HC Deb 26 May 1884 vol 288 cc1303-4

asked the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, Whether his attention has been called to a case heard recently by Mr. Buchannan, J.P. at the Omagh Petty Sessions, in which a woman named Ellen M'Ellhill charged Mr. M'Gaughey, commercial traveller, with having struck her with a whip. Mr. Buchannan, in the absence of the defendant, and upon the sole evidence of the complainant, refused an adjournment, inflicted a heavy fine, and issued a warrant for arrest of the defendant, although his brother attended in court, and informed the magistrate that the defendant, being absent on a business journey, had not been served with the summons to attend, and had no notice whatever of the hearing; and, whether the Executive will cancel the warrant, and order a new hearing of the case?


I have inquired into this case, and find that it was heard before a Bench of four magistrates, of whom Mr. Buchannan was one. The defendant, who was a commercial traveller only in the sense that he was a hawker of tea in small quantities, was summoned for assaulting a married woman named M'Ellhill, who was near her confinement at the time. The defendant did not appear, and an application for adjournment was made; but the magistrates did not believe it to be bonâ fide, and proceeded to hear the case— perfect service of the summons having been proved. The complainant and two other witnesses proved a wanton and unprovoked assault, and the magistrates imposed a penalty of 40s., or two months' imprisonment in default. The defendant appealed; but the County Court Judge confirmed the sentence. The defendant has since absconded. There is clearly no ground upon which the Government could or ought to interfere in this case.