HC Deb 10 August 1896 vol 44 cc379-80
MR. J. CALDWELL (Lanark, Mid)

I beg to ask the Lord Advocate if his attention has been called to the case of a lad named Erskine, who was tried by a sheriff and jury at Dumbarton last month, on a charge of indecent exposure and assault, and acquitted by a verdict of not proven; if he can state the date when the alleged offence was committed; the date when the case was reported by the police to the Procurator-Fiscal; the date when the Procurator-Fiscal, by himself or deputy, visited the locus of the alleged crime, took the requisite precognitions, and satisfied himself of the relevancy of the charge; upon what date was the warrant for the arrest of the accused issued and executed; did the Procurator-Fiscal call upon accused and his parents, and procure statements and a list of witnesses to substantiate an alibi before himself investigating the charges; and, upon what date did the Procurator-Fiscal report the case to the Crown Office?


I have made inquiry into this matter. The accused was charged with committing two offences on the same day, viz., 4th May. One was reported to the Procurator-Fiscal on the 9th and the other on the 13th May. The Procurator-Fiscal visited the place and took precognitions on the 20th May. These were forwarded to Crown Counsel on the 26th May. A warrant was issued on the 1st and the accused was arrested on the 5th June, but liberated on bail the same day. The Procurator-Fiscal did not call upon accused or his parents or procure statements to substantiate an alibi before investigating the charges, but subsequently precognitions were taken from some witnesses in exculpation and reported to Crown Counsel on the 15th June, with the result that the case was, on the 20th June, ordered for trial by the sheriff and jury. The trial took place on the 27th July, and a verdict of "Not proven" was returned. The evidence is very conflicting, but seeing that the evidence of identification was most complete, Crown Counsel, in my opinion, acted correctly, in the circumstances, in dealing with the case as they did.