HC Deb 14 March 1882 vol 267 cc892-3

asked the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, Whether the following account is substantially true, that— On the 18th November last Mr. Digby was fired at and wounded in the neighbourhood of Tullamore. That Patrick Masterson, the son of a landlord and tenant farmer, was arrested, in the middle of the night, on suspicion for the crime. On his arrival at Tullamore he was placed in the 'black hole' of the prison, and, later on, compelled by a constable to strip and put on old clothes and slippers. Later on four 'corner boys' were brought in and placed beside him, and then, on examination, Mr. Digby said only that Masterson was 'about the size,' but did not recognise him. Two men, who saw the shot fired, declared that Masterson bore no resemblance to the man who fired the shot. Upon this, Masterson was remanded that witnesses might be brought. Meantime he was left fasting in the 'black hole' till 2 p.m. The witnesses included the petty sessions clerk, a country gentleman-farmer, and several members of the accused's family, who proved he was nine miles away and in bed at the time. After five remands, and no evidence against the accused, he was discharged. On the third remand the resident magistrate had the solicitor to the accused turned out of Court by the police. One week after his discharge he was re-arrested under the Coercion Act, and is now in hospital in Naas Gaol spitting blood, caused by his hard treatment in Tullamore Gaol; and, whether, if this statement is correct, he will release Patrick Masterson?


, in reply, said, that the hon. Member appeared to have been very much misinformed as to the facts of this case. The only really accurate statement was that Mr. Digby was fired at, and it was by the merest chance that he was not very seriously injured. The following night Masterson was arrested on suspicion of having committed the offence. He was not placed in the "black hole" of the prison, but was put in the kitchen near the fire. He was not forced to strip; but his trousers was kept by the police for certain reasons, and another pair supplied to him. He was placed with four persons of his own class for identification, and Mr. Digby walked straight up to him and said he was the man; but as he had not properly seen his face, he could not swear to him. It was not true that he had been left fasting until 2 P.M., because he got his breakfast and dinner, and expressed his thanks for both. No witness proved that the man was nine miles away from the place at the time of the occurrence. The magistrates did not turn the attorney for the accused out of Court; but his demeanour was most insulting to the Court. He refused to sit down, although frequently requested to do so. The Court was then cleared, and the business of the day disposed of. Masterson was not in hospital, and was not spitting blood.