HC Deb 01 April 1887 vol 313 cc223-4
MR. M'CARTAN (Down, E.)

asked the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, Whether his attention has been called to the judgment of David Ross, esquire, Q.C., Recorder of Belfast, in the case of an appeal of Robert J. M'Connell from the decision of the Borough Magistrates of Belfast, heard by him on the 10th instant; whether Robert J. M'Connell had been sentenced by the Borough Magistrates to 13 months' imprisonment for assaults committed on different policemen on the occasion of his arrest; whether, on appeal, the Recorder reduced the sentence to six months' imprisonment, and stated that lie (the Recorder) considered that there was only one offence committed; whether Mr. Justice Day, when presiding at the Riots Commission in Belfast, expressed himself very strongly against cumulative sentences for such offences, when only one offence was really committed; whether Robert Comerford, of Oarrick Hill, was, on the 21st July last, sentenced by the Magistrates presiding at Belfast Police Court to 29 months' solitary confinement, with hard labour, for having assaulted, at the time of his arrest, five different policemen, who were endeavouring to take him a prisoner to the police barrack; whether it is a fact that Robert J. M'Connell is a Protestant, and that Robert Comerford is a Catholic; whether he can state any case where Magis- trates at Petty Sessions in England gave such cumulative sentences to persons convicted of assault or other offences; and, whether, now that Robert Comerford has already suffered eight months' imprisonment, with hard labour, for this assault, he will consider the justice of carrying out the remainder of his term of imprisonment?


I am informed that the facts are substantially as stated with regard to M'Oonnell. I am not aware whether Mr. Justice Day expressed the opinion mentioned. With regard to the case of Robert Comerford, it was proved to the satisfaction of the presiding Magistrates that five separate and distinct assaults, of a more or less serious character, had been committed, and the charges were dealt with accordingly. I have no power to interfere with the sentence, and it is no part of my duty to review it. But it is, of course, open to the prisoner, or any person in his behalf, to appeal to The Lord Lieutenant for a mitigation of it. With regard to the religious professions of the persons concerned, the Magistrate informs me that he did not concern himself with this; but he has reason to believe the men are of the respective faiths stated.