Infant murder in medico-legal practice
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Infant murder in medico-legal practice book
This chapter examines the medical contribution to the investigation of infant deaths in England and Wales from three related forensic perspectives: the crime scene, the mother and the infant. Age was a starting point, as there were specific stages of medically relevant types of evidence required depending upon the physical state of the victim, when and where they were found and their immediate cause of death. Newborns and older babies required different forensic approaches so medical practitioners directed their attention mainly to the victim’s body; but doctors also helped to determine that a suspected woman had recently given birth, taking over a role previously performed by laywomen. A doctor’s work could even extend to the examination of a crime scene, a duty increasingly associated with the nineteenth-century police. In order to demonstrate the evolution of these practices, the final section of the chapter considers the presentation and reception of medical evidence in court, using a series of case studies from across the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.