HC Deb 08 May 1896 vol 40 cc874-5

I beg to ask Mr. Attorney General for Ireland, (1) whether his attention has been drawn to the conviction, at the Carlow Winter Assizes of 1894, of a young man named Michael Hopkins, aged 16, for the alleged manslaughter of one Patrick Fox; (2) whether he is aware that the learned judge who sentenced Hopkins stated in doing so that the sentence he was about to impose was more for the purpose of putting down agrarian crime in County Longford, to which prisoner belonged, than for causing the death of Fox, and thereupon sentenced him to 24 years' penal servitude; (3) whether a petition recently presented to the Lord Lieutenant praying for a mitigation of the penalty was refused; and (4) whether, seeing that County Longford is free from all agrarian crime, and its peaceful state favourably commented on by going judges of assize, the Irish Law Officers will recommend the mitigation of the sentence passed upon Hopkins?


The facts are not correctly stated in this Question. Michael Hopkins was 22 years of age when convicted in December, 1891, not 16. The crime, which was committed with great premeditation, arose out of a feud which existed between the families of the deceased and the accused in reference to a disputed right of way, and was not agrarian in the ordinary sense. The learned judge who tried the case made no such observations as are attributed to him in the second paragraph of the Question, but, on the contrary, stated that the crime was clearly proved, was of the foulest character, closely approaching, if not actually amounting to wilful murder, and called for the severest punishment. Petitions, praying for the remission of the sentence, have been presented to the present Lord Lieutenant and his predecessor, and have been refused by both. When the trial of a criminal is regular and the sentence legal, it is not within the province of the Law Officers to recommend the exercise of the prerogative of mercy, but even if it were, the facts of this case, would not, in my opinion, warrant them in doing so.

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