HC Deb 22 March 1888 vol 324 cc38-9
MR. CHANNING (Northampton, E.)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, Whether his attention has been called to the case of Ann Guthrie, charged before the magistrates at the City Police Court, at Liverpool, on Friday last, with assaulting Mary Conroy, aged 13 years; whether it was proved that Guthrie, after repeated assaults, had finally broken the child's arm by kicking; whether the magistrates informed Guthrie that she was liable to six months' imprisonment, but afterwards permitted her to leave the Court on paying a compensation of £5; and, whether he will take steps to secure the better protection of children from savage assaults resulting in serious physical injuries, by insuring that those guilty of such assaults shall be adequately punished?


I have received a Report from the Justices on this case, who inform me that, although the woman had struck the child repeatedly with a boot, it was not proved to their satisfaction that the child's arm had been broken by kicking. A lodger in defendant's house stated that he had not on any previous occasion known the woman to ill-use the child, who appeared to be habitually well treated. The defendant expressed regret that she had lost her temper on the occasion in question. It is true that the defendant was informed by the magistrates that she had rendered herself liable to six months' imprisonment; but as the injury seemed to them one for which the girl ought to receive compensation, and as in case of conviction she would be debarred from enforcing any such claim, they deemed it best in her interest to allow the summons to be withdrawn on payment of £5 (to be invested in the girl's name in the Post Office Savings Bank) and £1 1s. costs. The hon. Member is aware that I cannot increase the punishment imposed by magistrates in the exercise of the discretion which the law allows them.


said, the medical testimony was to the effect that the child's arm was fractured. Would the Home Secretary take steps to prevent such cases being settled by compensation?


replied, that the information he had received as to the medical testimony was directly contrary to that of the hon. Member.