Dora Scott, a widow of 26, tied an eight-pound brick around the waist of her illegitimate one-year-old son, threw him down the well of a disused farm at Buckland, Buckinghamshire, and thereby made a marginal contribution to law reform.

At Aylesbury Assizes on JANUARY 15th, 1918, Mrs. Scott’s only option was to plead insanity, but prosecution experts claimed that although she may have been desperate because she had no contact with the baby’s father, she wasn’t mad.

The jury’s only option, therefore, was to find her guilty of murder. But the judge wrote a private note to the Home Secretary and Mrs. Scott was reprieved and served six years.

Three years later the law was changed to recognise that after giving birth some mothers may not always be in complete control of their emotions. This was enshrined in the Infanticide Act of 1922, which held that mothers who killed their very young children would no longer automatically be guilty of murder, if they were not insane.