Baby Farming at Newlands, 1923
Nearly three decades after the Winton baby farming case, in 1923, a man and his wife faced a similar indictment in Wellington. This time the husband was hanged and the wife was acquitted. Daniel Richard Cooper, who posed as a “health specialist” in Lambton Quay, was charged with the murder of an infant child after police excavations on his smallholding at Newlands had unearthed three bodies of newly born children. Cooper was already facing 10 charges of criminal abortion when official attention was attracted to his activities after the discovery of a child's body in the sand at Lyall Bay, Wellington. A fortuitous production of a letter found in the street sealed his doom. This communication referred to the Lyall Bay “find” and added, “It looks as if Cooper has been up to his tricks”. It was months before all the necessary evidence could be collected, but public reaction to the crimes was such that when Cooper and his wife appeared in the dock, the proceedings became a genuine cause célbre. Mr Justice F. R. Chapman was the trial Judge, and one of the features of the trial was the defence of Mrs Cooper on the grounds of domination by her spouse. The jury were apparently convinced that any complicity of which she may have been guilty was involuntary and acquitted her, but Cooper was found guilty and hanged. The trial Judge in this case had the unenviable distinction of having presided at the indictment of some of the most sensational murderers in the long period of his tenure of office.