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The Wells Journal, Somerset & West of England Advertiser, Frome, Shepton Mallet, Glastonbury and Axbridge Gazette Friday 11 Jun 1943
Page 1 Column 5
THE PORLOCK NURSERY CASE
HORSESHOE ATTACK BY YOUNG NURSE.
At Somerset Assizes at Wells on Friday, Mollie Elizabeth FOURACRE (17), student nurse, whose home is at Milverton, was bound over for three years after pleading guilty to doing grievous bodily harm to Barbara Mary MARSHMAN, sister in charge of the Doverhay Nursery at Porlock, an institution for the care of children from bombed areas.
The girl had pleaded not guilty to a charge of attempted murder, and Mr. Justice CHARLES accepted her plea of guilty on the lesser charge.
Mr. F. S. LASKEY (prosecuting) said following a complaint of petty stealing at the Home. Miss MARSHMAN carried out a bluff by taking in an amateurish way the finger prints of the entire staff. Small articles continued to disappear, and Miss MARSHMAN decided to make a search. In a chest of drawers in a room occupied by accused and three others, were found a tin of peas and a tin of sardines, similar to the articles missing from the store room. FOURACRE said the tins had been given to her by a friend in Taunton.
On the night of March 30th, said Mr. LASKEY, Miss MARSHMAN was conscious of the fact that she had been very gravely injured. She managed to get to the room of a school teacher, who found her face, head and hands covered with blood. She was removed to hospital, where it was found that her injuries included a depressed fracture of the skull. The injuries had been inflicted with a horseshoe.
STATEMENT TO POLICE.
Mr. LASKEY said the police interrogated 57 persons, and it was three weeks before they finally traced the crime to the accused. Matters were complicated when a blood stained dressing gown and shoes belonging to another nurse were found. FOURACRE then said to the police “I want to tell you all about it. I want to get it off my mind. It is worrying me so much.” She then complained that Sister MARSHMAN had nagged her and it played on her mind and when she took her fingerprints and searched her drawer she felt worse. The statement went on “I could not sleep. At about 2 o'clock I got up. I took the horseshoe from the beam and came downstairs. I was all hot and worked up and had to do something. I went to Sister MARSHMAN's room and hit her twice on the head with the horseshoe. I did not mean to hurt her, only to pay her out for nagging me.”
A medical expert, Dr. Ralph HODGE, called by the defence, said the girl was not insane, but she was a dull individual and mentally backward. A person of her mentality needed to be under the care of a person experienced in mental disorders.
Mr. James MOOR, confectioner and caterer, of Taunton, offered to employ the girl in domestic duties and to have her live with him and his wife.
Binding accused over, the Judge told the girl she had acted very wickedly. She not only attacked the Sister, but by lying tried to put the blame on to another girl, who was innocent. She had thieved and done many things discreditable to herself. The Judge said the conditions of her probation were that she should reside with Mr. MOOR at his private address and obey his directions, and also obey the directions of Dr. McKAY, or his deputy, who would see her weekly at Taunton Hospital in the clinic for the early treatment of nervous disorders.
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