[ A Herefordshire Murder Case, 1891. ] Manuscript copy of a report by 'E. Marriott Cooke', addressed to Sir A. K. Stephenson, Solicitor to the Treasury, on 'the mental condition of Charles Sanders', accused of the murder of Walter Steers, infant.

Author: 
E. Marriott Cooke [ Sir Edward Marriott Cooke] (1852-1931), Commissioner in Lunacy [ Charles Sanders, Herefordshire murderer; Sir Richard Harington (1861-1931) of Ridlington, 12th Baronet ]
Publication details: 
Worcester County and City Asylum, Powick near Worcester. 3 December 1891.
£135.00
SKU: 19568

The case to which the present item refers is the subject of Chapter 16 of Nicola Sly's 'Herefordshire Murders' (2010). The trial of Charles Sanders for the wilful murder of the thirty-two month-old Walter Steers, before Mr Justice Day, opened at the Herefordshire Winter Assizes on 3 December 1891. He was found guilty and hanged at the end of the month. The present item is from the papers of Sanders defence barrister, Richard Harington (the future 12th Baronet, of Ridlington), whose 'impassioned speech in favour of his client' was not enough to save him from the gallows. The present item is presumably a discovery copy of the 'full medical report on Charles Sanders' said by Sly to have been obtained by the prosecution in anticipation of a defence of insanity: 'However, the question of Sanders' mental state at the time of the murder was never raised.' 2pp., 8vo. In fair condition, aged and worn. Folded into the customary packet and docketed: 'Herefordshire Winter Assizes - 1891 | Reg: v Sanders | Murder | Copy | Report of Dr. Cooke Med: Officer of the Lunartic Asylum at Powick near Worcester'. Cooke is described at the foot of the document as 'Bachelor Medicine University of London, Etc, etc, Medical Officer and Superintendent of the County and City Lunatic Asylum, Worcester'. His report begins: 'In accordance with your request contained in your telegram to me of yesterday that I should see and examine and report to you my opinion on the mental condition of Charles Sanders now confined in H. M. Prison at Hereford charged with the murder of a child near Ludlow. I beg to inform you that I visited and examined the prisoner this afternoon and I find his present condition to be as follows: - | There is no evidence of insanity'. Cooke proceeds to assess his character, including the following: 'His education is most imperfect (this amongst other things he told me that "five times ten are a hundred," and I found that although he had a vague idea that an almanac was a guide as to the time of occurrence of festivals, months, etc; he did not know how to make use of one) and his power of will may be somewhat weak. I am of opinion that these two conditions coupled with the life he has lead may sometimes cause him to be lacking in the full control of his passions.' He gives three reasons for having 'formed the above opinion, the second supported by a list of five individuals, beginning with 'Captain Leggett, Governor of H. M. Prison at Worcester'. The third reason reads: 'After carefully reading the statements in the copy sent me by Messrs. Corner & Corner of the depositions taken Before the Magistrates and a statement made to Chief Constable Somers by the prisoner as to the manner in which he had caused the child's death'.