HC Deb 04 August 1891 vol 356 c1254
MR. MACLEAN (Oldham)

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether his attention has been called to the case of Mary Braithwaite, who, on account of some informality in the certificate on which she had been sent to Wadsley Lunatic Asylum, was discharged there from, and was not re-certified, and who afterwards while at large committed the murder for which she was tried before Mr. Justice Grantham at the recent Leeds Assizes; whether the jury found that she was guilty of the crime, but insane at the time she committed it; and whether any blame attaches to the authorities concerned in the case?


The facts are as stated in the first two paragraphs of the question. I am informed that the Lunacy Commissioners, who have themselves no power to discharge, pointed out to the asylum authorities the informality of the certificate, and recommended the patient's discharge. This recommendation was given with a view that the woman when discharged should be immediately re-certified in the ordinary course, and it was so understood by the asylum authorities. Accordingly, the woman was discharged to the workhouse, and was there examined by the medical officer, the person, as it happened, on whose certificate she had, on September 19, been sent to the asylum. He, however, examining her again on October 8, declined to certify that she was then of unsound mind, and accordingly she went home. There she remained with her husband and children until the end of June following, when the crime was committed. There appears no ground for attaching blame to any of the authorities concerned, and I regret that all the facts were not brought before the learned Judge.