On Thursday evening an inquest was conducted at the Compass Inn, Rushden, by Mr. J. C. Parker, deputy-coroner, into the circumstances attending the death of a two-year-old boy named Sidney Ross Crouch, living in Little-street, who died at noon that day as the result of injuries received through burning. Mr. S. Hirons was chosen foreman of the jury.
Amelia Kathleen Crouch, mother of the child, and wife of Alfred Crouch, riveter, of 24, Little-street, said the boy was two years and one month old. That morning she left him on the mat near the door whilst she went into a neighbour’s house to show how her baby’s ear was gathering. She then took the baby in the back yard, as he was fretful. She heard the boy cry, and running in, could not see him at first for the smoke, but found him near the door. Mrs. Hawkins ran in behind her, and they extinguished the flames, afterwards cutting off his clothes. She sent for the doctor, and treated the boy with linseed oil. He could not walk, having been a weakly child since birth. She was away so short a time that she had no idea he would get near the fire. He had never done so before. They had no guard, and the fire was an open one. She could not afford a guard. To a juror: She had never known the boy lift himself by the fender. She found him near where she left him. To the Coroner: There were two papers on the sideboard, but she did not know if one had been knocked down. Her hands were burnt in extinguishing the flames. She was not absent more than five minutes.
Rose Ann Hawkins said that the previous witness showed the baby’s ear to her that morning. She did not stay two minutes, going out into the back yard. Soon afterwards witness heard her call, and on running in found the room full of smoke, and rushed back into the yard with the idea that the house was on fire. She then saw Mrs. Crouch with the boy in her arms, and assisted her to dress the wounds. Witness knew Mrs. Crouch well, and considered that she looked after her children well. Mr. Crouch was a hard working man, and fond of his children. Witness had a fireguard, but had not advised Mrs. Crouch to have one. To a juror: It would not be more than five minutes from the time Mrs. Crouch came into witness’ house to the time she heard the scream.
Dr. Durance said that on reaching the house at 11. 30 he found the child unconscious in its mother’s arms. He saw that the child was terribly burnt, and that the case was hopeless from the first. The child died at about a quarter to one from the effects of the burns. Witness had attended the family, and the mother always seemed to care for the children well. He saw ashes of paper about the house, and close to the fireplace; also marks where the child had crawled away. To the juror: The child would probably be able to raise itself by the fender. With a piece of paper the child would easily reach the fire, and his assumption was that it caught fire through the newspaper.
Alfred Crouch, the father of the child, said they could not afford a guard, having at times a difficulty in getting the necessities of life. His average earnings would perhaps be £1 a week. He did not know what a guard would cost, but supposed 5s.or 6s. He spent whatever money he had upon the house. None of his children were insured. He had had hard luck through illness of the children and other causes.
The Coroner said that there was little doubt but that the child died from the effects of burns, and also little doubt as to how they were caused. It was probable that had there been a guard the accident would not have happened, and parents needed to realise the responsibility resting upon them. The jury returned a verdict of “Accidentally burnt,” asking the Coroner to impress upon the father the need of a guard. The father was called in and told of the wish of the jury, and promised to get a guard as soon as possible. The foreman of the jury offered to pay for the guard if the father would procure one, which he promised to do.