HC Deb 22 March 1894 vol 22 c861
MR. OWEN (Cornwall, Launceston)

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if his attention has been called to the case of "Pridham v. Jennings," heard before the Magistrates at Stratton, North Cornwall, on Monday the 12th instant, where the prisoner, accused of a trifling offence, elected to be tried summarily, and was so tried, pleading not guilty: the Bench disagreed, one Magistrate saying the accused ought to be discharged, and left the Bench, followed by another Magistrate: the two remaining Magistrates committed the accused to take his trial at Bodmin Quarter Sessions, a long distance from Kilkhampton, where the accused and his witnesses live, and without railway communication; and did the Magistrates act within their powers by committing the accused after trying him with his consent under the summary jurisdiction procedure; and, if not, will he take steps in the matter?


I have inquired into the facts of the case referred to, and find that the circumstances are not quite accurately stated in the question. It is true that the Magistrates at first intended to deal with the case summarily with the consent of the defendant, and that subsequently they determined to commit for trial. I am advised that in so doing the Magistrates did not exceed their legal powers, and that the previous determination to deal with the case summarily does not render the subsequent committal for trial void. It is, of course, a serious irregularity that a man should be committed for trial without the caution required by law being administered to him, and his Statement, if any, taken down in writing; but it is open to the prisoner to use in his defence this or any other irregularity by which he may have been prejudiced. I see no ground for interference at the present stage of the proceedings, which will, no doubt, go on in due course of law.