HC Deb 15 May 1879 vol 246 cc392-3

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, Whether his attention has been called to the case of four men sentenced at Stafford, on the 3rd of May, to penal servitude for life, for 20 years, and for 15 years (two) respectively, on account of the death of a game watcher in a poaching affray; and, whether he will cause inquiry to be made with a view to the mitigation of the sentence?


The learned Judge who tried this case informs me that he is quite sure, if the hon. Member had known the circumstances, he would never have thought of putting the Question. These four men were out, armed, at night, and they were tried for wilful murder; and, in the opinion of the Judge, it was a very merciful jury that let them off on that charge, and found them guilty of manslaughter. The offence, as the hon. Member knows, does not consist in poaching; but in going out by night, armed, and in gangs. The poor man who was murdered was simply a farm labourer. Two farm labourers were called out to watch, and four men came up to one of them—they were not keepers, but watchers—who ran away, and was pursued by the four men. They made a most violent attack upon the poor fellow, and injured him in such a horrible manner that I will not describe it to the House. I am bound to say that, in my opinion, the sentence is not at all too severe.