HC Deb 16 May 1867 vol 187 c622

said, he would beg to ask the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Cambridge University, Whether it is true that the sentence passed on the Swedish seaman, Carl Andersen, has been commuted to penal servitude for life?


, in reply, said, it was true the sentence had been commuted, but not on the ground that Andersen was insane. There was this peculiarity in the case—that the man was influenced throughout by a delusion. The Judge in putting this circumstance to the jury, fully explained the nature of the law, and told them to find a verdict of acquittal on the ground of insanity if they thought the prisoner acted under such a delusion. The jury deliberated for an hour, and found him guilty of murder, and therefore held him responsible for the act which he had committed. After that he himself referred the case to the Judge for his opinion, and the Judge thought that the sentence was not altogether satisfactory, and recommended that the sentence of death should not be carried into execution. Under these circumstances the commutation had taken place. Without any expression of opinion to that effect by the jury, or without a medical certificate, it was absolutely impossible to treat the man as if he was insane. But after the opinion which had been expressed by the Judge it would be hardly proper for the extreme penalty of the law to have been carried into effect, and the sentence was consequently commuted.