Date: 5 Oct 1953
Evgenia French died from an abortion on 5 October 1953.
An open verdict was returned.
She was a Syrian dancer and had lived in Nansen Road, Battersea.
It was said that she had died from an instrumental abortion. When the Coroner summed up he said, 'This is one of those cases in which all the evidence is not here. The interference must have been made with Mrs French's knowledge, either by herself or someone else'.
The inquest heard that a probe-like instrument such as a pencil or knitting needle could have caused the infection. The pathologist said, 'It might have been done by herself or someone else, but whoever it was they had no knowledge of anatomy. It was unskilled abortion'.
He said that peritonitis had set in.
Evgenia French's husband said, 'My wife had been pleased about her forthcoming baby because she wanted a girl'.
Evgenia French had married her husband in Damascus three years earlier and had travelled to England from Greece in June 1953 but it was some time before they found work. Evgenia French got work as an assistant in a teashop whilst her husband found work as a kitchen porter.
They had a little boy who was looked after at a day nursery in Clapham Common.
Her husband said that Evgenia French became ill on 23 September 1953, but told him that she had had an accident with a suitcase that had fallen on her. He said that she was later examined by a doctor who sent her to the hospital.
He said that just before she died Evgenia French had wanted to tell him something, but had added, 'Not now'. However, she died three days later on 5 October 1953.
Evgenia French's husband said that at no time did Evgenia French make any suggestion to the effect that she had wanted to get rid of her baby.
Evgenia French's doctor said that when Evgenia French had been two months pregnant that she had visited her at her surgery in Wickersley Road, Battersea. She said, 'She asked me if something could be done about the child, and I told her 'no, it is against the law in this country''. She said that Evgenia French seemed very weak and was sick and told her that she was in a poor condition.
The doctor said that she received an urgent call to visit Evgenia French on 23 September 1953 from her husband who mentioned 'bleeding' and said that when she arrived at Nansen Road she found Evgenia French already very seriously ill, saying that she had a temperature of 102.2. She said that from her various symptom she suspected peritonitis and secured her an emergency bed at Bolingbroke Hospital.
A surgeon at Bolingbroke Hospital said that Evgenia French repeatedly denied any suggestion of interference. He said that he considered that an operation was necessary and said that her condition was so bad in the operating theatre that he did not think that Evgenia French would reach the ward alive.
He said, I suspected abortion when he first entered the hospital. Later it was confirmed'.
The police said that Evgenia French had no friends in the area and that they had failed to find any person that Evgenia French had visited or had visited her.
When the Coroner summed up he said, 'Mrs French really did not seem to want the baby. She not only made remarks to the doctor, but it was later found there had been this interference'.
The jury then returned an open verdict, stating that there was insufficient evidence to show when or by whom the instrument was used.
see Norwood News - Friday 06 November 1953