When the last child was taken away from her while she was in prison she did not to mind, and did not even ask about it. She got brighter as soon as the child was weaned, and this improvement had continued. In reply to Mr. Brodie. the witness stated that it was by no means uncommon for a woman’s mind to be affected as the time of child-birth drew near. In his opinion the prisoner was insane three weeks after the birth of the last child.
Mr. Brodie, addressing the jury, urged that there could not be the slightest doubt, after the evidence given, that prisoner was insane at the time she committed this act. The evidence of Dr. Sullivan, who had doubtless had a great deal of experience in such cases, must be regarded as conclusive. In summing up, Mr Avory reminded the jury that in law everyone was presumed to be sane until they were proved to be otherwise. There was a legal definition of insanity which alone could excuse crime, and the jury must be satisfied that at the time the woman committed this act she either did not know the nature and quality of the act - in other words she did not know that she was killing the child or was doing something likely to kill it. The jury must be of the opinion that she did not know when she committed the act that she was doing wrong. The jury returned a verdict to the effect that the prisoner was guilty, but at the time she committed the act she was not responsible for her actions. Mr Avory ordered that she be detained as a criminal lunatic during His Majesty’s Pleasure.
Note well that Rebecca Rowell gave birth to her latest child while she was under arrest in Wisbech Police Station. It is hardly surprising that the baby was taken away from her. By the press reports, it seems that Rebecca Rowell was in an almost constant state of pregnancy. The un-named infant was her tenth.
|Sir Edward Grey|