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Home > Crime and Punishment in Durham > Crime > Mary Ann Cotton > Transcript
 

 Why was Mary Ann Cotton so reviled?

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The jury then retired to consider their verdict and were absent for 50 minutes. On their return, and having answered to their names,
The Clerk of Arraigns addressing them, said: Have you agreed upon your verdict?
The Foreman of the Jury: We have.
The Clerk: Do you find the prisoner, Mary Ann Cotton guilty or not guilty?
The Foreman: GUILTY
The Clerk: You find her guilty of murder?
The Foreman: Yes.
The Clerk: And so you all say?
The Foreman: Yes.
In answer to the usual question as to whether the prisoner had anything to say why sentence of death should not be passed upon her, she replied that she was not guilty.
The Judge then assumed the black cap usually worn on such solemn occasions, and the usual proclamation having been made that silence should be kept whilst sentence of death was being passed, his Lordship proceeded to pass sentence as follows:- Mary Ann Cotton, you have been convicted, after a patient and careful trial, of this murder. You have had the benefit and assistance of counsel for your defence, and everything that could be has been urged upon your defence. The only opinion the jury can come to is that you are guilty; you have been found guilty of poisoning your step-son, whom you ought to have taken care of. You seem to have been possessed by that delusion which sometimes takes possession of weak minded people, wanting in proper moral and religious sense, that they can perpetrate these offences unknown to their fellows. The offence of posioning is one of the most deadly and detestable crimes that can be perpetrated, but by the providence of God it leaves behind it traces of its presence, and brings just punishment. The sentence I feel bound to pass upon you will be that others may be warned by your miserable fate of the certainity of punishment. For yourself, these are the last words I can give: I can hold out no hope for you; and I would earnestly urge you to seek for yourself the only mercy which you can hope for above. - His Lordship concluded by passing sentence in the usual words.

The prisoner, on hearing the sentence, appeared to be quite overcome and sank back on the conclusion of his lordship's remarks into the chair she had occupied during the trial. She sat thus as though unconscious and incapable of movement, and had to be assisted up and led out of the dock by the attendant warders.

The Court rose at 5 o'clock.

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