HC Deb 17 February 1891 vol 350 cc839-40

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he is aware that, in the trial of Harry Wyndham Carter, at Maidstone Assizes, in January, 1887, the indictment laid before the common jury was for the shooting at and wounding with the felonious intents to maim, disfigure, disable, or do some other grievous bodily harm; has his attention been drawn to a statement published in the Kentish Gazette, under date 23rd February, 1887, by Mr. Samuel J. West, one of the jury, stating that The unanimous verdict we presented through our foreman was 'that we found the prisoner guilty of unlawful shooting,' and expressing surprise at the sentence which was inflicted; was the verdict, as entered in the Record, the same as that found by the jury; and, if not, can he explain why it differs therefrom; is he aware that, at the trial, Carter repeatedly begged that counsel would call his witnesses, who were in Court, but that for some unexplained reason they were not allowed to give evidence; is it the fact that while in prison, in 1889, H. W. Carter was offered his release on condition of his executing a disentailing deed; through what medium, by whom, and by whose authority was this offer held out to the prisoner; and whether he will inquire into the legality of Carter's imprisonment?


I understand that the indictment was for wounding with the felonious intents mentioned. I have not seen the statement in the Kentish Gazette, but an affidavit to a similar effect was sent to me, which I forwarded to the learned Judge. He reported to me that it was founded on a complete mistake as to the effect of the indictment. The question for the jury was whether the wounds, which had been inflicted by shooting, were inflicted with any of the felonious intents charged in the indictment, or were merely unlawful wounds, i. e., wounds inflicted by an unlawful purposed act; and he states that the jury found the prisoner guilty of unlawful wounding. After reading the Judge's Report, I have no reason to suppose that the verdict entered on the Record was not the verdict found by the jury. The prisoners were defended by most able counsel, who, in the exercise of his discretion, declined to call witnesses. It is not the fact that any offer of conditional release has been made to the convict on the authority of the Home Office. I am satisfied, after full inquiry, that the convict's sentence was legal.