, whose children and brother also lived with her. About a month after the birth the dead body of the child was found in a sack in a river near the house of accused. A piece of cloth was twisted around its neck and the medical evidence was that death was caused by strangulation. In the sack there was also the afterbirth and a large stone. The accused made a statement to the Civic Guards in which she stated that she was alone when the child was born; that after the birth she called M. who came into the room immediately with a sack in his hand; that he wrapped a bit of sheet about the baby tightly, at which it gave a little cry and that he then put it in the sack and took it away. At her trial she testified that, after the birth she was in great pain; that she called for help; that M. entered the room; that she then fainted, and that when she recovered consciousness the baby was gone. The jury found her guilty of murder, but added the following rider:—"As the jury are unanimously of opinion that the accused had, in the circumstances, no option but to aid and abet, they strongly recommend her to the mercy of the Court." Counsel for the accused submitted that this was a verdict of "not guilty." The Judge did not accept this submission and sentenced the accused to...

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