The Murder of baby Oliver Jackson 1976

1976, April: Murder of baby Oliver Jackson by Pauline Tidy and body left in freezer at Cranleigh: John Hurst/Bob Bartlett: The body was found by Police Sergeant Robert Bartlett, the local Sergeant at Cranleigh. PS Bartlett was in Cranleigh office when a father came to report his son and the baby sitter missing. The sergeant went to the house with the father and began a thorough search.

Having been through the house they went to a utility room at the back of the house. In this room was a large chest freezer that was so popular at that time. They searched through the room and at one point both the father and Sergeant Bartlett were at the freezer. They looked at each other both realising what we were inferring by even looking into the freezer, that the baby-sitter had murdered the son. Yet a thorough search means just that. Search everything or any search is of no value. The baby was inside and obviously dead.

In accordance with all training for actions at the scene of the murder, the body is not touched or moved once you are certain that life is extinct. This was obviously the scene of a murder. Sergeant Bartlett called 999 to tell them of the murder and the local surgery was asked to immediately send a doctor who was there within a few minutes.

The doctor said that the baby might be in suspended animation. If the child had been put in the freezer alive it was possible that he could be resuscitated. There were plenty of examples of people falling through ice into freezing water being brought back alive. He rang the hospital in Guildford and they obviously and realistically without any choice agreed, and so the police had to get the baby as quickly as possible to the Accident and Emergency Department at the Royal Surrey in the Farnham Road in Guildford, about twelve miles away.

It was now rush hour. The police car, a Ford Escort, had a blue light but no siren but this remained the best option because an ambulance would take too long to arrive. The doctor jumped into the passenger seat holding the baby still in the freezer basket, and they drove to Guildford as fast as they could not a little concerned about leaving a murder scene unguarded. They were met on the A281 to the south of Guildford, and escorted by a Traffic car driven by Roger Weedon right to casualty entrance.

The sergeant grabbed the freezer basket containing the baby from the doctor, as he would be more recognisable in my uniform, and ran into casualty department who by now were expecting them. As he got in to the hospital casualty area the baby fell from the basket onto the floor. It was absolutely awful to pick up the child like an item of dropped shopping and pop him back in the basket.

The baby sitter, a local girl aged nineteen, Pauline Tidy, was arrested in Guildford whilst the rush to the hospital was going on. She had got the job as a baby sitter on the recommendation of the social worker attached to the surgery. It turned out that it was known that Tidy could be violent and that at school she had hit children with bricks! She was still considered suitable to be recommended as a baby-sitter.

Tidy was arrested because she telephoned the surgery to speak with the social worker saying she was in Guildford. As they were talking a siren could be heard as an emergency vehicle passed by the phone box. The social worker had called the police as soon as Tidy hung up the phone, and told them of the call. It was easier to identify by the type of siren which of the emergency services were involved. The police had what were known as donkey horns "hee haw, hee haw" and were easily identifiable.

Some sharp work by the Control Room worked out where at that time a siren was passing a phone box, and police were sent to the area and soon arrested Tidy. After pleading guilty, Pauline Tidy was sentenced to be detained during Her Majesty's pleasure in Broadmoor, the hospital for the criminally insane. John Hurst led the enquiry.

1976, 21 April: The Times: Pauline Elizabeth Tidy 19 Mead Road, Cranleigh was remanded in custody at Guildford charged with murdering Oliver Jackson aged nineteen months at his home in Orchard Gardens, Cranleigh. Appeared again on remand and reported in

The Times on the 31 March and described as a student aged nineteen. She was tried and the case reported in

The Times on 29 July 1976: Tidy suffocated the baby with a pillow whilst changing his nappy; wrapped his body in a sheet and put him in the deep freezer. This was shortly after she had started her job on the recommendations of her health visitor. Tidy was found not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility. Oliver was the son of Mr and Mrs Ian Jackson who also have a three year old boy, Gerard.

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