|Chocolate Cream poisoner
|Sydney Banker - 4
|The Old Bailey
From a wealthy middle class background, her family was known to suffer from mental illness. Her father had suffered, and a brother and sister had problems withmental illness.
Living with her mother in Brighton in the 1860's, she began an affair with her married Doctor. When he broke up the relationship, she appeared at his door several days later with a gift of chocolates for his wife. The wife became very ill, but recovered. The Doctor suspected Edmunds, but had no proof, and suspected it was revenge for ending the relationship.
1871, Edmunds began buying chocolates from a local shop, she would then lace them with strychnine, which she obtained pretending to need the poison to control pests, she would then return the chocolates to the shop.
June 1871, 4-year-old Sidney Banker was on holiday with his family in Brighton. After buying chocolates from 'Maynards he became ill, and later died. The coroner ruled the death accidental. Several other people in the area had become ill, but no one made a connection.
Edmunds increased her efforts and started sending chocolates in the post to local dignities and and politicians, she even sent a parcel of chocolates to herself so she could claim to be a victim. She also sent more chocolates to the doctors wife, this time he was suspicious, and called the police. Edmunds was arrested for the attempted murder of the doctors wife, Mrs Beard, and the murder of Sidney Banker.
January 1872, The trial started in Brighton,. but had to be moved due to huge crowds of public. At the trial at the Old Bailey in London, Edmunds mother claimed there was mental illness in both sides of the family and that this was to blame for her daughters behaviour. Dr Beard also gave evidence claiming it was not a full affair he had had, but instead mild flirtation, the defence claimed it was a sexual relationship, and that when he broke it off, it was this that sent her over the edge. Edmunds entered a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity, a prominent expert at the time testified that she could not distinguish right from wrong.
Christiana Edmunds was found guilty and sentenced to death, but because of her mental state this was commuted to life imprisonment.
She spent the rest of her days at Broadmoor, dying there in 1907 at the age of 78.
Strychnine causes an agonizing death. It sends the entire nervous system out of control causing violent convulsions. These painful spasms come in waves until the victim eventually suffocates. It can take between 15 and 60 minutes to kill.