Date: 3 Jun 1937
Place: Lower Forest Road, Melksham
The decomposed body of a newly-born child was found in a ditch by the side of the Lower Forest Road.
It was found at 4pm Thursday, 3 June 1937 by a farmer that was driving some cows towards Melksham. He said that when he got to the turning on the New Road, the cows smelt something in the ditch and pulled it out and he said that he saw a parcel on the grass. He said that it was tied up with paper and that when the cows pulled it out they tore of the paper and he could see a child's ear. He said that he left it there and went off for the police.
The farmer said that he drove his cows up there every day and said that he had never noticed anything there before and said that he would not have noticed it had it not been for the cows pulling it out.
The policeman that came along to see the body confirmed that it was partly wrapped up in cloth and brown paper and said that he then took it to Salisbury Infirmary.
The county pathologist said that the child's body was brought to him on 3 June 1937 and that he then carried out the post-mortem on the following day.
He said that the child was wrapped up in brown paper that had no marks on it and was very much torn. He said that then, in that, there was a piece of cardigan and then what he thought might have been a piece of shirt. He said that neither the piece of cardigan or shirt themselves either had any marks on them.
He said that the child's body was about 20 inches long and weighed about 6lbs and said that it was in an advanced state of putrefaction, which he said rendered the post-mortem extremely difficult. He said that the child's lungs were not fully expanded and could not say that the infant had not breathed for more than a minute or so. He added that he thought that the child had been dead for not less two weeks and for not more than two months. He said that he could find no marks of gross violence but said that it's body was too decomposed to detect any lesser violence. He said that he saw no reason why it should not have lived, except for neglect at birth and noted that many infants were born strangled at birth but who were revived by experienced attention.
The Coroner said that there was no evidence for them to say what the cause of death was and suggested that the jury return an open verdict as there was not sufficient evidence to show whether the child had been born alive or dead, which meant that the matter could be then left open for further investigation.
An open verdict was then returned.
see Wiltshire Times and Trowbridge Advertiser - Saturday 12 June 1937