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Rex v. Burden

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Frank Burden, 31, gardener, was indicted for the murder of his wife. Prisoner had spinal disease, and when his wife became pregnant he was convinced that she had been unfaithful, as he believed himself to be impotent and incapable therefore of being the father of the child. They had many quarrels on the subject, and after one of these the prisoner murdered his wife with a knife and a razor, which he then hid under the mattress of the bed. He subsequently tried to drown himself. Dr. Macdonald deposed that several relatives of both the father and the mother of the prisoner were insane, and that the prisoner suffered from the two fixed delusions that he was himself impotent and that his wife was unfaithful. Prisoner described a visit that he had had from the devil in the night. Dr. Weatherly gave similar evidence. On the other hand, Dr. Good, the surgeon to Dorchester Prison, who had had the prisoner under observation for four months, could detect no insanity in him. The judge here asked the jury whether they were satisfied that the prisoner was insane at the time that he committed the offence; and the jury, after some hesitation, replied that they were. His lordship said that he agreed. It would be too terrible, after what they had heard, to come to any other conclusion. Guilty, but insane.—Dorchester Assizes, Mr. Justice Bucknill.—Dorchester Telegram, June 10th.

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The British Journal of Psychiatry
  • ISSN: -
  • EISSN: 2514-9946
  • URL: /core/journals/the-british-journal-of-psychiatry
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Rex v. Burden

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