Title

It is almost as if there were a written script: Child murder, concealment of birth, and the unmarried mother in Western Australia

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

M/C Journal

Publisher

M/C

School

South West Campus / Centre for Research in Entertainment, Arts, Technology, Education and Communications

RAS ID

20179

Comments

Originally published as: Gardiner, A. (2014). It is almost as if there were a written script: Child murder, concealment of birth, and the unmarried mother in Western Australia. M/C Journal, 17(5). Original publication available here

Abstract

On 4 September 1832, the body of a newborn baby boy was found washed up on the shore at the port town of Fremantle, Western Australia. As the result of an inquest into the child’s suspicious death, a 20-year-old, unmarried woman named Mary Summerland was accused of concealing his birth. In October 2014, 25-year-old Irish backpacker Caroline Quinn faced court in Perth, Western Australia, over claims that she concealed the birth of her stillborn child after giving birth in the remote north west town of Halls Creek during May of the same year. Both women denied the existence of their children, both appear to have given birth to their “illegitimate” babies alone, and both women claimed that they did not know that they had ever been pregnant at all. In addition, both women hid the body of their dead child for several days while the people they lived with or were close to, did not appear to notice that the mother of the child had had a baby. In neither case did any person associated with either woman seek to look for the missing child after it had been born...

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