HC Deb 11 April 1889 vol 335 cc230-1
MR. CLANCY (Dublin Co., N.)

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whether his attention has been drawn to the evidence in the case of Charles Freckle-ton, an emergency man and gamekeeper, tried in Dublin on Friday and Saturday of last week for murder, from which it appears that Freckleton, in a public house at Rathfarnham, in the county of Dublin, deliberately fired three shots at three different persons in succession, killing one man on the spot, and wounding one young girl so seriously that for several weeks her life was despaired of; whether he has considered the observations of the presiding Judge, Mr. Justice Murphy, in which he expressed the opinion that the crime of Freckleton was both unprovoked and without any justification whatsoever, and declared "that there was no case in the books that would suggest that in a case of this kind the Judge should suggest that the jury should reduce the crime from murder to manslaughter; "whether the jury found Freckleton guilty, not of murder, but of manslaughter; whether it is a fact that, in the empannelling of this jury, the representatives of the Crown did not order any jurors to stand aside, while the prisoner challenged 20 jurors, all but four of whom were Catholics, with the result that all the 12 jurors sworn were Protestant landlords or persons connected with the landlord class; and if these allegations are well founded, whether he intends to take any notice of the action of the Crown officials in this case?


I understand that the prisoner, Charles Freckleton, was not an emergency man. He was brought over from Scotland to act as a gamekeeper for Mr. Guinness, of zibradden, in the County of Dublin, in whose employment he was as such gamekeeper when the offence was committed. The presiding judge made in effect the observations mentioned in the question, and he left it to the jury to determine whether the prisoner was guilty of murder or manslaughter, and they found a verdict of manslaughter, and he was sentenced to penal servitude for life. It is a fact that the representatives of the Crown did not ask any juror to stand aside while the prisoner challenged 20 jurors; but the religion of those challenged cannot be given. It is not known what was the religion of the 12 jurors sworn to try the prisoner; but their occupations were as follows:— 1 retired officer; 1 bookseller; 1 jeweller; 1 carrier; 2 described as gentlemen; 1 manufacturer's agent; 2 bank clerks; 2 commercial clerks; and 1 farmer.


Does the right hon. Gentleman deny that the murdered man was a Catholic, that the murderer was a Protestant, and that the jury was composed exclusively of Protestants.


I am afraid that I have no information on that subject.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the murdered man has left a widow and three children in destitute condition, and will he consider the propriety—


Order, order. That does not arise out of the question on the paper.


I beg to give notice that, on the Estimates, I will call attention to this and other instances of flagrant partizanship in the administration of the Criminal Law in Ireland.