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Crimes of the Centuries
ImageThe Victim
In 1899 people up and down the country were gripped by the tragic mystery of the Dalston Murder - a little boy called Manfred, and his murderous mother, Louise Masset.

The Evidence and the Witnesses
Two terrified women had found the body of three year old Manfred, hidden in the “ladies room” on Platform 3 at Dalston Junction Station.   Manfred had been suffocated by a shawl, and he had some nasty injuries to his head.

His mother, Louise, was not married, and nobody knows who his father was. She worked as a governess and lived with her sister’s family in Bethune Road, Stoke Newington.   Just three weeks after Manfred was born, Louise had paid a nurse, Miss Gentle, to look after him at her home in Tottenham.  

When he was three Louise suddenly told Miss Gentle to bring Manfred to meet her outside the Bird Cage in Stamford Hill, because she was sending him to live with his father in France. It was a big lie.

Louise had planned her crime carefully. Two days earlier she had bought a shawl in Dalston; next, she took two loose bricks from the garden wall at home, and she stole a case from her brother-in-law Robert Cadisch to carry everything in. Ordinary objects that became lethal weapons in her hands.  Louise walked up Manor Road to the Bird Cage pub (still there, opposite Morrison’s supermarket now) to lead her own son to his death.

Miss Gentle had wrapped up extra clothes and his favourite toy for Manfred in  paper parcels.  As they parted company, both Miss Gentle and Manfred were in tears: she took this last photograph of him. Then Louise went to Dalston Junction and used her weapons to murder the little boy.  

Soon Louise was off to Brighton to spend the weekend with her new boyfriend, Eudore Lucas, who lived next door to her in Bethune Road.  On the way she tossed Manfred’s clothes out of the train window.

They were too late to save Manfred, but they all came forward to give evidence against Louise: the woman who sold her the shawl; the maid from the hotel in Brighton who found Manfred‘s toy abandoned in the hotel room; Eudore;  Robert and Louise’s own sisters; the women who discovered the body; and Miss Gentle, who produced a piece of paper matching the wrapping of the bundle of clothes she had given Louise (later found by police)  -  and that last loving photograph of Manfred, wearing the clothes found later in Brighton railway station.

The evidence was overwhelming.   On 9th January 1900 Louise Masset became the very first person in England in the 20th century to be hanged for murder

To read more about crimes in Hackney have a look at Issue 4 (it takes a little while to load).

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