HC Deb 11 March 1889 vol 333 cc1374-5
MR. BRADLAUGH (Northampton)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether, at Manchester Assizes on 4th March, John Matthews was convicted of manslaughter (the killing his wife by a kick); whether John Matthews had been previously convicted 23 times, three of these convictions being for assaults on the woman he killed; whether the said John Matthews was sentenced to two months' imprisonment with hard labour; and whether he will lay upon the Table the record of these various convictions?


Yes, Sir, this prisoner was convicted as stated. I have not at present the particulars of hit previous convictions, but I am informed by the Clerk of Assize that there was a long list of previous convictions against him, and that he had been two or three times convicted of assaulting his wife. The jury after a long deliberation accompanied their verdict of manslaughter with a strong recommendation to mercy, on the ground that they did not think any serious mischief was contemplated. He had kicked his wife on her leg, which had varicose veins, one of which was ruptured, and she bled to death. The Judge acted on the view of the jury, and punished the prisoner for the mere assault. I do not think any useful purpose would be served by laying the prisoner's record on the Table of the House.


Is it the fact that the jury who recommended this man to mercy necessarily knew nothing of his previous convictions, which were only before the Judge, and that one of those convictions was for an assault upon his wife, for which he was sentenced to two months' imprisonment?


I told the hon. Gentleman that I have no information in regard to the previous convictions.