Imre Kilyen, a Hungarian who had come to work as a student nurse at Prestwich Hospital, had misgivings when he agreed to marry his Lithuanian girlfriend Birute, a domestic in the same hospital. The problem was that Birute was pregnant, and Imre, who was a bit of a moaner, wasnt sure he would have enough money to support a wife and child.
Discreet inquiries he made at the hospital about whether his girlfriend could take anything to end the pregnancy met with shocked rebuffs. For this was the summer of 1952, a time when people didnt talk lightly about abortion.
So Imre reluctantly married and reluctantly became a father. The little family had rooms in Arthur Street, Prestwich, but Imre was right in his prognosis money was desperately short, for maternity benefits scarcely existed in the 1950s.
You must get back to work, he urged Birute. We need your wages. She, however, wanted to stay at home with little Joseph, as he was named. Anxious, Imre took time off to hunt for someone who would look after the three-month-old baby on a weekly basis. On JUNE 13th he came home to tell Birute that he had found the right person, a woman living in Salford, near the Rialto Cinema.
Two days later Birute went rather sadly back to work while Imre took the baby off to its new guardian. But when at the end of the week she wanted to collect the child, Imre put up all sorts of objections. He pointed out that, with her feelings still raw from the separation, it would be silly to upset herself all over again by seeing the child.
Birute succumbed, but the following weekend, when the same objections were raised, she began to cry hysterically. Imre soothed her until the weekend after that, when again he objected to a visit. Then she got angry. Bring the baby home or Ill go to the police, she threatened. The following day, July 19th, Imre disappeared, and Birute went to the police to report a missing husband and a missing child.
The hunt for Imre Kilyen became international. He was finally found in Bavaria, where he had been arrested for vagrancy. Brought back to England to explain himself, he told detectives that he had killed the baby by smothering it in its carry-cot.
In the police station he drew a sketch map showing where he had buried the body under a tree near Philips Park Road. An hour later detectives dug up the pathetic remains of little Joseph Kilyen.
At Manchester Assizes in November, 1952, Imre Kilyen was sentenced to death for killing his son. The sentence was quickly commuted to life imprisonment and he served nine years.