When five-month-old Terence Armstrong died at his parents’ home in Gosport, Hampshire, on JULY 22nd, 1955, his cause of death seemed obvious. He was believed to have eaten poisonous berries innocently handed to him in the garden by his three-year-old sister. She too had eaten some, and they had made her vomit.

An autopsy was performed, and what appeared to be red skins from the berries were found in Terence’s stomach. The police, however, had the stomach contents analysed, and the red “skins” turned out to be fragments of a gelatine capsule which had contained Seconal.

Terence’s parents denied possessing the drug, but detectives learned that Seconal capsules had been stolen from a drugs cupboard at the naval hospital where Terence’s father was employed.

The child’s mother Janet Armstrong later split from her husband John, and in July 1956 she told the police that her husband had been taking Seconal as a sleeping pill at the time of their son’s death. She said that after detectives questioned them about the drug her husband had told her to get rid of the capsules, and she had done so.

Both were charged with the child’s murder, and both pleaded not guilty at Winchester Assizes. John Armstrong claimed he knew nothing of how Terence was poisoned, but Janet said her husband had the opportunity to be alone with the child on his return home for lunch on the day of the poisoning.

John Armstrong was convicted and sentenced to death, but reprieved. His wife was acquitted, but that wasn’t the end of the story. Four weeks after the trial she confessed that she had given Terence a Seconal capsule, thinking it would help him sleep.