Clipped From Pampa Daily News
BRITAIN VIEWS MURDER It wasn't especially pleasant to read about the hanging of that English woman who poisoned an aged cripple to win an inheritance. But the story had overtones, just the's&me, on which we in America could dwell with some . profit. For if there ever was a case designed to show how British justice manages to get along without all the lather of sehtifnentality and soft-headedness which afflict the American variety, this was it. (Jonsider the facts briefly. Mrs. Dorothea Waddingham, trained nurse and mother of five children, fed poison to a p.atient who had made a will bequeathing to Mrs. Waadihgham a considerable sum of money. There evidently was no doubt as to her guilt: however, there was a man in the case—the father of two of Mrs. Waddingham's children—who was tried with her and found not guilty. te Because Mrs. Waddingham had five children, because it may have seemed that she was not solely responsible for the crime, and because the execution of a woman is never a matter which ordinary folk can contemplate calmly, the jury that convicted her added a strong recommendation for mercy. The trial judge indorsed it. The public signed numerous petitions to the same effect. But all this made no difference. These appeals went to the convicted British criminal's last resort, the home secretary—in this case. Sir John Simon—and he refused 1o intervene. Despite her five children, despite public sympathy, despite the attitude of judge and jury, Mrs. Waddingham was duly hanged in the manner prescribed by law. The British, you see, have p.n old-fashioned notion that murder is a serious crime. They feel especially bitter about poisoners. Poison is so easy to administer, so hard to detect; the British seem to feel that, unless poisoners are given the heaviest penalties the law allows, without exception, their tribe will increase beyond all endurance. _ So Mrs. Waddingham was hanged, in spite of every- ing 1 . And the next time some English nurse feels moved to'slip a little rat-killer into a wealthy patient's soup, it is quite likely that Mrs. Waddingham's experience will rise before her mind's eye and cause her to pause. All this is worth going into at this length because, in America, we never seem able.to adopt that eminently sensible viewpoint. Our sentiment always goes out to the killer, not to his victim. If we had had Mrs. Waddingham over here, we would have, had innumerable appeals, stays, reprieves, and pleas for" clemency. In the end, the lady might have spent as many as five years behind the bars; and her case would have been no deterrent at all to other potential poisoners. The contrast is too striking to overlook. British law may at times be heartless and cold, but it is strictly logical. And—which is very much to the point—it does" put the fear of God into murderers.—B. C. I j I I | i I j i ! j I i j | | Nat| I • ! ! j | i i | j | I ] !