Edna May Leyshon’s illegitimate baby boy was more than an embarrassment. If the child’s birth at a Birmingham maternity hospital became known to the authorities, Edna would be returned to the mental institution from which she had only recently been released on licence.
So on JUNE 24th, 1950, the baby’s grandmother, 47-year-old Mrs. Elsie May Baggs, put 10-day-old Alfred in a shopping bag. Then, accompanied by a woman friend, she travelled by tram to Rednal, in the Lickey Hills near Birmingham. Shortly· afterwards a 12-year-old boy living near the tram terminus saw Mrs. Baggs digging a hole in the nearby hillside, while the other woman apparently acted as look-out.
In August, on learning of the child’s birth, the police questioned Mrs. Baggs as to the whereabouts of her 20-year-old daughter, a high-grade mental defective, and her grandson. Edna was arrested at the Devon hotel where she was working, and in October Mrs. Baggs appeared at Worcestershire Assizes, charged with her grandchild’s murder.
The court heard that she had told the police that Edna did not want the baby. “I did it all for Edna’s sake,” she said in a statement. “I knocked its head against a tree just in front of the place where I buried it. I knew it was a dreadful thing to do. I did it because Edna was so afraid of the authorities finding out. I never thought it would be found.”
Mrs. Baggs had then taken the police to the burial place, where the body was recovered. In convicting her of murder, the jury strongly recommended mercy, and in sentencing her to death the judge said the recommendation would be passed to the proper quarter. She was subsequently reprieved and committed to a mental hospital.