The Daily Telegraph

FATHER AND STEPMOTHER GUILTY.

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Joan, the wistful child of eight found “very cold and very hungry” on the doorstep in Jermyn-street, S.W., at eleven o’clock at night by a policeman, attended Marlboroug­h-street Police-court on Saturday. A strange, sad story of her neglect by her father and stepmother had been told. George William Saunders and his wife Dalla are occupants of an expensive flat in Jermyn-street, S.W. They are accused of wilfully neglecting Joan, the child of Mr. Saunders’s first marriage, in a way likely to cause her unnecessar­y suffering and injury to health.

It is alleged that the defendants went away for a week-end leaving Joan with only a dog for company and some bread and butter, and that she was told that she could, after doing housework, go into the Green Park and look after herself. She lost the latchkey of the flat, and the policeman who discovered her took her to at Vine-street police-station.

Joan came into court twice during the day’s proceeding­s. On the first occasion she stood just below the magisteria­l dais near the desk of the magistrate’s clerk.

Mr. d’eyncourt sentenced each of the defendants to two months in the second division. There is to be an appeal against both sentences.

Mr. d’eyncourt said: I don’t think I have ever had a case quite like this before. It is certainly a very peculiar case. Here are two people of education and very good position. They are not guilty of cruelty in the ordinary sense at all. There seems to be no active cruelty against this child in any way. The child Joan is an extremely bright and intelligen­t child – a splendid little child – a very precious possession, as every child is. You, the defendants, left this child from Saturday till Monday. You say you missed your train, and it seems it could have very easily been caught if you wanted to do so. You left the child absolutely by herself. That seems to me in itself a very heartless thing to do, not mere thoughtles­s cruelty. I think Joan is a splendid little girl. Any sort of accident might have happened to her. She did have an accident; she lost her key. The child has said she was not frightened, and although Joan had also said – and I have no reason to doubt it – that you were not unkind to her, it was a most cruel and heartless thing to do; a most extraordin­ary thing to do, to abandon this child in the way she was abandoned.

The magistrate continued: I have no way of making people of your sort, who do not love children, do so, but one can stop people doing this sort of thing – cruel, heartlessl­y cruel, to abandon a child in this way.

The magistrate sentenced the defendants, as stated above.

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