The case of matricide at Plaistow has ended in a
most unsatisfactory way. It was clearly proved that the accused, Robert Coombes, a boy of thirteen, purchased a knife in order to kill his mother, and did kill her without provocation, his brother, Nathaniel Coombes, consenting both before and after the deed, though it was not committed in his presence. It was also proved that Robert Coombes invented a plausible story to account for his mother's absence ; that he stole his mother's money, and with it enjoyed himself at Lord's; and that he and his brother and a friend played cards in the house, with the dead body lying upstairs. The police,
however, allowed the younger boy to turn Queen's evi- dence, and the elder was acquitted on the ground of insanity, and ordered 'to be detained as a criminal lunatic during her Majesty's pleasure. The evidence of sanity other than the monstrous crime itself, was most imperfect, the boy's schoolmaster thinking him quite bright; and he ought to have been condemned to death, even if it were necessary to reprieve him afterwards in considera- tion of his youth. The jury failed in its duty, though it was more sensible than a jury in Berlin, which has this week acquitted a mother for murdering her two children, one three months and one three years old. She being greatly distressed because they showed tendencies to hereditary blindness, killed them for their own good, and the jury, "moved to tears," found that she committed the murders in a state of" mental exaltation," and was "not guilty." She left the Court amidst the applause with which the public received the verdict. This generation is going mad with pity.