For some unknown reason Clara White committed what was thought to be the absolute unthinkable: murdered her own children. Clara was a woman who always worried about everything, no matter what. Her husband had packed his belongings and left her,even abandoning his two children, Patrick, 3, & Lillian, close to two years old. It was early in 1912 that Clara found herself alone with the children, but she was able to move in to the home of Walter Riley, a man separated from his wife, in Edmonton, in Middlesex. But Walter received injuries that prevented him from working, and so this put 30 year old Clara back in her worrying mode. Walter received compensation for his injuries and so this was able to tide them over for a while. But it could not last indefinitely. Now Clara started worrying about how they would be able to afford the rent, and wished to know how they would pay the bills. Walter replied that she should not worry, and left the house on the morning of 30th September 1912 and went to the Bricklayers Arms, joining Clara's brother Alfred.
Clara joined them later for a drink and some lunch, then returned to the home. Walter returned home at 12.15pm and found a neighbour and her child in the house with Clara and her two children. The children were in a very playful and noisy mode, as youngsters are, but Walter found it a bit too much and asked that they went and played outside. This angered Clara and a furious argument broke out. Walter was actually very good to the children at all times, as he had a very gentle and soft nature. Walter went and had a sleep but was startled awake by screams from downstairs. Clara had rushed outside shouting that "she had done it" and ran to a neighbours` house. Walter went back into the house to find Patrick and Lillian foaming at the mouth. Clara arrived back in the house with the neighbour, who helped gave the children salty water, in order for them to vomit up whether they had consumed.
Clara announced that she was giving herself up to the Police and left the house, where she ran into Police Constable Ward. A doctor also arrived, John Shaw. The officer found a bottle of "Spirit of Salts" or Hydrochloric Acid. Clara had given this to the toddlers. Soon, they both died in hospital. Clara was charged with double murder. She appeared at the Old Bailey in October 1912 but she had a successful defence as it was shown that mental illness run deeply through her family. She was found guilty but insane, and sentenced to an indefinite period in a secure hospital. Were her actions the result of the constant worrying affecting her judgement and eventually leading her to be a ticking bomb? Then the argument was the spark that set it all off? Or was it the family history of mental illness that was going to lead to an horrific act? What do you think?