THERE was only one verdict that could be delivered - that of murder but forever the identity of the killer will remain a mystery.

Shortly after 6.30am on November 11, 1863, painter Henry Ling was walking along Queen's Terrace, Southampton, on his way to work in the docks when in the dim light he saw a parcel lying adjacent to a terrace house.

Curious, he picked it up and puzzled by the heavy content, decided to examine it.

He was to receive the shock of his life - inside was the body of a newly born baby which did not appear to have been there long as the nearby bushes were wet and the package was dry.

Ling waited at the scene for several minutes anxious to see if anyone watching him might know something about the unfortunate child but the road remained deserted and in desperation he rang the house doorbell. Presently a woman came downstairs and opened the door.

"Excuse me, Madam," Ling asked. "Do you know anything about this parcel which I have just found inside your railing?"

The woman peered into the parcel and gasped, but once she had regathered her composure, she said she did not.

"Thank you," he replied, and with that he took the parcel to the police station where it was collected by Pc Wyatt who in turn took it to the workhouse to be examined by Dr Henry Bencraft.

Such was the way of things at that time that the town's coroner Edward Coxwell opened the inquest the following morning by which time the surgeon had completed his post-mortem, telling jurors the baby had been born alive.

"The only way I can account for the death is from the loss of blood because the body has no marks of violence. The lungs were fully inflated and all the organs were healthy. The child could not have been dead for more than 24 hours when I examined it."

Following directions about the law, the jury had the straightfoward task of returning a verdict of 'wilful murder against some person or perons unknown' with the police promising to continue their inquiries.