Burnt Child – Conanby Mother Sternly Reproved – Unguarded Fire

February 1935

Mexborough and Swinton Times February 22, 1935

Burnt Child
Conanby Mother Sternly Reproved
Unguarded Fire

The death of a Conisborough child, who was extensively burnt at home while clad only in a night dress, was investigated by the Doncaster District Coroner (Mr W.H.Carlile) at an inquest at the Fullerton Hospital, Denaby, on Wednesday, on Mary Elizabeth Stevenson (four), daughter of Frederick Platts Stevenson, Fitzwilliam Avenue, Conanby, Conisborough.

The child’s mother, Mabel Stevenson gave evidence of identification, and said that on Thursday, February 14, about 8 AM she was cleaning the fireplace in the room at home. She had a fire guard but had taken it away to do her work. Her daughter had come down stairs in her nightdress, which was made of flannelette, and was standing with her back to the fire looking at some cigarette cards.

Witness allocation to go into the bathroom, and left the child standing in the same position. She was about a yard away from the fire. “I had only been gone a short while,” witness said, “when I heard a scream and ran back into the room. She was standing in the middle of the room on the rug with her nightdress blazing. I tried it off, and wrapped her up, and the lodger, Mr Crowther took her to Dr Bell.”

The Coroner: Whatever made you leave her standing in front of the fire like that? You must have known it was a silly thing to do.
Witness: I had occasion to go to the bathroom.

Coroner: it seems to me that you could not ask though, are you would not have done it. Why did you not think to put the fire guard in front of the fire? It seems to me that it was only common sense to have done that, or to take the child from the fire. To leave her alone a yard from the fire in a nightdress which would easily light, I don’t know what you were thinking about. I don’t know what to say to you.

The Coroner added: You realise now that it was a foolish thing to do? – Yes, sir
The Coroner: it is really serious. I want you to appreciate how foolish you are been.
Mrs Stevenson (bursting into tears): I do

Dr Thomas Forde of Denaby, said he saw the child at the hospital. Dr Bell brought the child down’s car. She was extensively burnt. She died on Wednesday from shock following the burns. “She never had a chance from the start,” added Dr Forde.

The Coroner declared that it seemed to him that this case was a particularly bad one because one with the thought that the mother would have more sense to leave a child of that age with a flannel nightdress which easily caught fire alone with a fire a short way away. In the circumstances there would have to be a verdict of “Accidental Death,” but at the same time he thought Mrs Stevenson might have exercised more care.