HC Deb 08 April 1881 vol 260 cc1034-5

asked the Secretary of State for War, Whether it is true that Patrick King, a private soldier in the 16th regiment, stationed at Cardonagh, county Donegal, was tried by district court martial at Ebrington Barracks, Londonderry, on 10th February 1881, and sentenced to two years' imprisonment, besides being dismissed Her Majesty's Service, for having at Carndonagh, while in a state of intoxication, cursed the Queen; whether the inquiry was conducted in secret; and, whether, considering that the evidence was of a contradictory character, and all the circumstances of the case, the War Office will re-consider the case, with a view to granting some remission of the sentence?


Private Patrick King, of the 16th Regiment, was tried by district court martial at the place mentioned in the Question, on the 27th of January, 1881, for having at Malin, in the county of Donegal, used traitorous and disloyal words regarding the Sovereign. That I need hardly say is a very grave military offence; and, under the 35th section of the Army Discipline and Regulation Act, renders the offender liable to imprisonment with hard labour. The case was very patiently investigated, the prisoner being allowed four days to bring up witnesses for the defence. I consider that it was amply proved, it being shown that the words used, which were of a coarse and offensive character, were ad- dressed by the prisoner in a loud voice to a crowd of 20 or 30 persons outside the police barracks, and the only real defence being that the prisoner was partially intoxicated. The proceedings were not conducted in secret, but in the usual way in open Court; and the evidence was not, in my opinion, of a contradictory character upon any material point. Under these circumstances, the Court sentenced the prisoner to be imprisoned with hard labour for 672 days, and to be discharged with ignominy from Her Majesty's Service. The sentence was undoubtedly legal, and the matter, therefore, has passed from my jurisdiction to that of the military authorities. I am, however, instructed to say that there is no present intention of interfering with the sentence of the Court, but that the sentence may come under review on the prisoner's petition, when it will be considered whether any remission should be made.